The Colorado Ranger is not a color breed. There is no color requirement or restriction for registration and Rangers come in a wide variety of color patterns: from solid bays, browns, blacks, sorrels, chestnuts, grays and roans to colorful blankets and leopards. However, there are strict conditions for registration based on confirmation and pedigree. There are several outcrosses that are allowed, including Thoroughbred, Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, Arabian or Ara-Appaloosa. Horses with known pony, draft, Pinto or Paint parentage within the last five generations are ineligible for registration.
The Colorado Ranger Horse Association has no color preference. Some of CRHA registered horses display Appaloosa Characteristics and coloration and some do not. “Color is a fickle jade. It is merely pigment in the skin. It cannot be ridden. Fads fade. Bloodlines endure.”
Mike Ruby, one of the greatest horsemen the plains ever knew, developed an interest in these lines for their reputation of working ability, good disposition and stamina. He acquired Patches, a son of the stallion from the Colby Ranch, and Max, a halo-spotted son of the Waldron Leopard out of an Arabian mare, as his herd sires. Mr. Ruby kept meticulous records of every mare, stallion and their offspring he bred. This was an unusual practice at that time. These hand written records, including color, parentage, birthdates and pedigree have been preserved.
In 1878, during a World Tour, General U. S. Grant developed a friendship with the Sultan Hamid of Turkey. Before his departure from Turkey, the Sultan presented Grant with tow horses whose descendants continue to make an impact on the horse world today. One was a desert Arabian named Leopard and the other, a Barb named Linden Tree. Both of these stallions are listed in stud books of two American breed registries, the Arabian Horse Registry of America and the Jockey Club. There impact on the horse world touches almost every breed in the United States.
These stallions arrived in the United States in 1879 in Virginia, where they spent several years with Rudolf Huntington perfecting what Mr. Huntington hoped would become a new breed of light harness horse. The introduction of the "horseless carriage" contributed to the demise of the project. Near the turn of the century, Leopard and Linden Tree moved west to the ranch holdings of General George Colby in Beatrice, Nebraska. Here the two desert horses left an indelible impression on the foals of the native mares on the Colby holdings. A new type of versatile horse resulted with the reputation of a "good using horses with a lot of ‘cow’" soon spread.
The Ira J. Whipple family introduced these horses to Colorado through a group of mares and stallions purchased from General Colby. The stallion was a double-bred son of Leopard, and the mares all sired by either Leopard or Linden Tree.
In 1934, Mr. Ruby was invited to display two of his stallions at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The two leopard patterned stallions, Leopard #3 and Fox #10, were seen by thousands of visitors. Encouraged by the faculty members of what is now Colorado State University, the new breed of horse was officially named Colorado Rangers, horses originating in Colorado bred and raised under range conditions. Verbal reference to those "ranger bred" horses eventually led to the being more commonly know as Rangerbreds, although the official name remains, Colorado Rangers.
With the naming of the breed came a breed registry. Mike Ruby founded the Colorado Ranger Horse Association in 1935. Two years later he applied to the State of Colorado for a corporate charter that was granted on January 4, 1938. Due to registration only being available to CRHA active members and a fifty-member limit imposed, many horses with Rangerbred heritage could not be registered at the time. Those horses with color patterns, however, were gladly accepted by the Appaloosa Horse Club, which came into existence several months later.
In 1964, the Colorado Ranger Horse Association lifted the fifty-member limit and registration was opened up to all horses meeting pedigree requirements, regardless of owner membership status. Since then, the CRHA has registered many of the Appaloosas with Rangerbred heritage that were "lost" to the organization for so many years. Additional Appaloosa bloodlines with Rangerbred connections are still being recognized through continued pedigree research.