In the 1930s, Browning was running Hereford cattle and Steeldust horses on his 2,000 acre ranch in Wilcox, Arizona. Wanting to improve the quality of his horses, Browning bought the stallion Billy Byrne, a son of Balleymooney. As Browning’s reputation as a horseman spread he was asked by Robert Denhardt to attend a meeting in Fort Worth, Texas about organizing a new registry for the Steeldust and Billy horses. Browning went to the meeting and became a director for AQHA. Almost 20 years later, in 1958, Browning was elected president of the Association, and initiated judging clinics. The number of Quarter Horses had grown rapidly, and the supply of qualified judges was exhausted.
Ernest Browning was instrumental in the beginnings of the Arizona Quarter Horse Association, serving as one of its earliest Presidents. J. Ernest Browning was known as the “usin’ horse” rancher from Arizona, and this title stuck with him throughout his life.
He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1982. Browning died November 19, 1984. In 2013 Ernest Browning was inducted into the inaugural Arizona Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame.