AMERICAN QUARTER HORSES:
Photos, Breed Info, and History

American Quarter Horses of Arabian ancestry

The American Quarter Horses

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American Quarter Horses of Arabian ancestry (see Arabian horses), originated
during colonial times. As the name implies, the Quarter-Horse's reputation for speed at the
quarter-mile distance, enables it to spring into full speed and consequently is faster than
the Thoroughbred (see Thoroughbred) for a short sprint. The breed was by far the most
popular cattle horse in the early West.

Quarter Horses continue in this role today and are used almost exclusively for rodeo events such
as cutting, roping and barrel racing. They are of solid color and have thick muscular shoulders.
QH's stand 15 to 16 hands (60-64 in./150-160 cm.) high, weigh over 1,000 lbs. (450 kg.),


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Origins of the Quarter Horse


It is difficult to give the exact origin of these present-day horses because the blending of bloodlines that produced a suitable short-distance horse started in colonial areas prior to the Revolutionary War. This blending of bloodlines and the infusion of Thoroughbred blood was continued in the southwestern range territory as the cow country developed.

The true establishment of the Quarter-Horse probably took place in the southwest range country. It was in the southwest that the true utility value of these short-distance horses was truly appreciated. The cowman found Quarter Horses quick to start, easy to handle, and have a temperament suitable for handling cattle under a wide variety of conditions.

Cowboys wanted to be well mounted. Ranchers tried to breed the kind of horses on which these men could work cattle and that could also be used in the age-old sport of racing. Quarter-Horses were not raced on carefully prepared tracks but were raced on any suitable open space. Organized races were the exception rather than the rule with many of the races being run as a "match race" after a private wager between owner and riders.

The American Quarter Horse gets its name

for it's record-breaking speed in the quarter-mile run. Heavily muscled and compact, these horses can run a short distance over a straightaway faster than any other horse! The quarter-mile is still the most popular distance for racing the American Quarter-Horse. The best Horses can run the 440 yards in just 21 seconds or less! They are rather small horses, standing at around 15 hands, but they have a variety of uses. The Quarter-Horse is the most commonly used horse for ranchers and rodeos. They are good at herding stock and excellent at barrel racing and cattle roping. They are also used in show jumping. The horse's calm disposition makes it a great recreational horse for children too. The horse officially became the American Quarter Horse in 1940 when a registry was formed to preserve this special breed.

The horse is stocky, stands about 15.2 hands high. American-Quarter Horses have only limited white markings on the face and on the legs below the knees. There are also 13 other recognized colors including the most common color of sorrel (reddish brown). The other colors are black, brown, buckskin, bay, chestnut, gray, palomino, grullo, dun, red dun, red roan and blue roan.

American Quarter-Horses are found in all 50 states, throughout Canada and Mexico and in more than 70 other countries. It is no wonder this breed is the world's most popular horse. Its versatility and calm, gentle nature make the horse a wonderful riding experience for both the novice and experienced rider.

Buying a Quarter Horse

WHAT IS MY GOAL

The first step in horse ownership is asking yourself, “Why do I want a horse?” This question will help you form a goal, which in turn, provides the framework for your buying decision. As a starting point, ask yourself the following:

  1. Do I want to become a better Quarter Horse rider and increase my knowledge of horses?

    What types of activities do I want to do with this Quarter Horse?

    How much can I afford to spend on the purchase of a Quarter Horse, plus stall rental, feed, training, health care and hauling?

    How much do I know about riding — am I a beginner; will I need additional riding instruction?

    What kind of saddle will I need?

    Will I work with my horse on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?

    How much time can I devote to feeding, care, lessons, shows or trail rides?

Different goals require different types of horses and different skill levels of the rider.

If you plan to show competitively, obviously the type of horse will differ greatly; In level of training, and subsequently the price compared to a recreational riding horse.

Barrel Horse Racing

EVALUATE YOUR SKILLS

Once you’ve established a specific goal, the next step is evaluating your level of horseback skills. Your skill level will indicate what kind of horse, and tack best fits your needs.

Would you categorize yourself as:

Beginning, with limited knowledge of horses and riding in general?

Intermediate, with a basic understanding of riding and knowledge of a chosen discipline?

Advanced, with considerable knowledge of horses and competitive at a chosen discipline?

