Ranch Horses Shine

AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred horses are among the winners from the 2017 Ranch Horse Association of America National Finals.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

American Quarter Horses bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders showed their mettle May 13 during the Ranch Horse Association of America National Finals.

Each year, the Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, Texas, draws hundreds of spectators for a weekend that includes a bit and spur show, a fiddlers’ contest, a chuck wagon cook-off, match races, a ranch horse sale, a ranch rodeo and the RHAA finals.

Consignors sent 75 horses through the sale ring. The top seller was TRR Sharlenas Pepcid, consigned by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Tongue River Ranch of Paducah, Texas.

The 2008 red roan gelding is by Pepcid and out of TRR Sharlena Gun by Playgun. After going through the sale ring, the flashy gelding was one of five finalists in the RHAA cowboy class with teenager Brazos Roberts aboard.

RHAA contestants rode in two go-rounds before the top five in four classes returned for the finals.

Cowboy Class

In the cowboy class, limited to riders who have earned less than $1,500 in RHAA competition,

Kameron Buchanan of Turkey, Texas, rode his own Heza Hickory Colonel to victory.

The Texas Tech University student was showing for the third time at the RHAA finals.

“I love it,” Kameron said. “It’s a lot of fun. You get to be with your buds and show against your friends.”

“Hippie” is a 2009 bay gelding by Stylish Hickory and out of Colonels Boogie Gal by Lynx Boogie. The horse was bred by Lorraine and Jesse L. Nickell Jr. of Cottonwood, California, and Kameron bought him from J.D. Johnson of Snowville, Utah.

“Whether you win or lose, it’s always a good time here,” Kameron said. “We were good in the first two rounds – we won both of them – and I knew coming in that I just needed to show my horse. I went in and sure enough, he was good again. He switches leads pretty good, and when I went down the fence, he was really good.”

Ranch Hand Class

Trail Townsend, 14, has been riding with his dad, accomplished ranch competitor Tripp Townsend of Earth, Texas, since he was young.

This year, in the ranch hand class limited to riders with less than $3,500 RHAA earnings, Trail rode his dad’s horse TRR Lucky Playgun to the top spot.

“This is Motown,” Trail said, “and I just started showing him in June. He used to be my dad’s horse, and one day, he made me show him. We clicked, and I’ve been showing him ever since.”

Motown is a 2009 gray gelding by Pepcid and out of TRR Ms Lucky Gun by Playgun. The horse was bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Tongue River Ranch of Paducah, Texas.

“He always stops hard,” Trail said. “He never disappoints you, even when the ground isn’t very good. He’s always good on a cow. (I was thinking about) the next maneuver. Just try to make it smooth and as pretty as possible.”

Junior Class

In the junior class for horses age 5 and younger, Chris Littlefield of Henrietta, Texas, competed on his homebred stallion Bold And Beautiful. The 2012 sorrel is by Seven S Big Valley and out of CC Mary Catherine by Seven S Keota.

Chris has a history almost every horse in the stallion’s pedigree, he said.

“Sire, dam, granddam – I’ve ridden them all,” he said. “I bought (the dam) as a yearling here at this sale. She’s probably my best broodmare. I rode her daddy, and that’s why I bought her.”

Chris didn’t intend to leave the horse a stallion, he said, but the horse’s kindness, demeanor, bone and leg persuaded him, along with his smoothness of stride.

“We’re already riding 2-year-olds by him,” Chris said. “And my kids can ride him.”

Bold And Beautiful is pointed at the 2017 Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show, Chris said, in roping and cow horse events.

Senior Class

In the prestigious senior class for horses 6 and older, Terry Riddle of Guthrie, Texas, rode Natural Bottom to the top.

The 2011 gray stallion is by Playboys Buck Fever and out of Natural Ingredient by Peppy San Badger. He was bred and is owned by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Burnett Ranches, and Terry rode the horse under a Four Sixes saddle pad.

“I don’t think we’ve reached his full potential yet,” said Terry, who has been riding the stallion for a year. “Will Wallendorff started him. He did a phenomenal job. True (Burson) rode him and did another phenomenal job. Both those guys, I give credit to.”

Terry said he concentrated on smoothness in the pattern as he nailed his first RHAA championship.

“He’s just a great horse, talented, good-minded,” Terry said. “We showed him a few times in (AQHA) Ranching Heritage (Challenges) during the summer. There’s a lot of horse here, and like I said, I don’t think we’ve reach his full potential yet.”