- 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.