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AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge

Cowboys and amateurs show off their ranch horses and compete for $10,000 added money during the first AQHA Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge of 2014.

By Larri Jo Starkey
The American Quarter Horse Journal
January 18, 2014

Boyd Rice ropes January 17 on Royal Smart Fletch to win the open working ranch horse division of the AQHA Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

Boyd Rice ropes January 17 on Royal Smart Fletch to win the open working ranch horse division of the AQHA Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, for horse breeders Kit and Charlie Moncrief of Fort Worth. (Larri Jo Starkey photo) For more photos from the event, scroll to the slide show below.

Money and bragging rights were on the line again as AQHA Ranching Heritage Ranch breeders, owners and cowboys competed for their share of $10,000 added money January 17 at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, during the AQHA Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge, presented by Bar-G Feedyards.

The Fort Worth challenge is the first of six planned for 2014.

Open Working Ranch Horse
For the second year in a row, Boyd Rice of Spearman, Texas, rode a Moncrief Ranch-bred stallion to win the open working ranch horse division of the AQHA Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge in Fort Worth.

In 2013, that horse was Highbrow Fletch. For 2014, it was Royal Smart Fletch, a 2010 sorrel stallion by Royal Fletch and out of Little Smart Ginger by Smart Little Lena. He was bred and is owned by Kit and Charlie Moncrief  on their Moncrief Ranch.

“He’s a pretty good horse,” Boyd said. “I got him when he first turned 2.”

The open working ranch horse division is limited to 4-year-olds bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders. As a 3-year-old, Royal Smart Fletch competed in the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity.

“I made the finals on him, but I had heck in the finals in every event,” Boyd said.

The stallion’s luck was better at the Ranching Heritage Challenge.

“He was really good in the reining,” Boyd said. “He stopped good every time. He rolled back good. His spin was unbelievable to the left and pretty good to the right.  He did everything he was supposed to in the reining and then the cow work – it was a perfect cow and he got it worked good.”

In AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenges, horses and riders complete a short reining pattern before a cow is released into the arena and worked on the fence. In the open division, riders must rope and stop the cow.

“He gives it all he’s got every time,” Boyd said.

Next up for the stallion is more competition.

“We’ll show him here (in Fort Worth) at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions and the Derby,” Boyd said. “That’ll be his next show.”

The reserve champion was Boots Be Tuff, owned and bred by the WT Waggoner Estate Ranch in Vernon, Texas, and ridden by Ben Baldus.

Boots Be Tuff is a sorrel gelding by Woody Be Tuff and out of Pretty Poco Boots by Doc O Boots.

In the limited division, Dusty Burson rode Paddys Prince to the top for the Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas. Paddys Prince is a bay gelding by Playin Attraction and out of Cowgirl Paddy by Paddys Irish Whiskey.

Rapp Till Light, ridden by Shawn Holden, was reserve champion for M-Heart Corp. of Vinton, Louisiana. The palomino mare is by Little Til Light and out of Rappers Pride by Smart Little Rapper.

Cowboy Working Ranch Horse
Justin Johnson of Guthrie, Texas, was saying goodbye to Mr Ginnin Tivio as he rode.

The 2002 sorrel gelding by Tanquery Gin is consigned to the 2014 Invitational Ranch Horse Show & Sale on January 19 at the Fort Worth Stock Show.

“I’ve had him since he was a 4-year-old,” Justin said. “He was in my string when I moved (to the ranch). He’s really special to me. It’s going to be tough (to say goodbye). This horse is a champion at heart.”

“Zeb” is out of Miss Peppy Tivio by Peppy San, the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame stallion, and Justin won the 2012 Ranch Horse Association of America cowboy class championship on him.

“He’s probably among the best two or three horses I’ve ever ridden in my life,” he said.

The cowboy class is limited to AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder ranch employees who have not won more than $5,000. The horses must be 5 and older, bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders.

“We went in there and started off in the  right lead and came around good,” Justin said. “We had just a little bobble coming into our left lead and after that, the run took care of itself. We drew a good cow and my horse was really working good for me today. I was real fortunate and it’s a blessing to get to win this and compete with my other buddies and co-workers.”

The reserve champion in the cowboy division was Select Guns, ridden by True Burson for the Four Sixes. Select Guns is a 2005 bay gelding by Playgun and out of Select Ingredient by Tanquery Gin.

Amateur Working Ranch Horse

In amateur, Terry Stuart Forst got a little crazy on her Seven S Crazy Horse.

“He’s out of my old mare ‘Summer’,” Terry said as the personable gelding nuzzled her. “I won quite a bit on her. I don’t know if I picked him or if he picked me.”

