The American Quarter horse is a Colonial breed that has been in existence for several centuries, first making an appearance in the early 1600s. Early settlers of the United States bred their horses of British descent with the Spanish Barb horses that belonged to the Chickasaw tribe that inhabited the southeastern portion of the U.S. Since these horses were a combination of breeds that were imported from other parts of the world, the American Quarter horses are the first breed of horse to have originated in the United States with its lineage also inhabiting the country.
The breed grew in population and in popularity in Virginia and other colonies across the eastern coast of the U.S. It did not take long for people to take note that this horse was capable of racing, as it covered ground in a short amount of time. The American Quarter horse got its name because of its excellent speed in racing half-kilometre (quarter-mile) distances. It has been recorded as traveling at speeds of up to 88 kilometres per hour.
When the Thoroughbred horse was introduced to the United States, its speed overshadowed that of the American Quarter horse. As a result, there was a distinct shift in the American Quarter horse’s role. In the 1800s, pioneers headed westward, taking these horses along, where they later played a valuable role in working with cattle, carrying people on trails and participating in rodeos.
The American Quarter horse’s speed and efficiency made it an invaluable farm hand, swift and efficient in its movements, which allowed both the horses and their riders to successfully herd cattle. They also excelled in agility competitions including racing, riding and roping.
In modern days, the American Quarter horse is the most popular breed, not only in the United States but across the entire world. It is commonly seen as a show horse and a participant in rodeo events and competitions. Quarter Horses have also grown extremely popular in Australia, South America and Europe.
This breed is small but muscular, reaching an average size of 13-17 hands high. The head and neck are notably smaller than those of many other types of horses. American Quarter horses used for work or competition are generally larger in size than those kept as pets or not used for work purposes. The colouring of this breed varies and includes bay, black, brown, chestnut, cream, gray, red and white. A combination of shades or a mottled pattern is not uncommon.
The American Quarter horse is known for a generally easygoing temperament, making them ideal for riding and for keeping them as pets. They are low-maintenance and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other horses.
There are potential genetic conditions that may affect the well being of the American Quarter horse. These include muscle and nerve diseases and potential skin conditions, though genetic testing can reduce the number of foals born with these inherited conditions.