Estancia San Rafael Named AQHA International Best Remuda

Estancia San Rafael Named AQHA International Best Remuda

Argentina ranch has bred quality ranch horses for decades.

A group of cowboys and horses travel across grassy plains

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With a rich ranch history stretching back more than 140 years, Estancia San Rafael in Puan, Argentina, is home to thousands of cattle and sheep that are managed 365 days of the year with the help of quality American Quarter Horses.

Since 1992, the American Quarter Horse Association has honored the contributions ranch horses have made to the heritage of the American Quarter Horse by presenting each year the AQHA Best Remuda Award to a ranch that raises outstanding ranch horses. In 2018, AQHA began presenting the AQHA International Best Remuda Award to recognize outstanding international ranch remudas comprised of registered American Quarter Horses. In 2021, Estancia San Rafael becomes the fourth ranch honored for its contributions.

“We honor this ranch that has contributed to Argentina’s Quarter Horse industry for decades, producing quality ranch horses and helping American Quarter Horses grow in South America,” said Karen McCuistion, AQHA senior director of Member Programs.

Estancia San Rafael was established in 1880 by merchant Ramon Abraham Lopez Lecube, and was originally a 124,000-acre stronghold in the Puan District. There Lecube built up a dominant ranch with imported livestock, including cattle, horses and sheep, a tradition the ranch has maintained ever since. The de Mendiguren family bought the current ranch in 1980, and carefully manages its 7,500 acres.

They specialize in Aberdeen Angus cattle, Hampshire Down and Scottish Blackface Sheep, and since 2000 have bred American Quarter Horses to assist with the ranch work. The ranch is managed by Jose Ignacio “Nacho” de Mendiguren and runs a sizeable cow-calf and stocker operation, as well as sheep and farming.

The ranch’s gauchos, which are synonymous with South American cowboys, use the horses daily to check and work cattle. The ranch currently stands three stallions, and breed with a focus on producing a ranch horse with an aptitude for Versatility Ranch Horse-type competition. All horses from Estancia San Rafael participate in cattle work during their training.

In addition to the ranch’s contributions to breeding, de Mendiguren has been influential in growing the Argentine Quarter Horse industry, serving as the president of AQHA’s international affiliate in Argentina, Criadores Argentinos de Caballos Cuarto de Milla, for the past seven years, as well as being a member of several organizations dedicated to the larger equine and livestock industries in Argentina. He has been instrumental in many important AQHA programs in South America, from coordinating educational training clinics to facilitating genetic improvement programs. De Mendiguren is also an AQHA and NRHA judge and is serves as chairman of the AQHA International Committee.

To qualify for the AQHA International Best Remuda Award, the ranch must be located outside of the United States and breed registered American Quarter Horses for ranch work. 

Estancia San Rafael will receive a specially designed award presented during the AQHA Breeder Banquet tentatively scheduled during the 2022 AQHA Convention, and the ranch will be featured in an upcoming issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.

Learn more about AQHA International Best Remuda award.

About AQHA International

The AQHA International Department serves and supports international members and affiliate organizations through the implementation of innovative programs and services that accommodate a diverse set of needs in order to enhance the value of maintaining AQHA membership globally. To learn more, visit

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