Anne Burnett Tandy

They say the American Quarter Horse Association was born in Miss Anne’s living room in 1940.

Miss Anne was the nickname of Anne Burnett Tandy, a Texas heiress, rancher and philanthropist who made a name for herself in what was then primarily a man’s world.  “I like women, but I don’t know how to talk to them,” she told a reporter for Town & Country magazine in 1974.  “I can talk to a man about anything, and I’m not shocked by anything a man says.”

The guest list for dinner at Miss Anne’s on March 14, 1940, included Dan and Jack Casement, Robert Kleberg, Jr., George Clegg, Bert Benear, W.B. Warren, Walter Hudgins, Robert Denhardt, Jack Hutchins and J. H. Minnick – men who became instrumental in organizing a registry for “Steel Dust” horses.  From conversation around the table that night evolved the charter that was presented and accepted at an open meeting at the Blackstone Hotel the following day.

She was the only grandchild of Samuel “Burk” Burnett, a legend in the Texas cattle industry and founder of the legendary 6666 Ranch.  He died when she was 17, leaving her two-thirds of his estate.  The other third was bequeathed to her mother, Burnett’s daughter-in-law, whom Burnett’s only surviving son had divorced when Anne was still a girl.  Upon Miss Ollie Lake’s death, that third, too, would go to Anne.  There was a provision in the will that at the end of Miss Anne’s lifetime, the estate would in turn go to Burk Burnett’s most direct female descendant.  Burnett evidently felt that the male descendants should make their own way in the world.

Anne’s father, Tom L. Burnett, had done just that, establishing the highly regarded Triangle Ranches in the region northwest of Fort Worth.  Upon her father’s death in 1938, the ranch also passed to Anne.  At 33, she was one of the single largest land holders in the world, with more than half a million acres under her domain.

Anne’s horse, Hollywood Gold, became a legend in West Texas, and his descendants put Anne on the list of leading breeders of performance show horses.  But Anne didn’t care much about show horses.  She cared about ranch horses and race horses.  In 1949 she bought Walter Merrick’s Grey Badger II, the most famous match racing horse of the time.  From the 1960s until her death in 1980, Anne bred Quarter Horse sprinters with great success. 

One former trustee of the Burnett Estate, AQHA Past President Jay Pumphrey, said, “Miss Anne had an uncanny natural ability, probably inherited, to talk to various people about something, and then, when it’s all said and done, to kind of sift out what to believe from what not to believe.  She must have had some kind of woman’s intuition that gave her farsightedness in business…I’m guessing that a whole lot of the bill for (the first AQHA inspector) Jim Minnick’s early travel, at least 90 percent of it for the first three or four years, was footed by Miss Anne.  Money was scarce in those days.  The Association might have come to pass without her, but I doubt it.”

Want to learn more about Anne Burnett Tandy? Purchase a "The Bold & Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse" companion book from Quarter Horse Outfitters to learn more about the stories and history of the 12 women in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.