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Quarter Horse Breed Origin, Characteristics and Uses

The American Quarter Horse breed is the most popular and numerous in the world today. It traces its origins to the colonization of the United States, as far back as the 17th century.

The Quarter Horse Breed

The product of native horses and Thoroughbreds, the Quarter Horse breed owes much to the latter, even today. The Quarter Horse is the ultimate cattle horse: a quick, stocky animal with a superb “cow sense”. Feral Mustangs and other Native American-bred horses helped create the breed we know and love today.

But it was racing that gave the breed its name. At first, as entertainment for ranchers, the “quarter-mile races” soon became a sport on its own, and a source of income for ranchers. Later infusions of more Thoroughbred blood enhanced this. 

Over shorter distances, the Quarter Horse is considered the fastest horse breed with a top speed of 55 mph.

Even after the establishment of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) in 1940, the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse breeds remain close.

Horses born from a Thoroughbred and a registered Quarter Horse can be registered as the latter in the “Appendix” of the studbook. “Appendix horses” and other, registered Quarter Horses as well.

Versatile, strong, and fast, the Quarter Horse is an excellent horse both in sport, cattle-raising, and all-around family and personal riding horse. It can compete in all sports, though it shines the most in those that involve cattle, rodeos, and all things Western, as well as its own sprinting races.

Breed Stats

Height 14 – 16 hh (occasionally as tall as 17 hh)

Color: Any colors.

Conformation: Quarter Horses have three basic types: stock, halter, and racing/hunter type. Stock type Quarter Horses are smaller and quicker, fit for Western-style riding and sport and cattle-handling. They are stocky but agile. The halter types tend to be very muscular and heavy. The hunter/racing types are lighter, taller, and closer to the Thoroughbred in appearance.

All types have a broad chest, smallish head, and powerful hindquarters, which became a striking characteristic of the breed.

Uses: All horse sports, as well as cattle work. Stock types tend to excel in Western-style disciplines, such as barrel racing, reining, cutting, and Western pleasure. Hunter and racing types may perform in show jumping and the characteristic quarter-mile flat races, against other Quarter Horses.

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