A cold, drizzly weekend didn’t dampen spirits at Western Heritage Classic. The Abilene, Texas-based event was full of punchy cowboys, talented horses and top-notch trappings.

For more than 30 years, Western Heritage Classic has attracted cowboys and their families to Abilene, Texas. It’s a reunion of sorts for the Western community. It’s not uncommon for folks around the country to make WHC their big trip of the year to attend the ranch rodeo; the bit, spur and gear show; horse sale; Ranch Horse Association of America National Finals; chuckwagon cook-off and more.

Though this year’s event was dotted with more felt hats than usual due to cold winds and rain showers, the weather was not a deterrent to the crowd. Records were broken in the sale ring and world titles awarded to deserving cowboys and their horses.

For those who couldn’t make the event, or those who did but want to relive the memories, below are Western Horseman‘s favorite moments from the weekend.

High-Selling Horse

father and son riding palomino horse at Western Heritage Classic sale
Photo by Katie Frank

At the Western Heritage Classic Ranch Horse Sale, Haida Prefered Gin [above] sold for an all-time sale high of $43,000. The 2012 palomino gelding is by Becaco Diamond Gin and out the Mr Haida Flo mare, Ms Becaco Crowflo.

Townsend’s Smooth Victory

Tripp Townsend roping on I Do It Smooth
Photo by Ross Hecox

Tripp Townsend and I Do It Smooth [above] won the RHAA senior class with a score of 353. Townsend, who operates Sandhill Cattle Company in Earth, Texas, has claimed numerous RHAA championship titles.

Double Honors for Haythorns

Craig Haythorn on Winchester
Photo by Katie Frank

Top remuda and top horse honors went to the Haythorn Land & Cattle Company of Arthur, Nebraska, and “Winchester,” respectively. Craig Haythorn rode the gelding [above], who was born on the Haythorn and is by PG Shogun and out of a daughter of Snicklefritz Chex.

World’s Largest Bit & Spur Show

single piece spurs
Spurs by Barry Guillory. Photo by Katie Frank

A walk around the Round Building left spectators dizzy—and it wasn’t from the famed circular track of tables within the building. Craftsmen and gear collectors stood proud behind their vendor tables with their spurs, bits, saddles and more available for sale.

Back to the Ranch

Matt Kock lays a heel shot at Western Heritage Classic
Photo by Katie Frank

Reined cow horse trainer Matt Koch [above] sported the Haythorn brand as a team member for the ranch. “It was just like old times,” says reined cow horse trainer Matt Koch on his Facebook page. The accomplished trainer used to work on the ranch before starting his own business in Colorado.

Budweiser Clydesdales Let Loose

budweiser clydesdales
Photo by Katie Frank

Rain and boggy mud could have put a halt to Budweiser clydesdales performance Friday and Saturday nights. The rain made the leather lines difficult to manage, and the thick mud posed a risk to the wagon. Instead, the six-up team was set loose in the arena to frolic and play, much to the delight of the crowd.

Matthews/Nail Ranch Come Out on Top

Matthews Nail ranches in the wild cow milking
Photo by Katie Frank

Matthews/Nail Ranch earned the overall ranch rodeo title. The two historic ranches joined together to form one team for the ranch rodeo. Team member Colton Mayo garnered the top hand award.


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