Robert Sutherland

Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018

Born in 1918, Robert Q. “Bob” Sutherland grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, his father established the chain of Sutherland’s lumberyards still in business today.

Bob bred his first registered American Quarter Horse in 1949 and his last in 1980. His father bred gaited horses, but he preferred Quarter Horses for the sports of polo, roping and cutting, that last of which he also furthered as president of the National Cutting Horse Association.

In 1940, Bob started his RS Bar Ranch near Overland Park, Kansas, he said, “to make good horses sell for an equitable value by creating an economic incentive for breeders to breed for the very best.”

Bob launched his program with the stallion Paul A, one of the first AQHA Champions, with 12 grand championships at halter and points in cutting. Bob’s breeding philosophy was “breeding champions to champions to get champions.”

In 1953, Bob wrote the book “The Quarter Horse As I See Him,” in which he discussed the conformation, disposition and athletic ability of the breed. Six years later, he directed and produced the movie “The King of the String,” highlighting the versatility of the Quarter Horse. The book became a guide for AQHA judges, and the success of the movie prompted AQHA to make more educational materials.

It wasn’t just horses that caught his attention. A philanthropist who served on boards of the National 4-H Foundation and Future Farmers of America, Bob worked with the March of Dimes, American Red Cross and Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Late in his life, he donated anonymously his grand champion awards to the Heartland Therapeutic Riding Center so the children would have trophies for their shows.

In the catalog from his RS Bar Ranch dispersal sale in 1979, Bob wrote: “Quarter Horses have been good to me and I have felt strongly obligated to the breed, the American Quarter Horse Association, the breeder, the owner and the future owner to assist and give deserving credit to the finest breed of horse the equine world has ever known – the American Quarter Horse.”

Robert Sutherland died in 1992. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018.