What Are Quarter Horses?

Quarter horses, one of America's oldest recognized horse breeds, are short, muscular horses bred to run a quarter-mile race faster than other breeds. The breed is a cross between American horses of Spanish descent and British horses imported to Virginia.

The American quarter horses were bred in early colonial America, and their popularity spread along with the country's growth. When the thoroughbred became more popular after the Revolution, the quarter horse moved with settlers out West. They proved to be sturdy, intelligent, hard-working, gentle and well-suited for life on the frontier. The Pony Express rode on quarter horses, as did frontier doctors and cattle ranchers. Quarter horses carried buffalo hunters and pulled settlers' wagons and farmers' plows. American quarter horses are still popular in rodeos and racetracks today, and they can finish quarter-mile races in less than 21 seconds.