Choosing a Ranch Rodeo Horse

Choosing a Ranch Rodeo Horse

The key to winning ranch rodeos is horsepower.

ranch rodeo horse (Credit: Journal)

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By Sara Gugelmeyer with Tara Matsler for Ranch Horse Journal

The right horsepower makes a huge difference in a ranch rodeo team’s ability to win. A good horse can make the difference of a few seconds, and in ranch rodeo, that might be all that separates several placings. 

Here, ranchers Nick Peterson of Arkansas Valley Feeders Inc. in Lamar, Colorado, and Tripp Townsend of Sandhill Cattle Co. in Earth, Texas, weigh in on what they look for in ranch rodeo horses. Their teams (Jolly Ranch and S&L Cattle Ranch Rodeo Team for Nick and Sandhill Cattle Co. for Tripp) have earned quite a few Working Ranch Cowboys Association ranch rodeo world champion titles, and Tripp’s mounts have earned numerous top-horse titles at the event.

“Good horses give you a little extra leverage and allow you to cut some corners where it might take other teams longer,” Nick says. “And the quicker you can do anything, the better off you are.”

“I know it’s not a guarantee that it will be a good one, but I look at pedigrees,” Tripp says. “I want one that’s cow-horse bred and want him to have enough size to go rope one.”

Tripp says build doesn’t necessarily mean the horse must be tall, just strong. 

“(My horse) Four Metallic isn’t a big horse, but he’s real thick and compact,” Tripp says of the Metallic Cat son out of Raspberry Slush by Eddie Eighty. “It takes a strong horse to go rope one in the cow milking and handle it.”

Quick Feet
“I like one that’s cowy and quick-footed, and a little bit hot-blooded,” Nick says. “I don’t particularly like a big one, because they don’t move as quick.”

“I feel like if they have heart and try, then size isn’t as important,” Nick says.

“For me, it’s all about their temperament and their mindset,” Tripp says. “If I have one that’s not the nervous type, he’s a little more settled and doesn’t get as wound up, I get along better. There are some horses that have lots of ability but can’t take all the excitement and noise without getting nervous. I just don’t feel as comfortable on those types of nervous horses.”