Raising, Training, Showing Ranch Horses

AQHYA members discuss how yearlings and the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program have sparked their interest in ranching.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

"With WWR Miss King, every experience is a new one, and I never imagined how interesting and fulfilling it is to help support and teach her as she grows,” says Christina Weatherford. (Credit: Larry Weatherford)

It’s one thing to learn about horse training from a book or the Internet, and another thing completely to experience it first hand. The youth participants of the 2014-15 AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program are doing just that.

Last fall, 26 aspiring horse trainers, all of which are older American Quarter Horse Youth Association members, were selected to receive weanlings from AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders. In addition to raising and training their now-yearlings, the youth are responsible for documenting the training progress of their yearlings; competing in AQHA, 4-H, FFA or local horse shows; engaging in mentoring sessions with local AQHA Professional Horsemen; and completing assignments. Following project completion, a select number of scholarships and prizes are awarded to participants. 

Hannahmarie Klute of La Porte, Indiana, is training a filly named RWS Oaks Slipper, better known as “Sula.” By Sweet Gallo Oak and out of Legendary Slippers by Legendary Rock, Hannahmarie's filly was bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Raymond W. Sutton Jr. of Gettysburg, South Dakota.

“I would encourage any youth who is interested in training and the ranch-horse-type animal to participate. It's very simple to write an essay and fill out the application!”

Hannah Klute and RWS Oaks Slipper are in the 2014-15 AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program (Credit: courtesy of Hannah Klute)

Hannahmarie Klute and RWS Oaks Slipper

Hannahmarie goes on to outline the importance of being committed to the yearling’s training and following the program curriculum.

“Anyone who is willing to put in the hard work and the hours will be greatly rewarded,” she says. 

For many of the youth, the Young Horse Development Program presents a new challenge, as this is the first time they’ve trained a young, inexperienced horse.

“My horse, Docs Miss Cupcake, is 25 years old,” says Christina Weatherford of Oklahoma City. “Understandably, my weanling's needs and hers are incredibly different. With ‘Cupcake,’ I only need to remind her of what to do and her previous training kicks in. With (my weanling), WWR Ms King Gist, every experience is a new one, and I never imagined how interesting and fulfilling it is to help support and teach her as she grows.”

Christina's filly, by Gists Fifty King and out of Bar Five Grayway 912 by Sonoita Whopper Glo, was bred by Wagon Wheel Ranch (Fred and Elaine Gist) of Lometa, Texas.

Not all participants of the program have a background in ranching, but several have been inspired by their ranch-bred yearlings to get involved in other aspects of AQHA.

“Since I have a working cow horse now, I plan on learning a thing or two about ranching,” says Hannahmarie. “We may not need (Sula) to herd cows, but she can be shown in ranch riding (formerly ranch horse pleasure). Over the past couple years, this event has been growing and changing into a really awesome new program! I look forward to participating with Sula in this event at AQHA shows once she matures.”

Christina echoes Hannahmarie’s interest in learning more about ranching.

“Ranching is a key part of the American Quarter Horse's history. There were racehorses, cow horses and horses who could do both. I think we should try to preserve the breed’s ranching heritage, keeping the traits that make a good cow horse.”

Learn more about the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program at www.aqha.com/yhd.