The Origins of the American Quarter Horse
Origins of the Breed trace to the early 1600s along the eastern seaboard of the “New World”
In that developing community there was a high demand for horses for both work and recreation
This demand could not be satisfied solely by the horses brought over from England and Ireland by the arriving colonists and the European horses were soon being cross bred with the native American ponies that were the descendants of Arab, Barb and Turk breeds shipped to the Americas by Spanish explorers and traders.
There was always much to do in the developing society but there was still time for fun and racing over hastily prepared straight quarter mile tracks provided one of the easiest forms of entertainment.
It wasn’t long before the compact heavily muscled horses resulting from the selective cross breeding started to exhibit their astounding acceleration and ability to run these short distances faster than any other horse.
Circumstances had thus contrived to bring together this magic breeding mix with the colonists passion for racing and selective breeding of the faster horses soon started to produce a definitive type.
The fastest of these were called “Celebrated American Quarter Running Horses” and the “Quarter Horse” had arrived.
The Breed did not stop there, however, and still had far to go
As the new country grew so did the demand for horses and same attributes that made the Quarter Horse a success on the race track also made it a success as a working animal.
Hardy and reliable it quickly became the mainstay of the migration westwards and its agility and speed soon showed it to be invaluable for the task of herding cattle.
Training, further selective breeding and inherited traits soon developed a “cow sense” in the Breed and its prowess in cutting and roping soon made it an indispensable part of ranch life.
By the time of the classic era of wagon train migration across the plains and the great cattle trail drives northwards from Texas to the railheads, the West and the Quarter Horse had become inextricably linked.
This place in history would never be forgotten
However the development firstly of the railroads and then the automobile and mechanised farm machinery in the 20th century ultimately threatened the continuance of the Breed.
Fearful of just such an outcome a group of enthusiasts met together in 1940 at Fort Worth in Texas to form a registry dedicated to collecting, recording and preserving the pedigrees of American Quarter Horses.
That meeting created its own part of history and established what was to become the largest equine breed registry in the world — the American Quarter Horse Association which now boasts more than 4 million Quarter Horses registered worldwide.
The Association is based in Amarillo, Texas and remains devoted to preserving and promoting the Breed.