Modern Quarter Horse Has Well-Muscled Body
The modern Quarter Horse has a small, short, refined head with a straight profile and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters. Quarter Horses usually stand between 14 and 16 hands (56 and 64 inches, 142 and 163 cm) high, although some halte-type and English hunter-type horses may grow as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm). There are two main body types: the stock type and the hunter or racing type. The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and well muscled, yet agile. The racing and hunter type Quarter Horses are somewhat taller and smoother muscled than the stock type, more closely resembling the Thoroughbred. Reining and cutting horses are smaller in stature, with quick, agile movements and very powerful hindquarters. Western pleasure show horses are often slightly taller, with slower movements, smoother gaits, and a somewhat more level topline – though still featuring the powerful hindquarters characteristic of the Quarter Horse.
Sprinting Short Distances a Known Quality
When it comes to sprinting short distances, the American Quarter Horse excels. Its name comes from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less. Some have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with more than five million American Quarter Horses registered.
This Horse Capable of Much
The American Quarter Horse is well known both as a racehorse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse. The compact body of the animal is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers 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.
All-Around Family Horse
The American Quarter Horse is best known today as a show horse, race horse, reining and cutting horse, rodeo competitor, ranch horse and all-around family horse. Quarter horses compete well in rodeo events like barrel racing and calf roping. Other stock horse events such as cutting and reining are open to all breeds but also dominated by the American Quarter Horse. Large purses allow top competitors to earn over a million dollars in some of these events.
Other Qualities of Quarter Horse
In addition to western riding and cattle work, the breed performs well in a wide assortment of pari-mutuel horse racing with purses in the millions. Quarter Horses have also been trained to compete in dressage and can be good jumpers. They are also used for recreational trail riding and in mounted police units.
Large Numbers Exported Worldwide
The American Quarter Horse has been exported worldwide. European nations such as Germany and Italy have imported large numbers of Quarter Horses. Next to the American Quarter Horse Association (which also encompasses Quarter Horses from Canada), the second largest registry of Quarter Horses is in Brazil, followed by Australia. With the internationalization of the discipline of reining and its acceptance as one of the official seven events of the World Equestrian Games, there is a growing international interest in Quarter Horses. Countries like Japan, Switzerland and Israel that did not have traditional stock horse industries have begun to compete with American Quarter Horses in their own nations and internationally. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the AQHA is the largest breed registry in the world, with over 5 million American Quarter Horses registered worldwide.