History

The Thoroughbred played an integral role in the development of many horse breeds. The athleticism of most modern performance horses can be attributed to Thoroughbred ancestry. In the case of the American Quarter Horse, the Thoroughbred influence is ongoing. The names of many Thoroughbreds can be found stamped on the papers of proven barrel racing, cutting, pleasure and halter horses.

Piggin String, a Thoroughbred stallion foaled in 1942, won short distance races and performance horse classes. He was said to be the ideal Quarter Horse.

The Thoroughbred is the result of a selective breeding program that began at the turn of the 17th century. Stallions imported from the Mediterranean Middle East were crossed with strong English mares. Their excellence was tested on the race track and became a popular sporting event in Europe. As horse racing spread into North America, colonists sought to make the sport their own. Thrilling quarter-mile races were held as early as 1674 in Virginia. To meet the demand of these short races, some breeding programs shifted to produce a type of Thoroughbred that was suitable for sprinting. Like the sprinters of today, they were muscular, compact and athletic.

The phrase ‘Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse’ denoted top sprinters in early Thoroughbred stud books. The phrase was later shortened and became the designation of a new breed in 1940 when the American Quarter Horse Association was founded. The first twenty foundation sires registered with the AQHA are all descended from Thoroughbreds. Actulally of the first twenty, Rialto, Chief, Colonel, Sheik, Whiskaway, and Little Richard have Thoroughbred grandparents, and Joe Reed and Oklahoma Star have Thoroughbred parents.

Little Lena Bars, a Thoroughbred mare foaled in 1960, set numerous track and world records against Quarter Horses. She was a full sister to Lena’s Bar, the dam of Easy Jet.

Even after the new breed was established, Thoroughbreds such as Piggin String, Woven Web and Brigand continued to set track records and earn Champion Quarter Running Horse titles. Then in the 1960s, a Thoroughbred mare named Little Lena Bars equaled the world record at 220 yards, and set new world records at 250, 300 and 330 yards. She also equaled and set new track records at 400 and 440 yards. Her dominance prompted retaliation from the AQHA. When the organization realized that nearly all the records in Quarter Horse racing belonged to a Thoroughbred, they deleted all mention of times and records set by Thoroughbreds and banned the breed from major Quarter Horse races.

Despite this pushback, Thoroughbreds remained vital to the Quarter Horse industry. Old-school horseman have said that the best qualities of running horses come directly from Thoroughbreds. This is could be why they are just as influential today as they were one hundred years ago. To preserve their legacy, The Western Thoroughbred has compiled a list of Thoroughbreds that contributed to the improvement of western performance horses. Click on a horse’s name to read more about them. An asterisk denotes a horse that has been inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.

Advantage (1932)

Aforethought (1963)

Afton Creek (1950)

American Champ (1994)

Anaqua (1955)

Anchor Watch (1953)

Annahi (1944)

Apollo (1988)

Arch Oldham (1902)

Ariel (1925)

Ashwell (1907)

Attila’s Storm (2002)

Away From Holme (1967)

