In Greek mythology, the winged divine horse, Pegasus, was said to have caused water to spring forth from the ground everywhere he struck his hoof to the earth. If only it were that easy to get your horses watered! While we may not have Pegasus available in 2021 to solve our water woes, we do have Ritchie Industries. This employee-owned Iowa company is celebrating 100 years of innovating and manufacturing automatic waterers for the livestock and equine industries.
It All Started with a Wicked Cold Snap
In February of 1921, Iowa was gripped by a brutal six-day stretch of subzero temperatures. Thomas Ritchie, an Oskaloosa, Iowa, farmer, was tired of breaking ice for the horses, cows and pigs and was inspired to invent a solution. He designed a simple but highly effective valve coupled with a homemade kerosene heater to create the first automatic watering system for the farm and ranch. Farmers and ranchers liked the labor-saving qualities of Ritchie’s patented waterer, and a new business was born.
In 1929, Ritchie incorporated and moved to an old machine shed in Marshalltown, Iowa. Part of the manufacturing also took place in a small machine shed in Conrad, Iowa, until 1943. That year, blacksmith C.D. Wilson purchased Ritchie, moved the business to Conrad, Iowa, and operated the business out of a small blacksmith shop. Shortly after the move, automatic electric heat was introduced to the watering equipment helping to establish Ritchie as the leader in the industry.
By the 1970’s Ritchie’s Red and Yellow Waterers Were Everywhere
Dotted across the rural landscape of America, Ritchie waterers were installed on farms and ranches of every size and scope. Reliability and proven performance were two of the main reasons why horse owners started to switch to automatic waterers. The less time spent filling and hauling buckets, the more time you had to spend riding or bonding with your equine friends.
“I was raised in northern Montana on a ranch that had a cow-calf feedlot,” said Billie Bray, noted Western equine sports marketing figure and Chief Marketing Officer for Equibrand Corporation. “Summers were warm, and winters were brutally cold, 40 below zero was fairly common. We had those Ritchie red and yellow automatic waterers and they just worked in all conditions for over 40 years.
“When I moved to Texas,” Bray continued, “I discovered that a lot of the folks in the area do not have automatic waterers and they spend an awful lot of time filling tanks, checking on the tanks and floats, checking to make sure that the horses hadn’t chewed the hoses and just generally spend a lot of time worrying about their horses’ water. Everything that we all just went through this past February in Texas with all the cold, cold weather – my horses had fresh, warm water the entire time we were below zero degrees. On our horse training property in Stephenville, Texas, we have all Classic Equine by Ritchie waterers, and they just take the worry and stress out of keeping our horses’ water fresh, clean and at the right temperature year-round.”
2021 and Beyond: Designed to Add Value to Your Stable
There are more than 7.2 million horses in the United States that represent a wide range of horse enthusiasts. From Western equine sports athletes to equine therapy horses, horse owners everywhere dearly love their horses. Ritchie is a company that understands this bond and is committed to producing the best equine waterers through extensive field research, customer feedback and innovative engineering.
“We have a Ritchie product that will fit any horse owner’s needs and budget while providing a worry-free watering experience for their horses,” said Robert Amundson, President and CEO at Ritchie Industries, Inc. “For 100 years, our products have been made in America, right here in Iowa. Everyone at Ritchie strives to produce the best and we continue to refine and enhance our product lines.
“There are over 25 models to choose from including the budget portable Genesis models to the high-end Classic Equine by Ritchie founts,” Amundson said. “Easy-to-clean bowls or troughs, low-to-no maintenance float systems, quick refill functions and an attention to detail are all hallmarks of our products. Once you get a Ritchie; you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.”
For more information visit RitchieFount.com.