The American Quarter Horse has grown to become one of the most popular breeds across the world. Renowned for their calm disposition and loving personalities, they make great horses for people of all ages.
Though they are best known for being ridden western, they also excel at hunter pleasure, dressage, jumping, and driving. Their compact, muscular bodies make them excellent athletes and let them shine at whatever they do. These unique and talented horses are loved by people all over.
Quarter Horses are known for being a great show, working and pleasure horses for people young and old. Here are some interesting facts you may not know about this All-American breed.
1. Quarter Horses Got Their Start in the 1600s Before Being Recognized as a Breed
Though the Quarter Horse wasn’t officially recognized as a breed until the 20th century, their history goes much further back. With English settlers breeding their stock with Spanish Barbs owned by the Chicksaw Indians, the beginning of the breed started in 1611.
For the next 150 years, these horses would be referred to as the “Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse”. Destined as America’s first racehorse, the American Quarter Running Horse was originally a type of horse, rather than a breed. They were bred for their power and sped.
As time went on, Arabians and Thoroughbreds were bred into these bloodlines to create the Quarter Horse breed we know and love today. Careful breeding over hundreds of years has led to excellent Quarter Horse bloodlines.
2. Quarter Horses Can Run a Quarter Mile Faster Than Any Other Breed
The sprinters of the horse world, Quarter Horses can outrun any horse at a quarter-mile distance, even Thoroughbreds. In fact, their name is even derived from their ability to run the fastest quarter-mile in the equine world.
For hundreds of years, people have bred these fine horses for racing. One of the most famous racehorses ever was a Quarter Horse named Easy Jet, who in the 1960s won 27 of his 38 starts. By the 1980s, he made over $30 million in breeding shares. Today, Quarter Horse racing remains a popular event.
3. There Are Different Categories of Quarter Horse
There are three distinct categories that can be found in the breed. The bulldog, progressive and Thoroughbred types are based on different traits and characteristics found within each one.
The bulldog or foundation horses are generally used for ranch work thanks to their sturdy, well-muscled build. The Thoroughbred type tends to have a sleeker, narrower body with a more refined build. They are popular show and racing horses.
The progressive type, which some refer to as halter, is a combination of the bulldog type and Thoroughbred type. Known for being versatile, they have a refined head, muscled body, and short back. They have become quite popular within the breed and are often used as show and pleasure horses.
4. The American Quarter Horse Association is the Largest Registry in America
After being founded in 1940 with just 20 horses, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) now has over two million horses registered worldwide. Of the over two million registered horses, more than 400,000 of them are international.
Though this probably won’t come as a surprise, Texas is home to the largest population in the world, with over 420,000 horses registered with the AQHA. After North America, Germany has the largest amount of registered Quarter Horses, with over 20,000.
5. Almost All Quarter Horses Can Be Traced Back to One Horse
Almost every Quarter Horse today has Pete McCue in their bloodlines. Pete McCue was born in 1895 and quickly became one of the most popular stallions in the breed.
One of the founding sires of the breed, he was a talented racehorse who passed on his athleticism and looks to his offspring. Though he was listed as a Thoroughbred so he could run in registered races, he was actually out of a Quarter Horse stallion. In 1991 he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Also read: Are Horses Native to North America?
6. Quarter Horses Have a “Cow Sense”
Though some horses are known to shy away from cattle, this breed is known for its unique cow sense. Thanks to their phenomenal athleticism and unique intuition regarding cattle, they are known for being amazing at working and cutting horses.
They are often able to sense what a cow is about to do before their rider can. A natural talent for many in this breed, they are not afraid to move cattle. A horse with cow sense makes a cowboy’s job of working cattle much easier.
Also read: 9 Common Native American Horse Breeds