National Foundation Quarter Horse  Association

Exceptional Qualty, Cassical Type


When the NFQHA Board of Advisors first met in 1995 to discuss how to define the National Foundation Quarter Horse they had the benefit of 55 years of Quarter Horse history to help guide them in their decisions. The Board relied heavily on this historical perspective in defining what a Foundation Quarter Horse is, and in structuring NFQHA’s Statement of Purpose, and Goals and Standards.

All Board members agreed that the unique characteristics which set the Foundation Quarter Horse apart from other equine breeds were: Versatility - Disposition - Athletic Ability and Agility - Sturdy Constitution - Sound Body with Good Bone & Foot - Natural Cow Sense - Blazing Burst of Early Speed - Intelligence - and a Willing, Trainable mind. In reviewing this list it was apparent that the National Foundation Quarter Horse should be defined by one word..…VERSATILE, and that all his attributes should contribute to that versatility.

Versatility – the National Foundation Quarter Horse should be above all things versatile. The Foundation Quarter Horse’s historical claim to fame was his incredible Versatility, which made him indispensable to his owner. He worked cows, plowed fields, pulled buggies and wagons, ran races, provided basic transportation, and has been an outstanding recreation and trail horse.

Disposition – the National Foundation Quarter should be very quiet and willing, but not a ‘deadhead’. He knows that he needs to conserve his energy and does not waste it in unnecessary action by jigging, head tossing, and fighting with the rider. He has a big kind heart, and will willingly do anything asked of him by someone that he trusts. His great mind is not only the most endearing aspect of the Foundation Quarter Horse, but may also be the most important aspect of his Versatility. In order to withstand the stresses of being asked to perform a multitude of tasks he must have a quiet, willing attitude, and also be intelligent enough to understand what is being asked of him. Many super star specialty horses do not have this kind of mind, and can only do one thing well.

Conformation - The National Foundation Quarter Horse should possess the Quarter Horse Conformation described by Robert Denhardt in 1940 – the Foundation Quarter Horse is a medium sized, balanced horse, heavily muscled, with sturdy bone and foot to support his weight, and carry heavy loads during long days of work. The length of leg does not exceed the depth of the heart-girth. The large eyes are set far apart on a short head with a large jaw, and the neck is of medium length and thickness in keeping with his heavily muscled frame. All parts of his conformation are geared to allowing a horse to work hard for long hours in rough terrain, and still have the lightning burst of speed necessary to catch a cow, and the agility required to turn that cow on a dime.

Color - National Foundation Quarter Horses shall meet the 1995 AQHA standards for color and white markings.

After defining the National Foundation Quarter Horse, the next problem was how to qualify horses for the new Association based on these definitions. Since physical inspection was not practical nor feasible, it was decided the certification criteria had to be based on Quarter Horse Blood. Since the only outside blood continued to be added since the inception of AQHA was Thoroughbred, the percentage left after subtracting the TB blood would be the original Quarter Horse blood. Therefore, it would be necessary to research back to the parents of the first registered Quarter Horse, or the first TB encountered on each line; or eleven generations; whichever came first. Thus the research had to look at over 2,000 horses in a pedigree.

This huge undertaking was considered necessary because from the beginning of AQHA horses were accepted into the registry that were not considered to be the Steel Dust or Bulldog type that Robert Denhardt wanted. The race type were originally accepted as class “C” with “A” being the Steel Dust/Bulldog type. Over the years this changed many times, but the race type or Thoroughbred cross continued to be accepted. Some of the race type were probably also registered as “A” horses as many of the AQHA Inspectors were renown Race type men. Later the class system was abolished and all horses received a registration number. (See 1st 27,000 Article)

NFQHA looks at the TB in every horse regardless of how low its AQHA registration number, or what year it was registered or born. It is the NFQHA belief that the more TB blood a horse carries, the more TB traits it will exhibit and the more Quarter Horse attributes will be lost. In 1995 it was thought that a horse carrying 75% Quarter Horse blood (researching back to the parents of the first registered horse, or 11 generations), would meet the above criteria. However, after the first National Show in 1996, and after reviewing pedigrees for over a year the qualifying criteria was raised to 80%. This criteria has proven to be excellent, as demonstrated by the overall quality and consistency of National Foundation Quarter Horses.


Text Box: the


the Breed STANDARD

Based on that criteria, the National Foundation Quarter Horse is defined as follows:

    The New World Dictionary defines foundation as: “a part on which the other parts rest for support” or “a part on which other parts are overlaid.”

    When you think about it, either of these two definitions could fit the bill. There is, after all, no doubt that horses like King, Joe Hancock, Driftwood, Poco Bueno and others of their kind did serve as the foundation – or base – upon which the breed we now know as the American Quarter Horse was built.

    But trying to define something like the Foundation Quarter Horse in technical terms does present something of a problem; because the fact of the matter is that the nomenclature is less of a “term,” and more of a “tale.”

    Put another way, the Foundation Quarter Horse is a story – steeped in history, rich in lore and populated by colorful characters.

    It is the tale of King and Byrne James in pursuit of a speedy calf at a rodeo in South Texas; the story of Leo flying down a Pawhuska, Oklahoma, straightaway; and the account of Blue Valentine and Hyde Merritt tripping a steer at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

    It is a saga that conjures up images of such great man and beast teams as Jess Hankins and King, Bud Warren and Leo, E. Paul Waggoner and Poco Bueno, Howard Pitzer and Two Eyed Jack, and Duane Walker and Jackie Bee – Hall of Fame Horsemen and Horses, each and every one.

    What’s more, the Foundation Quarter Horse is a story built upon and around the very heart and soul of the American West. From the hot and dusty plains of the Southwest to the high desert country of the far Northwest, the Foundation Quarter   Horse helped settle the West.

    He carried starry-eyed settlers and homesteaders in pursuit of their dreams; and steely-eyed cattlemen in search of their grassy empires. He chased fast cash on furrowed racetracks, and fast calves in dusty rodeo arenas. He pushed fat steers up the Chisholm Trail, and even pulled “two-row listers” over newly-cultivated fields.

    He was, as one legendary pioneer horsewoman so aptly put it, “a willing work partner throughout the week, and our greatest source of pride during the week-end.”

    In the end, the animal winds up being hard to define, but easy to recognize. He is less of an entity and more of an emotion; less of a physical presence and more of a way of life; less of a possession and more of a partner.

    He is the Foundation Quarter Horse. ~  FRANK HOLMES

“As far as trying to define exactly what constitutes a “Foundation Quarter Horse” is concerned, it’s not that hard; at least not as far as technical terms are concerned.”  ~ Frank Holmes

What is a Foundation Quarter Horse ?

· What is  Foundation Quarter Horse?

· The Breed Standard

· Formation

· Our Goals