OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Senate approved a bill calling for the Quarter Horse to be recognized as the official state horse.

“This legislation is very near and dear to my heart,” said Sen. Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, R-Tahlequah. “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.”

Stephens and Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, co-authored House Bill 3261.

The American Quarter Horse, one of the oldest recognized horse breeds in the nation, dates back to the 1660s and descends from the Colonial Spanish Mustang, which has major ties to Oklahoma’s tribal community, according to a State Senate news release.

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Quarter Horse at Remington Park. Photo from KFOR.

Oklahoma has more registered Quarter Horses per capita than any other state in the nation, boasting more than 33,000 registered owners.

The Quarter Horse industry is also an economic staple in Oklahoma.

“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,” a State Senate news release said.

An Oklahoma Equine Alliance study found that the Oklahoma horse industry accounts for a combined direct, indirect and induced effect of $3.6 billion and 35,000 full-time jobs, the news release states.

“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.”