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.
“American Quarter Horse Association.” Wikipedia. 16 April 2007. 17 April 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Quarter_Hors e_Association
“American Quarter Horse.” Wikipedia. 16 April 2007 17 April 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_quarter_hors e
American Quarter Horse Association. 2000.17 April 2007. http://www.aqha.com
The thoroughbred is perhaps one of the most famous horses worldwide due to its speed. The popularity of horse racing has elevated the thoroughbred’s status to what it is today. Because of their value in the sporting world, thoroughbreds are the most valuable horses in the world.
The breed’s ancestry is difficult to map since many of the original forebears’ names were changed when they were sold to different owners.
The three most influential horses in developing the breed were the Barb, Turk and Arabian. Through the ages, the best and fastest horses were bred for their speed. This speed has created some of the most popular races today which include the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes which constitute the Triple Crown. These races showcase the thoroughbred’s string suit because the thoroughbred can run a mile (1.6 kilometers) in about one and a half minutes. Even more amazing are the legendary race horses. Secretariat’s response went beyond unreal. He won by a jaw-dropping 31 lengths. His time of 2:24 for one and a half miles set a world record many argue may never be broken.
Thoroughbreds are probably the horse most people think of when asked to picture a horse. They come in all colors, but predominantly are brown, bay and chestnut.
They have well conformed bodies with well-sloped shoulders and powerful hindquarters. Thoroughbreds’ refined heads are misleading of their Arabian ancestry as they do not possess the characteristic Arabian dished profile. At an average of 16 to 16.2hh, they are tall with long legs bred for speed making them the ultimate ‘speed racer.’ The clean, hard legs of a thoroughbred have a minimum of eight inches of bone below the knee.
Every kid is sure to have seen a movie featuring a thoroughbred at some point. Great movies such as National Velvet, Seabiscuit and Dreamer are a few horse enthusiast favorites. Because they are so fast, they create a sense of wonder and awe leading to many enchanting stories.
Not to be pigeon-holed as speed demons, thoroughbreds are great all-around horses, too. They excel in jumping and hunting events and compete in three-day events. Though one of the more spirited breeds, they do make good pleasure horses. Adopted retired racehorses must be taught the basics, such as the four gaits. Because a racehorse knows fast and faster, a patient owner and trainer are required. But the result is very fulfilling as many retired racehorses even become schooling and lesson horses. They have very smooth gaits with easy ground-covering strides for flat work.
The thoroughbred is an extremely handsome, spirited and alert horse. It has won the hearts of the world over. Though built for speed, it has so much more to offer!
Wild horses are one of America’s national treasures. On par with seeing a soaring eagle or a bear foraging for food, the wild horse commands awe and respect. Wild is perhaps a misnomer as all wild horses in North America are actually feral, meaning their ancestors were domesticated.
Theories state that the early horse did roam North America, however as the continents shifted, they only retained status in Europe and Asia.
According to the book Horse Facts, in the 16th century the Spanish Conquistadors invaded America bringing with them their domesticated horses thus reintroducing the horse to North America. These domesticated ancestors were shipped over from Europe with the intention of providing a means of travel for settlers and general field work. However, many of the animals escaped or were turned loose and were ultimately left to their own devices. Although in a new setting, the abundant room and food the new continent provided allowed the horse to thrive.
America’s wild horse, typically called a Mustang, is a true survivor. They come in all colors and typically are between 14 – 15 hands with a light-weight build. Because they are descended from the horses of Spanish settlers, they are of Andalusian, Arab and Barb origins. Unlike their domesticated counterparts, Mustangs are extremely resilient.
Once tamed, they make excellent horses for any discipline as long as they receive the respect they deserve. In fact, they have so many desirable qualities such as good cow-sense, that they have been bred with numerous other breeds like the Thoroughbred.
The most numerous breed in the United States, the Quarter-Horse, is a cross between a Mustang and a Thoroughbred. Mustangs are great for general use but have excelled in endurance riding.
Unfortunately many of North America’s 47,000 wild horses are in constant danger. As of 2004, the wild horses lost the federal protection they had that prevented them from being rounded up and sold to slaughter. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act of 1971 was lifted allowing the government agency the Bureau of Land Management to routinely round up roaming herds. The lucky captors are sent to auction to be sold to potential buyers who are looking for a challenging new horse; others sadly are sent to slaughter.
The debate is that these wild horses are grazing on land that is meant for cattle. One side says that the loss of the use of the land is debilitating to the cattle industry while the other says that there is plenty of land for both species and that the wild horses do not do the damage reported.
The fight is also on to release back into the wild the 14,000 wild horses currently being held in long-term facilities. A great group that has done tireless work to save these wild animals and adopt the captured mustangs is The Wild Horse Sanctuary (www.wildhorsesanctuary.org). They currently have over 200 wild horses and burros running free on their land. Also, they are very active in getting the government to see the value of these precious animals.
Wild horses have survived for centuries living on land that is more than accommodating. It would be a shame to see this versatile creature disappear from our landscape.