The Colorado Ranger is an American horse breed originating from the high plains of Colorado. Often described as the “using horse” of the high plains, Rangerbreds are versatile horses with a unique history.

Colorado Ranger bloodlines trace back to horses that were gifted to Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War General and 18th president of the United States.

Today, the Colorado Ranger Horse Breed Association helps owners discover the heritage behind their beloved Rangerbred horses. Only horses that directly descend from breed’s foundation sires are eligible for registration as Colorado Rangers.

This breed profile will review the history, characteristics, health problems, and nutritional needs of the Colorado Ranger horse breed. Keep reading to learn more about feeding and caring for Colorado Ranger Horses.

Colorado Ranger Horse Conformation Pictures | Mad Barn Canada

Colorado Ranger Horse History

Colorado Rangers have a rich history that connects them to several cultures and prominent figures of American history. While not as well-known as other breeds developed in the Western United States, these horses belong to the oldest Western horse breed registry still in existence today.


After serving two terms as the U.S. President, General Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a world tour that took him to various countries, including Turkey in 1878. While visiting Turkey, Grant received two stallions from a Turkish Sultan as a gift. These stallions included an Arabian named Leopard and a Barb named Linden Tree. [1]

After they arrived in Virginia the following year, General Grant entrusted Leopard and Linden Tree to renowned horseman Randolph Huntington. The stallions primarily covered mares in Huntington’s breeding program.

In 1894, General Leonard Wright Colby convinced his old comrade to bring the stallions to his Nebraska ranch for a single breeding season. The stallions significantly influenced Colby’s herd of cow horses, and demand grew throughout the region for Colby horses. [1]

A.C. Whipple, a respected rancher from Colorado, acquired several mares descended from the two stallions. The spotted stallion he purchased, named Tony, was a double-bred Leopard grandson.

The Whipples developed a line breeding program with these horses to concentrate traits passed on to Colby’s horses from the Barb and Arabian stallions. Although the Colorado breeders were uninterested in colour, the resulting offspring often had spotted coat patterns. [2]

Tony’s descendent Patches became one of the foundation sires of the Colorado Ranger breed. Colorado breeder Mike Ruby owned Patches and a half-Arabian spotted stallion named Max, the second foundation sire of the Rangerbred line.

Historic Use

Huntington used Grant’s Barb and Arabian stallions to improve his breeding program for light harness horses. He named the resulting horses Americo Arabs, but the introduction of the automobile led to the dispersal of his herd in 1906. [1]

Leopard and Linden Tree’s descendants produced by the Colby Ranch worked as cow horses. The breed’s stamina, good disposition, and strong working ability allowed them to excel in their jobs and they gained popularity in cattle operations throughout the high plains.

Ruby displayed his stallions at the Denver Stock Show to thousands of visitors in 1934. The horses subsequently became known as Colorado Ranger Horses to reflect their birthplace on the range conditions of eastern Colorado. [2]

Unlike other ranchers at the time, Mike Ruby kept written records of his breeding operation and offspring produced by the horses he purchased from the Colbys. These records would provide the foundation of the new breed registry.

Breed Registry

Founded by Mike Ruby in 1935, the Colorado Ranger Horse Association (CRHA) maintains the official registry for the breed. The CRHA initially limited membership to 50 individuals, which led many Rangerbred owners to register spotted horses with The Appaloosa Horse Club instead.

After lifting membership limits in 1964, registration was made open to all horses that descend directly from Max or Patches. Today, the organization offers free pedigree analysis for Appaloosa owners to determine if their horses belong to the lost generation of Colorado Rangers.

Unlike the APHC, there are no breed colour requirements. Only horses that meet pedigree requirements are considered Rangerbreds. However, outcrossing is a