Quarter Horses (also known as the American Quarter
Horse) are an American original. The type was
developed in the 17th century in Virginia and
the Carolinas, and has Arabian, English, Barb,
and Turk blood. The horse was bred to race; specifically,
to race in short sprints (quarter miles).
The Quarter Horse is immensely popular and a
favorite of ranchers and cowboys. Check out the
reining competitions and other horse events on
The Nashville Network (TNN) to see the reining
horse in action.
Quarter Horses range from 14.2 hands to 16.2
hands, with taller horses more desirable. They
have "heavy" shoulders and muscular
QUESTION: What type of horses would a half
breed or white rancher raise in the late 1800s
ANSWER: You probably haven't found much on specific
breeds, because most official breed registries
started after this time. However, the types of
horses were around, even if they didn't have papers
Quarter Horses have been popular because of their
"cow smarts." Also, the mustang was
popular because they were free, were hardy, and
smart. Appaloosas were popular with the Nez Pierce,
but I don't know about the Cheyenne. Paints and
pintos (and other horses of color) were also popular.
For prototypical Quarter Horses, look for information
on horses named "King" or "Leo."
These stallions were heavily muscled, good looking,
and were foundation sires of the Quarter Horse
I got the following letter from the American
Quarter Horse Association in 1995 regarding the
breed and its foundation.
The spokesperson quotes from the book QUARTER
HORSES, A STORY OF TWO CENTURIES, by Robert Moorman
"The word 'breed' is used loosely to mean
an animal capable of reproducing its characteristic.
Used strictly, it means an animal is registered
in a pedigree book. Thus, in the strict sense,
there were no American Quarter Horses until 1940
and, by the same token, no American Thoroughbreds
until 1873. In each case, private or temporary
records had been kept earlier, but the dates given
are those of the first official studbooks.
Historical fact leaves no doubt that quarter
racing was popular in the colonies for more than
two hundred years before the Thoroughbred became
a breed. There is no question that the horses
were called Quarter Horses. The same horses furnished
the blood for the horses later registered as American
Quarter Horses. These three facts, together with
the Quarter Horse's distinct conformation, are
the justification for forming a separate breed."