From Texas ranches comes an American original.
The American Quarter Horse did not originate in Texas. In that respect, its heritage shares a surprising number of parallels with the English Thoroughbred. Although the bloodlines of the mighty Thoroughbred can be traced far and wide, in England it came of age. So, too, it is with the handiest of horses, the American Quarter Horse.
If you scan the first studbook of the American Quarter Horse Association, you will find that top honors go to a chestnut stallion foaled on King Ranch. Known as Wimpy, he was bred by George Clegg, and his genetics were top notch. On the top and the bottom, his grandsire was Old Sorrel, foundation sire of King Ranch. Thanks to his selection as the Grand Champion Stallion at the 1941 Southwestern Exposition Quarter Horse Show in Fort Worth, Wimpy earned the much-coveted P-1 designation in the AQHA studbook.
One of the other stallions in the arena at the Southwestern Exposition that day was a Waggoner Ranch entry named Silver Dawn. Like King Ranch and the Pitchfork and the Four Sixes (to name but a few), the Waggoners knew that running a world-class cattle operation required buying and breeding the best horseflesh. It was and is a ceaseless quest.
The watercolor above, Tommy at El Cid by Land Report Design Director Don Weller, features cutting horse trainer Tom Lyons plying his craft at the El Cid Feedlot in Farwell on the Texas–New Mexico line. As Don told me, “Not all cutting horses are Quarter Horses. And for that matter, not all horses that race over a quarter-mile are Quarter Horses. But in each case, the best ones, the one that win, are.