American Quarter Horse Association

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American Quarter Horse Association
American Quarter Horse Association logo
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Amarillo (Texas)
American Quarter Horse Association
FormationMarch 14, 1940;80 years ago (1940-03-14)
Legal status Association
Headquarters Amarillo, Texas
Coordinates 35°11′40″N101°48′28″W / 35.194327°N 101.807792°W / 35.194327; -101.807792 Coordinates: 35°11′40″N101°48′28″W / 35.194327°N 101.807792°W / 35.194327; -101.807792
Region served
F.E. "Butch" Wise

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), based in Amarillo, Texas, is an international organization dedicated to the preservation, improvement and record-keeping of the American Quarter Horse. The association sanctions many competitive events and maintains the official registry. The organization also houses the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum and sponsors educational programs. The organization was founded in 1940 in Fort Worth, Texas, and now has nearly 234,627 members, over 32,000 of whom are international.



Outside of the American Quarter Horse Association's Heritage Center and Museum in Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Texas - AQHA - Outside.jpg
Outside of the American Quarter Horse Association's Heritage Center and Museum in Amarillo, Texas

The American Quarter Horse Association was born at a meeting on March 15, 1940, in Fort Worth, Texas. The original idea had come from articles published by Robert M. Denhardt during the 1930s about the history and characteristics of the quarter horse. In an article entitled "The Quarter Horse, Then and Now" in a 1939 Western Horseman magazine, Denhardt also suggested that those interested in forming a breed registry meet in Fort Worth to discuss the idea and hopefully act on the idea. [1] About seventy-five people met in Fort Worth to discuss the proposals, with the eventual decision being to form a non-profit stock holding association in Texas to be the registry. Thirty-six people bought stock at the initial meeting. A board of directors and officers were selected. [2]

For the first five years, AQHA was the only registry for American Quarter Horses, however there were controversies over which horses would be registered, as well as how much non-Quarter horse to allow in. Other disputes included the fact that AQHA only allowed stock owners to vote, and some breeders felt that this arrangement kept too much power in too few hands. Another contentious issue was racing, and how the association would support the needs of breeders and owners who raced their Quarter Horses. All three of these issues were woven together, for the racing interests were also desirous of more Thoroughbred blood being added to the Quarter Horse, and some racing breeders felt that the AQHA was too restrictive on what outside blood was allowed in. [3]

The racing interests formed the American Quarter Racing Association (AQRA) on February 1, 1945. This group mainly was concerned with the operation of racetracks and their registration efforts were limited to what was needed for identification for racing purposes. They set the standards for racing, and set up a Register of Merit system to help with handicapping racing. They registered horses that were in AQHA's stud books, as well as Thoroughbreds. Even "Paint" horses, which at this time had no registry and would not for another two decades, were registered. [3] Painted Joe, a foundation stallion with the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), was registered with the AQRA and ran against many of the early Quarter Horse racers. [4] [5]

Individuals who believed AQHA was too restrictive in its registration and membership policies formed the National Quarter Horse Breeders Association (NQHBA) in December 1945. Registration criteria in the NQHBA were much less stringent than AQHA, but yet were not exclusively focused on racing like AQRA. For example, Thoroughbred crosses were freely registrable in NQHBA, and they even registered Thoroughbreds. [3]

Within AQHA, there was a recognition that three organizations were sapping the strengths of the Quarter Horse breeders and owners, and within all three organizations there were efforts to merge. In July 1949, AQHA offered to merge with both AQRA and NQHBA. The AQRA voted to merge with AQHA in September 1949, and the NQHBA did likewise in November 1949. AQHA absorbed both organizations and moved their records to AQHA's recently established headquarters off Interstate 40 in Amarillo. [3]


AQHA now registers the offspring of other American Quarter Horses in its numbered stud book. However, AQHA does not maintain a completely closed stud book; there is also an "Appendix" section. An "Appendix" American Quarter Horse is a first generation cross between a registered Thoroughbred and an American Quarter Horse or a cross between a "numbered" American Quarter Horse and an "appendix" American Quarter Horse. Horses in the "appendix" registry can "earn" their way into the main stud book by completing an extensive set of performance requirements in either racing or some form of show competition and receiving what the Association refers to as a Register of Merit (ROM). Currently there are over 2,800,000 Quarter Horse registrations, 430,000 of which are international.

