AQHA Celebrates National Day of the Cowboy

Hundreds of visitors gathered at AQHA Headquarters July 26 to celebrate western heritage with free horse rides, games, educational demonstrations and food.

The American Quarter Horse Association

AQHA celebrated National Day of the Cowboy by offering free test rides of American Quarter Horses as part of a free day of fun at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum.

In celebration of National Day of the Cowboy Saturday, July 26, AQHA welcomed folks to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo for a free day of fun for the whole family.

Despite the heat, about 1,200 people attended this exciting fourth-annual event that brings kids and adults closer to the world’s most popular horse – the American Quarter Horse.

“It is our honor to celebrate National Day of the Cowboy with the Amarillo-area community and the folks who came from far away to enjoy this special event,” said AQHA’s Tom Persechino. “Many folks come for the chance to pet a real, live horse, and for the opportunity to take a free horseback ride. We also hope that, through this event, we can educate families about the benefits of the western lifestyle and owning an American Quarter Horse. Our thanks to the support we received from the community to help make this event possible.”

Kids of all ages enjoyed making their own ropes and learning how to rope cows. Some tried their hand at the junior rodeo hosted by Pokey the Clown. They raced to deliver the mail on stick horses, milk a wooden cow and brand wooden calves. The rodeo champions earned the right to compete at the WRCA junior rodeo world championship in November at the Amarillo Civic Center.

Folks also enjoyed blacksmith and doll making demonstrations and cooled off inside the museum, where they left their mark on a Center City Quarter Horse statue that will be displayed in Amarillo. Kids found story time and puzzles in one room and practiced riding quarter ponies in another.

After the free hot dog lunch, kids enjoyed the main event – a free ride on an American Quarter Horse. More than 175 youngsters were lead on American Quarter Horses through a trail course by volunteer horse handlers. During the rides, the audience was treated to guest speakers explaining the benefits of connecting kids with horses and explaining the opportunities AQHA and AQHYA offer to children all over the world.

For many little buckaroos, July 26 was the first ride on a horse.

The free horse rides were part of a national Time to Ride marketing initiative by the American Horse Council called the 100-Day Horse Challenge, whose goal is to engage 100,000 new people with an introductory horse experience.

In addition to the Hall of Fame, local partners included the Amarillo Public Library, country music station 101.9 Blake FM, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Center City, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Xcel Energy, the Amarillo Convention & Visitors Council and John P. Collins in memory of Johanna L. Collins.

The National Day of the Cowboy campaign was founded in 2004 to preserve, protect and promote the cowboy and our Western heritage. The campaign lobbies for the passage of the national resolution designating the fourth Saturday of every July a permanent celebration on the national calendar. The campaign believes in honoring cowboys and cowgirls for their enduring contribution and their courageous, pioneering American spirit. For more information on the scope of this day as a national event, go to

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