The Origin of American Quarter Horses: History and Care Tips

Today, let’s have a peek into the origin and living conditions of America’s most beloved Quarter Horses.

Let’s start by answering a simple question.

What is the origin of American Quarter Horses? The American Quarters originated from North America in the 1660s. Nowadays, they are exported worldwide and can be found in almost all parts of the world. Due to their multipurpose skills, they are used for work with cattle, in rodeo, for short-distance racing, and for riding and shows. Generally, they are kept in run-ins, barns, and stables.

The American Quarter Horse has been a part of human life in western America since the 19th century.

Let’s have a brief look at the early years of the quarter horses.

Origin Of The American Quarter Horse

In the colonist era, the thoroughbred horses were taken to America from England.

These imported horses were crossbred with Chikshaw horses.

The Chickshaw horses were native horses of North America.

The resultant breed was called a quarter horse.

You might be wondering:

Why they were named ‘Quarter Horses’?

These horses had an amazing ability to win races up to a quarter mile, hence, they were named as quarter horses.

Here’s another interesting fact:

Some of the quarter horses have been recorded to acquire speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.

Amazing, isn’t it?

The Rise of The American Quarter Horse

The Native American tribes domesticated several horses.

In the 19th century, Mustangs, feral horses, and natively domesticated horses were bred with Quarters.

The resultant horses had the natural ability to work efficiently with cattle.

This ability was called the cow sense of these horses.

This God gifted ability of these horses made them an excellent fit for working at different ranches.

The Cowboys loved the combination of fast sprinting and cow sense of the horses.

They used Quarter Horses as workhorses as well as racehorses.


In 1940 the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed and the Quarter Horse formally became the “American” Quarter Horse.

The Living Conditions for American Quarter Horses 

These domestic horses live alongside humans but there are certain living conditions which keep them happy and healthy.

The American Quarter Horses thrive when the living conditions are conducive to their needs.

So, here’s how you can take care of an American Quarter Horse.

1. Appropriate Temperature range

For horses, the ability to withstand different temperatures depends upon the thickness of their coats.

Naturally, in winter, the coats grow thicker while they become thinner during summer.

The appropriate temperature range for horses is between 18-59⁰F.

2. Appropriate Bedding & Shelter

Generally speaking:

Horses manage well in the open in winters but to help them withstand tough weather, shelters are needed.

Quarter Horses do not like moist and muddy conditions.

If left for long in severely cold, moist, and muddy living spaces, the Quarter Horses may catch a cold.

Therefore, Quarter Horses must be provided shelter along with dry and clean bedding.

3. Minimum Shelter Size

If horses do not get along well, they fight with each other by kicking, biting, and pushing.

If the horses fight, they need a bigger shelter so that the weak horse may escape an attack from the dominant horse.

In case there are two horses and they get along well, a 240 sq feet run-in shelter works fine.

If there is a need to add more horses a 60 sq ft addition is enough for each extra horse.

4. Availability of Food And Water

Like all animals, the most basic requirement of American Quarter Horses is food and water.

Horses do not have multi-compartment stomachs, unlike other herbivores like cows.

Therefore, comparatively, they need to eat a small amount of food at a time.

The best scenario would be if food (forage or pasture) and water are available to the horse at all times.

The other option is to provide food and water to the horse at different times of the day, throughout the day.

Have you ever noticed that some horses just have this fantastic gleam to their coat? That’s because they are receiving all the essential fatty acids, omegas, and nutrients in their diet.

If your horse seems to have a dull coat, try Manna Pro. It’s great not only for coats but your horse’s skin and immune system as well.

5. An Ample Amount of Exercise

Horses thrive when they can run around, eat, and socialize with other horses in an open place.

Ideally, American Quarter horses need access to pasture, paddock or a big enough space to move around with other horses as much as they like.

If this arrangement is not feasible, then at least a walk of 15-20 minutes a day is necessary.

If a horse is confined to a small place and doesn’t have space to walk even 15-20 minutes, then it might develop health issues.

For horses who do not exercise:

Problems of the joints, problems of the digestive system like constipation, and azoturia (a muscle problem), are common.

In case your horse feels weary and needs a join supplement, try Nusentia. It’s a specialist supplement for joint relief.

6. Safety From Hazards

Hazards like earthquakes, fire, windstorms, and tornadoes present a danger for humans and horses alike.

In order to be prepared in case of a hazard one needs to:

  • Firstly devise a safety plan.
  • Secondly, practice that plan in normal conditions. This will help to do the drill perfectly when an actual hazard arrives.

Some of the key steps required for a good safety plan are:

  • Having a first aid box available at all times.
  • Knowing of a safe place to take the horse to in case of a hazard.
  • Keeping a fire extinguisher.
  • Not keeping the inflammable items in the barn or near the horse.
  • Keeping a record of important papers of the horse at a secure place.

As a record, some of the important items to keep are:

  • The detail of identification marks of the horse like any moles, tattoos, or any other prominent identification mark
  • A picture with the owner and other family members at the stable to prove ownership if required
  • Contact numbers of horse’s vet and owner, latest Coggins test report etcetera.

7. Appropriate Safety Against Flies & Pests

Horses are bothered by skin parasites like mosquitoes, lice, ticks, and gnats etcetera.

These creatures in addition to flies not only irritate the horse but also cause various diseases.

Some of the diseases caused by these creatures are EIA, EEE, and WEE.

A horse can be protected against these pests by:

  • Giving importance to the hygiene of the horse
  • Following a daily routine to clean the stalls and keep them dry as much as possible
  • Using appropriate repellants or the Ecovet Horse fly spray.
  • Using products like masks, boots, and sheets to keep horse protected from flies.

Related Questions        

How long do Quarter Horses live? The average age of the quarter horses is 25-33 years. But what determines the longevity of a Quarter Horse is how well it has been taken care of.

Some ponies might live up to 40 years, but the general lifespan of horses exists between 25 and 33.

Why are Quarter Horses so popular? The popularity of the Quarter Horses primarily began due to their two abilities:

  • First their cow sense.
  • Secondly their ability to sprint in short distance races.

Other than these two qualities, they also excel in horse shows, rodeos, and riding in general.

Can you ride a quarter horse? Of course. Due to their steady temper, calm nature, intelligence, willingness to please the Quarter Horses are an excellent choice for riding.

A Quarter Horse is very popular in America and people keep them as multipurpose horses who can perform various tasks including riding.

Other Sources

Photo credits:

Evelyn Belgium CC BY-SA 4.0, via Flickr.

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