The American Quarter Horse is the first breed of horse native to the United States. The breed evolved when the bloodlines of horses brought to the New World were mixed. Foundation American Quarter Horse stock originated from Arab, Turk and Barb breeds. Selected Stallions and Mares were crossed with horses brought to Colonial America from England and Ireland in the 1600’s. This combination resulted in a compact, heavily muscled horse that evolved to fill the colonists passion for short distance racing.
The amazing power behind a quarter horse enabled this great animal to run short distances over a straightaway faster than any other horse with the fastest being named Celebrated American Running Horse. The names for this breed has changed many times over the years until 1940 when a registry was formed to preserve the breed which officially became the American Quarter Horse Association.
In the year 1674 in Enrico County, Virginia the first American Quarter Horse Race was held. They were one-on-one match races down village streets, county lanes and level pastures. Many disagreements and fights were generated from heavy betting of large purse races by 1690.
The American Quarter Horse, due to their calm disposition and quick response time, the horse became known for its "cow sense", being able to outmaneuver cattle. During the 1800’s as many pioneer folk moved westward, so did the American Quarter Horse. An abundant amount of cattle ranches stretched across the plains. Making this breed well suited for the cattle ranchers.
In today’s world, the American Quarter Horse still remains a great sprinter known for their heavy muscling, but they have exceeded way past the cattle horse. These amazing horses compete in almost every discipline available, from rodeo events, such as barrel racing and calf roping to English disciplines such as dressage and show jumping. The make a nice little children’s hunter as well, with the ability to jump a wide range of heights. They are one of the most versatile breeds in the world.
Many pleasure riders still look to the American Quarter horse for recreational riding, as they make a nice pleasure horse as well.
Breeders, since the creation of the breed over fifty years ago, have diligently been trying to perfect the bloodlines to produce a high quality versatile animal.. Strict guidelines have been set by the American Quarter Horse Association regarding registration of the American Quarter Horses. Some of these guidelines include:
1. Limited white markings on the face and below the knee
2. Only thirteen accepted colors recognized by the AQHA. These are sorrel (reddish brown), bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, dun, red dun, gray, grullo, palomino, red roan and blue roan. The official gray color is what most people call white, but there are no "white" American Quarter Horses.
3. A quarter horse foal must be the product of a numbered American Quarter Horse dam and a numbered American Quarter Horse sire. There is an appendiz registry for foals with one numbered American Quarter Horse parent and one Throughbred parent registered with The Jockey Club.
Some other notable characteristics of the American Quarter Horse is their speed, versatility, gentle nature, heavy muscling and keen cow sense.
If you own an American Quarter Horse, no matter what discipline you choose to ride, your horse will excel. This breed is one of the most enjoyable horse breeds around today and one of the most popular.
Contributed By: Nanette Hughston