Unlikely Heroes

The American Quarter Horse has played a large role in the history of the United States and has served alongside active and retired military members.

Veteran Derrick Perkins and Mr Fritz Wood at the 2014 World Show. Journal photo.

Horses have stood beside United States military members for centuries, serving as caisson horses and cavalry steeds.

But while horses have largely stepped aside as active participants in military action, their usefulness to the military remains paramount. The American Quarter Horse’s modern military service is his ability to heal the broken.

U.S. Air Force veteran Derrick Perkins was injured in active duty and began riding at a therapeutic center in 2008. He was able to develop muscle function and control that enabled him to ride and later compete after he found out about para equestrian events.

Become an AQHA member and become a part of the largest breed registry in the world. Join Derrick Perkins and many other veteran military members who find joy through the American Quarter Horse.

In 2014, Mr Fritz Wood, an American Quarter Horse, carried Derrick to the Para Reining Championship.

“I always dreamed of being in the Olympics, but then I got injured,” Derrick said. “When I heard about this (program), I thought, this is a chance to represent the United States in a different capacity.”

Mr Fritz Wood (Mr Junewood-Fritz Lovelady by China Fritz) is a buckskin stallion bred by Sam Shoultz and Ken Matzner of Fort Collins, Colorado. The three-time world champion in heeling and tie-down roping is owned by Lincoln Figueiredo of Brazil.

Aside from competition, the American Quarter Horse serves as a friend and therapeutic support for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Horses for Heroes - New Mexico, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation working to improve the lives of veterans through horses, offering free services to veterans and active military members who have served post 9/11.

“Sharing our experience, our strengths and hopes, we give veterans a new and vital mission where they can recuperate, recreate and reintegrate into their communities,” reads a statement from Horses for Heroes - New Mexico Inc.

Participants are taught basic ground skills, work their way up to riding and are even given the opportunity to perform ranching duties, such as sorting cattle.

The American Quarter Horse has a way of uniting people from all backgrounds and disciplines. Become an AQHA member to enjoy all the benefits that this organization has to offer!

The Horses for Heroes - New Mexico, Inc. program is an AQHA member and supporter, using America’s horse to heal America’s heroes.

On behalf of the American Quarter Horse Association, we thank you (horse and human) for your service, today and every day.