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Versatile horses to show practical talents at APHA's first Paint Ranch Horse Round Up
FORT WORTH, Texas-Long before equestrian centers and sports arenas became popular venues for showcasing the talents of horses in America, cattle ranches were the proving grounds for good mounts. Herding, sorting, penning and roping cattle, in addition to keeping them moving from ranches to markets, were jobs only for the best riders and their horses. It gave new meaning to the word "teamwork," because man and animal had to learn to work as one. Riders were rugged, experienced and intuitive about horses and cattle. "Versatile" became the choice adjective to describe the best ranch horses.
On May 8, at the Lone Star Arena in Stephenville, Texas, the working relationship between cowboys, cowgirls and their horses will be put to the test at the first American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Paint Ranch Horse Round Up. This one-day working ranch horse competition will feature classes that include:
Stock Horse Pleasure -- horses must walk, trot and lope smoothly and efficiently on a designated course.
Stock Horse Versatility -- horses perform some of the many tasks required of them in the course of actual ranch work. Horses may be asked by their riders to walk calmly over bridges, walk through brush, back into confined spaces, jump over obstacles, or drag hay bales, just to name a few challenges.
Working Stock Horse -- horses will demonstrate the skill and athleticism necessary to move cattle to specific areas. Roping may be performed in this class.
Stock Horse Reining -- horses must show they can be guided and ridden willingly, without resistance, in specific patterns.
The Paint Ranch Horse Round Up will include four divisions: Open Regular Registry, Open Breeding Stock, Amateur Regular Registry and Amateur Breeding Stock. Horses and riders who demonstrate exceptional abilities in each class and division will earn special awards. A special "head-to-head" round will determine a "Top Hand" in both the Open and Amateur divisions.
Versatility at its finest -- Working ranch horse competition is quickly becoming one of the most popular horse events, and it is a favorite attraction at livestock shows around the country. That is no surprise to Junior Robertson of Waurika, Okla. One of APHA's founding members and a legendary roping champion with his Paint Horse, Wahoo King, Robertson's experience with horses started with ranch work 60 years ago. "You had to have a horse that could do it all there were a lot of good horses made out on the ranches back then."
Showcasing the practical skills of working ranch horses at competitions such as the Paint Ranch Horse Round Up is sure to have a positive impact on the breed, Robertson said. "There's a growing market for horses that you can ride and go out and do a day's work on. That's the kind of horses people are looking for."
Robertson said that while some ranchers have turned to "four-wheelers" to get around their ranches, there's nothing like a good horse to get the job done. "There's definitely a need for good ranch horses."
Maren Manuello of Sterling, Colo., agreed. She and her 14-year-old American Paint Horse mare, The Contessa, regularly work 500 head of cattle at the family ranch. And, when they're not tending to the herds, Manuello and her blue-eye, red roan, overo Paint Horse can usually be found at a working ranch horse competition.
It's a sport that is "hotter than a fritter right now," Manuello said. "It's the greatest thing I've ever done on horseback." While Manuello has shown horses in a variety of disciplines, she said nothing compares to the working ranch horse events. "You don't go out and just do one thing. We get to have fun all day."
Manuello is excited that APHA is sponsoring the event. "We've always prided the American Paint Horse on being such a versatile animal. The working ranch horse is a horse that can do it all ... Paints are naturals for this type of competition."
In addition to the competition, APHA will sponsor a special trade show, featuring a variety of equine-related merchandise, including tack, clothing and more. APHA General Store items will also be available.
Sponsors of the Paint Ranch Horse Round Up include Gist Silversmiths, Hart Trailers, Metro Golf Cars and The Kent Group.
Rules, fees and horse accommodations
The $150 entry fee for the Paint Ranch Horse Round Up, which includes cost for cattle, is due April 30. The number of participants is limited.
Stephenville's Lone Star Arena comprises two covered arenas with seating, a covered warm-up arena, 400 stalls, a café and RV accommodations. Stalls will be available May 7 and 8 at the facility.
For more information about the Paint Ranch Horse Round Up, contact APHA at (817) 834-2742, extension 773. Rules and regulations may be accessed at APHA's Web site at http://www.apha.com/forms/PDFFiles/rulebooks/2004RuleBook.pdf.
An entry form may be downloaded at http://www.apha.com/forms/performance_forms.html.
Click on "2004 Paint Ranch Horse Round Up Entry Form."
About APHA and Paints
Since its founding 42 years ago, APHA has registered more than 765,000 horses. The association serves more than 105,000 members around the world.
APHA employs 155 people and has an operating budget of $15 million for activities worldwide. Among the many qualities that make Paint Horses desirable are their sound conformation, versatile athletic ability, intelligence, calm temperament, willing disposition and beautiful coat color patterns.
Working ranch horse competition is one of the most recent events sanctioned by the association, following approval by its membership last fall. It is yet another of the many programs APHA carries out to enrich members' enjoyment of their American Paint Horses.
For more information about the American Paint Horse and APHA, visit www.apha.com, or call (817) 834-2742, extension 788.