Q & A With Ohio's Own Pleasure Horse Devotee Mag Ranft

By Sarah Gee
©Voice, April 2007

Mag’s first Tennessee Walking Horse and the very first TWHBEASM Youth Superior Champion Coppertone C.


For the past four decades Ohio’s Mag Ranft has supported and promoted the pleasure Tennessee Walking Horse. She owned the very first TWHBEASM Youth Superior Champion as well as another Youth Superior and an Adult Supreme Versatility Champion. Her horses have walked to blue ribbons at major shows throughout the Midwest and Southeast including the International Grand Championships, National Futurity, and the Celebration. Mag has devoted countless hours to the betterment and promotion of the breed through her work with the TWHBEASM, Walking Horse Owners’ Association, Mid-OhioWalking Horse Association, and Tennessee Walking Horse Shows of America.

A true Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiast, Mag Ranft is a prime example of the quality people involved in our great breed. Back in 2006, she graciously agreed to respond to the following questionnaire.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Cincinnati, Ohio

Q: What are your parents’ names?
A: Jack and Mary Jo Gantt

Q: Do you have any brothers and sisters?
A: One brother - Jackie

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: High School - Colerain High School/College - Miami University

Q: When, where, and how did you meet your husband?
A: I met Steve in 1974 shortly after moving to Columbus, Ohio to take a job. I took an adult education class about how to take care of your automobile and he was the teacher. We started dating several months after the end of that class and now he takes care of the automobiles!

Q: Are other members of your family involved in walking horses?
A: No

Q: What was your first horse experience?
A: I've loved horses ever since I can remember. My parents didn't understand it but indulged me by letting me take riding lessons from the time I was about eight. Dad and I went on trail rides on vacations back in the days when you could rent a horse and go out without a guide.

Q: Why did you get involved in Tennessee Walking Horses?
A: While I was a student at Miami University I ran an ad in the local paper offering to work with horses. I received several calls and ended up working with a three-year-old TWH that had been bought to be a kid's horse but didn't have the training, experience or disposition to be a horse for young riders.

Q: What was the name of your first horse?
A: I got very attached to and ended up buying that horse in 1973. His name was Coppertone C - my first horse and the first TWHBEASM Youth Superior Versatility Champion (with a teenage rider – Cindy Suttle)

Q: When did you start showing?
A: In 1971.

Q: What do you remember most about your first
walking horse show?
A: I had never shown at all before except at "pretend" shows at the places I had taken hunt seat and jumping lessons so I was totally unprepared for my first walking horse show. In the Cincinnati area, in 1971, most of the classes were for padded horses. There were usually only two or three classes for Plantation Pleasure horses. It took me quite a while to get used to the atmosphere at a walking horse show. But I thought it was great that there was so much camaraderie and support for each other among the exhibitors.

Always looking to promote the breed, here Mag poses
with Loosie In Disguise at the 2006 Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio.


Q: Which of your horses, over the years, really stands out
in your mind?
A: Several of them, for different reasons.
Primarily, Coppertone C because he was my first and, with our involvement in the TWHBEASM Versatility Program, I became more informed and aware about the breed and the industry. From there I became interested in being involved in local, regional and national groups promoting the TWH.

The next most influential was Jet's Miss Ebony, also an Adult Supreme and Youth Superior Versatility Champion, because with her I greatly expanded my understanding of the desired gaits of the TWH and how to recognize and train for them.

Recently, my most influential horse was Miss Magic Money, who was the first yearling I ever purchased at the Harlinsdale Sale. She was the most amazing horse I've ever owned, both in temperament and gait. She won the TWHBEASM National Futurity as a Lite Shod Two Year Old in 1999 and was purchased at the Celebration by a customer of Diane Gueck's.

Sometimes, I still miss her and regret the sale but it's the only time I ever actually made any money on a horse.

Q: What TWH organizations have you belonged to?
A: I currently belong to TWHBEASM, WHOA, Mid Ohio Walking Horse Association and Tennessee Walking Horse Shows of America.

Q: What boards have you sat on?
A: I've been a TWHBEASM director for several terms. I've served on the WHOA Pleasure Committee. I'm President of the Mid Ohio Walking Horse Association (for life, apparently). I'm also a board member for the Tennessee Walking Horse Shows of America.

Q: Do you trail ride?
A: No, I spend so much of my available time and money showing that I really don't have time to trail ride too.

Q: Do you have a favorite show?
A: My favorite show changes from time to time.

I love going to the Celebration every year. I like to show there but have come to treat it more like a vacation that includes a horse show and yearling sales and a chance to spend time with friends. Locally, my favorite show is The Ohio Classic in Springfield, Ohio. I would say my favorite shows were the three Mid Ohio Walking Horse Association shows, but I work too hard at them to really enjoy them.

Q: What trainers have you had horses with?
A: In order, Linda Richwine, Mike Civils, Sherrie Szucs and Jim Potter.

Jim Potter has been my trainer for about 15 years. In 1988, Jim started helping me with a couple of my horses as an amateur and soon began training professionally. He is now a full time trainer with a barn full of horses. His knowledge of and ability with horses far surpasses mine. Having Jim as my trainer has enabled me to stay competitive in this constantly evolving and improving industry.

Q: How many horses do you currently own?
A: Five and waiting anxiously for Twist Of Genius to have her foal by The Whole Nine Yards.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your years in the industry?
A: What stands out, even after 29 years, was receiving a call from Sis Osborne at the TWHBEASM to tell me that Coppertone C was the first TWHBEASM Youth Superior Versatility Champion AND that the award was a yearling colt, Eb's Mr. Versatility. Then we were treated like royalty when we went to Tennessee to pick up the award! Yeah, I was hooked then.

Recently, it would be winning the TWHBEASM National Futurity Two-Year-Old Lite Shod class in 1999 with Miss Magic Money and the Three-Year-Old Lite Shod Futurity in 2001 with Wise Fantasy.

Q: How has the TWH industry changed during your years of involvement?
A: The most obvious change has been the growth and expansion of the Pleasure Horse segment of the industry. When I started showing, I thought it was great if a show had more than two classes for Plantation Horses and now most of the shows I go to are all or primarily for flat shod horses with so many divisions that it’s confusing. We've also gotten much more skilled and professional in our presentation of our horses, which is good. However, when I first got into Walking Horses, most exhibitors were training their own horses and most shows were less than a two hour drive. Now, more people have their horses in training and most shows are 3 hours or more away - it's gotten much more expensive as a percentage of most people's incomes and, as a result, we have lost some exhibitors.

Q: If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
A: The existence of soring continues to be the most divisive issue in the industry and, in my opinion, it is still much too prevalent. One problem is that so many words mean different things to different people so that we think we're agreeing on something when we're really not in agreement at all. For example, to say a horse is "sound" or "not sored" to me means that the horse is to be sound 24/7 and 365 days a chemicals, no pressure shoeing, no tricks. To others, "sound" simply means that the horse passes inspection at the show. It's these different definitions that have lead to the creation of so many overlapping organizations and divisions within the industry. I don't know how this problem can be solved but it's the one that hurts us the most.

Q: In your opinion, what is it about the TWH that makes it so special?
A: Most Tennessee Walking Horses have amazing temperaments. They're capable of learning to do so many things and filling so many different roles. Since I show, I get all caught up in that aspect of the breed. But, we were just at Equine Affaire and I'm always amazed to find out how many people have and love their walking horses and how many different things they do with them. It's truly a versatile breed.

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