Horses produced by means of artificial insemination or embryo transfer may be registered, but cloned horses cannot be registered. Parentage now is verified by means of DNA testing.

In recent years, registration requirements for AQHA have significantly changed. In the past, horses with too much white or with cremello traits were not eligible for registration. One reason was lack of a full understanding of equine coat color genetics (For example, people did not know that Palomino is an incomplete form of the cremello dilution gene) and the other was a legitimate a concern about a condition called lethal white syndrome, which was not fully understood at the time. There was also belief that excess white indicated "impure" breeding with non-Quarter Horses.

Today, modern DNA testing has now made verification of parentage possible, and also permits the detection of certain genetic diseases such as lethal white syndrome. Thus AQHA now allows registration of "high white" body markings typical of the sabino gene and other pinto spotting patterns. Many horses formerly registrable only as American Paint Horses with APHA are now cross-registered with both registries. Because the genetic mechanism that creates palomino is also understood and has been found to have no connection to lethal white, cremello and perlino coat colors are also allowed. [6]

Cross-registration of American Quarter Horses with APHA, the Palomino Horse Breeders of America (PHBA), and the American Buckskin Registry Association (ABRA), is often a benefit to horses who have these distinct colors.

Currently, AQHA is in the process of phasing out registration of horses who carry the dominant genetic disease hyperkalemic periodic paralysis [7] (HYPP) and sponsored research that, in 2007, developed a genetic test for HERDA. [8]

Competition and awards

Currently AQHA recognizes achievement by American Quarter Horses and their owners with a number of awards. Some are annual, some are based on lifetime achievement. AQHA awards points to horses competing in horse show, rodeo and horse racing. AQHA assigns points to animals who win or place in horse shows and on the racetrack. The number of points given depends in part on placing and on how many other horses were in the class or race. Accumulated points result in annual awards to the top competitors and certain lifetime achievement recognitions for both horse and rider.

AQHA affiliates [9]

State affiliates

  • Alabama Quarter Horse Association
  • Alaska State Quarter Horse Association
  • Arizona Quarter Horse Association
  • Arkansas Quarter Horse Association
  • Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association (California)
  • Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association (Colorado)
  • Connecticut Quarter Horse Association
  • Delaware Quarter Horse Association
  • Florida Quarter Horse Association
  • Georgia Quarter Horse Association
  • Hawaii Quarter Horse Association
  • Illinois Quarter Horse Association
  • Indiana Quarter Horse Association
  • Iowa Quarter Horse Association
  • Kansas Quarter Horse Association
  • Kentucky Quarter Horse Association
  • Louisiana Quarter Horse Association
  • Maine Quarter Horse Association
  • Maryland State Quarter Horse Association
  • Massachusetts Quarter Horse Association
  • Michigan Quarter Horse Association
  • Minnesota Quarter Horse Association
  • Mississippi Quarter Horse Association
  • Missouri Quarter Horse Association
  • Montana Quarter Horse Association
  • Nebraska Quarter Horse Association
  • Nevada Quarter Horse Association
  • New Hampshire Quarter Horse Association
  • New Jersey Quarter Horse Association
  • New Mexico Horse Breeders Association
  • New Mexico Quarter Horse Association
  • Empire State Quarter Horse Association (New York)
  • North Carolina Quarter Horse Association
  • North Dakota Quarter Horse Association
  • Ohio Quarter Horse Association
  • Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association
  • Oregon Quarter Horse Association
  • Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association
  • South Carolina Quarter Horse Association
  • South Dakota Quarter Horse Association
  • Tennessee Quarter Horse Association
  • Texas Quarter Horse Association
  • Utah Quarter Horse Association
  • Vermont Quarter Horse Association
  • Virginia Quarter Horse Association
  • Washington State Quarter Horse Association
  • West Virginia Quarter Horse Association
  • Wisconsin Quarter Horse Association
  • Wyoming Quarter Horse Association

