When the innovative class, Working Western Rail, was added to the 2020 AQHA World Show as an exhibition class, people took note. The class offered prizes to the top ten, horses were required to be 3 years or older, and they also had to compete in an Open or Amateur Ranch Riding class. By adding the exhibition class, the AQHA was responding to a years-long effort to add a class to further showcase the versatility, rideability and natural movement of the Quarter Horse.
Competitors responded with enthusiasm, and by the 2022 AQHA World Show, the Working Western Rail stakes class had so many entries, it had to be split into three sections. How did this class fill such a niche that riders embraced it with overwhelming enthusiasm? Part of the reason is that the class draws a variety of horses that exemplify the best of the American Quarter Horse, a horse that can carry a rider smoothly and comfortably, whether that horse came from a career in halter or has been an actual working horse.
AQHA describes the ideal Working Western Rail Horse in part, ‘The working western rail class measures the ability of the horse to be a pleasure to ride and should reflect the versatility, attitude, and movement of a working horse. The horse should be well-broke, relaxed, quiet, soft, and cadenced at all gaits. The movement of the Working Western Rail horse should simulate a horse needing to cover long distances, softly and quietly. The overall manners and responsiveness of the horse and the horse’s quality of movement are the primary considerations. Maximum credit should be given to the horse that has a natural flowing stride and consistent, ground covering gaits.’
Working Western Rail, now an officially approved class as of 2023, is a true rail class where there are no patterns, and horses are judged on their ability to cover ground with grace and self-carriage, a willing attitude, and smooth transitions. The class has been described as ‘fun’, ‘a great starter class for people learning to show’ and ‘a way to give competitors a new venue to showcase their horses.’ The division is also popular because it doesn’t require fancy tack or attire, so competitors can get involved without breaking the bank.
But don’t let the low-key ranch attire fool you–these are serious competitors out to showcase the best in their horses in this exciting new addition to the show world.
Advocating for the Working Western Rail