The Quarter Horse is arguably America’s most popular breed. And the QH got an added boost (not that it needed it) last week with the announcement that the Oklahoma State Senate passed legislation naming the American Quarter Horse its official state horse.
“This legislation is very near and dear to my heart,” Senator Blake “Cowboy” Stephens said in an official statement. He co-authored House Bill 3261 with Rep. Randy Randleman. “Our state was built upon the western heritage and lifestyle of our ancestors and naming a state horse pays tribute to the cowboys, Native Americans, pioneers and others who built Oklahoma. There’s no better way to honor our past while still looking toward the future than enshrining the Quarter Horse as our state’s horse.”
The American Quarter Horse is one of the oldest recognized horse breeds in the nation, dating back to the 1660s, and descending from the Colonial Spanish Mustang, which has major ties to Oklahoma’s tribal community, according to a State Senate news release. The state is also home to more registered Quarter Horses per capita than any other state in America (an estimated 104,000), with more than 33,000 registered owners.
Randleman was the legislation’s principal author and he said in the press release, “This legislation was requested by a very special constituent, my granddaughter, Julianne, several years ago after she realized Oklahoma did not have a state horse. I’m thrilled to see this designation cross the finish line so we can recognize the valuable role the American Quarter Horse has had in our state history.”
For close to 50 years the AQHA has held its World Championships in Oklahoma City. According to an Oklahoma Equine Alliance study, the state horse industry contributes $3.6 billion and 35,000 full-time jobs. It’s been estimated that the 15 national and world-level show hosted in Oklahoma City alone account for a $126.5 million economic impact.
If you’re wondering which other states have official horses, there are in fact a dozen others across America. Among them are Texas, where the American Quarter Horse Association is located, which also lays claim to the QH. Massachusetts and Vermont both chose the Morgan; Florida has the Florida Cracker Horse; Maryland and Kentucky have the Thoroughbred; Tennessee has the Tennessee Walker; Idaho has the Appaloosa; Missouri, the Missouri Trotter; North Carolina has the Colonial Spanish Mustang who live wild in the Outer Banks; North Dakota claim a wild herd known as the Nokota, named after the tribe that once lived in the area; and South Carolina has a breed known as the Carolina Marsh Tacky.