Provincial affiliates

  • Quarter Horse Association of Alberta
  • British Columbia Quarter Horse Association
  • Manitoba Quarter Horse Association
  • Maritime Quarter Horse Association
  • Ontario Quarter Horse Association
  • Quebec Quarter Horse Association
  • Saskatchewan Quarter Horse Association
  • Canadian Quarter Horse Association

Horse shows and rodeos

Today, people show American Quarter Horses in a variety of competitive events, including, but not limited to, halter classes; western style events such as Western Pleasure, Reining, and cutting; English riding events in the hunt seat style, such as Hunter Under Saddle, working hunter, and hunter hack. Driving classes are available at some shows, as are some timed games. There are also equitation and halter showmanship classes for non-pro exhibitors.

The annual AQHA World Show, the largest AQHA-sponsored event, is held in November of each year in Oklahoma City.

In the show ring, the AQHA awards a number of year end awards, including Rookie of the Year (awarded at the state, regional, and national level); Year End Top-Ten awards in for the Open Junior Horse, Open Senior Horse, Youth and Amateur divisions; Year End High Point awards in the same divisions; Year End High point all around and reserve all around in the same divisions, and a few miscellaneous awards to novice and limited riders. [10] As lifetime awards, the AQHA awards Register of Merits in Performance and Halter, AQHA Champion, AQHA Performance Champion, AQHA Versatility Champion, Superior Event Horse, Supreme Championships in the three showing divisions (Youth, Open, Amateur), and a Supreme Performance Champion. [10]

Year end awards

Requirements can change, these are the current requirements as of January 2010. [11]

AwardAwarded toCurrent requirements
Justin Boots State Rookie of the YearAwarded per state/province in the Amateur and Youth divisions in any eventsHighest point earning rookie
Justin Boots Rookie of the YearAwarded nationally (US & Canada) in Amateur and Youth age divisions in any eventsHighest point earning rookie
Year End High Point HorseOpen, Amateur, Youth in each event, also to next nine-highest earners in the eventHighest number of points in the event
Year End All Around High Point HorseOpen Junior Horse, Open Senior Horse, Amateur, Youth, also to reserve and third-place finishersHighest number of points in halter and two performance events

Lifetime awards

Requirements can change, these are the current requirements as of January 2010. [11]

AwardAvailable in which divisionsCurrent requirements
Register of MeritOpen, Amateur, Youth in both Halter and Performance eventsHalter – 10 points in either Halter or Performance Halter
Performance – 10 points in one or more performance events
Versatility AwardOpen, Amateur, Youth in Performance eventsAt least 65 points in 8 events, with at least 10 points in each of 5 different events
AQHA ChampionOpen, Amateur, YouthAt least 35 points, with at least 15 in Halter and at least 15 in Performance, along with some other requirements
AQHA Supreme ChampionOpenAt least 40 points, with 15 in Halter, 20 in Performance and two AAA or Speed Index ratings of 90 or better, plus some other requirements
AQHA Supreme ChampionAmateur, YouthAt least 50 points, with 15 in Halter and 20 in Performance along with some other requirements.
Superior All-AroundOpen, Amateur, Youth50 total All-Around awards at shows
Superior Event HorseOpen, Amateur, Youth50 Points earned in one event, such as Halter, Roping, etc.
Performance ChampionOpen, Amateur, YouthEarn 3 individual Superior Event awards
Supreme Performance ChampionOpen, Amateur, YouthEarn 6 individual Superior Event awards, not including Halter

AQHA also recognizes horses that compete outside of AQHA sanctioned shows. Some awards go to horses that compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) timed rodeo events, others go to horses competing in the United States Team Penning Association, National Cutting Horse Association, or the National High School Rodeo or National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. [10]


On the racetrack, AQHA offers year-end champion awards in age and sex divisions, plus broodmare, distance horse, Canadian champion, owner, breeder, trainer, and jockey. Thus there is a champion two-year-old colt, filly and gelding plus champion two-year-old from the preceding. The three-year-old and aged categories work the same way, with the World Champion being chosen from the winners of the age and sex divisions. [12] In addition to the year end awards, there are three lifetime awards - Race Register of Merit, Superior Race Horse and Supreme Race Horse. A Register of Merit is awarded when a horse attains a speed index of 80 or above. A Superior Race Horse is achieved when the horse earns 200 racing points. A Supreme Race Horse award requires the horse to satisfy the following three criteria: (1) win over $500,000 in earnings, (2) win two Grade 1 stakes races and (3) win a total of ten races. [13]

