Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1985
Robert Lee Underwood was many things: sportsman, independent oil and gas producer and Quarter Horse breeder.
The interest in horses originated on his father’s ranch. Underwood was born in 1887 close to Gatesville, Texas. At 16, Underwood left home and worked for the XIT Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. He later rode for other ranches throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.
In the late 1920s and early ‘30s, Underwood began dabbling in quarter-type horses. At the time, it was only a hobby, but the quality of his horses did not show it. Robert Denhardt visited Underwood’s ranch in the late 1930s and commented that Underwood’s broodmare band was the most uniform group of horses he had ever seen.
Underwood always thought quarter-type horses should have their own registry. So in 1939, he held an organizational meeting at his ranch. Those in attendance were W. B. “Bill” Warren, J. F. “Jack” Hutchins, James Goodwin Hall and Helen Michaelis.
AQHA was formed in 1940, and Underwood was elected second vice president in 1944 and 1945. His years as president were tumultuous times for AQHA. Two other Quarter Horse associations, the American Quarter Racing Association and the National Quarter Horse Breeders Association, had formed and were threatening the very existence of AQHA.
Underwood remained an honorary member of the board of directors until his death in 1976.
Underwood died at 89, and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1985.