Interesting Facts About the American Quarter Horse


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The Quarter horse or the American Quarter Horse is the all American symbol in the equine world. This superb animal, with an amazing history, is recognized for its incredible sprinting and galloping abilities. Originally bred for participating in sprinting races (also called quarter races) centuries ago (thus the name of the breed), the Quarter Horse is one of the most complexes, and beloved horse breeds in America, if not in the world. Want to discover interesting Quarter Horse facts? Read on to learn more.

Very adaptable and with a gentle, though resistant nature, the breed gained recognition only in 1940, and soon after, the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) was formed. The creation of the association was followed by the creation of the American Quarter Horse Museum and of the American Quarter Horse Congress. Excellent for pleasure, cattle, and racing, this horse has all the qualities you may be looking for while purchasing a horse.

A Short History

We will start our Quarter Horse facts with a brief history of the breed. The first registered breed in America, the American Quarter Horse is the result of a combination between the old and the new, between the indigenous horses called Chickasaw and English Thoroughbred. We usually say that all quarter horses have a common ancestor: Janus, a Thoroughbred that was imported to America in the mid-eighties.

So in the end, the quarter horse is the result of the cross-breeding between, firstly Arab, Turk and Barb breeds (the descendants of the Thoroughbred) and Arabia & Iberian breeds (the Chickasaw’s rightful ancestors). All these fine roots have materialized into the ultimate horse beauty, a fine breed with stout and heavily-muscled body, beautiful head, exceptional speed, good stamina, and great disposition for training.

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It is the racing industry that brought the fame of these horses. As horse racing in general, and Quarter Horse racing, in particular, was becoming increasingly popular, these fine runners couldn’t be left aside. Actually, the name of the breed (Quarter Horse) comes from the Quarter Mile races organized by the first English colonists in the New World, which were completely owned by this new, unknown breed.

As the pioneers headed west, so did the quarter horse. There, the breed was again crossed, this time with Mustangs and other native breeds, resulting in an animal with a strong cattle sense, as the westerners call it. Even today, with all the technological development, the American Quarter Horse remains an invaluable asset for farms that handle livestock.

The population of Quarter Horses boomed from 1000 animals to over 3 million specimens all over America, Europe and Australia. AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) is worldwide renowned for being the most established association for this remarkable breed, and for having representatives all over America, Mexico, and Canada 38 other states.

General Facts About the American Quarter Horse

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Most common in sorrel (or chestnut) coat, the Quarter Horse comes in various colors, shapes and sizes. Its color varies from Palomino, grey, grulla, cremello, dun and even red dun, buckskin, black, roan, bay and chestnut. The multitude of colors makes this breed even more versatile and amazing. Some specimens come with white markings like stars, blazes, strips or socks, but usually, spotted coats are accepted by the AQHA, only if the owner can prove that the dam and sire were both AQHA registered.

Generally, breeders talk about three major categories:

  • Bulldog type This type is generally used as a working ranch horse because it has the very good stamina and a strong build (especially the legs) This stock horse has massive shoulder muscles, a barrel body, large hindquarters, and thick bone in the legs.
  • Thoroughbred type: sleek, fine bones, strong muscles structure and elegant head. The Thoroughbred type can also be separated in two categories: the Semi-Bulldog Quarter Horse (suitable for western events) and the Running Quarter Horse (one of the best breeds for running events).
  • Intermediate or the Progressive Quarter Horses represent a combination of the previous categories. This type comes with strong muscles, good bones, a full jowl, muscular neck and a rather short rear-side. A very versatile type, these horses are suited for both English and Western events.

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As you have seen, different kinds of American Quarter horses can be used in very distinct activities that vary from very difficult farm work to top horse shows and events. The detail that makes this breed so famous is these horse’s capacity to reach incredible speeds of fifty miles per hour during running events, leaving all opponents far behind.

Besides their various qualities, the Quarter Horses are used by trainers and ranch owners for beginner horse riding courses. This breed is the perfect companion for children and even for handicapped children. Most suitable for beginner’s lessons or for equine therapy, these horses are some reliable, calm and friendly animals that will never disappoint your expectations.

You may want to call them Big Friendly Giants, but their size is far from being considered huge. Usually, the height of the Quarter Horse variates from 14.3 HH to 15.3 HH, but in some exceptional cases, specimens reach up to 16 HH.

Fun Quarter Horse Facts

Why is a Quarter Horse called a Quarter Horse?

The American Quarter Horse is a breed of horse which excels at sprinting short distances. It got its name from its ability to outdistance other breeds in races a quarter mile or less.

How fast can a Quarter Horse run?

Some Quarter Horses have been clocked at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour (88.5 kilometers per hour).

How much does a Quarter Horse weigh?

It depends on the type of Quarter Horse. The Bulldog Quarter Horse weighs 1,150 to 1,350 pounds. Meanwhile, a Semi-Bulldog Quarter Horse weighs 1,050 to 1,250 pounds. The Running Quarter Horse weighs 1,050 to 1,200 pounds. And lastly, the Progressive Quarter Horse weighs 1,025 to 1,150 pounds.

