This month’s featured breed is one of the most popular breeds in the United States today. The American Quarter Horse (AQH), and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with more than 5 million American Quarter Horses registered.
The American Quarter Horse is a very adaptable breed and are well known both as a race horse and for their performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse. The compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy manoeuvres required in reining, cutting, working cow horse, barrel racing , calf roping, and other western riding events, especially those involving live cattle. The American Quarter Horse is also shown in English disciplines, driving, and many other equestrian activities.
The American Quarter Horse gets its name from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less. Some individuals have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h).
The History of the Breed
The AQH is known to be the oldest pure-American breed of horse. In the 1700’s, colonists needed to come up with a breed that can be used for both work and sport. They came across a breed between English Horses and the native Chickasaw horse raised by Indians (bloodlines coming Arabia and Barb), and was introduced to the Southeast US. Initially, the horse was rather small but sturdy and can move pretty quickly, with apparent willingness to work and exemplary level of intelligence.
The Quarter Horse gained popularity over the years due to its gentle temperament which made it ideal for riding. With its impressive strength, the breed has been introduced to different lines of work and since then been used for other purposes. This breed has been found to have the ability to work well with cattle, which is the reason why most cowboys of early days chose this breed to work with to fulfil ranch duties. The main duty of the ranch horse in the American West was working cattle. Even after the invention of the automobile, horses were still irreplaceable for handling livestock on the range From farm work with cowboys, the quarter horse’s performance evolved into competition – making them excellent candidates for rodeo, team roping, calf roping and barrel racing. Up to this day, this breed of horse is a favourite for such events.
Quarter horses may come in different colours including palominos, greys, and roans. Some spotted coats like the Pintos may be registered with the American Quarter Horse Association so long as there is enough evidence that both sire and dam are registered Quarter Horses. The common markings that may be seen in this breed include strips, blazes, stockings, and stars.
Common Uses of the Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses, with their gentle nature and calm temperament, make for a good horse for pleasure riding. They have a smooth gait, which makes it easier even for beginners to take them on. The breed responds well to cues from riders, which is why they are great candidates for reigning competitions, where a horse needs to move quickly, and at the same time respond well to rein control.
Cutting is also one of the most important uses of the breed and this involves working with cattle. Cutting is a sport in Western riding style. The goal is to separate one cow from the herd and keep it from returning to the group for a period of time. Quarter horses are great for this type of activity because of their ability to work with cattle – an ability that has developed over the years.
Keeping a Quarter Horse in Your Ranch
Generally, Quarter Horses are easy keepers – they do not need to be fed too much in order to maintain an ideal weight. Their diet mainly consists of grass hay and with the help of supplemental vitamins and minerals. When caring for this breed, make sure you do not feed them too much as they can easily become overweight. The breed can do well in pasture or even a box stall. They are hardy breeds that have simple nutritional needs; tough like their ancestors who once roamed the wild freely.
As with any horse breed, Quarter Horses need regular grooming and exercise. Though they may be hardy breeds, they still need protection from environmental elements. More importantly, your Quarter Horse still needs regular trip to the veterinarian for deworming and vaccination.
A Quarter Horse can live a long life of up to 30 years, provided that it is given proper care and fed with the right nutritional requirements. The American Quarter Horse has done a lot in the name of work and sport and makes them a valuable breed to the equine industry.