The American Quarter Horse is one of the most popular breeds in North America and suitable for beginner riders as well as those with more experience. In this post, we describe the history and characteristics of this versatile breed.
History of the American Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses originated in the 1600s in the United States as a cross between horses of Spanish origin and imported English horses. The breed has some Thoroughbred blood in its ancestry. Quarter Horses were successful in quarter-mile races down straight tracks, hence their name.
By the early 19th century, the racing world’s focus had shifted to courses with longer distances. Quarter Horses started to be used more for herding cattle on ranches in the western and southwestern United States. The horses’ hardiness, agility, and “cow sense” made them popular with cowboys.
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was only formed in 1940. It operates a stud book and breed registry and is the largest horse breeding association in the world. Today, there are over 230,000 registered Quarter Horses in Canada, and Alberta has the fifth largest Quarter Horse population in the world.
Description of the American Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses can be various solid colours, with the most common being sorrel (brownish-red). The AQHA recognizes 16 colours, including bay, black, dun, and red roan. Quarter Horses often have white markings on their face and legs.
This breed stands between 14.3 and 16 hands tall and tends to weigh between 950 and 1200 pounds (430.9 to 544.3 kg). Quarter Horses are stocky and muscular. They have a small head and deep, broad chest. Although there are several other ideal characteristics for the breed, such as broad, muscular hindquarters, the AQHA cares most about a horse’s ancestry.
Quarter Horses are prone to certain health issues, including hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (muscle twitching or weakness) and malignant hyperthermia (high metabolic activity). There are genetic tests available for these conditions.
Personality and Uses of the American Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses are agile, athletic, and sure-footed over rough terrain. Their speed over short distances and ability to start, turn, and stop quickly lend them to sprint racing and rodeo events like reining and barrel racing. Quarter Horses participate in most riding disciplines, even dressage.
These horses are easy to train, good-natured, and calm. They’re often used for ranch work, racing, and horse shows. However, they also make good mounts for children and beginner riders and are popular for recreational riding.
Did you learn something new about the American Quarter Horse? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.