American Quarter Horse, c. 1968
The American Quarter Horse, c. 1968
For almost 45 years, replicas of it have hung in barns, feed stores, offices and living rooms. You can even find it on credit cards and bumper stickers. “The Mixer Horse” is perhaps the most recognizable painting at AQHA and is the icon of the Association.
“The Mixer Horse” was commissioned at the 1968 AQHA Convention by the public information committee. Members wanted a portrait of an “ideal” Quarter Horse to use for promotional purposes.
However, finding an artist was difficult.
First hired was respected equine artist Darol Dickinson of Colorado, but he was unable to please everyone on the committee and his painting was rejected. That was when renowned equine artist Orren Mixer of Oklahoma was hired.
Mixer completed his work in June 1968 and brought it to Amarillo for the committee to see. Legendary breeder Warren Shoemaker told Mixer there was only one thing wrong with the painting: The horse wasn’t carrying Shoemaker’s brand.
“I wanted to paint a horse that would please the majority because I knew I couldn’t please everybody,” Mixer said. “I’d painted some great horses – Otoe, Kid Meyers, Three Chicks, The Ole Man, Tiny Watch – but for the AQHA horse, I didn’t use any particular horse for a model. This one came out of my imagination.”
However, many people still think Mixer used Three Bars (TB) as his model, while others have said that the portrait is of their horse.
“Roy Browning has said right in front of me that I used The Ole Man,” Mixer said. “I don’t care. Lots of people say I must have used their horse, or that they’ve got one just like him at home. If it makes them feel good about their horse, well, that’s great by me.”
In 1995, an AQHA subcommittee was brought together to refine the standards for judging a halter horse. As the committee struggled to agree on what the ideal halter horse was, one member spoke up.
“I’m looking for a horse like the one in that painting,” he said as he pointed to “The Mixer Horse.”
All of the members agreed.