New Way to Market Ranch Horses

AQHA Ranching Council comes up with new ways to market and promote ranch horses.

AQHA Ranching Council comes up with new ways to market and promote ranch horses.

Ranch horses do their job everyday without fanfare. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

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


10 thoughts on “New Way to Market Ranch Horses”

  1. This seems like a pretty private club. I am an AQHA member and ower of 7 horses of which 2 are Quarter horses. I can’t join this group, can’t compete in this group so why would I want to participate? Surly you can do better than this?

  2. Sounds like a special show for a special few. Ranch-bred horses are great for the average horse owner due to their calm nature and do-it-all ability and attitude. When I saw the headline, I thought it was going to be more about promoting their benefits to a wider audience — not about creating an exclusive club which, in essence, turns off the flow of positive information to the average folks who could use a great horse like those bred to work on our ranches.

  3. I think you ladies may have it wrong. To me, it seems the idea is to promote the existing breeders of the excellent AQHA ranch horses and show them a little recognition. Doing so would help them promote their horses for sale, and consequently provide a larger number of excellent quality ranch horses to public buyers. If they plan on developing regional ranch heritage shows in the future, it will be because many private owners have purchased these horses from ranchers and transported them all over the country. It seems to me that the AQHA would like to return to its roots, so to speak, and expand the number of ranch horses in the AQHA gene pool-the horses that were the foundation of the breed. Kudos! I know I have seen enough pleasure-bred horses to last a lifetime, and although I think they are beautiful, I am glad that this breed wants to expand its working horse population.

  4. I think this is a great program and will help to promote the sale of ranch raised horses. I think by being a 10 year breeder, the quality of the horses will be better. I can see this competition growing and it will be a good spectator sport, encouraging youth to participate.

  5. This looks to be a fantastic opportunity for everyone interested in traditional ranch horses and related events. By design it highlights those folks who actually use their horses in everyday ranching to produce the country’s beef – ranches that actually keep a remuda for that purpose. By nominating their foals and selling them to the general public that DOESNT ranch for a living, EVERYONE has the opportunity to own and show these horse in a world class event. What isn’t a WIN/WIN about it?? What an awesome opportunity. There are literally thousands of AQHA shows across the country that cater to the backyard horseman with one or two horses or small breeder/trainers with a barn full or horses for specialized events. This is a great opportunity to showcase the horses of ranchers, doing the work they are bred to do. Even the non-ranching person can get involved by purchasing one of these great horses and having a place to go show it. Several specialized segments of the horse industry already have a breeders nomination program (racing, reining, etc.)Why not ranchers??? And everyone can play. One of the best programs to come down the pike! bravo to AQHA!

  6. Regarding the raising of a “ranch” horse by sending weanlings off the ranch, I question AQHA’s understanding of what makes a great horse? My home grown “ranch” horses are good ranch horses because they have learned to navigate the squirrel holes, walk/run up and down hills, and walk around the half buried stump in the ground along with the scrapes and pokes of a barbed wire fence. You take the weanling off the ranch and raise it in a backyard, it is no longer a “ranch” horse regardless of the background. Raised in a pipe stall, blanketed nightly and fed the best hay and supplements will not make you a ranch horse no matter what ranch it came off of. It would be like me selling my ranch horses and telling the buyer that if you raise it like a hunter/jumper it will be a great one. I believe it is deceptful that AQHA choses to market to the unlearned people in this manner.

  7. I agree with many of the previous comments but specifically my question is what happens with the babies of the “ranch horses” that have the special stamp on the papers? Do the babies also qualify as ranch horses? If not, then what is the purpose of this program? I agree that this looks much like a “good ‘ole boys club” to sell horses at a premium price to show in extremely specialized shows. Is this really needed?

  8. I agree and disagree with the previuos comments for different reasons. But what about the people like me, all my horses are registered through AQHA and i have foundation bred bloodlines and in my opinion my horses are just as good as these ranch horses and i think they should be able to qaulify for what the can or will do not where they were born and raised. My horses work cattle,round up escapees, bring sick ones to the barn and more. They also are used for trails,checking fences and we also go to local fairs and barrel race. That is some of the things these ranch horses do and i wouldnt hardly call our 800 acers and 100 head of beef cattle a ranch,so even though my horses can do the same thing do they not qaulify because our farm isnt big enough?

  9. We have only begun breeding horses in the last 3 years. We are focusing on high foundation bred horses. We believe it is important to keep the breed as close to the cow bred horses as possible. Regrettably we only have 60 acres. If 800 acres does not qualify as a ranch, then our little 60 acres surely will not. Our horses will have some of the same breeding as the ranch horses that will inevitably sale for lots more than we can get for our weanlings. We only bred one mare this season because of the inability to get a fair price for our horses. We have 6 mares currently, but we used to have 13. We had to sell some of our stock because we cannot afford to continue feeding that many since we cannot raise a foal off of them and be able to sell them at a decent price. We are in Mississippi. What, if anything is being done for the small breeder farms?

  10. Yes, I support the expansion of the working ranch horse population and bringing back the foundation stock horse. I feel the breed would be done a disservice not to do so. So also should Western riding go back to it’s origin. Sand arenas don’t do much for me. I feel bad watching a great,willing, intelligent,skilled friend being pummelled round and round day after day in a confined space with not even a variation in the scenery to ease the pain they so nobly bear.

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