Quarter Horses

The Quarter Horse is a versatile breed, used for everything from trail riding to dressage. The American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world.

by Dani Yokhna
PHOTO: Five Furlongs/Flickr

Use: Quarter Horses are used for a variety of activities, including cow work, western showing, gymkhana, trail riding, dressage and jumping. The breed is still a popular racehorse. Quarter Horses can also be bred to Thoroughbreds to create Appendix Quarter Horses, also registered by the American Quarter Horse Association.

History: The history of the Quarter Horse goes back to the late 1600s, when colonists in New England began breeding horses from Europe to the Chickasaw, a horse of Spanish blood used by Native Americans in the Southeast. By crossing English horses with Chickasaw horses, colonists created a small working horse that was athletic and willing to please. They used this horse for work like hauling logs and plowing during the week, and for racing on the weekends. Races of ¼ mile on dirt roads were popular, and the small crossbred horse eventually became a popular choice for this sport because of its sprinting ability. During the 1700s, the breed became known as the Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse, and was the fastest sprinting horse in America. In the 1800s, Easterners traveling West brought the Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse with them, to ride and to pull wagons. Once established in the West, the horse was used to work the vast herds of Longhorn cattle being bred on the Great Plains. After the industrial revolution, the population of Quarter Horses decreased dramatically. In an effort to preserve the breed, a group of horsemen formed the American Quarter Horse Association in 1940. Today, the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world. The Quarter Horse is not only the most popular horse breed in the United States, but around the world.

Conformation: Quarter Horses have well-muscled bodies, a broad chest and powerful hindquarters. Because the breed contains Thoroughbred blood, some horses are leaner in type, while others are stockier. Quarter Horses range in size from 14.2 to 16 hands. The American Quarter Horse Association recognizes 13 colors: buckskin, palomino, blue roan, red roan, gray, bay, chestnut, grullo, brown, black, dun, red dun and sorrel.

Special Considerations/Notes: Some purebred Quarter Horses are born with pinto markings, but these horses are not eligible for regular registration with the AQHA. Instead, they can be registered as Paints with the American Paint Horse Association.

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