By Lauren Brant
Box O Quarter Horses of Gordon is the inaugural recipient of the 2016 AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year award. Jecca and Cash Ostrander will receive a custom-designed Montana Silversmiths buckle from the American Quarter Horse Association during the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, on March 18.
Recipients of the award are chosen based on the breeder’s continued ranching tradition and the excellence of the ranch horses they raise. The Ostranders come from ranching families. The honor is the heritage of family history in ranching, which continues after six generations.
Jecca and Cash Ostrander operate the Willow Creek Ranch south of Gordon, where they care for 800 head of Angus-Limousin-cross cattle and use 45 registered American Quarter Horses daily for ranch work. “I was stunned and completely honored to have been chosen out of an exceptional field of breeder’s horses,” said Jecca Ostrander. She learned about receiving the award while she was competing in the Black Hills Stock Show.
Ostrander has bred AQHA mares for 35 years. Four years ago, she began showing horses because of the introduction of the Ranching Heritage program through the AQHA. “I felt like it was an excellent avenue to step into the show world with AQHA,” said Ostrander.
She has competed in the six different Ranching Heritage Challenges every year across the western United States. The first competition was in Fort Worth, Texas, where Ostrander won the ranch riding. During the challenge in Rapid City, Ostrander’s four-year-old won the open class and the amateur cow horse class. In Billings, the horses placed first and second in the amateur division and Ostrander won the open ranch and amateur ranch riding. The horses won the open ranch and finished second in the amateur ranch riding at Reno. The horses also placed well at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colo.
Still, she works to provide people with good ranch horses. “It’s that they become family members to the family I sell them to and people are enjoying their purchases, which is a great honor to me,” said Ostrander.
Recipients of the Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year award must own at least five registered AQHA mares that produce horses for ranch work and have bred colts for 10 years, be an AQHA member and Ranching Heritage Breeder.