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American Quarter Horse horse breed information

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American Quarter Horse description

The modern Quarter Horse has a small, short, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters. They usually stand between 14 and 16 hands high, although some Halter-type and English hunter-type horses may grow as tall as 17 hands.

There are two main body types: the stock type and the hunter or racing type. The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and well muscled, yet agile. The racing and hunter type Quarter Horses are somewhat taller and smoother muscled than the stock type, more closely resembling the Thoroughbred.


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American Quarter Horse color

There are 17 recognized colors for American Quarter Horses. The most common color is Sorrel. Other colors include bay, black, brown, chestnut, dun, buckskin, red dun, grullo, palomino, gray, red roan, blue roan, bay roan, cremello, perlino and white. In the past, spotted color patterns were excluded, but now with the advent of DNA testing to verify parentage, the registry accepts all colors as long as both parents are registered.

American Quarter Horse size

Quarter Horses range in size from about 14.3 to 15.3 hands high. The introduction of Thoroughbred bloodlines has contributed to an increase in height and Quarter Horses 16 hands high and more are not unusual.

American Quarter Horse weight

The weight can vary drastically, depending on the purpose for which the horse was bred. Average weight for the American Quarter Horse is around 1100lbs (500kg).

American Quarter Horse temperament

The American Quarter Horse is intelligent, docile, agile, strong and versatile. They are easily backed and handled

American Quarter Horse life expectancy

American Quarter Horses usually live around 20 years, but can live up to 40 years.

American Quarter Horse origin

The American Quarter Horse traces its roots back to the 1600’s. The horses in America at this time were mostly of Spanish origin, with the greatest amounts of blood from Arabian Barbs and Turk lines. In 1611 the first significant import of English horses was made to Virginia. These English horses were of native, eastern and Spanish horse blood.

American Quarter Horse history

When the new English horses were bred to the native stock, a compact horse with heavily muscled hindquarters began to develop. These horses were used for the various farm chores like plowing, pulling logs, pulling light carriages, and horse riding. The horses were bred to be able to do all of these things, which is where the breed’s great versatility started.

After doing chores all day the farmers would take their horses into town for friendly quarter mile races. The fastest over this distance would win, and consequently be bred more often, creating a versatile horse that could now sprint extremely fast over short distances.

As the people moved west they brought their horses with them. Many horses drove the cattle on this long trek. The people noticed how well the horses could work with the cows and the Quarter Horse made another name for itself as the perfect cow pony.

Today horses are still bred for this quality, creating a horse that is amazing to watch as it gets eye to eye with the cow, watching its every movement. Nearly independent of the rider, the horse can separate a cow from the herd, hopping back and forth as the cow turns first right and then left. This use to be a helpful tool on the open range when a cow needed separating, now it is a competitive sport called cutting. The Quarter horse can out perform other breeds in many different sports including, calf roping, barrel racing, team penning and often reining, proving to the world that it is still as versatile as it once was.

The American Quarter Horse was not recognized as an official breed until 1940 when several people got together to discuss keeping a record of the bloodlines of their horses so as not to have anymore out-crossings. The American Quarter Horse Association was created.

The first twenty spots on the registry were kept for the foundation animals. Number one was for the winner of the 1941 Quarter Horse competition. Number twenty was for a chosen stallion of the first president of the AQHA. The other eighteen stallions were voted on over the next few years. The members tried to only admit those horses that were good bulldog type horses. This term is used to describe the horses that were very muscular and lower to the ground, as opposed to the thoroughbred type horse with long legs bred for racing.

There were many debates on letting the thoroughbred type horses into the registry. The AQHA would only register horses after inspection for conformation and since most judges were looking for the bulldog type horse the others got excluded. Two other registries were even formed to allow them a place to register. This got very cumbersome and so eventually AQHA merged and allowed the horses that were registered in either of these registries a place in theirs.

American Quarter Horse genetic diseases

Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), which is caused by an autosomal dominant gene linked to the stallion Impressive. It is characterized by uncontrollable muscle twitching and substantial muscle weakness or paralysis among affected horses. Because it is a dominant gene, only one parent has to have the gene for it to be transmitted to offspring.

Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA), also known as hyperelastosis cutis (HC). This is caused by an autosomal recessive gene, and thus, unlike HYPP, HERDA can only be transmitted if both parents carry the gene. When a horse has this disease, there is a collagen defect that results in the layers of skin not being held firmly together.

Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency (GBED) is a genetic disease where the horse is lacking an enzyme necessary for storing glycogen, the horse's heart muscle and skeletal muscles cannot function, leading to rapid death.

Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy, also called EPSM or PSSM, is a metabolic muscular condition in horses that causes tying up, and is also related to a glycogen storage disorder.

Lethal White Syndrome.

American Quarter Horse uses

Quarter horses are a very versatile breed, doing everything from team penning to show-jumping. Quarter horses are known to have good cow instincts and so are often the breed of choice for competitive roping, cattle-penning and ranch work. They make great reining horses as well because of their strong hindquarters. They are quick and agile and have good stamina. They also make exceptional barrel horses. Because they are so laid-back, they make great trail horses.

American Quarter Horse influence

Arabian, Turk, English horse breeds and Thoroughbred

American Quarter Horse pictures

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