quarter horse

quarter horse

quarter horse, American breed of light horse that originated during the colonial era, partly from Arabian ancestry (see Arabian horse). The name refers to the horse's reputation for speed at the quarter-mile distance. It can spring into full speed and consequently is faster than the Thoroughbred for a short sprint. The breed was by far the most popular cattle horse in the early West. It continues in this role today and is also used almost exclusively for rodeo events such as cutting, roping, and barrel racing. Registered quarter horses are of solid colors, stand 15 to 16 hands (60-64 in./150-160 cm) high, weigh over 1,000 lb (450 kg), and have thick muscular shoulders and short necks.

Racing of quarter horses. It originated among British settlers in Virginia shortly after Jamestown was established in 1607. The course was traditionally a quarter-mile (400 m); today there are 11 officially sanctioned races, ranging from 220 to 870 yd (201 to 796 m). Timing is to the nearest .01 second.

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Breed of light horse developed in the U.S. from Thoroughbred, Morgan, American saddlebred, and other stock as a quarter-mile racer. Though overshadowed by the Thoroughbred, it found a place in the western and southwestern U.S. as a stock horse (see cutting horse). Modern quarter horses are short and stocky, with a muscular build and a deep, broad chest. They are noted for fast starting, turning, and stopping ability, short-distance speed, and intelligence. They stand 14.3–16 hands (57–64 in., 145–163 cm) high, weigh 950–1,200 lbs (431–544 kg), and have a calm, cooperative temperament.

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