Born to breed, to rule the racetrack, dominate the rodeo and blaze the trails that no man-made vehicle could venture through. That is the nature of the American Quarter Horse since the seventeenth century, the first native horse to North America. These horses are strategically bred following strict regulations that allow for a horse to bear the title of an American Quarter Horse.
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) determines the regulations of this ancient breed. Central to the world of this globally renowned breed of horses, the AQHA requires that anyone who wants to breed, race or simply have their horse bear this prestigious title must register with the association.
AQHA oversees the largest quarter horse breeder society in the world and has over 3.2 million horses registered worldwide and 300,000 equestrian members. Founded in 1940, the association was developed by a group of horsemen who wanted to preserve the pedigree of this particular breed of horses. Now based in Amarillo, Texas, AQHA is a prominent international organization that is dedicated to preserving this famous pedigree of horses.
The AQHA World Show is one of the most prestigious shows that an American Quarter Horse may be allowed to enter. This is the largest AQHA sponsored event and is held in November of every year. The association allocates points to horses that win or place in the horse shows and on the racetrack. The points awarded depend on the horses placing and the number of other horses that participated in the event. Certain levels of points will allow a particular horse to win annual awards and receive lifetime achievement recognition. AQHA keeps careful records of all events and provides resources for its members to keep abreast of events and activities that are available worldwide.
The AQHA’s website Aqha.com, provides registered members information on races, other quarter horse breeders, events, recreation and youth opportunities. AQHA even provides travel discounts for hotels, air travel and car rentals for its members. The association also offers equestrian members an AQHA MasterCard that is managed through the Bank of America. Additionally, members can search for horses that are for sale, riding instructors and monitor the current rankings and polls of registered horses. As an international organization, AQHA has many corporate sponsors that include Wranglers, Bayers, FedEx, MetLife, and Ford, just to name a few, who recognize the value of the equestrian consumers.
Becoming a member and registering a horse with AQHA is not a simple task. AQHA has extremely strict regulations to determine if a horse is in fact an American Quarter Horse. They reference a horse stud book which determines legitimacy. The horse must meet performance standards and be a first generation cross between a registered Thoroughbred and an American Quarter Horse. Once this is determined the horse may compete in competitions. This does not provide full registration, however, until the horse meets certain conformational criteria and is successful in AQHA events. Once the horse becomes fully registered then their offspring will be eligible for AQHA registration as well.
The American Quarter Horse Association is an enormous central foundation for the
preservation of the prestigious American Quarter Horse pedigree. The races, competitions, and recreational opportunities that this breed of horse offers have intrigued equestrians and the general public for centuries. AQHA, as an international organization, will continue to have a huge influence in the world of American Quarter Horses.