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On The Rail

Gettin' Ranchy with Shannon Quinlan Hill

087. Gettin' Ranchy with Shannon Quinlan Hill

The ranch riding has been steadily attracting enthusiasts and competitors, offering a unique blend of horsemanship, athleticism, and the genuine spirit of the equine industry. In this episode of On The Rail Podcast, we had the pleasure of diving deep into the world of ranch riding with Shannon Quinlan Hill of Hill Performance Horses. Shannon's journey, insights, and aspirations offer a comprehensive view of ranch riding's current state, its growing popularity, and the future it holds.

The Evolution of Ranch Riding

Shannon shared her fascinating journey from growing up in a horse-centric family to making significant strides in the ranch riding arena. Her achievements, notably winning the Open Reining at the Congress on Rough And Shiny, and becoming the first woman to accomplish this feat, underscore her dedication and expertise.

Ranch riding, rooted in the practical work of the ranch, has evolved into a competitive discipline that values preciseness, style, and a deep connection between horse and rider. As Shannon highlighted, the division has matured from being a catch-all category for horses that didn't fit into other disciplines to one that is purposefully bred and trained, reflecting significant growth and specialization.

The Appeal of Ranch Riding

The allure of ranch riding lies in its accessibility and the genuine representation of horse and rider partnerships. Unlike some equine disciplines that might prioritize perfection or specific aesthetics, ranch riding celebrates the horse's natural movements and responsiveness. This has made the discipline particularly appealing to a broader audience, including those looking to enjoy their horse in a competitive setting without the daunting costs or rigid standards prevalent in other areas.

One of the most notable aspects of ranch riding, as Shannon points out, is the emphasis on the horse's expression and enjoyment of their job. The discipline allows for individuality and encourages horses to showcase their personalities, contributing to its growing popularity.

Challenges and Misconceptions

Despite its welcoming nature and growing popularity, ranch riding is not without its challenges and misconceptions. One common misconception is that the discipline is easier or requires less skill than others. However, Shannon emphasizes that to be competitive at a high level, horses and riders must be highly skilled and versatile. The quality of horses in ranch riding has risen significantly, making it a highly competitive arena.

Another challenge facing ranch riding is standardization. With the discipline's rapid growth, establishing clear, consistent standards for judging and performance is crucial. As Shannon suggests, this is an area of focus for the future, with efforts underway to ensure that ranch riding continues to evolve in a way that maintains its essence while fostering fairness and competitiveness.

Looking Ahead

As we look to the future of ranch riding, the potential for growth and evolution is vast. Shannon and Hill Performance Horses are at the forefront of this exciting journey, not only competing at the highest levels but also contributing to the discipline's development through judging and education.

Shannon's aspirations to further involve herself in the association side of things, with goals of obtaining judging cards and serving on boards and committees, highlight a commitment to the positive progression of ranch riding. This dedication to excellence and growth bodes well for the discipline, promising a future where ranch riding continues to captivate, challenge, and inspire.


Ranch riding, with its unique blend of tradition, versatility, and competition, offers a vibrant and inclusive arena for equestrians. Shannon journey, achievements, and insights shed light on the discipline's appeal, challenges, and potential for growth.

For those inspired by Shannon's story or looking to learn more about ranch riding, Hill Performance Horses remains a fantastic resource for riders of all levels. The journey of ranch riding is one of continuous learning, improvement, and, most importantly, enjoyment—for both horse and rider.





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