american quarter horse

American Quarter Horse

Last updated on March 8th, 2023 at 10:26 pm

American Quarter Horse

There are many different breeds of horse out there, but the one that you are likely to come into contact with the most is the American Quarter horse. They are the most populous breed of horse in the world! The AQHA, or the American Quarter Horse Association, is the largest breed registry of all horses.

It has a population of more than 3 million horses that are registered— all American Quarter horses! We will go over some of the special characteristics and defining features of this breed further below. 

American Quarter Horse Characteristics

The characteristics of the American Quarter horse help us to distinguish this breed from the many other breeds of horse out there. However, the breed also has very versatile looks and can vary greatly in appearance! When we picture a horse, it is typically the American Quarter horse that we picture immediately. This breed has a small, short, and refined head. They have a muscular body with a broad chest.

American Quarter horses also have straight, elegant profiles. Further in this article, we will go over more of the telling characteristics of the American Quarter horse breed.

American Quarter Horse Size

Adult American Quarter horses typically average between 14.3 and 16 hands tall. That being said, there are some that can grow to be even taller. English hunter type or Halter type American Quarter horses can grow to be 17 hands high when they are fully grown. The size of this breed is perfect for a racehorse, and many American Quarter horses are used to be racehorses due to their speed. The height of American Quarter horse is considered to be an average-height horse, especially compared to draught horses, that can end up standing as tall as 19 hands.

American Quarter Horse Weight

The American Quarter horse is a muscular breed, meaning that they are fairly heavy, too. The more muscular the horse, the more it will typically weigh. They do, though, have a sporty build, so are not nearly as heavy as a large and stocky draft horse. The Quarter horse is heavier than typical riding horses but are considered to still be the perfect weight for just about any use! On average, they weigh between 950 and 1200 pounds. This weight comes from their muscles, rather than their height— since they are an average-sized horse.

Also Read – What Does a Quater Horse Weigh?

American Quarter Horse Colors

Unlike some other breeds, the Quarter horse can come in just about any color under the sun! The most common colors that you would see for this breed are sorrel and chestnut. Examples of the many other colors of American Quarter horse include gray, black, buckskin, brown, bay, smoky cream, cremello, red roan, smoky black, dun, red dun, grullo, perlino, bay roan, blue roan, and brown roan. Some of the rarer colorations of the American Quarter horse include white, palomino, and the different color variations of champagne. In the past, the AQHA studbook did not accept certain markings or patterns. Now, however, breed regulations say that as long as the parents of the horse are registered, any color and pattern of the descendants are accepted.

quarter horse

American Quarter Horse Temperament 

The temperament of the Quarter horse is another reason why this breed is the most popular worldwide. Both the gelding and mare are easy to train, as they are smart and eager to learn. This is also due, in part, to the fact that this breed has been used for racing for hundreds of years! They are gentle and docile, making them a good partner for riders of all experience levels. American Quarter horses are easygoing and can be good around children, and are exhibited often. 

American Quarter Horse Care

The lifespan of the American Quarter horse is about 20 to 25 years if they are healthy and cared for properly. If cared for well, your horse could even exceed this estimate! American Quarter horses are considered to require moderate care and are not the most persnickety of horse breeds. They do not have any special features, like feathers, that require extra care. They also do not have any particular food sensitivities that you will need to watch out for.

American Quarter Horse Diet and Nutrition

It is important that you fulfill your horse’s dietary needs to ensure that it is healthy and stave off any potential issues. Luckily, the American Quarter horse does not have a particularly complicated diet! They are sturdy, robust horses, and this is also true of their nutrition.

They will do well with typical horse nutrition— a mix of fresh hay and pasture, as well as some combination of fruits, grains, and vegetables. If your Quarter horse competes in dressage or show jumping, you may need to increase the number of grains and supplements such as vitamins that are part of your horse’s daily intake, due to your horse’s energy levels.

American Quarter Horse Health Issues

As the American Quarter horse has been bred for many years, there are some genetic issues that can come up with this breed. It is important to be aware of the fact that breeding can result in even greater fitness or physical features for a purebred horse, but it can also increase the likelihood of genetic diseases.

American Quarter horses are susceptible to a genetic disease called Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis, or HYPP, as well as one called Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy, or PSSM.

Both of these affect the horse’s muscles, causing issues such as cramping, stiffness, or even paralysis! This breed can also suffer from Malignant Hyperthermia or MH. This causes the body temperature of the animal to rise and then causes high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms. All of this being said, the American Quarter horse is usually a healthy breed of horse!

