Add a Ranching Heritage-Bred Horse to Your Herd

Add a Ranching Heritage-Bred Horse to Your Herd

A quick insight to the benefits of owning an AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred horse.

Trainer Trevor Carter and his red roan horse trot over a log on his ranch to prepare for ranch riding classes (Credit: Abigail Boatwright)

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The American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Heritage Breeders program was established in 2011 to promote ownership of ranch-bred American Quarter Horses. Thanks to a lot of opportunities to benefit from showing AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred horses, the program has steadily grown ever since. There are many reasons owners and competitors are choosing Ranching Heritage-bred horses:

Reason 1: Own a horse that’s a part of history.

To be approved as a Ranching Heritage Breeder, ranches must have been breeding American Quarter Horses for at least a decade, though many participating ranches have been around for more than a century. Additional criteria must be met to be approved, like using horses for daily ranch work, which keeps the program true to its roots.

Reason 2: Compete at exclusive events.

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders program includes the AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenges, a series of ranch horse competitions across the country and a finals event, slated for June in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in conjunction with the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships.

Reason 3: Compete with your horse in the division that’s right for you.

AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenges offer divisions based on horse age and rider experience:

  • Open 

  • Cowboy

  • Amateur

  • Limited amateur

  • Rookie amateur

  • Youth 

  • Limited youth

  • Rookie youth

Reason 4: Challenges offer a variety of classes.

  • Working ranch horse

  • Limited working ranch horse (box-drive-box-drive)

  • Ranch riding

  • Barrel racing (offered at some challenges)

  • Team roping (offered at some challenges)

  • Ranch cutting (offered at some challenges)

Reason 5: Ride to win tens of thousands of dollars.

Some Challenges feature $17,000 added, plus jackpot money! The Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals features $36,000 in added money, plus jackpot money.

Reason 6: But wait – there’s even more money to be earned.

At many of the industry’s top events, the Ranching Heritage Breeders program presents a trophy and a check for $250 to the owner of the highest-placing RHB horse. The program also pays  $250 to the ranch that bred the horse..

Reason 7: Your horse’s registration certificate won’t look like any other.

The Ranching Heritage Breeders logo appears on the  original AQHA registration certificates of all horses bred by Ranching Heritage Breeders.  

Reason 8: Youth with RHB yearlings have an exclusive opportunity in the horse industry.

AQHYA members can apply for the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program and either receive a Ranching Heritage-bred weanling or purchase an RHB weanling. Training begins at the end of the gelding or filly’s weanling year, then on into its yearling year. Participating youth develop their horses, track their progress and compete to win scholarships and prizes. Bonus – they have an amazing horse to keep.

Reason 9: They're versatile, too!

Ranching Heritage horses excel at more than ranch horse classes. Take, for example, half siblings Law Mans Reata and Charro Cowboy, bred by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Waters of Utopia, Texas. These horses earned best-playing American Quarter Horse pony awards at the Houston Polo Club.

The Waters family breeds horses suited for various disciplines, including rodeo. Their granddaughter, Madison Outhier, rode her home-bred ranching heritage American Quarter Horse to win the first breakaway roping championship at RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo in 2019.

Reason 10: Thousands of great horses!

Ranching Heritage Breeders have bred thousands of horses that carry long-standing bloodlines whose abilities are recognized worldwide. Find a breeder who offers horses to match your goals.  

Call 806-376-4811 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central, Monday through Friday, to find out if your American Quarter Horse was bred by an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder. 

To learn more about AQHA’s ranching programs, visit