American Quarter Horse

No other horse breed has so many horses in the world: there are said to be around 5.5 million registered quarter horses! There is of course a reason for this: Quarter horses are extremely versatile, sociable, and usually very pleasant to ride because they are so fearless and have smooth gaits.

Origin and History

The settlers of America brought their horses with them to the new continent. Among these horses were:

  • Arabs
  • Berber
  • Iberians
  • Irish ponies
  • English thoroughbreds
  • and many more

Horse betting was a popular pastime so that the fastest four-legged friends also ran horse races in addition to using them in fields and in front of wagons.

The usual racetrack was a quarter-mile. The Quarter Mile gave the Quarter Horse its name. With its powerful muscles, the quarter horse is very strong at sprinting, which is why it is considered the fastest horse in the world on this length of the route. The Quarter Mile is still a popular route for horse racing today. Sprinters can reach speeds of over 80 km / h there.

The following is considered a founder stallion:

Janus, a thoroughbred born in England in 1746. The only 1.50-meter tall stallion passed his sprint strength onto his small, muscular offspring.
The “Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse” was born.

Other founding stallions were:

  • Sir Archy
  • Printer
  • tiger
  • Blackburns
  • Whip

The Celebrated American Quarter Running Horses were not only fast but tough enough for life on the ranch. Due to the demands of cattle work, the American Quarter Horse emerged from crossbreeding with Mustangs. The quarter horse soon demonstrated its abilities not only in everyday work but also in competitions that the cowboys fought among themselves: the first rodeos were created.

In 1940 the breeding association AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) was founded. With 5.5 million registered horses, AQHA is now the world’s largest horse-breeding association.

Quarter Horses have been around in Germany since 1970.


Quarterhorse fans appreciate the fearlessness of their horses. Quarter horses are easy to get along with and learn quickly. Most of them have what is known as “cow sense”. That is the sense, or rather the instinct, with which they follow and drive a cow almost as if by themselves. This makes working with the herd much easier for your rider.


At first glance, two characteristics of medium-sized quarter horses predominate:

  • They have a small, noble head with a broad forehead and very well-muscled hindquarters.
  • The back is rather long, the chest strong.

The quarter horse is the bodybuilder among horses. The muscles are clearly visible when the quarters are trained. These very well-muscled quarter horses mostly belong to the group of horses that are bred and trained for reining and cutting tests.

The rather large and narrow quarter horses, on the other hand, are the specialists for the disciplines pleasure, horsemanship, and hunter.

Quarter horses come in all colors. Only there are no checks, they are registered as paint horses.

Suitability / Use

The parade disciplines of the quarter horses are certainly the western disciplines:

  • holder
  • Pleasure
  • Reining

In the owner tests, the horses are presented in hand.

In the pleasure tests, the horses show the most comfortable gaits possible. In the trail, the horses and riders present their skills on various obstacles. Western horsemanship is about riding certain figures and western riding focuses on changing canter.

Hunter exams are similar to the typical tournament exams, the so-called English rider. The most famous discipline is of course reining. In the reining, you can see the small, well-muscled horses that accelerate rapidly and stop spectacularly.

A specialty among the western disciplines is the tests with cattle. In these tests, the quarter horse needs the “cow sense”.

  • When cutting, cattle are sorted out.
  • In the “Working Cowhorse”, maneuvers without and then on cattle are shown.

The specializations of the Quarter Horses should not hide the fact that these horses are wonderful, relaxed, and friendly leisure horses whose easy rideability is valued by many riders.


Quarter horses are considered robust and uncomplicated – also in their keeping. The species-appropriate keeping of these horses should always be a matter of course!

Diseases Typical of the Breed

Quarter horses often suffer from certain hereditary diseases. Around 700,000 American Quarter Horses have a genetic defect, which is why German breeders expressly recommend genetic testing.

Some of the inherited diseases that the quarter horse can suffer from include:

  • PSSM (Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy), which can lead to degenerative muscle diseases with a disruption in carbohydrate metabolism.
  • GBED (Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency), in which affected foals usually die within the first eight weeks.
  • Skin disease HERDA (Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia), in which horses have extremely vulnerable skin.
  • The incurable metabolic disease HYPP (Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Disease), which leads to muscle cramps and paralysis.
  • MH (Malignant Hyperthermia), in which certain anesthetic substances cause a life-threatening metabolic imbalance.

Conscientious breeders, therefore, use gene tests to produce healthy horses. Such a test is also useful before purchasing an animal – especially for breeding horses.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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