The American Quarter Horse

Did you know that American quarter horses are named after their ability to run a quarter mile faster than other horses? They are really popular full-sized horses with heavy physiques and great athletic ability, disposition and versatility.

Because of their characteristics, these horses are popularly used for short distance racing. They were originally called "quarterpathers," then "colonial quarter of a mile running horses," (that's a mouthful!) and eventually "American Quarter horses."

Breed History

The Quarter horse breed was founded in the early 17th century and is a combination of English and Chickasaw horses (imported horses that were descendants of Arabia and Barb). Native Americans of Southeastern United States were the first people to domesticate this breed.

In the 19th century, Spanish conquistadors used these horses as they went West. During this time the Quarter horse was crossed with other breeds such as Mustangs and other feral horses from the Comanche, Shoshoni and Nez Perce tribes.

This new Quarter horse breed was found to have "cow sense" - a natural instinct for working with cattle. This made them popular for horse racing and for working on cattle ranches. They were used for cutting cattle, roping, brush riding, and branding calves. Cowboys used them in rodeos too. (They still do!)

Breed Characteristics

In addition to being fast and versatile, the American Quarter horse also has some notable physical and mental characteristics.

The Quarter horse has a small, short and refined head, a strong well-muscled body, broad chest and powerful hindquarters.  If you've ever ridden one of these horses, you understand what that means! They are usually 14 to 16 hands high. The color of their coats varies and range from bay, black, brown, chestnut, palomino, dun, red dun, blue dun, blue roan, cremello, white to grey.

These horses are classified into 3 types: stock, halter and racing and hunter. Stock quarter horses are used for western pleasure shows. Halter quarter horses for halter competitions, and racing and hunter type horses are bred to sprint short distances.

A lot of riders also believe American Quarter horses are really smart and willing to work!

The Quarter Horse Today

Today, there are more than 3 million Quarter horses registered in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) worldwide.

They are popular just as they have always been. In the United States, you will find them everywhere - in race tracks, ranches, show arenas, trails and backyards.

Do you love quarterhorses? Be sure to share your own pics of these gorgeous animals!

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