Quarter Horses

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 hips/rumps.

QUESTION: What type of horses would a half breed or white rancher raise in the late 1800s in Montana?

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 (weren't registered).

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 breed.

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 Denhardt.

"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."

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