American Quarter Horses Breed Overview

By Alberto Roy

Updated on:

American Quarter Horse is one of the oldest-recognized breeds of horse in America. This breed was created from a cross of native Spanish horses used by early colonists and English horses brought to Virginia in 1610.

These horses were racing successfully on quarter-mile courses in Rhode Island, Virginia by the end of the 17th century. They earned the nickname Quarter Horses. The Quarter Horse was bred to perform and was also bred with Thoroughbred blood, as well as other traits.

Janus, an English Thoroughbred Imported to Virginia in 1756; Steel Dust (b. 1843; and Peter McCue (b. 1895), regarded as the most influential sire in the improvement of the breed.

American Quarter Horse

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Quarter Horses were outnumbered by Thoroughbreds in the early 19th-century, who ran faster over longer distances. Quarter Horses gained acceptance quickly in the west and southwest United States, where they were rebranded as stock horses.

Because of its speed and agility, the breed was well-suited for the frontier’s challenges. The American Quarter Horse was a favorite mount of cowboys in the West during the open-range era. Its natural cow-sense and good nature made it a popular choice.

The Racing Quarter Horse

QHs race on various track surfaces across the country. However, trainers prefer a firmer surface whenever possible. A loose or sandy surface can cause problems when breaking at speed and getting enough grip to sprint at high speeds.

Racing on a sandier track can lead to new injuries, particularly superficial digital flexor tendonitis (SDF). There are more injuries to the hindlimbs such as muscle strains, back soreness and hindlimb lameness.

Although the firmer track is preferred, it could result in more joint and bone injuries due to greater concussive force. There are no statistics available on QH injuries that may occur racing on newer synthetic tracks.

The modern American Quarter Horse is short and stocky with strong muscular development. They have short heads and broad chests. These horses are required to cut cattle (see photo), so they need speed and ability to move short distances.

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Although their colours can vary, they are all solid. Their height ranges from 14.3 to 16. hands (about 56 to 64 inches or 145 to 160 cm) and their weight ranges from 950 to 1,200 lbs (431 to 544 kilograms). They are calm and cooperative.

It took years to create a distinctive breed. However, in 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association was founded. In 1950, it was reorganized to include other Quarter Horse associations.

The American Quarter Horse Stud Book and Registry is managed by the AQHA. The AQHA was the world’s largest horse breeders’ association, with more than 2.5 million horses in its stud books by the end of the 20th century.

Management and Diagnosis of Specific Lameness

Most barrel horses are QHs or Appendix QHs. Forelimb lameness is most commonly caused by sore feet, navicular pain, and palmar pain.

Hard arena surfaces, poor hoof conformation, farriery, and poor hoof conformation are also factors. The management and diagnosis of the team roping horse are very similar.

The second most common musculoskeletal issue is distal hock OA. It also causes the most hindlimb problems, leading to reduced performance and lameness.

Diagnostic criteria include radiology, intraarticular analgesia and response to treatment. Sometimes, nuclear scintigraphy is used.

Treatment of the centrodistal or tarsometatarsal joint is done with methylprednisolone (40-60 mg/joint), or triamcinolone Acetonide (6 mg/joint), either alone or combined with hyaluronan (10mg/joint), plus 125 mg amikacin.

american quarter horses

The ideal time for a horse to return to barrel racing is 7-10 days. However, this is often not possible due to competition schedules. The time it takes to see results may be up to three weeks. We will reevaluate the horse if the horse doesn’t respond to treatment.

American Quarter Horse Breed Profile

The American quarter horse is North America’s oldest and most beloved horse breed. Its many positive characteristics, such as its gentle nature, versatility and beauty, speed, agility and loyalty, are what have made the breed so popular.

Because they are friendly and easy to train, quarter horses can be ridden by all levels of riders.

They have been used as race horses as well as ranch horses or family pets. They are sturdy and can be found in many colors, with the most popular being sorrel (brownish-red).

American Quarter Horse History and Origins

The American quarter horse is a descendant of Spanish and English horses that were used in American colonies in 1600s.

These horses were crossbred with local breeds such as the Chickasaw horse. This breed was popularized by its dominance of quarter-mile races and its sure-footedness, which made it a favourite among settlers.

The quarter horse was an important part of the pioneers’ westward expansion later. Its agility was a great asset to farmers and cowboys who needed reliable transport over rugged terrain.

Although the American Quarter Horse Association registry was established in 1940, the breed is still known to exist since the 1600s.

