August 15, 2008 | | Comments 0

The Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse

The Quarter Horse: An Undisputed American Favorite

There are several horses that bear the mark of American breeders. One of the clear favorites is the American Quarter Horse. Aside from carrying the name of the entire continent on its breed name, the horses of the breed also carry the distinct traits infused by generations of American breeders, making it a true functional horse of America.

Being a revered breed has made the Quarter Horse breed even more prone to debate. Although the general history of the breed is established, there are a few who may disagree over the exact region or period of breed establishment. Some may argue that the breed began as early as the colonial times while others maintain that the true Quarter Horse was founded by the pioneers that had begun to move into the heart of Western America.

Whatever is the true point of origin, the early colonial settlers deserve to be mentioned in the history of the Quarter Horse. It is after all, because of their initial efforts that the prototype of this beloved horse breed was developed. It is generally accepted that the first settlers of America in the 17th century brought over their Thoroughbred horses. These horses were paired with the native American horses that descended from the Spanish horses that had been brought to the continent by the conquistadors. The resulting offspring exhibited speed and endurance over short distances.

At first, these horses were primarily used as work horses. Because of their speed, they were also used as weekend race horses. Since there were no long and spacious race tracks, the early settlers used the rough and short roads that were available to them. They found out though that the horses that they bred were by far faster than pure Thoroughbreds in distances that were a quarter of a mile.

When settlers began to move into other regions in America, these quarter mile horses were brought along. They were bred with other native breeds that resulted in horses that were excellent at herding cattle. Small time racing however remained a popular past time. Purebred influence was therefore reintroduced to promote ideal race horse traits. Aside from the Thoroughbred, other influential breeds included the Standardbred, Morgan and the Arabian.

By the first half of the 1900s, these horses that could run fast at a quarter of a mile became so popular that a formal organization was set up in 1940. Thus began the birth of the modern American Quarter Horse breed.

The modern Quarter Horse stands at about 14 to 16 hands. Depending on the favored discipline or purpose, a Quarter Horse can either be stocky and compact or lean and long legged. All Quarter Horses however have powerful muscles and refined profiles.

Today, the breed is not just the perfect breed for cow herding. They also excel in both Western and European disciplines. Some of the events they have been known to participate in include racing, reining, jumping, rodeo, gymkhana, dressage and cutting. Truly, this American breed has become quite versatile.

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