Kick-off your summer with a visit to Abilene, Texas, for the Western Heritage Classic, a historic event that celebrates the best aspects of Western horse life.

Where: Abilene, Texas

What: Western Heritage Classic

Western Heritage Classic

Texas cowboy culture’s official summer kick-off party features a top-notch ranch rodeo, matched horse races, a Western trade and trappings show that’s par excellence, chuckwagon cook-off, fiddler’s contest, colt-starting challenge, and events for the kids. If you’re a horse junky, the Ranch Horse Association of America National Finals are a top draw and a sale featuring the state’s best ranch horses will make you drool.

Saddle bronc rider on a bucking horse during the Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, Texas.

Now in its 33rd year, the Western Heritage Classic features 10 historic ranches in its ranch rodeo, featuring top cowboys and the best ranch horses in two big events in conjunction with the WHC.

Now in its 33rd year, the Western Heritage Classic features 10 historic ranches in its ranch rodeo, featuring top cowboys and the best ranch horses in two big events in conjunction with the WHC: The RHAA National Finals and the WHC Invitational Ranch Horse Sale.

The RHAA format showcases the versatility of ranch horses through reining, cow work, and roping. The best qualify from some 20 shows across the West to compete in five divisions in Abilene.

The WHC horse sale, meanwhile, is special because only certain ranches with proven horse programs are invited to sell their progeny.

The Facts: 74 | Number of horses sold at the 2016 Western Heritage Classic Invitational Sale.

Young cowgirl wearing pink button-down shirt riding a stick-horse around a barrel during the Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, Texas.

Saturday morning, kids flood Griffin Arena at the Western Heritage Classic for the annual stick-horse rodeo.

Don’t Miss This

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explore.

Visit the 1. Frontier Texas! museum in the heart of downtown Abilene. From the Comanche Empire to military in the West to the cowboys and Longhorns, you’ll get a wonderful sense of the state’s history.

eat.

The best restaurant in Abilene, hands down, is the 2. Beehive Restaurant & Saloon. It’s an icon in the town. For a real Texas treat, head 14 miles south of town to Buffalo Gap to the 3. Perini Ranch Steakhouse. (Reservations recommended.) No matter the entrée, be sure to order the bread pudding for dessert. 

do.

Get away from the crowds at the WHC and wet a line in nearby 4. Abilene State Park. Or, if you’re itching to fork a horse, nearby 5. Shockey Stables offers lessons and trail rides.

Horse&Rider orange star.

Child's Play

Saturday morning, kids flood Griffin Arena for the annual stick-horse rodeo. It’s the full rodeo package, complete with a grand entry, barrel racing, bronc riding, steer roping, and a boot race for four different age divisions. 

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