The genetic issues that we have discussed above do affect some American Quarter horses, but this is the minority of the breed, not the majority.

American Quarter Horse Grooming

Grooming your American Quarter horse can be more relaxing than with other breeds of horse, as not quite as much is required. They do not have certain features like feathers, which would require extra grooming and attention. That being said, daily grooming and maintenance is still key to the health of your American Quarter horse. Brush your Quarter horse every day with a body brush in order to clean its coat from dust and other small particles. You should also ensure that you inspect your horse’s hooves each day and pick them up every day with a hoof pick. 

American Quarter Horse History

The history of the American Quarter horse dates back to the 16th century, when native horses from Spain, as well as English horses, were imported to Virginia in 1610 by the colonists. The American Quarter horse breed actually originated in the 1660s when crossbreeding between the two breeds of imported European horses was achieved successfully. These were the ancestors of the American Quarter horse as we know it today! We will go over the history and origin of the American Quarter horse breed in more detail further in this article. 

American Quarter Horse Origin

As mentioned above, the origin of the American Quarter horse lies with the ancestors that were brought to North America from Spain and England. These were the local horse breeds of both countries that the settlers in America imported.

The first crossbreeding of these two breeds of horses is believed to have occurred in Virginia and around New England— and this crossbreeding is what created the American Quarter horse.

This happened in the 1660s, and it did not take long for the horses to be used in the quarter-mile racers that were popular in Rhode Island and Virginia. It is this event that gave the breed its name! Quarter horses were bred for these races, and they have a lot of Thoroughbred blood in them as well. 

American Quarter Horse Historic Development

For a while after its breeding in the 1600s, the American Quarter horse grew to be overshadowed by Thoroughbreds, as Thoroughbred horses are faster and better suited for longer races. However, they saw an uptick in popularity when cowboys took notice of the Quarterhorse and began to use them in the western and southwestern states for stock purposes. This breed has always had a natural sense for cows, making them perfect for working alongside cowboys! Plus, their agility and speed helped, too. 

Notable American Quarter Horses

You may know that the American Quarter horse is the most popular— and most populous— breed of horse. That makes it easy for there to be at least a few celebrity horses of this breed throughout the years! We will go over some of the famous American Quarter horses further on in this article, so buckle up. 

First Down Dash

One of the famous American Quarter horses is named First Down Dash. First Down Dash got inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2011. He was a racehorse sire and was a gorgeous chestnut American Quarter horse. Many of the racehorses he sired were winners. 

Mr. San Peppy

Mister San Peppy was another famous American Quarter horse. He was a cutting stallion who won the National Cutting Horse Association, and was World Champion in the year 1973 and the year 1976 as well. He then became a popular sire for breeding more Quarter horses. These days, the descendents of Mister San Peppy are still being used for breeding! That being said, it costs a lot of money to get one of them. 

Two Eyed Jack

Two-Eyed Jack was an American Quarter horse who was the foundation horse for the Pitzer Ranch. He was owned by Howard Pitzer, who went on to win many shows with him. This gorgeous stallion was the foundation of Howard’s ranch, which is still known today for its prestigious American Quarter horses. 

American Quarter Horse Myths and Legends

The American Quarter horse— just like the country of America from which it hails— is a young breed, which means there are not very many ancient myths about these horses. That being said, it is a popular breed, so there are still some modern stories or legends that are told about Quarter horses. Many of these focus on the founding horses of the breed. We will go over some of these stories further below. 

King, Wimpy, and Leo

The horse’s King, Wimpy, and Leo are said to be the founding stallions of the American Quarter horse breed. Even before the AQHA was founded, these three were being used for breeding. King was the first who was documented as a foal, all the way back in 1932. King, Wimpy, and Leo have even been painted professionally many times! 

Easy Jet

Easy Jet was the name of a famous running horse. He is famed for having won over $445,000 before he retired in 1970. He’s been portrayed winning and racing in many tournaments as he earned his record-breaking cash. 

Copper Locks

Copper Locks was another American Quarter horse, but he is not best known for racing— no, he was an actor! He was the horse who starred in the Disney movie Secretariat, and his speed and agility came in handy for his racing scene in the movie. Funnily enough, he did not have copper locks, as his name would suggest. But, he is still a gorgeous chestnut horse!

