by Adrianne Lake
The American Quarter Horse is North America’s most popular horse breed with over three million registered worldwide. This breed can be between 14hh and 16hh, although many are 15hh or shorter, and some have even reached 17hh.
Quarter horses have short, wide and handsome heads with a neck that joins the body at the characteristic 45 degree angle. Sloping shoulders, broad chest, a short muscular back and clean sturdy legs are all characteristics of the breed, although the most prominent feature must be the famous Quarter horse rear end with its massive and powerful hindquarters.
The Quarter horse can come in any colour although chestnut (or sorrel) is most common.
This breed received its name by being the fastest horse for the quarter mile race — even beating Thoroughbreds over short distances. Quarter horse racing is still a popular sport today, yet this animal is well known for many other disciplines including rodeo, reining, cutting, calf roping, barrel racing, working cow horse, trail riding, halter classes and being the rancher’s “right hand man”.
The quarter horse is a strong and compact animal with the ability to turn on a dime and it is recognized worldwide for its “cow sense”. The Quarter horse is a supreme athlete, yet is also very well known for its down to earth, calm, friendly, easy going attitude which makes it a safe and reliable horse. Although traditionally recognized for western disciplines, the Quarter horse is a versatile animal and has proven itself successful in some English disciplines.
Quarter horses generally come in two types including stock and racing, with the racing type generally being taller and looking more like a Thoroughbred and the stock type being your western horse of preference.
When crossed with Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses can be registered as “Appendix Quarter Horses” which are becoming more popular in sports like hunting or basic level dressage.
Colonists in the 1600s crossed imported English Thoroughbred horses with native horses of oreintal bloodlines, and the result was a short, fast horse that excelled in sprinting. Flat racing began, and the quick little horse sprinting the quarter mile started to become valued. It is interesting to note that one of the founding imported stallions used to imprint the QH was related to the Godolphin Arabian. In the 1800s, settlers were needing strong sturdy horses and began crossing the “sprinting” horse with the feral Mustangs
as well as Native American horses. In addition Morgan, Arab, Barb and Standardbred bloodlines has also been added to this breed over the years. Obviously this breed was dubbed the “Quarter horse” for being the fastest horse in the quarter mile race and has been clocked at over 85 kilometers/hour.