Joe Kirk Fulton

Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2011

Joe Kirk Fulton

The American Quarter Horse owes a debt of gratitude to Joe Kirk Fulton.

The lifelong horseman improved the breed, and Quarter Horses are better for having had Joe Kirk on their side – not only as an owner and competitor but as a breeder for 50 consecutive years.

Though he grew up an only child, Joe Kirk was never alone. He was raised with a few backyard horses on a small acreage near Lubbock, where his family made a fortune in banking, and pipeline oil and gas.

Joe Kirk and his father developed a major cattle operation on their Quien Sabe Ranch (Spanish for “Who knows?”) near the Texas Panhandle town of Channing.

In 1952, while a student at Texas Tech University, Joe Kirk became the school’s first mounted mascot, performing as the Masked Rider in parades and at football games. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, he showed halter and cutting horses.

Joe Kirk bred the earners of more than $16 million on the track, including world champions Dashs Dream and Special Leader, and 72 other stakes winners.

Joe Kirk bred and/or owned stallions that had sired the earners of more than $60 million. That kind of expertise led to his service as an AQHA director and director-at-large, and as chairman of the AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee, which also recognized him with the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award.

Joe Kirk’s fascination and involvement with the fastest and most versatile horse on earth extended far beyond the competition phase.

“I like a good horse to ride,” Joe Kirk said. “I like my cowboys at the ranch to be mounted on good horses. They appreciate that. It makes it a lot easier to keep good cowboys.”

Joe Kirk Fulton was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2011 and died in 2013.