In Step with Golden State

Newsletter of the
Golden State Versatility Ranch Horse Association


Welcome to a New Year

Dear Golden State Membership,

2021 is here and we can hardly wait for all the good stuff we are expecting in the coming months. There are a number of shows set to go and several still being confirmed. Stay in the know with this newsletter, our web site, and our Facebook page.

In this edition you will find what may be new information about the Limited Division. As awareness of this division’s intent grows, we expect that the numbers in the division will grow as well! Very exciting.

DQ’s and OP’s are marks none of us want to see on the judge’s scorecard! But it’s good to know how they get there. In this edition of the newsletter it’s explained. Also explained, by our own Sarah Clifford, is the difference between the penalty box and the content box on the judging sheet.

Have you ever wondered who is the liaison between the competitor, the judges, show management, and Golden State? Be sure to read about the “Show Reps.” What’s their job and how does it help you to know about them?

And finally, will the Quote of the Month spur us on to greater results?

Dawn Poston
Board Member

The Limited Division

Stepping Stone or Destination?

If you’re like many of us, you’ve viewed the Limited Division as the “stepping stone” between the Novice & Intermediate Divisions. It seems that the “box-drive-box-drive” of Limited extends the skills necessary before tackling the “box-rate-track for roping” of Intermediate.

Did you know that while it can be all of that, the founders of WSVRHA/GSVRHA had another idea and duality of purpose for the Limited Division? Limited is also intended to be for all horses and all amateur riders irrespective of showing status or division or experience. If an amateur rider or a horse need to do less because of age, inclination, or physical limitations, the Limited is for them. If an amateur rider in an upper division gets a new horse or a younger less experienced horse, Limited is for them. In other words, anyone on any horse may ride and compete in the Limited Division. This may be a new concept to competitors who have heretofore been unaware of the original duality of purpose of the Limited Division.

Bev Sparrowk, a perfect example of a competitor moving from Advanced to Limited. Also a generous contributor of prize money at the Las Vegas show.

We can readily see, that with this construct, there can/will and should be, a great diversity among ages, skill levels, experience and accomplishments of horse and riders in the Limited Division. At some point, you may see amateur riders who have competed in Intermediate or Advanced riding in Limited for the above reasons. Yes, they will be competing against those who have moved up from Novice. It is legal and it’s encouraged.

The Limited “box-drive-box-drive” division in our sister organizations, like AQHA and NRCHA, are among the most hotly contested, most competitive, and most coveted wins in the Amateur/Non-Pro competitive world! It’s not just a “stepping stone” it’s an entity all unto itself and used as a step up to Advanced (there is no Intermediate Division in those organizations).

So is the Limited Division a stepping-stone between divisions or possible destination for all horses and riders? It’s both! It’s conceivable that a rider may start and finish their competitive career in the Limited Division. As we mature as an organization, we will begin to see more and more riders going to Limited and perhaps staying there. Prediction? That division is going to get more and more and MORE competitive. Stay tuned . . . .

Reading Score Sheets

OP’s and DQ’s: What’s the Difference?

We know for certain that we don’t want to see them on our row on the judge’s score sheet. Beyond that, do we really understand when and how they are applied? Read on!

  • What is an “OP”?
    “OP”refers to any major penalty (see score sheet for “OP”examples and penalties).
  • What does an “OP” mean for your score?
    It means that the horse/rider team may not score above any other team who has no “OP”, even if the team with the “OP” has a higher overall score.
  • What does “DQ” mean?
    “DQ” means disqualification and is a more serious penalty.
  • What does a “DQ” mean for your score?
    It means that the horse/rider team receives a -0- for that class. (See score sheet for “DQ” examples). While still eligible for the All-Around, a DQ makes it a lot harder!

While there may be more “OP’s” than any of us would want, “DQ’s” are rare. The score sheets for each class list major penalties and how they are scored. More information may be found in the WSVRHA Handbook, Section B. Judges Score Sheet, found at, under Resources.

When reading the list of possible penalties it becomes apparent that the judge has a fair amount of discretion for some of the items. What does a competitor do who receives an “OP” or a “DQ” and wants an explanation from the judge? Contact the Show Representative who will act as a liaison between the competitor and the judge (or the management if applicable). As in most equestrian organizations, the competitor should not approach the judge on their own.

Separating the “Penalty” Box from the “Content” Box

Submitted by Sarah Clifford

Reading and understanding score sheets is a critical component in making progress as a competitor. Notice that on any AQHA or WSVRHA score sheet (they are often used interchangeably), there is a scoring strip that corresponds to each run; and for each run, there are two strips that run horizontally across the page. The upper strip is for penalties, if any are incurred during a particular maneuver.

Penalties are listed at the top of the score sheets, so by examining the score sheet, a rider can determine which penalty was incurred, how much it cost them, and on which maneuver. The judge can ONLY give penalties if they are one of the exact items listed at the top of the page. There are no “mysterious” or “hidden” penalties. In the best runs, that strip will remain blank all the way across for a penalty free performance.

Below the penalty strip, there is a strip for run content, with a box for every maneuver. The judge MUST score every maneuver with the following options: -1.5=extremely poor. -1=very poor. -.5=poor. 0=correct. +.5=good. +1=very good. +1.5=excellent. Each rider enters the arena with a 70 score. The performance on every maneuver is added or subtracted from 70, penalties are subtracted, and the score is computed and written at the end of the scoring strip. Yes, it’s true; there are MANY more ways for a score to be deducted from 70, and just a few ways for a score to be above 70. So don’t be too discouraged by a lower score, especially if you are new to ranch versatility. Instead, learn from each maneuver and go forward with a goal to improve that score.

2021 Show Dates

Time to tune up that pony!

Date Name Location Show Rep
April 16-18 GSVRHA: Sparrowk Livestock Ranch Horse Round Up Ione, CA Jen Harden
May 21-23 GSVRHA/AQHA: Central Coast Ranch Horse Classic Carmel Valley, CA Kelly Saunders
June 17-20 AQHA: VRH World Show Guthrie, OK n/a
July 9-11 GSVRHA: Golden Hills Farm VRH Show Paso Robles, CA Sarah Clifford
August 13-15 GSVRHA: Carmel Valley GSVRHA Clinic & Show Carmel Valley, CA Meghan Carr
Sept 4-5 GSVRHA: Paso Pastures Playoff Paso Robles, CA Dawn Poston
Oct 1-3 GSVRHA: Central Coast Fall Classic San Luis Obispo, CA Mike Lund
Oct 21-24 WSVRHA Year End Finals Las Vegas, NV Kathy Torres

Show Representatives = Show Helpers

  • Who are the Show Reps?
    GSVRHA Board Members
  • How else can I find out who the Show Rep is for a specific show?
    • On the entry form
    • Facebook posting
    • Ask the show manager
    • Name of Show Rep will be posted at each show office
    • Ask a Board member* (*Who are the GSVRHA board members? A $25 VISA gift card will go to the first person to correctly name all 9 (there’s a hint) and send to Dawn at
  • What is the role of the Show Rep?
    The role of the Show Rep is to be a resource for the show manager from beginning to end of the process, and to act as a liaison between competitors/judges/show management. The show rep is there to help make the show and showing as problem free as possible.

Quote of the Month

Corey Cushing: Cowhorse Trainer

“The stars are always within reach but the better you prepare yourself the closer you will be.”

L-R Joy the Wonder Dog, Stylish in My Boots, Heather Bryant, Opus Smart Cat, Sharon Bryant, Alissa Reed, Kathy Torres, Kalahari Moonshine.