Many people think of Texas as synonymous with cowboys and the "Old West". While that stereotype doesn't necessarily hold true for the whole state, it definitely does in Amarillo. Located in the center of the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo's Western heritage is still alive and thriving and plenty of the area's residents make their living as cowboys on the back of a horse -- most likely, an American Quarter Horse.
The Quarter Horse is the only horse breed native to America and is the most popular in the U.S., highly valued as a ranch horse, race horse and the star of rodeos and other western riding events. You can learn all about the colorful history of these amazing horses and the people who were key in the evolution of the breed at The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, where you can try their interactive exhibits, view plenty of audio-visual displays and see historically-significant artifacts and incredible art.
The museum experience begins outside the building, where beautiful sculptures, showing the Quarter Horses in their various roles, surround the building. As you make your way inside, you'll enter the aptly named Grand Hall, a spectacular space with soaring rock columns. Here you can learn about the people and horses inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. Make sure you look down, too, or you’ll miss the interesting mosaic on the floor depicting all of the bloodlines that make up the present day breed.
At the Kenneth Banks Theater, you can see some beautiful paintings done by the late Oren Mixer, the celebrated Western artist, including his vision of the “ideal” American Quarter Horse, which he was commissioned to paint in 1968.
The Hegel Stables section of the museum is really geared toward kids, but you'll find it fascinating, too. It's very hands-on and educational, even for those folks who've never owned horses. There are many other areas to explore, including The Experienced Eye Theater, The Champions Gallery, the Outfitter Shop, offering a wide variety of items and souvenirs to help you remember your visit. You can learn more about the museum, including hours and admission policies at their informative website.
So the next time you’re in the Panhandle area of Texas, make sure you pay a visit to Amarillo and The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum!