WCHA Ranch Horse Challenge

A new challenge brings ranch horses to the World Conformation Horse Association Breeder's Championship Futurity.

Special to The American Quarter Horse Journal

For 2015, the World Conformation Horse Association added a ranch horse challenge to its annual Breeder's Championship Futurity. (Credit: Emily Peak) For more photos from the show, scroll through the slideshow below.

Aside from lighting fireworks off in the pen, or hiring a rodeo clown, just how do you liven up a halter futurity show?

The board of directors of the World Conformation Horse Association chose to host an inaugural ranch horse challenge to liven up the show and promote “form to function” with ranch horse halter added to the equation of the WCHA Breeder’s Championship Futurity in Tunica, Mississippi.

On September 18-19, 25 exhibitors from Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina paid a $300 entry fee to show in the open division of the ranch horse challenge. Non-pros could pay an additional $100 to show in that division. All exhibitors showed in their respective halter classes (Open and non-pro with mares, geldings and stallions shown together), with those results counting as 40 percent of the total score.

After the halter class but before the results were announced, an electrifying Calcutta was in motion. With all the excitement of any good sale pen, the horses were bid on.! The lucky “buyers” of the first, third and fifth place open horses would be awarded the dough – and would be buying dinner Saturday night.

The pattern, designed by Tim Kimura, was a challenging one that included a real gate, sidepass between real logs, trots across real logs, real brushy looking branches (that not all horses were fond of) and extended gaits including an extended lope to extended trot after a lead change.

There were riders of all ages and experience in this challenge. Zane Bolton, 11, of Arlington, Tennessee, wanted to compete against the best of the best and meet new people.

Zane competed in his first AQHA Show at the Bulldog Classic in March, earning his mare Crystals Imprint her first points at age 21.

Lynn Walker, a Select exhibitor from Shreveport, Louisiana, rode a 5-year-old halter-bred mare, Shes Boss E,  that Lynn started showing in ranch riding this year. She was attracted to the WCHA’s call for ranch horses and thought it would be a fun show to attend.

AQHA Professional Horseman Mozaun McKibben of Whitesboro, Texas,  is a frequent clinician on ranch riding and a three-time AQHA world champion in the event.

He said he came to the show to support a group of people promoting his favorite class, to meet new people in the discipline and to have a chance to win some serious money.

In addition to the generous payouts, Silver Spurs Saddles donated a saddle for the open winner, and Elite Custom Saddles donated the non-pro champion saddle as well as bronc halters, spur straps, headstalls and breast collars for the top-10 finishers in each division.

Meanwhile, exhibitors also enjoyed the traditional WCHA halter futurity that paid out thousands