The Senate gave full approval in a 43-3 vote Wednesday evening to name the Quarter Horse as Oklahoma’s official state horse.
Authored by Sen. Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, House Bill 3261 adds to the list another icon to instill state pride and ownership in all Oklahomans, joining the state steak, state bird, and even the state monument – the Tulsa Driller – which was modeled after Stephens’ father, who was also the project superintendent.
“This legislation is very near and dear to my heart,” Stephens said. “Our state was built upon the western heritage and lifestyle of our ancestors and naming a state horse pays tribute to the cowboys, Native Americans, pioneers and others who built Oklahoma. There’s no better way to honor our past while still looking toward the future than enshrining the Quarter Horse as our state’s horse.”
The American Quarter Horse is one of the oldest recognized horse breeds in the country, dating back to the 1660s and a known descendant of the Colonial Spanish Mustang, which has major ties to Oklahoma’s tribal community. The state is home to more registered Quarter Horses per capita than any other in the nation and boasts more than 33,000 registered owners.
The Quarter Horse industry is also an economic boon in the state. Known as the horse show capital of the world, Oklahoma is host to more than a dozen national and world championship horse shows each year, attracting horsemen and women from across the globe. It’s been estimated that the 15 national and world-level shows hosted in Oklahoma City alone account for a $126.5 million economic impact.
When all aspects of the state’s horse industry are combined, a study by the Oklahoma Equine Alliance study found the Oklahoma horse industry accounts for a combined direct, indirect and induced effect of $3.6 billion and 35,000 full-time jobs.
“When you take into consideration that the roots of the American Quarter Horse began right here in our state, that we’re the horse show capital of the world and then tie in the economic impact this breed has in Oklahoma, it just makes sense to name the Quarter Horse as our state horse,” Stephens said. “I’m thrilled this measure is headed to the governor’s desk and thank my colleagues for their support.”
Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, was the House principal author.
“This legislation was requested by a very special constituent, my granddaughter, Julianne, several years ago after she realized Oklahoma did not have a state horse,” Randleman said. “I’m thrilled to see this designation cross the finish line so we can recognize the valuable role the American Quarter Horse has had in our state history.”