The American Quarter Horse is the first breed of horse native to the United States. The breed came about 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 early 1600s. This combination resulted in a compact, heavily muscled horse that evolved to fill the colonist’s passion for short-distance racing.
The American Quarter Horse is the oldest surviving American breed. Although other breeds have origins dating back much earlier, including the Arabian and the Thoroughbred, these breeds were actually imported to the United States at one time.
American Quarter Horses are allowed only limited white markings on the face and below the knees. If you see white anywhere else in spots or patches, you’re not looking at an American Quarter Horse.
The most prominent of colors of the American quarter bourse are: sorrel (reddish brown), with the others being bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, dun, red dun, gray, grullo, palomino, red roan and blue roan. Identifiable characteristics of the breed are heavy muscling, sprinter’s speed, versatility, keen cow sense and a gentle nature.
The American Quarter Horse is the world’s most versatile breed and is suited for a variety of purposes, from working cattle on ranches to international reining competitions. There is an American Quarter Horse for every purpose.
If you have owned American Quarter Horses all of your life, there’s a huge chance that you’ve owned a horse connected to the stallion, Peter McCue. As stated on the website of the American Quarter Horse Association, “Almost all Quarter Horses today carry his blood (diluted, of course, by many generations). Today, there are 5.3 million Quarter Horses. Of those, 5.1 million trace to Peter McCue.”
Popularity of the American Quarter Horses
When they are not racing, cutting cattle or portraying horses on the silver screen, American Quarter Horses can be seen in a wide variety of events. There are over 2,300 AQHA-approved shows held each year.
The breed makes exceptional barrel racers, pole benders, reining horses’ polo ponies, all sports requiring athletic and maneuverable horses. American Quarter Horses have been members of the United States and Canadian Olympic Teams where their ability to maintain a calm demeanor is almost as valued as is their athletic ability.
Most people could probably have guessed that Texas has the largest population of Quarter Horses in the world. Over 420,000 American Quarter Horses currently reside mainly in Texas.
Today, the Quarter Horse is known as the world’s most versatile breed and there are in excess of four million horses registered worldwide with the American Quarter Horse Association. More than 53,000 registered Quarter Horses live in Ohio alone, and many more have at least some Quarter Horse ancestors. Quarter Horse owners number more than one million, and are found in all fifty states and sixty four countries worldwide. The Quarter Horse continues to touch people’s hearts much as he did more than three hundred years ago.