plungeforward-roperPhoto by Rebekah L. Holt, eQuest Photography

The American Quarter Horse

Bethany G. Holt

    One of the world's most multi purpose breeds is the American Quarter Horse. The versatile American Quarter Horse can be found excelling in almost every equestrian pursuit, whether its the everyday schedule of a working cattle ranch or the seasonal demands of the glamorous show ring.


    In the late 1600's, New England colonists began to cross imported English Thoroughbreds with assorted breeds such as the Chickasaw and the Choctaw.

    The foundation sires of the Chickasaw and the Choctaw were Arabians, Barbs, and Turks, brought to North America by the Spanish explorers and traders.  The original foundation mares came from Indian tribes in Florida and Texas.

    The new Englanders loved racing their horses. These horses were not Thoroughbreds (they came later). They were stocky work horses used on the farm to plow the fields and plant crops. These "equine farm hands" became known as the Quarter Horse or the "Quarter-miler". They could race a quarter of a mile faster than any other horse.

    As Thoroughbreds gained popularity on the east coast, the Quarter Horse began moving west. The Quarter Horse gained most of their popularity for being hardy foragers, and dependable mounts. In Texas they were highly prized by the cattlemen, ranchers, and cowboys for their cattle working capability.1

    The King Ranch is one of the many ranches that helped fine tune the American Quarter Horse's ranch work abilities. They also were the owners of Old Sorrel, a well known Quarter Horse stud that had great influence in the history of the American Quarter Horse.2

    In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association was founded, and the breed received its official name.3

WimpyThe Bulldog Type - Wimpy P1    Public DomainTraits/Characteristics:

    There are four types of Quarter Horses today.

    The "Bulldog" Quarter Horse is about 14 to 14.3 hands and weighs 1150 to 1350 pounds. They are known to be very muscular. Docile, intelligent, and tractable are some of their traits. The Bulldog horse is used in all fields, especially as a working ranch horse.4

    Wimpy P-1 is an example of the "Bulldog" type. He was the first registered Quarter Horse of the America Quarter Horse Association and displays classic foundation conformation of heavy muscling and compact height.5

Blondys DudeSemi Bulldog Type - Blondy's Dude   Public Domain


    The "Semi-Bulldog" Quarter Horse is 14.1 to 15 hands and weighs 1050 to 1250 pounds. This type is not as muscled up as the Bulldogtype. They are known to be also docile, intelligent, and highly tractable. The Semi-Bulldog is very versatile and competes in all western events, being particularly proficient in cutting, roping, working cattle, dogging, and barrel racing. Those in the 15 hand range, with smooth muscle structure, make excellent jumpers. This type is invaluable in the breeding of the "Progressive" type, and has greatly influenced other breeds such as Appaloosa, Paint, Palomino, and Pony of America.6

    Blondy's Dude is an excellent example of an all-around "Semi-Bulldog" type American Quarter Horse. He competed in hunter under saddle, reining, barrel racing, pole bending, and many other classes.7

Rugged lark jumpThe Progressive Type - Rugged Lark                 Public Domain    The "Progressive" Quarter Horse is about 15 to 15.3 hands or over and weighs 1025 to 1150 pounds or more. This type is in between the Semi-Bulldog and the Running varieties. They are fairly docile, intelligent, and highly tractable. This breed is the most versatile of Quarter Horses. Many are equally suited to English and Western events.8

    Rugged Lark is an illustration of a very adaptable "Progressive" Quarter Horse. He competed in English jumping, driving, and Western classes.9



DashForCashThe Running Type - Dash For Cash    Public Domain    The "Running" Quarter Horse is 15.1 to 16 hands or more and weighs 1050 to 1200 pounds. Depending on the amount of Thoroughbred blood present, this type may resemble the Semi-Bulldog or the Progressive type or even Thoroughbred. They are usually docile (though, sometimes high-strung), intelligent, and fairly tractable. This variety does well in the racing field than any other field.10

    Dash For Cash, a sorrel stallion foaled in 1973, was a well-known champion "Running" type Quarter Horse and sire of many famous show and performance horses.11

    The coloring of the Quarter Horse can be any solid color. Sorrel is the most common color of the America Quarter Horse. Here are other recognized colors: bay, black, brown, gray, palomino, buckskin, dun, red dun, grullo, red roan, blue roan, bay roan, perlino, cremello, and white.12

    The average height is 14 to 16 hands for mature stallions, geldings, and mares.13

Shiner Head w Blk 0328sm 260 x 316Shining Spark - Photo by Cappy Jackson  Courtesy of Carol Rose Quarter Horses

    Shining Spark is an outstanding example of the American Quarter Horse.

    The top breeding stallion of Carol Rose Quarter Horses, Shining Spark could be considered one of the most famous, influential, and successful sires that have impacted the American Quarter Horse breed today.

    Not only exceptional examples of conformation, beauty and intelligence, Shining Spark and his progeny are capable of doing the job and doing it WELL.

    According to Carol Rose Quarter Horses, Shining Spark's progeny have earned more than 8.4 million in competitions.

    To read more about Shining Spark and to see some of his foals, be sure to visit!


    The American Quarter Horse's versatile performance abilities, beauty, intelligence and friendly nature makes it one of the most sought after horse breeds in the world. If you are ever in need of a reliable mount,consider an American Quarter Horse.

Discover Equus'
Favorite Horse Spotlight

Aces Jilly a.k.a. "Acey"
(Doc Wilson's Ace [Doc Wilson] x Jilly Too)

An Unforgettable American Quarter Horse

Rebekahandacey08 300 x 401Rebekah Holt with Acey in 2008                                      Photo by Mrs. Tanya HoltAcey was Rebekah Holt's (eQuest For Truth's coordinator) first horse!  When only 10 years old, Rebekah purchased Acey, who was then, a little mud covered yearling filly.  With the help of her Dad, Ed Holt, 12 year old Rebekah trained Acey to ride.

Full grown, this 14.2 h.h. Texas bred sorrel mare was an excellent lesson horse for Rebekah and riders even from as far as Berlin, Germany enjoyed her smooth gaits and easy-to-ride way.

Acey's sweet disposition and forgiving intelligence was what made her (according to Rebekah and those who rode Acey), the world's greatest horse!

In the winter of 2008, Acey very sadly had to be euthanized due to complications of an injury that caused chronic lameness.

Horses like Acey are never forgotten as they leave a hoofprint on the hearts of those who cherished them.

For Rebekah, Acey will always be the ideal Quarter Horse in terms of versatility and a fabulous temperament.

Read more about Rebekah and Acey's story:

Created to Love Horses



To read more about the American Quarter Horse, Visit,

Be sure to ask AQHA about their free educational and breed promotional materials just for kids/youth!




1. Walford, Bonny, Champion Horses of the Americas, Arco Publishing Company, Inc., New York City, NY, pg. 76-81

2. Wikipedia,"Old Sorrel",, January 31, 2011

3. Horse Channel,"Quarter Horse,", January 31, 2011

4. Reference 1

5. Simmons, Diane C., "Wimpy P-1", Legends Volume 1, Western Horseman, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO, pg.12-17

6. Reference 1

7. Holmes, Frank, "Blondy's Dude", Legends Volume 4, Western Horseman, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO, pg.42-55

8. Reference 1

9. Wikipedia,"Rugged Lark",, February 3, 2011

10. Reference 1

11. Harrison, Sally, " Dash For Cash", Legends Volume 4, Western Horseman, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO, pg. 126-13

12. Wikipedia,"The America Quarter Horse",, January 31, 2011

13. Reference 12