In the solitude of a quiet cow camp a few of us cowboys got talking
about our horses, horsemanship, and ways of handling stock. Working cowboys like us have a special pride in our horses. Great Basin horsemanship runs deep, dating back to the vaqueros and cowboys of old. We, and many other cowboys and trainers of this tradition, have proven how important the variety of outside work and lots of miles are for producing solid horses, both in and out of the arena. Our horses have roped hundreds of stock, worked cows, traveled in rough country, packed, and gathered in rain, snow, wind, and sun. To develop these abilities farther, some of us cowboys have taken to the arena, studying and working with top trainers to achieve excellence in reining, cow work, and roping.
We’ve also taken our ranch horses to the arena to fine-tune more specialized maneuvers like turnarounds, leads, and stops. Over the last few years many notable trainers have written about the advantages of this “cross-training” in various horse magazines. The ranch horse has evolved with the performance horse industry, though tried-and-true theories have remained unchanged.
Many have applied the intelligence, athleticism, and strength developed in ranch horse jobs to excel in performance events. For example, a ranch horse has had hundreds, if not thousands, of calves and cows roped on him under a no-pressure situation, leaving the horse to enjoy his work in an open, non-restricted area. To team rope on this horse, all that’s needed is to pattern him and get him used to a box. To team pen or sort on this horse, his experience in a no-pressure situation will help him stay relaxed and quiet in an arena surrounding. The same horse could work well as a reined cow horse, cutting horse, reining horse, 4-H, or trail horse for the same reasons.
A group of us cowboys with the same ideals and abilities of horsemanship decided to get together to sell the best bunch of ranch performance horses we’ve worked with in the past year.
As working cowboys and ranchers, selling a few good horses is a vital part of our income. These horses are not culls; they’re our best. We realize that if we don’t sell our good horses, we won’t be able to, or want to, continue selling our horses.
I was once told good horses come from wet saddle blankets. Most ranch horses have more time on them in one year than arena horses have in five years. This experience is invaluable, teaching horses different lessons daily instead of a routine life of straight arena use. If you want a solid performing, all-around horse, then a ranch performance horse may be just what you’re looking for.