The Dollar Horse

After balancing the ranch budget one day, I headed out to the corral to see my perlino, quarter horse stallion, Commander. He talks, you know. Well at least he talks to me.  My big white, blue-eyed wonder was standing dejectedly in the middle of the pasture, head down and sighing. Being quite mare-minded like most stallions, Commander has been known to pout when his ladies weren’t in view so I wasn’t toooo worried about him.

Perlino Quarter Horse Stallion, Commander “What’s up big boy, you look dejected?” I ventured, never knowing just quite what my talking stallion might respond with.

 “I’m not dejected, I’m deflated” Came the answer from the pink lips. “ All these years, I‘ve been a good horse, a wise horse, a horse who has invested his time and energy well. But I am still just a quarter horse… with inflation the way it is, I should at least be a dollar horse by now!”

 “You should be happy you’re not just an old plug worth only a plug nickel!” I couldn’t resist. But oh, was that really the wrong thing to say! I think there were almost tears in those blue eyes. But then with a sudden flash I could see inspiration hit as his head came up and he trotted up to me.

 “You know, I do listen to the news. I know what’s happening out there. The government is bailing things out, they’re fixing stocks and they’re changing the value of things.  You’re the government of our ranch and I’m your stock so you could bail me out and give me more value! There’s bailing wire right there in the barn!” Commander looked at me imploringly.

 Ah, if only things were so easy! “Commander, you don’t quite understand. Your being a quarter horse doesn’t have anything to do with money. It has more to do with the rich history of your ancestors and the generations of horses who came before you. You should be proud to be called an American Quarter Horse.”

 The beginning of the quarter horse breed occurred in the 1700s when the English colonists on America’s eastern seaboard started importing the thoroughbred style stallions from their homeland racecourses. But races in the new world were quite different from racing in the old world! The 1-4 mile races in England over cleared field and dale weren’t possible in the heavily wooded areas of Virginia. Consequently American races were done on a quarter of a mile through city streets or on pieces of ground cleared of timber and known as “race paths” or “quarter paths.” Breeding focused on producing horses that were small, hardy, and quick.

 The early day predecessor of the quarter horse had to do it all, from entertaining the early colonists who had a need for speed and an appetite for racing, to pulling the plow and herding the cow. Money was tight and families could only afford one horse that could multi task! This early multi-use horse is considered one of the reasons why the quarter horse of today is so versatile.

Perlino Quarter Horse Stallion As people moved west, so did their stallions and the handy racers of the east were bred to the mares of the west. These western dams were descended from the Spanish Barb horses brought over by the Spaniards and skillfully “borrowed” by the Chickasaw, Cherokee and Choctaw native tribes. They were generally known as “Chickasaw horses”. With the cross of the hot-blooded sire lines from England on the sturdy Spanish mares came a horse that not only raced but also proved to be very handy on the large cattle ranches of Texas.

 The quarter horse as we know it was starting to take shape. It was a horse that had great sprinting speed over short distances, had a short, refined head, strong, well-muscled body and featured a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters.

 Until the 1940s the Quarter Horse existed as a type of horse, not a breed of horse. They were called by different names depending on what part of the country they came from and the desired sire bloodline of that area. There were Little Steel Dusts in north Texas, Billy horses in south Texas and in other areas they were dubbed Short Horses, Bulldogs or American Quarter of a Mile Running Horses. In the end after heated arguments and many compromises the horse breed emerged as simply the American Quarter Horse, intended to reflect the breed’s original purpose of racing the quarter mile.

 In 1940 the American Quarter Horse Association was formed with the mission to record and preserve the pedigrees of the American Quarter Horse while maintaining the integrity of the breed and providing beneficial services for its members. Today there are 4.5 million Quarter Horses on the AQHA registry with a worldwide membership totaling 340,000 owners. This makes AQHA the largest horse breed association in the world and quarter horses themselves have become a several billion-dollar industry.

Perlino AQHA Stallion There are 17 recognized colors of American Quarter Horses including the most prominent color of sorrel (brownish red). Other register colors are bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, dun, red dun, gray, grullo, palomino, red roan, blue roan, bay roan, white, cremello and perlino (Commander!). The shape of the quarter horse has diversified as the breed matured into mastering different disciplines. The ranch, reining and cattle horses have stayed the shorter, more compact, stocky and well muscled, yet agile shape of the past while the racehorses were infused with more thoroughbred blood to become taller, leaner moving machines. The halter and show horse became larger and more heavily muscled to suit American show tastes.

 Versatility still remains the hallmark of the American Quarter Horse breed. You will find quarter horses involved in ranch work, reining, rodeos and barrel racing in one arena and western pleasure, English pleasure, eventing and dressage in another arena. Many individuals and families spent hours on the trail enjoying their faithful companion that easily gets them from one place to another. Racing, still the Sport of Kings is enjoyed by racers, breeders and spectators alike. Whatever a rider wants to do, they can find a quarter horse to do the job.

 “So Commander, do you see what an honor it is to be a quarter horse?” I certainly was proud of my American Quarter Horse stallion. Quite a statement from an Arabian racehorse breeder!

 “I am proud to be a Quarter Horse although I still might be worth more as a Dollar Horse. I think we just need to start a new registry for Perlino Stallion Dollar Horses!” Commander could be quite stubborn with an idea.

 “Yeah, a registry with a membership of one horse!” I rolled my own blue eyes!

 “OK, I see your point, but I still need the bailout.” The twinkle had now come back to Commander’s blue eyes.

“Could you bail me out of this pasture into the mare pasture?”

 Perlino Quarter Horse Stallion

Jill Smith is a Spokane, WA entrepreneur, international business
owner, artist/potter and cowgirl at heart. She raises Arabian racehorses,
Arabian/Quarter Horses, palominos and Cremellos/Perlinos.

High N Command (pen name, Commander) is a smart-talking
AQHA perlino stallion, constantly trolling for mares.
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4 responses to “The Dollar Horse”

  1. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  2. I really enjoyed this story. Commander does have a point, but he makes a very fine quarter horse…I bet the ladies would agree.

  3. Quite creative, one of the nicer websites I’ve observed these days. Keep up the fantastic job.

  4. Super great! Thanks again for the day I spent… I’m honored to meet all of you, Commander included! Keep ‘em coming, its great fun to read. :)

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