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American Quarter Horse Size

Quarter horses can range in size between 14 hands (56inches) and 16 hands (64inches). An increase in height has been caused by the addition of thoroughbred bloodlines. This large horse breed is known for its heavy weights, which can reach as high as 1,200 to 950 pounds. Some are concerned about the impact on the skeletal health of dogs with such high weights.

Uses and breeding

This American quarter horse is versatile and can be used as a show, working, family or work horse. It is equally at home on the farm and on the trails.

Quarter horses have been used to pull wagons and move cattle throughout history. Their abilities are evident in rodeo events such as reining, where the rider directs the horse through a series of circles, spins and other movements, and team penning, which involves the riders moving cattle into a pen.

They are able to quickly gather cattle strays and maneuver the horses around barrels during barrel races.

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Quarter horse racing, which is more like a sprint than thoroughbred racing, has tracks all across North America. These races are short and intense, with speeds of up to 55 mph.

Markings and colors

American quarter horses are available in many colors including solids, roans and palominos as well as grays, grullos, buckskins, and duns. The most common color in this breed is the brownish-red sorrel.

White markings on the legs and face are also common. Spotted patterns can be accepted by the American Quarter Horse Association Registry, provided that both sire and dam are registered quarter horses.

The American Quarter Horse has unique characteristics

Its compact and muscular appearance is obvious. The quarter horse’s solid appearance is a testament to its ability to perform in a variety of roles. Quarter horses can be agile and surefooted at high speeds.

They are also known for their “cow-sense”, which is an instinctive skill in maneuvering cattle.

Diet and nutrition

American quarter horses need a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, fats and vitamins. Fresh grass, hay and rolled oats are all acceptable. They also can eat other grains like barley and bran.

You can give them treats like carrots and apples in moderation. American quarter horses consume between 1.5 to 2 percent of their daily body weight every day. A horse of 1,000 pounds will need 15 to 20 lbs daily.

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Common health and behavior problems

Quarter horses from America are often very trainable and gentle. They are eager to please. They can also be susceptible to some health problems. These include:

Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. A condition that causes uncontrollable muscle twitching or weakness.

Polysaccharide storage myopathy: This disorder damages muscle tissue and can cause stiffness and pain.

Malignant hyperthermia is a condition in which a horse is more susceptible to an abnormally high level of metabolic activity. This can lead to high temperatures, increased heart rate and rapid breathing.


American quarter horses can benefit from daily grooming to maintain a healthy coat. To ensure that the horse is comfortable during a ride, you should brush its legs, face and saddle areas.

After riding, grooming horses can help distribute oils and sweat, particularly in the summer. To make your horse more agile at fighting flies, use a detangler. Use a waterless shampoo in winter to clean, condition and detangle your horse’s tail and mane.

Champion and Celebrity American Quarter Horses

The American Quarter Horse Association has the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum located in Amarillo Texas.

You can see photos and paintings of famous quarter horse breeders, as well as displays that tell the story of the breed’s past. The Hall of Fame includes hundreds of horses and individuals who helped shape the breed. They include:

Wimpy: First stallion to be listed in the American Quarter Horse Association registry

Poco Bueno – The first quarter horse to ever be insured for $100,000

Doc Bar: Featured in prominent pedigrees all over the globe

Easy Jet: A highly successful racing career

Impressive was another well-known horse, more famous than famous. He passed on the breed’s propensity to hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. This condition affects all foals born to horses.

Are you a good candidate for the American Quarter Horse?

This breed is a great choice for beginners and families. They are calm and gentle, and have a very friendly demeanor. American quarter horses are known for their calm temperament but they can also be very quick learners.

They are easy to train for competition or ranch work, as well as for recreational purposes. Once trained, they require very little assistance from riders and are “easy keepers”. They thrive on good pasture orhay.

How to Adopt an American Quarter Horse or Buy One

A quarter horse from America can be purchased for as little as $1,000. Prices vary depending on the horse’s age, health, if it is a rescue horse or a breeder and any other notable characteristics such as lineage.

Be aware of red flags when choosing a horse. You should verify that the rescue organization is a registered nonprofit with an 501(c), which means it has had to pass more checks in order to be considered safe.

Breeders should also be able to provide documentation about the horse’s origin, lineage and health history. You might not be dealing directly with a quality organization if none of these documents are provided.

Spend as much time as possible with your horse while it is still in your hands so that you can get to know and ensure its health.

You should look out for signs such as lameness, pain, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms of illness. It is not a good idea to bring home a horse with special needs if you aren’t prepared to take care of it.

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