Is the studbook for the American Quarter Horse still open to Thoroughbred horses?

Yes. As long as the Thoroughbred can meet a performance standard, it can qualify for registration with the AQHA. There are two classifications: appendix and foundation. An “Appendix” American Quarter Horse is a first-generation cross between an American Quarter Horse and a registered Thoroughbred or a cross between an “appendix” American Quarter Horse and a “numbered” American Quarter Horse. Appendix quarter horses can be entered into competitions, but their offspring aren’t initially eligible for full AQHA registration.

Since Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred crosses continually enter the registry of the Quarter Horse breed, it creates a continual gene flow from the Thoroughbred breed to the American Quarter Horse breed.

If an appendix listed Quarter Horse can meet conformational criteria and has been raced or shown successfully at sanctioned association events, the horse could move from the appendix into the permanent section of the stud book. When this happens, any of its offspring will become immediately eligible for AQHA registration.

Is the Quarter Horse the most popular horse breed in the world?

Currently, it’s in second place. The top 3 most popular horse breeds in the world are 1) Arabian, 2) Quarter Horse, and 3) Thoroughbred. It is believed that the gap between first and second place has been continually shrinking because of the increasing popularity of the Quarter Horse.

Some famous Quarter Horses

  1. Wimpy, was the first recognized & registered American Quarter Horse, sired roughly 150 foals. His main characteristic was a star on the head that we now recognize at dozens of today’s Quarter Horses.
  2. Easy Jet, one of the most successful racing horses in equine history, who managed to win a staggering 22 competitions out of 26.
  3. Traveler, Peter McCue, Lock’s Rondo, Three Bars, and Shiloh, for some of you, these are just names, but for a Quarter Horse enthusiast, these are the names of the Founding Fathers. These outstanding horses are only five of the most impressive Quarter Horses, which are also known as the foundation sires. To find out more about them, you can check the AQHA’s Hall of Fame, where you can find information about all the important figures in Quarter Horse’s history.
  4. Impressive, an infamous steed, sired over two-thousand foals. The most impressive thing seems to be the stud fee. The last time we checked, this was somewhere around 25.000$.

Purchasing a Quarter Horse

Before purchasing a Quarter horse, you must decide what is the main reason for your purchase and what the horse do should for you. Choosing and then taking care of a horse is no easy task, so before purchasing it, think wisely.

You will find lots of American Quarter Horses for sale, on websites, at authorized breeders, at different ranches, etc. but our advice would be to be very careful when it comes to the horse’s pedigree. Also, you must know all its prior training, its background and the environment in which the horse was trained.

While looking for your future horse, you may see the word Appendix. An appendix is a horse that isn’t 100% pure-bred and is usually a crossbreed of Quarter and Thoroughbred. These specimens are considered Quarter Horses but have the Appendix mark in their registration with the American Quarter Horse Association.

Once again, you need to decide the main reason for buying the horse, for example, buying an Appendix for breeding would be a huge error. Appendixes are not allowed to breed with pure-breds with noble pedigree, only with specific horses, resulting in a less attractive pedigree of the foals.

It’s also a good idea to consult a horse veterinarian about genetic diseases that may affect Quarter Horses. These include hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) which is caused by a gene linked to the stallion named Impressive, malignant hyperthermia, Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA), Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency (GBED), equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM), and Lethal White Syndrome.

Keep in mind, that besides the actual horse, you will need to put money aside for barn equipment, grooming kits, a wide range of accessories such as saddles, halters, bridles, stirrups, harnesses, reins and bits, horse tack, horse trailers and many others. Check all these elements, make your budget and only after taking into consideration all these factors, you can purchase your horse. If, after pondering on the situation, you finally decided to buy a Quarter horse, you must register it at the AQHA (if the horse was not registered by its previous owner) as soon as possible.

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The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), was originally founded in 1940 by a group of almost 75 people. Now, this Texas-based association is an international organization that dedicates all its resources to the preservation, improvement promotion and record-keeping of the American Quarter Horse. This association with more than 350,000 members is the main authority in Quarter horses. Among its attributes, the association sanctions competitive events maintain the official registry of all quarter horses, and it houses the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum. The American Quarter Horse Association is currently the largest breed registry in the world, with 3 million American Quarter Horses registered in 2014.

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame is a place where many educational activities take place, for quarter horse enthusiasts and not only.

Final Thoughts on Quarter Horse Facts

After reading this article on Quarter Horse facts, hopefully, you now have a better understanding and appreciation of this amazing horse breed. For more news and updates on Quarter Horses or on the All American Quarter Congress, you can subscribe to the TodaysEquine newsletter. This is a fast and simple way to be up to date to everything that happens in the world of American Quarter Horse.

Photo credit: www.aqha.com, americashorsedaily.com, All American Quarter Horse Congress

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