How to Train a Cow Horse

Matt Koch and Chance O’Neal share their horse-training techniques for making colts into cow horses.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Let’s say you have a nice cow horse prospect. And maybe your intention is to point him or her to reined cow horse or ranch horse competitions.

How do you prepare your colt? 

Larri Jo Starkey, editor of The American Quarter Horse Journal, went to the experts to find out. For the next year, the Journal will be following trainers Matt Koch of Wagonhound Land & Livestock in Douglas, Wyoming, and Chance O’Neal of the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. 

In “Making Cow Horses,” Matt and Chance share their training timetables for the 2-year-olds they are prepping for a 2015 Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge

The topics they cover in Part 1, featured in the March Journal, are:

  • What they look for conformation-wise in a cow horse
  • The work they do inside the arena, as well as outside of it
  • How much time they spend in the saddle per day per colt
  • Incorporating roping cattle into cow-horse training
  • Where the colt should be at in terms of rein-work ability right now

Subscribe to the Journal to catch the entire “Making Cow Horses” series. Visit to peruse your subscription options, including print and digital, plus the free Journal app.

Call 800-291-7323 to order a single print copy of the March Journal.

About Ranching Heritage Challenges

More than $90,000 in added money is being offered at Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenges just in 2014. 

To compete, horses must have been raised by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders. View the list of current Ranching Heritage Breeders, or if you are eligible to apply, at

Ranching Heritage Challenges feature classes for every level of rider, from professional to amateur, from beginner to old hand. More than just working ranch horse classes, ranch horse pleasure is also offered as a Ranching Heritage Challenge event. Learn more at

Download the free American Quarter Horse Journal app.