Among the various postcards I collect, horse cards are among one of my favorites. There is a large variety of breeds, colors, sizes, and tasks that the horse is capable of performing. Although the Morgan horse is sometimes referred to as America’s First Breed, the history behind the American Quarter Horse, could argue the case. The American Quarter Horse has a history that has been traced back to the 1660s and considered one of the most versatile breeds in the United States.
In the 1700s horses were running wild in the southwest, thriving on the grasslands of the plains. The early Indians quickly learned how to stay on the backs of the fast running horse, which made there hunt for food and shelter materials safer and more efficient.
The Colonial farmers that settled in the Carolinas and Virginia, when their work was done, enjoyed having large gatherings, to eat, and challenge each other in different activities. One of those fun competitions was the challenge of a horse race. They were proud of their English horses, that were, reliable, hardworking companions, however, they began to trade for a faster horse that was being bred by the Chickasaw Indians. The Indians were very proud of their quick moving, stout horses. Many of the Indian ponies were from the bloodline of the wild horses captured from southwest plains, which were a cross of native horses of Spanish origin, and English horses imported to Virginia. From the Colonial sprint horse, to open range cow horse, the race and farm roots were some of the foundations upon which the American Quarter Horse stands.
In the early 19th Century, Quarter Horse racing wasn’t as popular a sport as Thoroughbred racing. Owners of thoroughbreds had the know-how and the papers that traced the ancestry of their horses back several generations. However, the quarter mile racehorse soon became popular among farmers, especially when the time crops were in, harvesting was done and there was time on their calendars for a celebration. Horse racing was one of the activities they participated in.
Following the end of the Civil War, the first wild cattle were gathered in the brush country of South Texas and were driven north towards the railroads in Kansas. The cowboy, as they were called, quickly discovered that the stocky, quick moving, horses that some rode, were much better suited when it came to working the cattle, especially in the brush country of South Texas. As the cowboys pushed cattle towards the rail stations in Kansas and Middle America, the Quarter horse became their favorite mount. They were not a horse that the farmer could use plowing the fields, but were intelligent — quick, hardy, intelligent, willing to work and an easier ride for the cowboy. The demand for cattle continued to grow, and a good horse continued to be an important part of the industry.
The American Quarter Horse is one of the oldest recognized breeds of horses in the United States. They originated around the 1600, as a cross between the native horses of Spanish origin and English horses imported to Virginia. The modern American Quarter Horses are short and stocky, have a strong muscular build, with deep broad chests. They are fast starters, can turn and stop quickly, are generally good natured and are naturally suited to do the job they have been chosen to perform. Despite the new machinery and modern technical ideas, they still need the quarter horse. I have read recently of several occasions when a large cattle truck will run into trouble along a highway and some of the frightened cattle escape before men can control them. The Highway Patrol will likely call in a local rancher for help. He and experienced cowboys on horseback will step in to get the cattle safely off the highways.
In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was organized, and re-organized 10 years later. They now keep an organized registry and have control of the American Quarter Horse Organization and keep an up-dated American Quarter Horse Stud Book and Registry.
This strong, steady horse is the one that helped break prairie sod for the farmers, carried buffalo hunters across the plains, and was a necessary part of the large cattle drives that cowboys drove towards the cattle pens in Kansas and elsewhere. Today, as the sport of rodeo, becomes more popular, the Quarter Horse will continue to play and even bigger role. The cowboy relies on a well-trained quarter horse to help win some of the big cash prizes. Travel from one state to another to compete in the various contest, takes a toll on both horses and the cowboy or cowgirl. It’s a life they’ve chosen and enjoy. There is always a possibility of serious injury and/or a big cash reward. It is American history replayed, from the days when it was a way of life. With the help of more coverage by the television stations, rodeos are becoming more popular.
These quick Indian ponies, who were of Spanish heritage, were the same that Coronado roe in his search for the Golden cities of the American southwest.
On August 10th, 2022, an official ceremony took place at the Oklahoma State Capitol, where Governor Kevin Stitt, signed bill #HB3281, which claimed the American Quarter Horse as the Oklahoma State Horse.
It was a historic moment on the capitol lawn, as a group of cowboys and cowgirls celebrated the special historic moment. A few years ago, Rep. Randelman’s granddaughter realized Oklahoma didn’t have a state horse. She wrote to her law-maker grandfather to inform him and suggested that Oklahoma needed a state horse. There is a diverse range of horse breeds in Oklahoma, but the Quarter horse, with a lot of fans pulling for their favorite, came out on top. So, things quickly began to happen, and the quarter horse was officially recognized, as the Oklahoma State Horse. The lawmakers made a victory lap with Governor Stitt showing off their quarter horses and they were officially recognized. The quarter horse has a rich history in Oklahoma, and according to the American Horse council, the quarter horse is the most common breed in the state.
I am enclosing some postcards of the American Quarter Horse. All but on includes the name and qualifications of the horse, the location of ranch and name of the owners or trainer. Card #5 proves the horse had a hard job to do, and like the old cowboy, they are both up to the task.