Book traces history of Quarter horse

Quarter horses run through one of the pastures at Betty Coulthard’s  ranch near Forestburg. A breeder for more than 30 years she has witnessed the horse market decline sharply due to a number of factors that could eventually force her out of business.

The Canadian Quarter Horse Association is trying to reconstruct its history.

That task became slightly easier Feb. 7 when it reacquired a copy of the 1965 CQHA Stud Book, the first one published by the organization.

“We didn’t have access to this information prior to the book coming into our possession, so that was really helpful to us,” said Marnie Somers, the association’s chair of membership and communications.

“Someone approached one of our directors and said they had this book for sale and asked if we were interested before they put it on eBay. It’s the only one that we know of, so we jumped on it.”

The association met the seller’s price and is now hoping people will come forward with stud books from other years so it can compile a more complete history.

The association was formed in 1957 and put out its first stud book in 1965. It was a record of breeding horses, association directors, members and other information.

Somers said efforts to create an official Canadian registry for Quarter horses floundered in 1988 when the breed was refused true breed status under Canadian livestock regulations because Quarter horses have Thoroughbred bloodlines.

“Then people lost interest in trying to go that route,” said Somers.

Instead, horse owners and breeders registered their animals with the American Quarter Horse Association, which was established in 1940. It is the largest official breed registry in the world with five million animals.

Canadians continue to use that registry and the AQHA stud books, as do other countries. Somers said there are 240,000 Quarter horses in Canada.

The CQHA was resurrected in 2000, but records from its earlier incarnation were lost with the passage of time.

“We just moved forward from there. We’ve tried to contact some of the pioneers, but no one seems to have very much information,” she said.

The value of the 1965 CQHA stud book is mostly historical. The horses listed in it are long gone, but some of their bloodlines likely live on.

“There will be some there that we can trace that we were never able to trace before,” Somers said.

“We do get inquiries from members that want to find out about the history of the horse they own now. At least now that we have the stud book available, we can direct them to there.”

The book has been digitized and can be found on the association’s website at

Somers said the association executive isn’t sure how many stud books were published in earlier years, but it hopes more will reappear.

CQHA president Haidee Landry plans to make history compilation a pet project this year, said Somers. Landry was unavailable for comment at press time.

The 1965 stud book constitutes a good start to the process, she added.

“We’ve got the first piece of the puzzle. We were quite pleased to get our hands on the book and we’re hoping … people will step forward with additional years worth of them.”

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