In 1993, AQHA launched Quarter Horse racing's first series of races with a championship-ending day, called The Bank of America Racing Challenge. It is a series of 60 races run throughout North and South America with the winners of each race earning a starting berth into a season-ending Championship Day. The Bank of America Racing Challenge currently offers nearly $6 million in purse and bonus awards.

Pleasure riding

AQHA also offers a Horseback Riding Program, which rewards AQHA members for pleasure riding of American Quarter Horses. Riders log their hours spent riding, and receive recognition awards and prizes. From January to December 31. The horse must be registered with the AQHA and his number an registration name will be needed to peripatetic. [14]

Also for leisure riders, AQHA sanctions a series of some 100 trail rides open to all breeds of horses at locations around the world, in locations on both public lands and on private lands not normally open to the public.

There are also AQHA trail rides hosted in various locations. The meet up schedule can be found on the AQHA website under trail riding.

See also


  1. Price The American Quarter Horse p. 14-16
  2. Denhardt "Organization of the American Quarter Horse Association" in Foundation Sires of the American Quarter Horse p. 5-36
  3. 1 2 3 4 Goodhue "A History of Early AQHA Registration" in Legends p. 4-10
  4. Oelke The Paint Horse p. 101
  5. Haynes The American Paint Horse p. 175
  6. AQHA White Rule Changes Archived 2007-07-09 at the Wayback Machine accessed on July 9, 2007
  7. AQHA HYPP Information Archived 2009-01-20 at the Wayback Machine accessed on July 9, 2007
  8. AQHA Equine Research by Year Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Affiliates - AQHA". Retrieved 2020-02-29.
  10. 1 2 3 AQHA Awards & Rewards Archived 2007-07-10 at the Wayback Machine accessed on July 6, 2007
  11. 1 2 "Year End and Lifetime Achievement Awards". American Quarter Horse Association. Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  12. AQHA Race Awards Archived 2007-07-10 at the Wayback Machine accessed on July 6, 2007
  13. AQHA Official Handbook of Rules & Regulations 2007 edition
  14. "Submit 2018 Horseback Riding Program Hours - AQHA". American Quarter Horse Association. Retrieved 28 June 2020.

Related Research Articles

American Quarter Horse American horse breed

The American Quarter Horse, or Quarter Horse, is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name is derived from its ability to outrun other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less; some have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h). The development of the Quarter Horse traces to the 1600s.

Impressive was born an Appendix American Quarter Horse, who earned his full AQHA registration in 1971. He was the 1974 World Champion Open Aged halter stallion, the first such World Champion in his breed, despite carrying only 48 halter points in total. He is famous for his highly successful progeny, having sired 2,250 foals. Nearly thirty of his offspring went on to be World Champions themselves.

Go Man Go Quarter horse champion stallion

Go Man Go (1953–1983) was an American Quarter Horse stallion and race horse. He was named World Champion Quarter Running Horse three times in a row, one of only two horses to achieve that distinction. Go Man Go was considered to be of difficult temperament. While waiting in the starting gate for his very first race, he threw his jockey, broke down the gate, and ran alone around the track; he was eventually caught and went on to win the race. During his five years of competition until his retirement from racing in 1960 he had 27 wins, earning more than $86,000.

Joe Hancock Quarter Horse stallion and sire

Joe Hancock (1926–1943) was an influential Quarter Horse sire in the early years of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Joe Reed II (1936–1964) was a Quarter Horse racehorse from the early days of the American Quarter Horse Association that became an influential sire with the breed.

Joe Reed (1921–1947), often known as Joe Reed P-3, was a Quarter Horse racehorse from the early days of the American Quarter Horse Association that became an influential sire with the breed.

