NCHA Hall of Fame trainer relocates to South Dakota’s North Ridge Ranch |

NCHA Hall of Fame trainer relocates to South Dakota’s North Ridge Ranch

One of the East Coast’s best known cutting horse trainers, Tracy T. Barton is moving his entire Virginia operation to South Dakota to train limited aged event horses for Carol and Jerry Ward’s well-known North Ridge Ranch.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to concentrate on the North Ridge Ranch cutting horse program,” Barton said. “I trained Jerry’s first cutting horse many years ago and she went on to become one the ranch’s great foundation mares. She produced Black Catamount’s Rey and is the grand dam to Cats High Noon. Both are great show horses that I was privileged to train.”

The Wards bought the ranch five years ago so they could concentrate on their breeding program and develop young show horses.

“A few years ago I realized we had horses in training with five or six trainers in four states and decided it was time to centralize this aspect of our business,” said Jerry Ward. “We first started talking to Tracy and his family about four years ago, recognizing that a move of this nature had a number of dimensions and moving parts.” After four years of planning, the move is finally “on.”

Barton is well known for his training clinics and developing successful amateur and non-pros up and down the East Coast.

“Of course, I will miss my many customers and the friends I developed over the years, but the chance to concentrate on limited aged horses was irresistible,” Barton said.

A number of his customers will send their horses with Barton to the South Dakota ranch so they can finish their limited age training, while others will migrate to other trainers closer to their owners. But Barton’s goal is to make sure no one, horse or owner, misses a beat. He will continue to host his clinics at North Ridge Ranch.

North Ridge Ranch has begun construction of a larger indoor arena to house the expanded training program and expects Barton will complete his move within the next few weeks.

“It’s not exactly like the wagon trains heading out west, but with a caravan of six trucks and trailers bringing horses and tack across the country, it’s pretty close,” Barton said.

The old west imagery is probably well suited for the move as North Ridge Ranch was a primary location for the Kevin Costner Academy Award winning film “Dances with Wolves.” Tracy and his family will now be making their own historical adventure to South Dakota. The ranch will be the site of clinics, rodeos, and other events to be announced in 2009. Perched above the Missouri River’s Big Bend, North Ridge Ranch is also home to a registered Hereford cattle herd.

“Tracy is an excellent cutting horse trainer and showmanship teacher. I am confident his clinics will be well received at North Ridge Ranch in South Dakota,” said Russell McCord, Director of Judges for the National Cutting Horse Association.

“Tracy is an NCHA Hall of Fame Rider. He and his family have been one of the cornerstones of cutting on the East Coast for 13 years. I am sure they will be successful in their move to South Dakota. We at NCHA send Tracy and his family best wishes for their move,” said Jeff Hooper, Executive director of the 20,000 member National Cutting Horse Association.

For pictures of the ranch and more information, visit the North Ridge Ranch website,

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