Montana Horse Breeders Promote Quarter Horse Genetics In Europe

The Montana Department of Agriculture had the unique opportunity to partner with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) to conduct a horse genetics trade mission to Spain and Germany during the first week of September. MDA recruited Mahlstedt Ranch of Circle and Weaver Quarter Horses of Big Sandy to participate in the trade mission. The AQHA sent Tate Eck, International Activities Director, and the APHA sent a judge and clinician for the Spain show, Tony Burris.

This first ever trade delegation from Montana to promote American Quarter Horses and Montana horse genetics was led by Weston Merrill with the Montana Department of Agriculture. Representing Mahlstedt Ranch Quarter Horses were Tana Canen & Alexis Canen and Stan and Nancy Weaver represented Weaver Quarter Horses.

The group attended the Ranch Versatility Show hosted by AQHA España at El Sombrero Ranch in Cobeña, Spain, a small community 25 minutes just outside Madrid. Participants and breeders came from all over Spain to compete and interact with the U.S. delegation. Day one was a Ranch Versatility Clinic put on by Tony Burris. Day 2 and 3 were competition days that included ranch reining, trail, cutting, cow work, and team penning competitions. The Spanish participants were eager to interact and learn from the American delegation and the friendships formed over the three days will have a lasting impact. Tana and Alexis both commented on the expert level of horsemanship exhibited, while at the same time there is a need for the Spaniards to have opportunities to work more with cattle to understand those events. Alexis was definitely impressed with, "Every person who brought a horse to the show had a deep love and appreciation for their horse. They don't take lightly the privilege of owning a horse!"

After the show, the group toured a cattle ranch and an AQHA horse breeder's ranch before heading to Germany for the second leg of the mission. Cabaña Lopez Colmenarejo owned by Francisco Lopez is located 20 minutes north of Madrid and is the largest Limousin seedstock operation in Spain. The ranch runs 250 registered mother cows and sells around 60 bulls and 60 bred females per year. Later we visited the ranch of Santiago Menedez. Santiago has five brood mares and a registered AQHA stallion.

For the final two days of the mission the group travelled to Friedrichshafen, Germany for the Americana horse show. This is the largest Ranch Versatility Show in Germany with competitors from all over Europe including, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, and Austria. This show was a totally different experience than in Spain. There were five trade show pavilions filled with vendors from western wear to ranch equipment dealers. The Deutsche Quarter Horse Association (DQHA) has been an affiliate of the AQHA for nearly 50 years so the industry is very mature in this part of Europe. The trip confirmed that the demand for the Western lifestyle in Europe is exploding. Not only for horse breeders but the general public. The Canens expect that not only will their horses see demand from Europe, but their ranch's agritourism enterprise as well. Tana commented, "While the beauty of our horses (and numbers) was interesting to those we met, it was nothing compared to the thought that they could come vacation on our ranch. I think the European visitation will be a significant part of our future. 'Montana' is romantic no matter where we go!"

U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Inc. (USLGE) is the USDA cooperator to promote U.S. livestock genetics throughout the world. USLGE receives Market Access Program (MAP) funding from the USDA, via the Farm Bill, to conduct trade and promotion activities throughout the world. MDA, through its membership to USLGE, has access to MAP funding to help Montana producers promote their genetics internationally. If funding is approved, the AQHA, APHA, and MDA will be hosting a buyer's mission to Montana in 2024 with buyers from Spain and Germany. You can learn more about Mahlstedt Ranch at their website:


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