King (1932–1958), often known as King P-234, was an outstanding early Quarter Horse stallion who influenced the breed throughout the early years of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Leo (1940–1967) was one of the most influential Quarter Horse sires in the early years of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Bert (1934—1956) was one of the most influential sires in the early years of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). He was posthumously inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.

Clabber (1936–1947) was a Quarter Horse stallion known as the Iron Horse for his ability to run and win match races after a day of ranch work.

Driftwood (1932–1960) was originally known as Speedy while he was a rodeo horse. Driftwood was known for siring rodeo and ranch horses.

For many years, Oklahoma Star (1915–1943) was known simply as the Tommy Moore Horse, after his breeder, owner, trainer and race jockey. He was an influential Quarter Horse stallion in the early days of the breed.

Peter McCue Quarter Horse and/or Thoroughbred racehorse and sire

Peter McCue (1895–1923) was a racehorse and sire influential in the American Quarter Horse Association, although he died before the AQHA was formed.

Old Sorrel, sometimes known as The Old Sorrel, (1915–1945) was a Quarter Horse stallion who was the foundation of the King Ranch linebreeding program for Quarter Horses, and the cornerstone of the King Ranch horse breeding program.

Barbara L Quarter horse race mare

Barbara L (1947–1977) was an American Quarter Horse that raced during the early 1950s and often defeated some of the best racehorses of the time. She earned $32,836 on the race track in 81 starts and 21 wins, including six wins in stakes races. She set two track records during her racing career. After retiring from racing in 1955, she went on to become a broodmare and had 14 foals, including 11 who earned their Race Register of Merit with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Her offspring earned more than $200,000 in race money. She died in 1977 and was inducted into the AQHA's American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2007.

Shue Fly (1937–1963) was a Quarter Horse mare who was one of the dominant racehorses on the racetrack during the 1940s.

The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) is a breed registry for the American Paint Horse. It is currently headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. It was founded in 1965 with the merging of two different color breed registries that had been formed to register pinto-colored horses of Quarter Horse bloodlines. One of these organizations was the American Paint Quarter Horse Association and the other was the American Paint Stock Horse Association.

Lightning Bar Quarter Horse stallion

Lightning Bar (1951–1960) was an American Quarter Horse who raced and subsequently became a breeding stallion. He was bred by his lifelong owner Art Pollard of Sonoita, Arizona, and was the offspring of Three Bars, a Thoroughbred, and Della P, a Quarter Horse mare from Louisiana, then noted for the breeding of sprint horses. Lightning Bar raced ten times, achieving four victories and four other top three finishes. His racing career was cut short by illness after only one year, following which he spent two years as a show horse. As a breeding stallion he sired seven crops, or years, of foals, among whom Doc Bar was the best known. In 1960 Lightning Bar died of an intestinal infection at the age of nine. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association's (AQHA) Hall of Fame in 2008.

G. R. Carter American jockey

George Robert "G. R." Carter, Jr. is a retired professional American Quarter Horse jockey. On June 1, 2008, he became the all-time leading money-earning jockey in American Quarter Horse racing history surpassing the previous record of $41,405,207 in mount earnings. He continued to add to the record and retired with $75,317,283 in mount earnings. On July 6, 2013, Carter became the jockey with the most mounts in AQHA racing history after he piloted his 22,294th horse. Carter finished his career with 24,654 mounts on American Quarter Horses. On May 23, 2014, Carter became the all-time leader in wins aboard American Quarter Horses when he won his 3,632nd race passing Alvin "Bubba" Brossette. His final tally was 3,906 wins.

Quarter Pony American breed of horse

The Quarter Pony is a breed of pony that is similar to the American Quarter Horse. It stands up to 14.2 hands high and was developed from American Quarter Horse foundation bloodstock. The breed was originally developed from Quarter Horses that did not meet the American Quarter Horse Association's height requirement. It is bred to look like a small Quarter Horse, although the various registries also allow crosses with other breeds, including Paint horse, Appaloosa and Pony of the Americas, all stock types. There are three registries for the Quarter Pony, all with slightly different registration requirements. The first registry was begun in 1964, and two more were started in the 1970s. The breed is used today in a variety of Western riding disciplines.