American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is a breed of horse originally bred specifically to race the quarter mile. It is today equally well known for its performance in rodeos and horse shows. The compact body of the Quarter Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers required in roping and other stock-horse events. Riders are also known to show Quarter Horses in English and Hunt classes, although these types of events are more normally dominated by Thoroughbreds and Warmblood crosses. Also known as "America's Horse", the Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States.They can also boast the largest breed society in the world, with over 3.5 million Quarter Horses registered worldwide.


Breed History

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The American colonists began, in the 1690s, to cross imported English horses with Chickasaw Ponies (which originated from Spanish and Barb stock). The resulting horse was small, hardy, and quick, and it was used as a work horse during the week, and a race horse on the weekend.

As flat racing became popular with the colonists, this horse gained in popularity as a sprinter. Even when matched against a Thoroughbred, the small horse always won in short, quarter-mile races. And so its name became the "Quarter Horse" for the distance it so excelled in.

In the 1800s, pioneers heading West wanted a hardy, willing horse. They found at this time that the horse also had innate "cow sense," and its popularity grew with cattlemen on ranches. Even after the invention of the automobile, the Quarter Horse was still bred for cattle work.

In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed to preserve the breed. Later that decade there was some Thoroughbred blood added, before the stud book closed.

Today, Europe has been importing Quarter Horses at nearly the same rate North America imports warmbloods. Germany in particular has been drawn to this breed. The horses are not only ideal for ranch and cattle work, barrel racing, and gymkhana events, but have also been trained to international levels of dressage and are generally very good jumpers.They also are still used as a sprinter on the racetrack, running their traditional quarter-mile race in speeds up to 55 miles per hour.

Breed Characteristics

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There are as many types of Quarter Horses as there are types of work they do. However, there are two main body types: the stock type and the running type. The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and very well muscled, yet agile. The running Quarter Horse is lighter, similar to a Thoroughbred, and is built to sprint.

Quarter Horses shown in hand have a bulky, "bulldog" appearance due to their incredibly muscular build and jowly appearance. Reiners and cutters are smaller, with cat-like, quick movement and very powerful hindquarters. Western pleasure horses have a level topline and smooth gaits. Quarter Horse racehorses have long legs and are much leaner than their "stock horse" counterparts. The show hunter type is similar to the running type Quarter Horse. However, all Quarter Horses have speed, stamina, power, and a great willingness to please.

Quarter Horses come in all colors, even palomino, with sorrel/chestnut being the most common color. They usually stand 14-16 hands high.

The Thoroughbred breed is a accepted outcross for Quarter Horses; the major Quarter Horse breed registry, the American Quarter Horse Association, accepts Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred crosses into the registry as "Appendix Quarter Horses." These animals are popular for Quarter Horse Racing and for Jumping and Hunter events.

See also

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