Ranching Heritage Breeder: Perry Quarter Horses

Ranching Heritage Breeder: Perry Quarter Horses

This ranch aims to produce a sound and competitive ranch horse on the arid plains of Kansas.

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By Andrea Caudill

Cattle graze on the hot, arid plains of western Kansas, on ranchland near the town of Leoti. A cowboy sits horseback looking them over. The horse stands patiently, ready to do whatever job is necessary – a habit that has been bred into his very bones. He is from a 34-year breeding program managed by a four-generation family of ranchers at AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Perry Quarter Horses. 

The ranch was started by Dale Perry, then transferred to his son Don, and is now managed by Don’s youngest son, Jason, with his son, Tristen, the fourth generation. Jason and his wife, C.J. Garland, operate a diverse commercial cow-calf operation with angus crosses, selling both market and direct-to-consumer cattle. 

The ranch has diverse interests in addition to its cattle and horses, also offering things like guided pheasant hunts, as well as several times per year opening their gates for photography and horse clinics. 

Horses are a passion for the family. When Jason was just a teenager, his father sent him to a Ray Hunt clinic. That sparked a love for training horses, and Jason spent years learning Ray’s method and starting young horses. 

“Jason deeply values their friendship,” C.J. says. “Ray helped Jason develop his colt starting program and Jason uses a lot of those skills today, even though he has now been training horses for over 30 years.”

Horses With a Purpose

 The Perry Quarter Horses breeding program focuses on producing ranch horses that can also perform in the show ring. In addition to the never-ending tasks at the ranch, they are active in reined cow horse and versatility competitions, and the horses have to be ready for whatever job the day brings. 

”We have always used horses versus ATVs and things like that because they can traverse the country and help us get the job done better,” C.J. says. “You cannot find a lost calf with a four-wheeler. So everything a horse can do on the ranch, they have done. That’s one of the reasons why Jason is such a good trainer – rope, drag, doctor, brand – we try to live as authentically western heritage as we can. He does that, one, because he believes in the traditions, but, two, because he knows it’s really good for his horses, and, third, it’s humane handling for the cattle.”

The Perry ranch horses are produced from a carefully curated combination of classic ranch and modern performance bloodlines to produce a balanced performance horse that can win in the show ring, but also has the stamina and sturdiness to perform on the ranch. 

“A lot of the people that have purchased our horses, they are like us in that they ranch and show, so they want something they can do both with,” C.J. says. “That’s why they like us, everything we have if it hits 3 years old and it’s still here, it’s getting shown and doing an honest day’s work.” 

Bloodlines

Their home raised broodmares’ bloodlines come from the program of Kansas breeders Krebs Quarter Horses, featuring the blood of stallions like the Doc O’Lena son Sky High Leo and the Three Bars (TB) grandson Ranch Colonel. 

The Perrys cross these time-tested bloodlines on their two stallions, the red roan son of Bet Hesa Cat named Bob Hes Quick, and the black rabicano Jackpot Cat son named Cats Royal Boon. Both stallions still hit the show pen on a regular basis.

“The results have been phenomenal, we’re getting the bone, the foot, and the heartiness that we want from the mares and the brain and athleticism that everyone wants from the more modern lines,” C.J. says. 

The ranch produces about 10-12 foals per year, and they sell horses of all ages via private treaty. Some are snapped up as weanlings and yearlings, while a few of the horses are retained to riding age and given a solid start by Jason, experiencing real ranch work as well as traveling to shows. 

“Our ideal horse is something that has an excellent mind, likes people and is friendly, has a lot of talent and a good heart,” C.J. says. “It looks and acts just like a Quarter Horse should, what we all breed for – that beautiful, straight leg, big hip, wide shoulders, beautiful neck and head, a little bit of color doesn’t hurt. 

“(We want) a horse that lasts,” she continues. “We work hard to bring in those old bloodlines at a quarter or half, purely because the bone structure and foot really add that element. It’s a hard life on the ranch, we put them through the ringer, and if they’re going to stay sound, do the job and love their job, love their people out here, it’s that much better for the people that buy them.” 

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder program highlights working cattle ranches that breed high-quality American Quarter Horses primarily for ranch work. Horses bred by these ranches are given unique opportunities through AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge competitions open only to these horses. For more information, visit www.aqha.com/ranching.