The Horse: Quarter and Paint Horse

Breed: American Quarter Horse, Foundation Quarter Horse, Quarter Pony, American Paint Horse

Age: Historic

Place of Origin: United States

Colors: Quarter Horse – any solid color
Quarter Pony – any
Paint Horse – pinto (a.k.a. paint or skewbald and piebald)

Height: Quarter Pony — 11.2-14.2 hh
Quarter Horse — 14.2-15.3 hh
Paint Horse — 14.2-17 hh

Population Status: Common

History: Horse racing was popular wherever horses could be found, and the American colonies were no exception. Due to the lack of racetracks, horses were raced in places such as the center road in town, and these “tracks” were usually only a quarter mile long. Early versions of this racehorse came from the Chickasaw horses and was crossed with Spanish Barbs, English hackneys, Celtic ponies, Florida Crackers, Carolina Tackies, Morgans, and other such horses. The northern colonies called it the short horse; the middle colonies, the quarter-pather; the southern colonies, the quarter horse. Later, Thoroughbreds ended up in quarter horse pedigrees, and vice versa. When American colonists headed west, they took their beloved quarter horses with them, and mustang was soon added to the bloodline. Quarter racing was out of fashion by 1850, but now established in the west, the quarter horse took up the new role of cowpony. The American Quarter Horse Association was founded in 1940. They originally did not register pinto horses or horses under 14.2 hh, but Thoroughbred blood is routinely added to the bloodline. (First generation Quarter/Thoroughbred crosses are put in the AQHA appendix and called Appendix Quarter Horses.) The Foundation Quarter Horse Association was founded in 1994 to register Quarter horses without additional Thoroughbred blood. The American Paint Horse Association was founded in 1965 to register pinto-colored Quarter horses and, later, also pinto-colored Thoroughbreds and Appendix Quarters. Different Quarter pony organizations have been made to register Quarter horses under 14.2 hands. The International Quarter Pony Association, founded in 2005, also registers Paint ponies, Appaloosas, Ponies of the Americas, or any pony of approved Quarter-type body. The Quarter horse is the most popular breed in the United States and the third most popular in the world.

Characteristics: Quarters and Paints usually stand 14.2-15.3 hh but can be bigger or smaller. They are often well-muscled and compact with large hindquarters, stifles, and gaskins, and a short neck, but build varies greatly in type. The neck should always join the shoulder at a near-45-degree angle. They have fine, straight heads; small ears; wide-set eyes; firm mouths; sloped shoulders and croups; short, strong back; solid, well-muscled legs; strong joints and tendons; deep, broad chests; short cannons; small, strong, oblong hooves; and deep, open heels. The hocks are low-set and well underneath the body. These sprinter horses are the fastest horses in the world; the fastest recorded speed was 55 mph. They often do not have much endurance but plenty of strength, speed, and a keen “cow sense.” These are calm, intelligent, and agile horses of good balance.

Types: Quarters may be American Quarter horses, Foundation Quarter horses, Paint horses, or Quarter ponies. There are four body types. The two “bulldog” types are the stock/Foundation type – weedy, wiry, and tough with short necks and a mustang form – and the halter type – a little larger and much more heavily muscled with a long, arched neck, a small head, and small feet. The two “Thoroughbred” or “progressive” types are the racing type – lean and long-legged with muscular hindquarters and legs – and the hunter type – slimmer and resembles a Thoroughbred more than it resembles a halter type. Even among the types, great variety exists in this breed. Palominos, whites, pintos, buckskins, and brindles may register with their respective color breeds.

Uses: Depending on type, quarters tend to be athletic and versatile. They are used in racing at 300 yards to a quarter mile, constantly excel at all Western events, and are nice trail horses, but some Western events they are popular in, such as calf roping and bronco riding, are considered inhumane by many. Most types are also capable of most other horse riding sports, including jumping, dressage, and pony games. They are often used for ranch work. It is ill-advised to jump a halter-type Quarter, as their hooves are often too small for their bulky body. They are also perfectly capable of being harness horses but do not excel in this.


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