HN’s in-house cowgirl Kristen Kovatch reports on an AQHA award that recognizes ranches that are “keeping it real” when it comes to the Quarter Horse breed.
Quarter horses have been in the news a lot recently, from criticism of the “new style” to Rita Crundwell’s embezzlement scheme to cloning lawsuits. With headlines like these, it’s easy to forget that for as much bad representation and modern stereotyping that exists in the Quarter horse world, the breed served and still serves an enormous and historically-significant purpose in the development of the United States. The Zoetis-AQHA Best Remuda Award reminds us all that the world of the American Quarter Horse is rich and complex indeed, and the 2013 winner has been declared: Matador Ranch of Texas takes home this year’s title.
The Best Remuda award is part of the AQHA’s Ranch Heritage program. The award specifically “honor[s] the contributions that ranch horses have made to the heritage of the American Quarter Horse” (from aqha.com) A remuda in this case is defined as five or more American Quarter Horse mares used to produce horses for ranch work, still a necessity on many of the nation’s sprawling cattle ranches and making good use of the Quarter horse’s all-around nature. Remudas must be maintained specifically for the purpose of operating a cattle ranch; a breeding program raising cutting horses destined only for the show ring, for example, would not meet the requirements.
Ranches eligible for the Remuda award also must be part of the AQHA Ranching Heritage program. This is basically a title awarded to ranches who embody the traditions of raising Quarter horses for ranching purposes, breeding intelligent, sound and strong animals for the express purpose of working. Other criteria include a 10-year AQHA Breeder Award and approval from the AQHA Ranching Council. Past remuda winners have included such prestigious ranches as 6666 Ranch, Waggoner Ranch, Babbitt Ranch and others.
And because even cowboys and cowhorses can’t be all work and no play, there’s the Ranching Heritage Challenge, a horse show open only to nominated ranch Quarter horses to compete in three classes: working ranch horse (a combination of reining and working a cow and roping), boxing (showing working control of a single cow) and ranch horse pleasure (assessing the natural working gaits of the ranch horse with emphasis on soundness and willingness, tested on an individually-performed pattern.) The AQHA plans to develop these challenges to eventually hold six across the country with available purse money of $20,000.
So when it’s looking bleak in the world of Quarter horses, remember that far away from the glitz and glamour and politics of the showing world, there are real horses doing real work out there. If you’ve been lucky enough to ride one of these true ranch-bred animals, you’ll know exactly what I mean.