Modern American Quarter Horses

When it comes to the modern American Quarter horse, there are a few different types of this breed, and they are able to serve different uses. For instance, there are the racing and hunting types of Quarter horses, as well as the stock type of American Quarter horses. The difference between the two types of Quarter horses is their suitability for different uses and their body type. The stock horse, for example, is shorter and more compact, plus agile. The racing and hunting type, though, is taller and has a body type similar to a Thoroughbred. You should choose wisely when you are selecting a Quarter horse to ensure that you choose one that suits your needs!

American Quarter Horse Breeding

You can find the American Quarter horse across the globe, and it is the most frequently bred horse all over the world. Most of the breeding of Quarter horses, though, still occurs in North America. After North America comes to Germany— Germans love American Quarter horses for dressage and other shows. Breeding racing and hunting Quarter horses focus on physical abilities such as speed, while the breeding of the stock types focuses on being sturdy and more compact. 

American Quarter Horse Population

The American Quarter Horse Association, or the AQHA, is the oldest breeding association in the United States. Due to this, the population of this breed of horse is very well documented. There are about 3 million American Quarter horses that are registered with the AQHA— this is a huge number! It means that the American Quarter horse is the most populous breed of horse in the world. 2.4 million of these horses are located in the United States, with the majority being found in California, Texas, and Oklahoma. Italy is one of the most popular spots for breeding Quarter horses in Europe, as is Germany. 

American Quarter Horse Uses

The American Quarter horse is a very versatile breed of horse and can be well suited to a variety of different uses. The frequency of use of the breed is one of the most versatile in the world. Different types of Quarter horses specialize in different uses, such as hunting and racing, or the stock and stall field. Regardless of which of these two types a horse is, most horses in the American Quarter horse breed are well suited for show jumping, Western, English, dressage, pleasure, and stock use. They are highly intelligent and are very willing to be trained. This makes Quarterhorses talented at many different things. The horse also has the gait of the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.

American Quarter Horse Prices

The price of an American Quarter horse can vary pretty greatly, and this depends on many factors, such as the pedigree of the horse, its age, its health, its intended use, and how much it has been trained.

The higher the pedigree on a horse, for example, the higher the price it will be able to fetch. Luckily, because the American Quarter horse is an extremely popular and common breed of horse, it is not as expensive as some rarer and harder-to-find breeds. Read on to learn more about the price of an American Quarter horse and to get some numbers! 

Purchase Price

As we mentioned above, the price on an American Quarter horse can fluctuate pretty greatly. It can vary from a few hundred dollars all the way to $100,000 or so! Part of this is due to their popularity and how easy it is to find this breed.

If you are looking at a trained and well-behaved American Quarter horse at middle age, you can expect to pay around $5000 to $7000. If this particular horse has a stellar pedigree, this can jump the price higher.

Quarter horses who are dressage winners, winners of show jumping competitions— or are the offspring of horses with these accolades— can easily have their price doubled based on these factors alone! It is also important to look beyond purchase price if you are looking at how much you can afford. You should also consider the continuing cost to care for, feeding, and board your new horse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are American Quarter horses good at?

The American Quarter horse is a breed of American horse, hence the name. It is the most populous of all breeds of horse. This particular breed is also known for being very good at sprinting over short distances. The name Quarter horse is derived from their ability to outrun other breeds of horse when running a distance of a quarter mile or less! Some American Quarter horses have even been clocked at 44 miles an hour at top speed. 

Are American Quarter horses good for beginners?

The American Quarter horse is one of the most popular breeds of horse across the world. This is, in part, due to their temperament. This breed has a calm and even temperament which makes them a good choice for beginner or inexperienced equestrians. Of course, each individual horse will have their own personality— some Quarter horses can still be very energetic, so it is important to vet the individual horse, too. As a whole, though, this is a breed that can be well suited to working with beginner horseback riders.

Are American quarter horses friendly?

The American Quarter horse is one that is beloved for its speed but also for its calm and friendly temperament. Most American Quarter horses, and the breed as a whole, are friendly with people and also easy to train. This is because they enjoy working with their riders, especially if you are able to build a strong bond with your horse. They can be used for many different things, such as race horses, working horses on a ranch, or as companions and family pets. This is a fairly easygoing and versatile breed of horse— though of course, you should bear in mind that they are still animals, and sensitive ones at that, so they can be reactive in certain situations. 

Is the American Quarter Horse the fastest horse?

The moniker of the American Quarter horse comes from this breed’s ability to outrace other breeds of horse when they are running a quarter mile or less. They can run at speeds up to 44 miles per hour! The American Quarter horse is said to be the fastest horse in the world in the quarter mile, consistently. However, it is also said that Thoroughbreds hold the title of the fastest horse in the world. This is a breed that dominates in the industry of horse racing!