Six Million Reasons to Celebrate the American Quarter Horse

Six Million Reasons to Celebrate the American Quarter Horse

AQHA is auctioning off another milestone registration number. The auction runs November 12-16.

silhouette of cowgirl kissing horse on the nose at sunset (Credit: Manuela Berg)

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By Holly Clanahan 

AQHA has celebrated each time the registration odometer, so to speak, hits a million mark. The Association recorded its first million horses in 1974 and issued commemorative coins as part of the festivities. Now we’ve hit 6 million, and we’re celebrating again – this time by auctioning off the milestone registration number to benefit AQHA Professional Horsemen. We’ll tell you more about that – and how you can bid – but first, let’s take a look back at the previous “million milestones.” 


One Million
It took 34 years of existence – from 1940 to 1974 – for the Association to reach its first million numbered horses (not counting Appendix horses). AQHA decided not to assign 1000000 to a horse but to instead dedicate the registration number to the members. Then-executive secretary Don Jones signed a mock registration certificate that still hangs in the halls of AQHA Headquarters in Amarillo, along with all the other milestone registrations that have been reached. 

To put this time period in context, 1974 was also the year that AQHA hosted its first World Championship Show, in Louisville, Kentucky.  

Two Million
It only took nine years to reach the second milestone. AQHA registrations hit 2 million in August 1983, and that registration number was auctioned off at the AQHA annual convention, as a fundraiser for the American Quarter Horse Foundation. 

The King Ranch of Kingsville, Texas, purchased rights to that number. Stephen “Tio” Kleburg of King Ranch sat on the AQHA Executive Committee and was to become president in 1985. 1983 was the year that AQHA broke ground on its new headquarters, which still stand along Interstate 40 in Amarillo.

Tio, a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, talks about those times and the chestnut filly that was selected to bear the name Two Million: “It was very exciting for the Association, to see it grow like it was growing,” he says, “with horse registrations and stallion reports and the membership drive that was going on at the time.

“I thought since we had registry No. 1, we ought to have the next milestone, which was 2 million,” Tio says. “It seemed like a very appropriate registration for King Ranch.”

If you remember AQHA history, you know that the ranch’s stallion Wimpy earned registration No. 1 by winning the stallion class at the 1941 Fort Worth Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show.

The filly named Two Million traced to Wimpy on her dam’s side and was sired by Mr San Peppy. 

Three Million 
By September 1991, AQHA was celebrating its third million. That number was purchased at a Foundation auction by Phillips Ranch of Frisco, Texas. 

This was the same year that the AQHA Heritage Center and Museum (since renamed the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum) opened. 

The milestone number went to a filly named Three Million Cash. The bay daughter of On A High (a son of Dash For Cash) earned her Register of Merit on the track and then began raising babies, with names like Jess Three Million and Feature Threemillion. She passed through a number of owners, with her last being Paul Taylor Jr. and Paul Taylor III of Roswell, New Mexico. 

Four Million
The 4-million milestone came in April 2001, the same year that The American Quarter Horse Journal got a redesign and the distinctive “Q” was added to its logo. Hall of Fame breeder Carol Rose purchased the number at a Foundation auction and assigned it to a lovely buckskin gelding named Shinelikefourmillion. 

The son of Shining Spark entered the reining pen and then was sold as a 4-year-old to Gloria Bahn of Chesterfield, Missouri, who had initially gone to Carol’s place in Gainesville, Texas, looking to buy a mare.

“I saw him and thought, ‘God, he’s such a beautiful animal,’” Gloria said. “He’s the man of my dreams.” 

Five Million
AQHA hit the 5-million mark in 2007, and an AQHA member from Canada purchased the rights to that number via an online auction. The winning bidder, however, never assigned the number to a horse, so it – like 1 million – remains one for all AQHA members to celebrate. 

As additional gifts to the members, the now-renamed Hall of Fame & Museum saw the addition of two statues in 2007 – the life-sized bronze of an American Quarter Horse sculpted by Mehl Lawson and donated by the Dogwood Foundation and the larger-than-life bronze of two-time racing world champion Refrigerator and jockey Kip Didericksen, donated by Jim and Marilyn Helzer. 

Six Million 
We’re there! 

AQHA Registrar Tammy Canida says, “To see that (6 million) milestone reached, and people wanting to register their horses, and the importance of that to them … that’s pretty impressive,” she says. “It’s important to our members.” 

This time around, the milestone registration number is being auctioned off during the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council Online Auction November 12-16. All proceeds benefit the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Endowment Fund. 

This permanent endowment fund is being created by the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council and will be administered by the American Quarter Horse Foundation in partnership with the Professional Horsemen’s Council. Interest income will perpetually support professionals in crisis and provide educational opportunities to advance the careers of these valued professionals.

Bidding opens at 9 a.m. Central on November 12 and closes at 3 p.m. Central on November 16. Bid on this piece of AQHA history – or other great items – at www.aqha.com/professional-horsemen-s-online-auction.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA on Twitter and visit www.aqha.com/news.