For beginning or recreational riders, a broke, gentle gelding usually is the best bet. However, beginners with a competitive goal should locate a horse which has mastered requirements within the chosen activity, or is “seasoned.” For example, if your goal is to one day become a competitive team roper, it’s a good idea to find an older, yet sound gelding which has been roped upon extensively. Find a horse with enough experience to help you advance your riding skills first, while still allowing you to compete and hone your competitive talents.

Intermediate equestrians have a bit more freedom of choice than beginners in that their horse should demonstrate fundamental activity requirements, as evidenced by some level of past performance, but they may not necessarily require a horse with years of experience. However, the horse should at least be suitable for a desired discipline, or demonstrate adequate potential.

Advanced riders have the greatest latitude in buying a horse, as they may be able to take a young horse which lacks experience and train it for a chosen activity. While this may be a rewarding experience when accomplished effectively, it should only be considered by advanced horsemen with years of experience who have the time to work with the horse.

Breeders

One of the best sources for purchasing a horse is a breeder. Breeders normally have a large selection of horses on hand for sale, representing an array of ages, levels of training and dispositions. The main advantage of working with a breeder is that you can often gain credible insight about a horse. You have access to view other horses that have been bred by the owner; a chance to discuss pedigrees, performance and race records; see the kind of environment in which the horse was raised and/or trained; and compare other horses of similar type. The breeder also can discuss the advantages of particular bloodlines, as well as provide additional information about his / her individual breeding program.

Breeder Referral Program - AQHA's Breeder Referral Program matches buyers with reputable American Quarter Horse breeders who are guided by the Breeder Referral Program's strict code of ethics. Breeders belonging to the program are Members in good standing with AQHA and have bred registered American Quarter Horses for at least three consecutive years.

Owners

Another means to purchase a horse is directly from the owner. The owner can provide the history of the
horses performance. Owners also may give helpful information regarding training and habits. Plus, most owners will allow prospective buyers to “try” a horse several times before purchasing. This working one-on-one helps establish goodwill between buyer and seller. The American Quarter Horse Journal and The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal are excellent resources, as they often advertise horse sales and horses for sale by owner.

Sales

Many beginners often look to horses for sale in finding a horse, since they are geographically widespread and offer horses of different ages, training levels and prices. However, beginners must first understand that there are different types of horse for sale, and not all may be the best place to purchase a horse. To get a better understanding of the types of sales available, take a look at the following.

Production Sale - A production sale often features horses produced by breeders. A variety of horses may be offered, including young horses, geldings, mares and stallions. Horses in production sales are often bred similarly, or have similar purposes in mind, offering a basis for comparison. These are excellent opportunities to buy quality; however, horses with extensive training in a particular discipline may not be offered.

Consignment Sale - In consignment sales, a variety of horses have been consigned by their owners to be sold. The advantage of consignment sales is that they offer horses of different ages, sex and training. The disadvantage is that these horses are obtained from a variety of backgrounds, so you may not have access to information on disposition and training level. Since there is little time to view the horse once it is in the ring, it is a good idea to arrive prior to the sale. If you find a horse you are interested in purchasing, try locating the owner and discussing such characteristics as disposition of the horse, health and past performance.

Racing Sale - Unlike any other type of sale, racing sales feature horses specifically bred for racing. The most popular type of sale features yearlings — horses between 12 and 24 months of age — that are in training to be raced as two-year-olds. “Mixed sales” feature both racing stock and breeding stock, in addition to weanling prospects. Prices largely depend on market demand for certain bloodlines and the potential of each horse.

Dispersal Sale -
Dispersal sales may offer a unique opportunity to purchase a breeder’s lifetime efforts. Like a production sale, dispersal ordinarily features stock owned by one particular person or entity, with the age, sex and training of the horses varying. Because this may be the first, or last, opportunity to purchase from a reputable entity, prices for these horses may be higher than at production or consignment sales.

Professionals, such as trainers, can serve as agents for prospective buyers, in addition to training horses and instructing clients. By discussing your needs in a horse and your skills, a trainer may help locate a horse that best fits your goals. Trainers usually charge a commission for helping you find a horse.

AQHA's Professional Horsemen - AQHA's Professional Horsemen program can refer you to professionals in your area who can help you with all your training needs. From training the horse to training the rider, AQHA's Professional Horsemen are respected members of the equine profession who have pledged to follow the program's strict code of ethics. Other locations for finding horses for sale include: State, Provincial and International American Quarter-Horse Affiliates“Trading posts” in feed and tack stores The American Quarter_Horse Journal Classified Ads and The American Quarter_Horse Racing Journal Classified Ads


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