What Is an Appendix Quarter Horse?

What Is an Appendix Quarter Horse?

What's the difference between Appendix, Tentative and Permanent? Dive into the AQHA history of registering Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred crosses.

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Editor’s Note: First published in a 2002 issue of America’s Horse, this piece was one of a series written by Don Hedgpeth, who also authored, “They Rode Good Horses: The First 50 Years of the American Quarter Horse Association.” We thought you’d like this glimpse into AQHA history and the evolution of the Appendix-bred Quarter Horse. After you’ve read the post, be sure to check out a more up-to-date explanation of the modern Appendix registry, as well as the AQHA Rulebook.

Few things in AQHA’s history were as confusing as the Appendix registry. Created when the American Quarter Racing and the National Quarter Horse Breeders associations merged in 1949, the Appendix registry was intended to be a catchall for horses formerly registered with those groups. However, inclusion in the Appendix was not actual AQHA registration but merely for the purpose of identification. When Appendix horses passed inspection for conformation, they would receive Tentative registration. Tentative stallions would receive Permanent registration when 12 of their offspring received Tentative status. Tentative mares would become Permanent when three of their produce became Tentative.

But Appendix papers were issued by AQHA, and an uninformed public bought the Appendix horses mistakenly thinking that they were registered. To alleviate some of the uncertainty, Appendix horses were allowed to compete in AQHA-sanctioned events, and provisions were made with a Register of Merit that recognized “superior performance.” The Association’s executive committee allowed outstanding horses who had earned an ROM, even if they carried only an Appendix designation, to be advanced to Tentative registration without inspection for conformation.

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To make matters worse, Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred crosses were also relegated to the Appendix registry. By 1954, Appendix horses exceeded the number of Tentative and Permanent horses combined. In 1952, Arizona rancher Ernest Browning argued that the Appendix registry was undermining the breed’s integrity. He proposed closing the stud book and limiting all new registrations to foals whose sires and dams were already registered. This would have effectively stopped Thoroughbred outcrosses. Thwarted in his first attempt, Browning then proposed that the Appendix be reserved for horses having either a Thoroughbred sire or dam, and that such horses not be eligible for advancement to Tentative. Coloradan Ed Honnen opposed Browning at every turn with alternative plans that allowed outcrosses.

In 1957, the Board of Directors reshaped a Honnen plan that appeased Browning. In the first phase, from January 1, 1958, to the end of 1961, Appendix horses could advance to Tentative by either qualifying for Register of Merit or by passing inspection for conformation. In the second phase, the Appendix registry would be abandoned on January 1, 1962, and thereafter foals of registered parents would be eligible for registration at birth. But the racing interests and other advocates of Thoroughbred crosses were too firmly entrenched with AQHA to be denied. They argued that it was impossible to ignore the contribution of such Thoroughbreds as Three Bars to the reputation of AQHA-registered horses.

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In 1959, AQHA adopted a new registration system that combined Tentative and Permanent horses into a single registry. After January 1, 1962, all foals having a registered sire and dam would automatically get a registration number without being inspected. A new Appendix registry would be established for foals of registered Quarter Horses crossed with Thoroughbreds. These Appendix horses would receive a number in the new registry by attaining a Register of Merit and passing inspection for conformation after they turned 2.

New Appendix horses who did not qualify for the unified registry would still be allowed to race and enter performance competitions, but could not be shown at halter or used for breeding.