AQHA Ranching Council comes up with new ways to market and promote ranch horses.
When AQHA was formed, many of the horses that populated it were the dusty and muscled cow horses, herding cattle on the ranches of the American West, working without fanfare and giving an honest day’s labor for a measure of hay or oats.
Since that time, the calm minds and athleticism of Quarter Horses have made them popular around the world in all sorts of disciplines under bright lights with plenty of public admiration. Meanwhile, back on the ranches, Quarter Horses are still working hard everyday, herding cattle without drama or adulation.
“AQHA was built with ranching horses, and it’s time to recognize their efforts and their breeders again,” says AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. “We want to put the spotlight on the backbone of the industry.”
Ranching Heritage Breeders
The first initiative is a breeder referral program called AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders.
To become part of the Ranching Heritage Breeders, ranches must be members of AQHA, and their ranch remudas must consist of American Quarter Horses. Those remuda horses must be used primarily to work ranch cattle.
The ranch must own at least five Quarter Horse mares used to produce the remuda, and the ranch must have received at least a 10-year breeder award.
Ranches that qualify can be nominated to the program, using an application.
The Ranching Council will approve the applications. The program will cost $10 per year.
Ranching Heritage Breeders will be entitled to use a special logo on their advertising, and that logo will also appear on their AQHA registration certificates.
Ranches that are members of the Ranching Heritage Breeders will also be able to enter their horses in exclusive competitions and sales.
AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge
The first exclusive opportunity for Ranching Heritage Breeders is the AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge, which will eventually grow to be six or seven regional competitions, with the goal of having a $100,000 to $150,000 purse at each event to drive the market for ranch horses.
Participating Ranching Heritage members will offer young horses for members to judge, select, purchase, raise and train. Download the Ranching Heritage Youth Enrollment Form.
The Ranching Heritage Challenge will consist of three classes: an open ranch horse class for 4-year-old horses only; a non-pro ranch horse class for 5-year-old and older horses; and a trail trials class for horses 5 and older.
The horses entered must have been foaled at a Ranching Heritage Breeder’s ranch and nominated by that ranch.
Purses will be generated by a nomination payment of $25 per weanling, along with sustaining payments made by the new owner of the horse.
Nominations will be accepted beginning in September to nominate foals for competition in later years. However, in 2012, all foals 4 and older from ranches that become Ranching Heritage Breeders will be eligible to compete in two entry-fee competitions.
The open and non-pro will be a ranch horse class that tests the horse and rider in handling, roping and working cow ability. The trail trials will be a ranch-type course that exemplifies the kind of obstacles riders might encounter on the ranch.
Youth and Young Horse Development
Also at the Ranching Council’s first meeting, the members stressed their interest in getting more youth involved with horses.
The AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program will help youth learn how to develop young horses the right way and get breeders’ foals in the hands of future buyers.
Ranching Heritage Breeders can make weanlings eligible for youth to apply to receive for free or at a nominal fee. The youth will apply through AQHA to be a recipient of a foal. They will take the weanlings home and train them for an in-hand competition during Ranching Heritage Challenge events as a yearling and then be able to show them again as 2-year-olds in a ranch pleasure class.
The Youth and Young Horse Development Project gives older AQHYA members who want to participate in a hands-on horse training opportunity that will teach the fundamentals of horsemanship.
Ranching Council member Jim Hunt of Faith, South Dakota, is making several of his foals available September 10 at his Open Box Rafter Ranch Quarter Horses Sale as a pilot for the program. Chairman Stan Weaver of Big Sandy, Montana, is putting one foal into the program.
The Ranching Council
The AQHA Ranching Council is made up of eight members and an AQHA Executive Committee representative. Its purpose is to focus on the needs of ranchers and their Quarter Horses.
After the group’s first meeting in Amarillo, the members were ticking over the possibilities.
“I am leaving here excited,” Ranching Council member Terry Stuart Forst says. “It’s like we’ve opened doors and, truthfully, I’m sitting here thinking the sky’s the limit.”
The group’s next meeting is in September in South Dakota.
“Now that we have an opportunity to move forward, we can start sorting things out,” member Larry Bell says. “Sometimes out of bad things (like the economy) come good things, and this (council) could be one of those.”
Ranching Council members are:
Chairman: Stan Weaver, Big Sandy, Montana
Rob A. Brown, Stinnett, Texas
Larry Bell, Midland, Texas
Terry Stuart Forst, Waurika, Oklahoma
Jim Hunt, Faith, South Dakota
Dorvan Solberg, Ray, North Dakota
Ty Van Norman, Tuscarora, Nevada
Kris Wilson, Newkirk, New Mexico
AQHA Executive Committee representative: Johnny Trotter, Hereford, Texas