Breeds from Around the World: Part Five – the Quarter Horse

Posted on December 4, 2020

In this series of blogs, we travel the globe to encounter different horse breeds. This post features an all-American favourite – the Quarter Horse.


The Quarter Horse

Originally known as the ‘Quarter-Miler,’ this breed became known as the ‘American Quarter Horse’ in 18th century America. The name ‘Quarter Horse’ comes from the quarter mile races at which these horses excel.


The Quarter Horse is one of the United States’ oldest recognised breeds. Its origins lie in horses of Spanish blood, and English horses imported to Virginia. This breeding cultivated a well-balanced, powerful horse that was as good under saddle as it was in harness.

Over time, the popularity of flat racing in the US began to grow. With it, the Quarter Horse developed a huge fan base. It was astonishing and thrilling to watch such small horses reach speeds of up to 55mph over short stretches.

But then, everything changed for the ‘Quarter-Milers’. Thoroughbred horses appeared on the racing scene, where their superior speed and stamina caused the Quarter Horse to slide out of favour.

Travelling West was the saving grace of this breed. It was here that Quarter Horses proved themselves as excellent stock horses for cowboys. They duly went on to develop a reputation as fantastic all-rounders.

Quarter Horses excel in many spheres

Breed Basics

Quarter Horses measure in at around 14-16hh. They have short, refined heads, well-muscled bodies, broad chests and powerful hindquarters.

The breed is well-known for it’s stocky build and compact appearance. There are two distinct types of Quarter Horses – the old-fashioned “bulldog” type (used as stock horses) and the “racing Quarter”, which looks more like a well-muscled Thoroughbred.

Breed standards originally allowed just 13 coat colours. Today, this has increased to 17 recognised colours, including cremello and blue roan. The most common colours tend to be ‘solid’ ones like chestnut, bay, buckskin, palomino and dun.

The Quarter Horse Today

Founded in 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association is now one of the largest breed organisations in the world.

Highly prized for their versatility, speed, power and athleticism, it comes as no surprise that today, Quarter Horses are one of the most popular breeds around the globe.

Their versatility, willingness and sensible natures means Quarter Horses are the ideal choice for the trail and for teaching riders the basics of Western horsemanship.

Quarter Horses at work at White Stallion Ranch, Arizona

Did You Know?

After the US and Canada, the country with the most registered Quarter Horses is Germany!

Quarter Horses make fantastic trail mounts and are ideal for teaching riders about Western horsemanship

Where Can I ride a Quarter Horse?

You could be matched with your perfect Quarter Horse partner at Tombstone Monument or White Stallion ranch in Arizona. Perhaps head to Montana for a taste of life on a working ranch at Hidden Hollow Hideaway, or learn about natural horsemanship at Rocking Z. Explore the remote beauty of British Columbia aboard a Quarter Horse at Tsylos Lodge or ride through jaw-dropping scenery at the Hideout in Wyoming. Experience Israel’s fascinating culture and journey through beautiful scenery on our Tour Israel and Land of Galilee rides. Finally, El Bronco ranch in Hungary is a great choice whether you are new to riding or new to Western.

To book your holiday riding a Quarter Horse, call one of the In The Saddle team on +44 1299 272 997 or email

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