AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder

American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Ranching Heritage Breeders selects new member Longhorn Cattle Company of Ellensburg, WA.

Ranching Heritage Breeders are those that breed and raise the ranch-type horse, which remains at the core of the American Quarter Horse Association and epitomizes the breed’s versatility.

“AQHA was built with ranch horses and it’s time to recognize their efforts and their breeders again,” said AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. “We want to put the spotlight on the backbone of the industry.”

A new initiative created by the American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Council began earlier this year with the goal of recognizing outstanding ranches that represent longevity, honesty and integrity in raising quality American Quarter Horses, while upholding the ranching heritage.

Ranching Heritage Breeder Qualifications. Recognized “Ranching Heritage Breeders,” must meet the following criteria:

  • The ranch must be a member of the American Quarter Horse Association.
  • Ranch remudas must consist of registered American Quarter Horses.
  • The ranch must own a minimum of five AQHA-registered mares used to produce ranch horses.
  • The ranch must maintain a remuda for the specific purpose of operating a working cattle ranch.
  • The ranch must have received, at minimum, an AQHA 10-year Breeder award.
  • The ranch must apply to and be approved by the AQHA Ranching Council.
  • The ranch must pay an annual fee to maintain status as a Ranching Heritage Breeder.

The Ranching Heritage Breeder initiative is gaining support through three facets of the overall program: the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders, the AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge and the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program.

Ranches that are members of the Ranching Heritage Breeders will also be able to enter their horses in exclusive competitions and sales that are designed to increase the market for ranch-bred horses.

The Ranching Heritage Breeders will have the opportunity to show off their horses at a series of regional Ranching Heritage Challenge events, with purses of $100,000 to $150,000, developed by 2015. Foals will be paid into the Ranching Heritage Challenge to develop purses for the events, with added money provided by AQHA and its corporate partners.

Owners of nominated foals will continue to pay into the futurity program, with the opportunity to compete in the series of regional events starting in 2013. Each Ranching Heritage Challenge will feature an open and non-pro ranch horse competition along with a non-pro trail trials – all for the chance to win great purses. Nominations are being accepted now for weanlings and older horses to be eligible for Ranching Heritage Challenge events in 2013 and beyond.

The first Ranching Heritage Challenge is Jan. 13 as part of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas. This entry-fee-only event will include an open ranch horse class for 4-year-old horses that anyone can own and ride. The second class will be a non-pro ranch horse class for 5-year-old and older horses. Exhibitors must own their horse as per AQHA amateur rules, and the horse must be properly transferred. The exhibitor cannot be a professional trainer and cannot have earned certain limits in National Cutting Horse, National Reining Horse, National Reined Cow Horse association or Ranch Horse of Association of America competition. All foals 4 years old and older that have been bred and raised by a Ranching Heritage Breeder are eligible to enter the Fort Worth event. To enter, exhibitors should contact AQHA at or 806-376-4811.

The third facet of this new program is the Young Horse Development Program that was formed to help drive markets for weanlings and yearlings that are nominated to the program. American Quarter Horse Youth Association members will have the opportunity to qualify for ranch-bred foals or purchase one for just $700 or less – depending on the ranch – and bring it along as part of this youth-focused program.

This will allow AQHYA members to learn how to develop young horses the right way and get breeders’ foals in the hands of future buyers. They will take their weanlings home and train them for an in-hand competition held during Ranching Heritage Challenge shows starting as yearlings and then be able to show them again as 2-year-olds in a ranch pleasure class. Applications are being taken now through Sept. 2 for AQHYA members to take ownership of a foal as part of a pilot project.