Amarillo’s Horse Statues Approach Anniversary

When Amarillo is portrayed in national media for its high winds or active cattle industry, it’s often depicted as a Wild West town where you ride your horse to work and school. While most Amarilloans drive cars (believe it or not), there is a special breed of horse you’ll see standing along most of its major streets. The colorful horse statues belong to the “Hoof Prints of the American Quarter Horse” public art project.


“Blue Blaze” sits at Amarillo College’s downtown campus, and was painted by art students.


This year marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of the project. Hoof Prints first began in 2002 as a way to raise funds for Center City of Amarillo and promote art in public places. Title sponsor the American Quarter Horse Association purchased the first 20 statues to kick start the collection early that year. It kept 10 to auction for its foundation, and gave the rest to Center City to sell and ‘grow the herd.’


There are now more than 100 statues scattered across the city. Local schools and businesses, banks, office buildings, chain restaurants and even private collectors have purchased them.


“They’ve become little landmarks,” Center City of Amarillo Executive Director Beth Duke said. “Wherever they are you’ll see people taking photos with them. Finding the horses is a great way to explore Amarillo.”


Hoof Prints horses are ‘born’ at the Center City Corral.


The fiberglass statues are exact replicas of a full-sized American Quarter Horse, but weigh only 125 pounds. Once a horse is purchased, Center City matches the buyer with a local artist to create a design for the horse that usually honors the mission or history of the owner organization.


They cost $3,500, which includes the completed horse, the fee Center City pays the artist, a concrete slab and a plaque recognizing the artist and owner. Prior to being placed in their permanent homes, the blank white horses are stored and painted at the Center City Corral, a space inside of the Galleries at Sunset Center.


“Cowboy Justice” was vandalized in May 2016, but has since been repaired.


Following installation, statue owners are responsible for ongoing maintenance of their artwork. Some have required repainting, or a new clear coat periodically. And while they’re full-sized replicas, they can be damaged. The statue belonging to the Potter Sheriff’s Office was once broken off at all four feet by vandals. Think twice before hopping on the back of one for a photo.


The Hoof Prints program shows no signs of slowing down. Six new horses have been purchased in the last year.


“We never imagined it would go on this long,” Duke said. “As long as people are interested, our board and volunteers want it to continue.”


To learn more about the Hoof Prints of the American Quarter Horse collection, visit the virtual guide on Center City of Amarillo’s website or email info@centercity.org to request a printed map be mailed to you.



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