Quarter Horse Breed Description
|Height||14.3 to 16 hands high.|
|Weight||950 to 1200 pounds (425 to 550 kg).|
|Head and Neck||The head is relatively short and wide. The muzzle is small, and the mouth is shallow and firm. The nostrils are full and sensitive. The ears are of medium length, and are set well apart. The eyes are large, and set side. The jaws are well-developed. The head joins the neck at a near 45 degree angle. The throatlatch is not too thick, and the width between the lower edges of the jaw bone allows him to work with his head lowered without restricting his breathing. The neck is of sufficient length, and it blends into sloping shoulders. The neck is not highly arched or heavily crested, but is quite flexible.|
|Forehand||The shoulder is long and set at about a 45 degree angle to give the Quarter Horse a long stride. The shoulder is smooth, but somewhat heavily muscled. The slope of the shoulder blends into the withers, which are medium high and well-defined, and extend beyond the top of the shoulder. This gives the Quarter Horse a very good saddle back, with which the saddle is held in proper position for balanced action. The withers and croup are roughly the same height. The chest is deep and broad. He has great heart girth, and wide-set forelegs. The muscles on the inside of the forearm are developed so as to give the appearance of a well-defined inverted V.|
|Body||The back is short and close coupled, and very full and powerful across the loin. The birth is deep and the ribs are well-sprung. The line of the belly is longer than the back, and it doesn’t cut high into the flank.|
|Hindquarters||The hindquarters are broad, deep and heavy. They are muscled so that they are full through the thigh, stifle, gaskin and on down to the hock. The croup is long and gently slopes from the hip to the tail set. The hip muscling is long, and extends down to the stifle. The stifle is deep, and, from the rear, extends out below the hip and above the gaskin. From this viewpoint, the stifle is the widest part of the Quarter Horse. The gaskin is wide, and looks thick inside and out when viewed from the rear. The hock is broad, flat, strong and low set. It has no excess tissue. The cannon bones are short. The hock and knee joints are low to the ground. The ankle is strong. The pasterns are of medium length, with a slightly forward slope of about 45 degrees. The hoof is oblong and open at the heel, and its size should be in proportion with the size of the animal. The pastern is not too straight or perpendicular. Its slope should match that of the hoof.|
Quarter Horse Breed History
The American Quarter Horse breed was developed by the early British colonists in Virginia. The descendents of the original horses brought to the continent by Spanish explorers were crossed with English horses which were imported in the 17th and 18th centuries. In those early pioneer days, the Quarter Horse was used to perform as an all-purpose riding and harness horse, and was made to subsist on minimal rations. It was these conditions that produced this compact, tough and versatile horse.
The Quarter Horse became known for two special traits. The first is its ability to gallop very fast over short distances. The second is its instinct for working with cattle.
In the 17th century, Quarter Horses excelled as sprint racehorses. The sprints were 1/4 mile long, hence the name Quarter Horse. The breed is known for its ability to go from standing still straight into a full gallop. As the popularity of sprint racing declined, the Quarter Horse became more useful on large cattle ranches. Over the years, the Quarter Horse developed an exceptional ability to work with, herd and cut cattle. Its ability to anticipate the actions of a steer, to stop and turn on a dime, and to think for its rider, made the Quarter Horse indispensible to the cattle industry.
The Quarter Horse breed, which suffered a setback with the introduction of the automobile, has since grown tremendously in popularity. Quarter Horses now perform as outstanding rodeo and stock horses, and as short distance race horses, jumpers, as well as endurance and pleasure horses.