Seven S Crazy Horse is a 2009 brown gelding by Hickorys Indian Pep and out of Seven S Babe by Seven S Zanaday. Terry bred the horse herself on her family’s Stuart Ranch in Waurika, Oklahoma, and named him for the Sioux Indian chief.

“I thought he was really good,” Terry said. “His stops were good. We had a little lead change issue going to the right (when) he got out of the hackamore a little tick with me. He’s great on a cow. He’s a good, good fence horse, and honestly, I just have to be a jockey.”

Terry plans to show the 5-year-old in working cow horse and reined cow horse events this year, and the Ranching Heritage Challenge was a starting point for her. For the amateur challenges, horses must have been bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders, and they must be at least 5. Amateurs have the option of roping the cow or circling, like in working cow horse competition, and Terry chose to circle.

“He reads a cow really well and you just have to get there,” Terry said. “I haven’t roped on him yet. I’ll probably start roping on him a little this year.”

Blaze Cogdell of Tulia, Texas, rode Lil Buckle Bunny to the reserve championship. Lil Buckle Bunny is a 2005 bay mare by Shiver Shake and out of Susie Dry by Maxi Lena. She was bred by Dick Cogdell of Tulia.

Myles Brown of Stinnett, Texas, won the Novice amateur division on Eddie Rocks RAB, a 2006 sorrel stallion by Hesa Eddie Hancock and out of Smooth Hearted Rock by Smooth At Heart. He was bred by Rob A. Brown of Stinnett.

Open Ranch Pleasure
A smooth ride was what Ben Baldus was looking for as he rode into the arena for the open ranch pleasure division on My Boots Are Tuff near the end of the competition. The class was run concurrently with a three-judged AQHA show.

“She was really good,” Ben said. “I got to watch a lot of good guys go  -- Mozaun (McKibben) and Bozo (Rogers) – and learn what they were doing and try to go do what they were doing.”

My Boots Are Tuff is a 2009 sorrel mare by Woody Be Tuff and out of Smoke My Boots by Doc O Boots. She was bred by the WT Waggoner Estate Ranch – a similar breeding to the horse that Ben was reserve champion on in open working ranch horse.

In the class, Ben focused on transitions.

“She’s a really fun horse and a little playful so if you try to lope her off when she’s fresh, she wants to sling her head and play,” he said. “So I had to work on transitions before I went in so she would be really quiet.”

Ben started the mare as a 2-year-old.

“We’re really excited about her,” he said. “She’s a young mare that enjoys showing so we’re excited about the future for her.”

Next up is the NRCHA Celebration of Champions.

“I’ve got her qualified for the limited open hackamore finals and open hackamore so we’re going to show her in February and keep cow horsing her at some of the major derbies and also the Ranch Horse Versatility and Ranching Heritage Challenge pleasure classes,” he said.

Amateur Ranch Pleasure
Kim Lindsey of Dickens, Texas, and Judys Ten had a long couple of days at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, but it paid off when they won amateur ranch pleasure. They started off January 16 with a full day of competition in AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse

“And then (January 17), we started out this morning in Ranching Heritage in amateur, and poor ‘Reno,’ I overspun,” Kim said.

Judys Ten is a 2006 buckskin gelding by Ten O Sea and out of Crows Judy by Black Chick Gold. He was bred by Bill and Dana Smith in Spur, Texas.

Reno and Kim have an emotional history together. The gelding belonged to Kim’s son, Zinn, who won the non-pro division at the first AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge in January 2012. In May that same year, Zinn died in a car crash. Kim started riding Reno herself, and after a rocky start, they began winning competitions, culminating in the world championship in working cow horse at the 2013 Adequan Select World Championship Show.

On January 17, after working ranch horse, they competed in open ranch pleasure and were the reserve champions before winning amateur ranch pleasure.

“He’s special,” Kim said. “He could still go rope a bull.”

That’s the sort of thing Reno routinely does on her family’s ranch.

“He gives you everything you have every time you step on him,” she said.

Kim’s friend Baru Spiller of Wingate, Texas, rode Ms Browns Hawkeye in the competition, a horse with a similar look to Reno because he was bred by the same Ranching Heritage Breeder.

“That’s one of Zinn’s horses also,” Kim said. “Zinn loved to ride that one on the ranch.”

Ms Browns Hawkeye is a 2006 buckskin gelding by Tens Hawkeye and out of Miss Brown Gold Lady by Black Chick Gold.

Kim planned to compete January 18 in working cow horse at the stock show.