Quarter Horse Temperament and Personality

If you look at the athletic breeds of horses, it is very common to see them to have temperaments that border on being out-of-control. They love a good race, but the temper which lets them succeed in athletics can create big problems in the stall. It can be a challenge to manage. That is why the Quarter Horse temperament is one that is worth considering.

Quarter Horses have incredible speeds over the distance of a quarter-mile. Calling them a “Power House,” as many breed associations do, is quite fitting. You’ll receive the temperament for racing with this breed, but without the borderline insanity that comes in other racing breeds. In fact, many Quarter Horses are about as calm and docile as your average cold-blooded breed.

Quarter Horses Are Gentle and Steady

What you’ll find with a Quarter Horse is the desire to get to know their handler and other humans or horses that are close to them. There is a certain need to build emotional connections. When these connections are encouraged, you’ll find that this breed is quite easy to train. It might not be fair to say that they are “easy keepers,” but they aren’t a difficult horse at all. This makes then an excellent family horse.

This understanding also makes them well-suited for riding, especially for beginners. Quarter Horses have a certain intuition when it comes to the skill of their handler or rider. They can adapt to what they sense, creating safe riding conditions for virtually anyone. That is why you’ll often see Quarter Horses in many training classes. They also work quite well in the field of experiential therapy.

Their high levels of intelligence is usually an asset, but it can also have a dark side. Quarter Horses expect a certain level of respect to be given to them. Their temperament will extend a mutual respect to other humans and horses automatically. What happens next often depends on how others interact with the horse. If a Quarter Horse feels like you are trying to take advantage of the respect that is being offered, they will become standoffish and somewhat aggressive toward the individual or animal they feel is being borderline abusive to them.

How Are Quarter Horses Used?

You’ll often find ranches using Quarter Horses to help with general chores because of the steadiness that is found within this breed. These horses are strong and agile, allowing them to conquer varying terrains with relative ease. This makes them very useful for cattle work.

Numerous sporting events will also feature Quarter Horses because of their versatility. They are often found in polo events and in rodeos due to their ability to learn quickly, be specific with their movements, and respond instantly to commands that they’ve been given.

And, of course, Quarter Horses are often used for racing in addition to the various recreational uses that these animals succeed so well in doing.

The Temperament of an Appendix Quarter Horse

Quarter Horses that are crossbred with another horse breed are referred to as an Appendix Quarter Horse. In the United States, only one breed is allowed for cross breeding to the Quarter Horse: the Thoroughbred breed. These Appendix horses tend to be taller, with more definition, than the standard Quarter Horse. They also tend to have a temperament which is a bit hotter than the average Quarter Horse, but with many of the same personality traits.

Internationally, registration and passports are often allowed for any crossbreeding effort which occurs with a Quarter Horse and the foals are usually included with the international appendix. In general terms, the Appendix Quarter Horse takes on the temperament of the other breed while maintaining the intelligence and ease that makes for a good training horse.

Appendix Quarter Horses tend to have a certain versatility to them that goes beyond what the standard Quarter Horse typically has. There have been many Appendix horses that have gone on to compete at world-class levels in multiple disciplines because of the combination of temperament factors. 

Why Do Quarter Horses Have Such a Complex Temperament?

The Quarter Horse is considered to be the oldest surviving US-based breed, with its origins even pre-dating Morgan Horses. It was developed through a combination of the Mustang ponies that were found in the Southeast United States and imported Thoroughbreds that came from the United Kingdom. This combination benefitted from an emphasis on breeding specific traits into the horses from the Chickasaw tribes and the racing traits that were specifically bred into the Thoroughbreds.

This is also why Appendix Quarter Horses tend to be about as close to hot-blooded as a breed can get without actually being classified as such. Because Thoroughbred bloodlines helped to establish the Quarter Horse breed, those traits tend to come out with more emphasis than in a purebred Quarter Horse.

Genetics and the Quarter Horse Temperament

You’ll find that no two Quarter Horses are exactly alike, but this isn’t just because of the individual variations that you’ll find with every breed. The actual lineage of the horse tends to help form its personality. If a family line has a history of being energetic, athletic, and stubborn, then these are the primary traits you’re most likely to see in the next generation of foals from that line.

On the other hand, if the lineage tends to be laidback, somewhat lazy, and there’s a certain stubbornness to training, then this is what you’re going to see with the next generation of foals. 

There are lines that tend to lean more in one direction than the other, which further enhances those traits.

For the most part, however, you’ll find that this breed tends to be somewhat fearless – especially if their handler or owner is nearby. They are also quite affectionate once a personal relationship has been established with the horse.

What tends to draw out more of the negative traits that are within the Quarter Horse temperament is boredom. These horses prefer to be as active as possible. They might put up with a day in their stall, but don’t expect to have a happy horse if they are left with nothing to do for more than that. Quarter Horses live to work. They can’t wait to do something and will get upset with you if you’re working with other horses or people and not them.

If you’re looking for a general purpose horse that can work, provide recreational opportunities, and be supportive of your family, then you can’t go wrong with the Quarter Horse. They may be quite energetic, but they are also quite personable and will become an immediate member of your family.