Horses, writing and history. Three of my favorite things. I love my job for many reasons, but on occasion, I get unique opportunities to combine my passion for the equine industry, my love for telling stories through words and my fascination with events from the past. While at the West Texas Futurity in Amarillo, Texas, I did just that.
When I wasn’t at the arena, I made a stop at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame and Museum. I spent nearly a half hour out in front of the building looking at the artwork before I even made it to the front door. When I walked inside, though, I was blown away.
The Grand Hall, where all of the inductees’ pictures are housed, was the most awe-inspiring place I’ve ever been. I gazed at pictures of famous horsemen, horsewomen and horses that have made an impact on the industry. As I walked down this giant hallway, I noticed so many names that I write about every day at work. Buster Welch, Carol Rose, Frank Merrill, Smart Little Lena, Hollywood Dun It, Peppy San Badger…
I wandered through the art gallery before entering a room that was dedicated to educating the public about the animal we all love so much. There was a section that explained the origin of the modern-day horse, a section that focused on horse health and nutrition, a section that gave an overview of basic tack and equipment and even a section of hands on activities for both adults and children.
I have always been a big advocate of education, so seeing this area of the museum was special to me. I have had several conversations with different individuals about how horse sports are becoming less popular and that more people need to know about the equine industry, and knowing that the AQHA embraced a chance to teach people about horses gave me hope that show pens won’t be totally empty one day.
Once I walked upstairs, the history nerd inside me was awakened. A timeline of historical events was laid out and meshed with important events in the history of the Quarter Horse and the AQHA. It began before the 1900s with the arrival of Spanish Conquistadors and the introduction of the horse to the New World. From there, each decade was beautifully displayed in a glass enclosure with pictures, artifacts and tidbits of information.
As I moved through the years, I saw the development of the cutting, reining and cow horse disciplines come alive in front of my eyes. Once again, those names I mentioned earlier from the Grand Hall were recognized for their contributions to the industry. There was a picture of Freckles Playboy at the 1976 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, a picture of Topsail Whiz winning the 1991 National Reining Horse Association Futurity with Al Dunning and a blurb that marked when reining became the sixth discipline to be recognized by the United States Equestrian Team in 1998.
I neared the end of the timeline, and in the 2016 Inductees display window, a magazine was lying behind the glass with a horse on the cover. The publication was called the Quarter Horse, and that issue was from 1948. At that moment, it felt as if my job had come full circle. Granted, Quarter Horse News (QHN) had not been created at that point, but knowing that people used to read a magazine much the way our readers read QHN today gave me even more inspiration to keep writing for and sharing information with our subscribers.