Breed Organization American Quarter Horse Association Website:
http://www.aqha.com Native Country United States of America Other Names American Quarter Horse Average Height 14h to 17h Adult Weight N/A Rider Experience Level It varies on level of training.
Breed Description The modern American Quarter Horse has a small,
short, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong,
well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful
hindquarters. They usually stand 14-16 hands high, although some may
grow as tall as 17 hands.
There are two main body types:
the stock type and the racing type. The stock horse type is shorter,
more compact, stocky and well muscled, yet agile. The racing Quarter
Horse is built to sprint short distances ranging from 220 - 870
yards, and therefore is somewhat taller and smoother muscled than
the stock type, more closely resembling the Thoroughbred.
Quarter Horses shown in-hand in "halter" (conformation) competition
are larger horses, with a muscular appearance, small heads with wide
jowls, and refined muzzles. Reining and cutting horses are smaller,
with quick, agile movement and very powerful hindquarters. Western
pleasure show horses are often slightly taller, with a relatively
level topline and smooth gaits. Quarter Horse racehorses have long
legs and are much leaner than their "stock horse" counterparts. The
show hunter type is similar to the running type Quarter Horse,
although some are taller, slimmer, and have an even more
Thoroughbred-like appearance. However, all Quarter Horses have
speed, stamina, power, and a great willingness to please.
Quarter Horses come in nearly all colors. The most prominent color
is sorrel (a brownish red, sometimes called chestnut). Other
recognized colors are bay, black, brown, buckskin, dun, red dun,
gray, grullo, palomino, red roan, blue roan, bay roan, perlino, and
cremello. In the past, spotted or pinto colors were excluded, but
now with the advent of DNA testing to verify parentage, the registry
accepts all colors and prints as long as parents are registered.
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.
History In the 1600s, American colonists on the eastern
seaboard began to cross imported English horses with "native" horses
such as the Chickasaw (a breed developed by Native American people
from horse descended from Spanish, Arabian and Barb stock brought to
what is now the Southeastern United States by the Conquistadors).
One of the most famous of these early imports was Janus, a
Thoroughbred who was the grandson of the Godolphin Arabian. He was
foaled in 1746, and imported to colonial Virginia in 1756. The
influence of Thoroughbreds like Janus contributed genes crucial to
the developement of the colonial "Quarter Miler," or "Quarter Mile
Horse." This was a speedy working man's racer, sometimes referred to
as the "Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse." The resulting
horse was small, hardy, and quick, and was used as a work horse
during the week and a race horse on the weekends.
racing became popular with the colonists, the Quarter Miler gained
even more popularity as a sprinter over courses that, by necessity,
were shorter than the classic racecourses of England, and were often
no more than a straight stretch of road or flat piece of open land.
When matched against a Thoroughbred, local sprinters often won. As
the Thoroughbred breed became established in America, many colonial
Quarter Mile mares were included in the original American stud
books, starting a long association between the Thoroughbred breed
and what would later become officially known as the "Quarter Horse,"
named after the distance at which it excelled. [
In the 1800s, pioneers heading West needed a hardy, willing horse.
On the Great Plains, settlers encountered horses that descended from
the Spanish stock Hern n Cort s and other Conquistadors had
introduced into the viceroyalty of New Spain, which today includes
the Southwestern United States and Mexico. These horses of the west
included herds of feral animals known as Mustangs, as well as horses
domesticated by Native Americans, including the Comanche, Shoshoni
and Nez Perce tribes. As the colonial Quarter Mile Horse was crossed
with these western horses, the pioneers found that the new crossbred
had innate "cow sense," a natural instinct for working with cattle,
making it popular with cattlemen on ranches.
duty of the ranch horse in the American west was working cattle.
Even after the invention of the automobile, horses were still
irreplacable for handling livestock on the range. Thus, major Texas
cattle ranches, such as the King Ranch, the 6666 (four sixes) ranch,
and the W.T. Waggoner ranch played a significant role in the
development of the modern American Quarter Horse.
skills needed by ranch hands and their horses became the foundation
of the sport of rodeo, a contest which began with informal
competition between cowboys and expanded to become a major
competitive event throughout the west. To this day, the Quarter
Horse dominates the sport both in speed events and in competition
that emphasizes the handling of live cattle.
sprint races were also popular weekend entertainment and racing
became a source of economic gain for breeders as well. As a result,
more Thoroughbred blood was added back into the developing Quarter
horse breed. The Quarter Horse also benefitted from the addition of
Arabian, Morgan and even Standardbred bloodlines.
1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed by a
group of horsemen and ranchers from the southwestern United States
dedicated to preserving the pedigrees of their ranch horses. The
first horse registered was Wimpy, a descendant of the King Ranch
foundation sire Old Sorrel. Major foundation sires registered by the
AQHA included King, Peppy, Leo, Poco Bueno, Three Bars (a
Thoroughbred), and Joe Hancock. Other thoroughbred sires seen in
early Quarter Horse pedigrees include King Plaudit, Blob, Johnny
Dial, Top Deck, Vandy, and Truckle Feature.
American Quarter Horse formally established itself as a breed, the
AQHA stud book has remained open to Thoroughbreds. Quarter
Horse/Thoroughbred crosses are entered into the registry as
"Appendix Quarter Horses." These animals are popular for Quarter
Horse Racing and for Jumping and Hunter events. After meeting a
series of conformational and performance criteria, these Appendix
Quarter Horses can obtain permanent registration numbers. Since
American Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred crosses continue to have an
opportunity to enter the official registry of the American Quarter
Horse breed, this is creating a continual gene flow from the
Thoroughbred breed into the American Quarter Horse breed, which has
been influential in altering many of the characteristics that
typified the breed in the early years of its formation.
Behavior Dependant on use.
Health 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. There is a DNA test for HYPP,
the AQHA requires testing and is now limiting registration of some
horses who possess the gene.
Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA), also known as
hyperelastosis cutis (HC). This is caused by a 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. Thus, when the horse is ridden under saddle or suffers
trauma to the skin, the outer layer often splits or separates from
the deeper layer, or it can tear off completely. It rarely heals
without disfiguring scars. Sunburn can also be a concern. In
dramatic cases, the skin can split along the back and even roll down
the sides, with the horse literally being skinned alive. Most horses
with HERDA are euthanized for humane reasons between the age of two
and four years. The very hotly debated and controversial theory, put
forth by researchers at Cornell University and Mississippi State
University is that the sire line of the great foundation stallion
Poco Bueno is implicated as the origin of the disease. There
currently is no DNA test for HERDA, but active research is ongoing
to try and pinpoint the gene.
Function The American Quarter Horse is well known both
as a race horse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and
as a working ranch horse. The compact body of the American Quarter
Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers required
in reining, cutting, working cow horse, barrel racing, calf roping,
and other western riding events, especially those involving live
cattle. The American Quarter Horse is also shown in English
disciplines, driving, and many other equestrian activities.