17 Fun Facts About the American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is considered to be the second most popular breed in the world today. Only Arabians are more popular as a breed, but the gap between the popularity of the two breeds has been consistently shrinking over the past generation. According to information from AQHA – the American Quarter Horse Association – there are 2.82 million American Quarter Horses owned globally. About 74,000 new registrations occur every year and there are about an equal number of transfers.

It is clear that the American Quarter Horse is popular to own, especially in the United States. Here are some more facts about the American Quarter Horse to help you see if it has the potential to become one of your favorite breeds as well. 

#1. The American Quarter Horse is highly adaptable. 

This breed of horse is willing to take on any and all training tasks. It easily adapts to new and changing situations as well. This makes the breed well-suited for everything from shows and competition to working as part of a mounted police patrol.

#2. This breed is known for having a stable temperament. 

Although this breed of horse can be stubborn from time to time, they are also a highly intelligent horse that has a rather even riding temperament. This makes the American Quarter Horse an excellent first horse for families or an additional horse to add to a stable herd.

#3. Breed standards for the American Quarter Horse included multiple colors. 

This breed of horse can be accepted for registration thanks to the wide variety of colors that are considered acceptable as a breed standard. Most of the horses, however, are typically colored in a range from bay to black.

#4. The American Quarter Horse stands taller than many other breeds. 

The average horse in this breed is going to stand at an average height of at least 14 hands. It is not uncommon for horses to be 16 hands in height with this breed. The show horses from this breed are typically a little taller, usually measuring between 16-17 hands.

#5. Speed defines the American Quarter Horse. 

Across short distances, this breed of horse is known to have explosive speed. The name of the horse breed actually came from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races that are a quarter of a mile or less in distance. At the quarter-mile distance, there are some quarter horses that have been clocked at a speed of 55 miles per hour.

#6. American Quarter Horses are also popular because of their reputation of having “Cow Sense.” 

Although the description sounds funny when used to describe the personality of a horse, “cow sense” is a reflection of what a horse’s natural talent is when it comes to focusing on working cattle. Some horses just have a feeling about what cows are going to do and can predict their movement before their rider can react. This makes the American Quarter Horse a highly desired horse for large ranches and farms because it makes cattle management much easier for everyone involved.

#7. The American Quarter Horse is a descendent of the English Thoroughbred. 

Starting the 1600s, the East Coast of the United States began to focus on importing Thoroughbred horses from England as horse racing gained in popularity. These horses where then bred with the Chickasaw horse, which itself came from a combination of Arabian, Barb, and Iberian stock. The result of the breeding program was a horse that was hardy, quick, and small that could be used as a work horse during the week and a racing horse on the weekends.

#8. The American Quarter Horse Association was formed in 1940 to protect ranch horse pedigrees. 

Because of the “cow sense” that this breed has, US Western ranchers wanted to be able to protect the pedigree of their horses. This was how the first association was formed. Many ranchers were looking to cross-breed the American Quarter Horse into other breeds in order to develop the same “cow sense” into other breeds at one end of the country, while racers were looking to continue improving on the speed of the horse at the other end of the country.

#9. The studbook for the American Quarter Horse is still open to Thoroughbred horses. 

As long as the Thoroughbred is able to meet a performance standard, then it qualifies for registration with the American Quarter Horse Association. This creates two groups of horses: an appendix classification and a foundation classification. Horses that are an appendix American Quarter Horse can be entered into competition, but their offspring do not receive full initial AQHA registration.

#10. American Quarter Horses can move from the appendix section to the foundation section of the studbook. 

If an appendix-listed American Quarter Horse is able to meet conformational criteria and has been shown or raced successfully at sanctioned association events, then the horse can transfer from the appendix into the permanent studbook. Should this happen, then any of its offspring will then become immediately eligible for AQHA registration, even if this was not eligible in the past.

#11. The American Quarter Horse is considered to be the first breed developed in the United States. 

The first official horse that is recognized as an American Quarter Horse was born in 1611. This means the breeding of this horse in the colonies, then eventually in the US as an independent nation, was the first officially recognized breed developed in the New World. Native American populations were also developing horse breeds based on characteristics that pre-date the American Quarter Horse, but without any known official records to establish authenticity.

#12. Most American Quarter Horses tend to live between 25-30 years. 

This is on pace with most other horse breeds. The American Quarter Horse also has an average weight of about 1,000 pounds, which is also right on the mark for the average weight of all horse breeds.

#13. More American Quarter Horses live in Texas than anywhere else in the world. 

According to registration information, there are more than 420,000 American Quarter Horses that currently live in Texas. The average owner in Texas has 4 American Quarter Horses as part of their stable. To put that number into perspective, the combined total of internationally owned American Quarter Horses is about 410,000 – including the 250,000 horses that are currently registered in Canada.

#14. The total purse for AQHA approved shows is more than $129 million annually. 

There are more than 15,000 starters registered for races that are AQHA approved each year for the 7,900 approved events that occur in the US. There are also over 2,000 approved shows that occur each year which receive an average of 380 entries. The most popular event occurs in Oklahoma each year, which offers 12 shows and has over 15,000 entries annually.

#15. People are active on social media about their American Quarter Horses. 

The AQHA has over 1 million Facebook likes and over 40,000 Twitter followers. Each year, the AQHA website receives an average of 1.7 million unique visits. More than 200,000 people are subscribed to their publications. There are 330 recognized Ranching Heritage Breeders and 807 Professional Horseman members. It is one of the most active and socially engaged horse communities that is online today.

#16. There are three basic categories for the American Quarter Horse. 

Breeders will generally separate the horses of this breed into three distinct categories: Bulldog, Thoroughbred, and Progressive. Bulldog American Quarter Horses tend to be the working horse of the breed. It has strong legs and a stamina to match. The Thoroughbred American Quarter Horses tend to be a little sleeker and have finer bones – some may be called semi-bulldogs or runners depending on what their strengths happen to be. Progressive American Quarter Horses are a combination of the two other categories.

#17. One of the most successful racehorses of all time was an American Quarter Horse. 

His name was Easy Jet and he was born in 1967. Out of the 38 events in which he was entered, he won 27 of them. Easy Jet is also one of only two horses to have been a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame while also being the offspring of members. Easy Jet would also go on to sire three future winners of the All American Futurity race after being the first sire to have an offspring be a winner. By the time Easy Jet passed away in 1993, his foals had total career earnings of $25 million and his breeding right shares were worth $30 million in total.

The American Quarter Horse has more than 400 years of US history behind its breeding program. These facts about the American Quarter Horse show that there is still a lot of potential for this breed to continue being popular in the future. It’s a friendly, adaptable, and energetic breed and one that would be the perfect addition to any home who is looking for a horse.