The Colorado Ranger Horse was named for its Colorado High Plains origin. Verbal references to those "range bred" horses eventually led to their being more commonly known as Rangerbreds or Rangerbred Horses. But despite its appearance, the Rangerbred is not a type of Appaloosa even though many Rangerbreds are double-registered with the Appaloosa Horse Clubs of both the United States and Canada. It has its own unique heritage.
Colorado Ranger Horses were bred for being cow savvy, and can anticipate the movements of cattle, and for their performance capabilities. They excel in ranch work with great stamina and do well in endurance competitions.
Colorado Ranger Horses are refined horses due to their Arabian/Barb ancestry and are compact animals, with powerful hindquarters. Like most popular breeds, Rangerbred sizes range from 14.2 to 16+ hands with the average height at 15.2 hands, and they have good dispositions.
Although the breed as we know it today is considered to have originated in America, its roots can be traced back to Constantinople, Turkey.
During 1878, General Ulysses S. Grant visited Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey as part of a world tour. The Sultan, in showing his regard for the General, gave him the gift of two desert stallions; a blue-gray Barb named Linden Tree and a gray Siglavy-Gidran Arab named Leopard. These horses are listed in the studbooks of both the Jockey Club and the Arabian Horse Club and their influence has touched almost every breed of horse in the United States.
These two horses went to Virginia at first, where they were used as foundation sires in a new breed of light-harness horse called the Americo Arab. But when the automobile was invented, along with other difficulties, the breeding project was discontinued in 1906 and his herd was disbanded.
So, Leopard and Linden Tree spent a season in Nebraska and sired a few foals, some spotted or colored, from the native mares of the General Colby Ranch. A.C. Whipple, of Kit Carson County in Colorado, obtained a herd of broodmares from the Colby Ranch who were all sired by either Linden Tree or Leopard. In addition, a black-eared white stallion named Tony was used as the herd stallion, because he was double bred to Leopard and was part of the family's extensive line-breeding program using Tony and his sons.
In the early 20th Century, Mike Ruby, of the Lazy J Bar Ranch, bought one of Tony's sons, a stallion named Patches and Max, son of Waldron Leopard. He used these stallions as the foundation sires of the new breed, in which unusual coloring was seen more and more frequently in his herd of more than 300 mares.
So, in essence, the Colorado Ranger was developed by Mike Ruby, who kept meticulous records on every foal that he bred. These records included foaling dates, coat patterns and complete pedigrees and are still in existence today with all horses still being recorded by hand in these ledgers, as well as by more modern methods in the Colorado Ranger breed registry.
After two leopard-patterned stallions were displayed at the Denver Stock Show, they created such a sensation that Mike Ruby was urged by the faculty of what is now Colorado State University to name this new breed of horse. And so the Colorado Ranger Horse was officially named in 1934 to reflect that they originated in Colorado and were bred and raised under range conditions.
And with the naming of the breed came the breed registry. The Colorado Ranger Horse Association (CRHA) is an older registry than the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC). In fact, it is the oldest of the western horse breed registries still in existence in the United States. It was founded in 1935 by Mike Ruby, who was its first president until his death in 1942. Its corporate charter was granted in 1938. Ironically, its home office is currently in Pennsylvania.
In the beginning, registration was limited only to the first 50 CRHA members, so a lot of true Rangerbreds were not allowed to be registered with CRHA. However, those horses with the appropriate color patterns were gladly accepted by the Appaloosa Horse Club which was another breed registry that was founded several months later. In 1964, the CRHA lifted the fifty member limit and registration was opened to all horses meeting the pedigree requirements, regardless of the owner's membership status. This enabled the CRHA to register many of the Appaloosas that had Rangerbred heritage that were "lost" to the organization for so many years.
About 90% of all registered Rangerbreds are also registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club, but not all Appaloosas are eligible for registration with the CRHA, unless they have the required pedigree that shows a direct descent from one of the two foundation stallions, Max #2 and/or Patches #1 in an unbroken line. Patches #1 was purchased from the Whipple Ranch and traces to both Leopard and Linden Tree. Max #2 came from the Governor Oliver Shoup ranch at Colorado Springs and is descended from Waldron Leopard.
While many Colorado ranger horses display the same color patterns as the appaloosa, the CRHA is a bloodline registry, not a color registry. In fact, color and markings are not considered in eligibility for registration, only ancestry is. The breed's founder wisely decided that a horse's ability has nothing to do with color of his coat.
As with the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), the CRHA recognizes the same approved outcrosses as the ApHC. The following breeds are considered as acceptable outcrosses for the Rangerbred and may be used in a CRHA Breeding Program: The American Jockey Club (TB), The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)., ApHC of USA, Canada & Foreign, The Arabian Horse Club (AHC), ARA-APP, and the International Colored Appaloosa Association (ICAA) (with certain reservations). The outcrossed mare must be registered with one of the above registries. Paints & pintos are not among these approved outcrosses.
Research indicates that one out of every eight Appaloosas is of Rangerbred heritage and also eligible for CRHA registration.