December 12, 2023

Ritchie Celebrates 100 Years of Providing Fresh Water to Horses

One hundred years ago, horses in the United States were primarily valued as beasts of burden for the raw power they brought to farms and transportation companies. The population of horses and mules in 1921 was over 25 million, just slightly under the peak of 26.4 million in 1915. The rapid development of mechanization technologies like tractors soon started to displace the horse population. In 1945, tractors overtook horsepower on farms for the first time. 1960 marked the lowest point in the horse and mule population, plummeting to just slightly over 3 million.

Then, a major transformation started to happen and horses, who were once prized as utilitarian assets, became more valued as companion animals, equine athletes and therapy animals. Today, current estimates put the total U.S. horse population at over 9 million and growing.

A lot has changed in the equine world in the past 100 years and one Iowa company has witnessed the entire cycle from the very beginning. In 1921, Thomas Ritchie invented the first automatic waterer valve and the first automatic livestock watering system that forever changed how livestock and horses were cared for. Gone were the days of stagnant, old wooden troughs or rusted steel tubs that froze over in the winter. Ritchie Industries, based in Conrad, Iowa, quickly became the industry leader and continued to make improvements in design, materials and manufacturing.

“As we celebrate 100 years in business, the foundation of our success has always been the efficiency and simplicity of our patented valve design,” says Robert Amundson, President and CEO of Ritchie Industries, Inc. “It has always been our goal to produce a reliable and durable product that is as tough and dependable as the farmers, ranchers and horse owners that we serve.”

Over three million Ritchie waterers have been sold worldwide and one particular horseman took notice of the brand when he first moved to the United States from Australia.

“When I moved to Sterling, Illinois to work at the former Wahl Equestrian Center I noticed all these Ritchie red and yellow waterers at the center,” says Clinton Anderson, clinician, horse trainer, competitor and founder of Downunder Horsemanship. “I noticed that these waterers were at least 15 years old and they were in great working condition. I started paying attention to other farms and stables and noticed Ritchie everywhere. I had not heard of the brand before, and I tracked down their information and reached out directly to Ritchie Industries in Iowa. We struck up a relationship and over the past 15 years Ritchie waterers began to dominate waterer sales in the equine industry and the Classic Equine by Ritchie is now the premium waterer series on the market. I have built three ranches in my career – one in Ohio, Texas and now Arkansas and every time, I only put in Ritchie waterers – they are dependable and durable.

Ritchie Industries is a very unique company. They are employee owned and everyone at Ritchie has a vested interest in the success of the company and that comes through in their work. They take pride in producing a great product. Even though Ritchie has been around for 100 years and are known for their classic design, they always keep their finger on the pulse of the livestock and equine industries. Ritchie adjusts to what the industry needs or wants. For example, if the cattle industry has shifted and they need a waterer to meet their new requirements, Ritchie will work with industry leaders and make the necessary design and manufacturing changes. Ritchie is and will always be an innovative leader committed to producing a quality product that meets or exceeds your expectations.”