Azure Te*

Baby Steel

Bag

Band Play

Band Time

Bar Admiral

Barbara Lam

Barre Granite

Barrera

Bayard
Bayard II

Be Sure Now

Beadsman

Beat the Feet

Beau Max

Beduino*

Begger Boy

Big Klu

Big Noise
Big Red Bar
Bimelech
Blob
Blue Chord
Blue Gray

Bold Ego

Bold Venture
Boojum

Boyarsky

Brenda Beauty

Brettenham

Brigand

Buggins

Bull Boy

Bullanguero

Buster Brown

Bymeabond
Cambridgeshire

Candyman Bee

Candy Mark
Captains Courageous

Cattail
Chain Lay

Cherokee Arrow
Cherry Lake*
Chicaro
Chicle

Chimney Sweep

City Street
Close Watch

Coldstream

Confidant

Count Giacamo

Coup De Kas

Crafty Actor

Credit Balance

Creole Dancer

Custus Rastus

Cuvee

Dark Quarry

Decathlon

Deep Note

Deep Sun

Dennis Reed

Depth Charge*

Desert Spirit

Devon Lane

Dewey

Direct Win

Disco Jerry

Distinctive

Doc Horn

Dolly Dimples
Domino
Donie Dune

Dorothy E

Dothan

Double Feature

Dr Mack


Drayab

Duck Dance

Eck Davis

Editorial Comment

Eight Again

Eskrine Dale

Esters Little Klu*
Everett

Experteeser

George Lewis

Gin Squirt
Glass Bar
Good Bird

Grand Slam

Green Flash

Greenock
Grey Leg

Grog

Fairway’s Gal
Fame We Will

Fast Fellow

Father John

Favorite Trick 

Feast

Feel the Velvet

Find A Buyer

Fire Dog

First Ambassador

Fix-n-Mix

Fleet Kirsch

Fleeting Time

Flying Squirrel

Fol’s Native

For Really

Forever Young

Hadif

Handy Shot
Hawkins Special

Heisanative

Hempaces

Hempen

Hennessy

Hijo Beauty

Hoist Bar

Horace H

Hy Aethel

Hy Diamond

Hy Lucky Jay

Hygro

Hysition

I’ll Go

In Excess

In Excessive Bull

In the Curl

Jacks Jet

Jackstraw 

Jackstraw Jr

Jerry Crow
Jetalong

Jim J. 

Jimmer

Joe Blair

Johnny X

Jon Ian

Kate Shannon

Kicapu Kid

Killoqua

King O’Neill

King Plaudit

Kliptydoo

Lady Albert G

Lady Johnnie

Lady Woodchuck
Lake Erie
Lani Chief
Lanolark

Lantana Belle
Lawyer

Leannie

Leinster House

Lena’s Bar*

Lilsalady

Line Up

Lite the Fuse

Little Lena Bars

Little Request
Little Vic

L’Natural

Long Chance
Los Molinos

Lost Cause

Louisiana Slew
Lucky Bar

Lucky Mose

Luke McLuke

Mad Way

Madder Music

Magic Cat

Magic Spots

Magical Mile
Major Speck

Maroon*

Mary Greenock

Master Bunting

Master Gould

Master Hand 

Maynard L

Mayshego

Mi Camila
Midway

Miss Bank

Miss Pines

Miswaki

Mito Paint

Money Lender

Moolah Bux

Mr. Crimson Ruler

Mr Good

Mr. Nightlinger

Munnings

Murrtheblurr

Nassak

Native Orphan

Nativo
No Cat

Noholme
Noo Music

Now Is The Time

Ochoco Kitten

Official

Oil Rig

Olympic Win

Orto Mambo

Osage Streaker

Pancho Press

Pappa Top
Pass Em Up

Past Due

Patriotic

Peace Pipe

Phone Trick

Piggin String 

Pleasure Fund

Pocket Coin

Polamandy

Pondariel

Porte Drapeau

Power Jam

Prince Vic

Princely Pleasure

Provocation

Pukka Gent

R Smith

Raffles

Raise a Lady

Raise a Rascal

Raise Cain

Raise Your Glass 

Rancocas

Real Dish

Really Rugged

Reb’s Policy

Red

Red Jewel

Rejected

Relagate
Rene Depot

Reno Lord

Restless Runner
Rhonda K
Riches and Honor

Rocket Bar*

Roll Hennessy Roll

Roulade

Royal Bob

Royal Charger

Rulla Bux

Salt Lake

Salutation

Scott’s Poppy

Scout Leader

Sculptor’s Whim

Seabiscuit

Sheridan

Shirley’s Champion

Sin Tacha

Slewacide

Smash It

Snow Bound
Spanish Way

Sparkling Native

Special Sound

Spot Cash

Spotted Bull

Spy Song

Stage Street

Star Shoot

Staunch Avenger

Storm Cat

Strate Stuff

Sunny South

Sweetwater Miss

Swift Solo

Swissle Stick

Tale of the Cat

Texas Dancer

Thermos

Three Bars*

Three Martinis

Tilt The Odds

Top Conference

Top Deck*

Tricky Fun

Trippy Dip*
Truly Truckle

Truxton King
Uncle Jimmy Gray

Universe

Vandy

Venetian Jester

Very Sharp

Very Wise

Victory Stride

Vikingson

War Bam

Wave of Erie

Wayward Irving

Wee Folk

Western Hand

Westy Rambler

What Luck
What’s Cookin

What’s Dat

Will Win

With Regards

Woven Web*

Yankee Doll

Zevi