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The American Quarter Horse

Posted by Nicole Nauss on May 4, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments ()

The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less; some have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h).The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with almost 3 million American Quarter Horses currently registered.


The American Quarter Horse is well known both as a race horse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse. The compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers required in reining, cutting, working cow horse, barrel racing, calf roping, and other western riding events, especially those involving live cattle. The American Quarter Horse is also shown in English disciplines, driving, and many other equestrian activities.

Breed History

Colonial Era :

In the 17th century, colonists on the eastern seaboard of what today is the United States began to cross imported English Thoroughbred horses with assorted "native" horses such as the Chickasaw horse, which was a breed developed by Native American people from horses descended from Spain, developed from Iberian, Arabian and Barb stock brought to what is now the Southeastern United States by the Conquistadors.


One of the most famous of these early imports was Janus, a Thoroughbred who was the grandson of the Godolphin Arabian. He was foaled in 1746, and imported to colonial Virginia in 1756. The influence of Thoroughbreds like Janus contributed genes crucial to the development of the colonial "Quarter Horse". The breed is sometimes referred to as the "Famous American Quarter Running Horse". The resulting horse was small, hardy, and quick, and was used as a work horse during the week and a race horse on the weekends.


As flat racing became popular with the colonists, the Quarter Horse gained even more popularity as a sprinter over courses that, by necessity, were shorter than the classic racecourses of England, and were often no more than a straight stretch of road or flat piece of open land. When matched against a Thoroughbred, local sprinters often won.As the Thoroughbred breed became established in America, many colonial Quarter Horses were included in the original American stud books, starting a long association between the Thoroughbred breed and what would later become officially known as the "Quarter Horse," named after the 1⁄4 mile (0.40 km) race distance at which it excelled with some individuals being clocked at up to 55 mph.


Westward expansion :

In the 19th century, pioneers heading West needed a hardy, willing horse. On the Great Plains, settlers encountered horses that descended from the Spanish stock Hernán Cortés and other Conquistadors had introduced into the viceroyalty of New Spain, which today includes the Southwestern United States and Mexico. These horses of the west included herds of feral animals known as Mustangs, as well as horses domesticated by Native Americans, including the Comanche, Shoshoni and Nez Perce tribes. As the colonial Quarter Horse was crossed with these western horses, the pioneers found that the new crossbred had innate "cow sense," a natural instinct for working with cattle, making it popular with cattlemen on ranches.

Development as a Distinct Breed :

(A photograph of Peter McCue, taken in Oklahoma around 1905)

Early foundation sires of Quarter horse type included Steel Dust, foaled 1843; Shiloh (or Old Shiloh), foaled 1844; Old Cold Deck (1862); Lock's Rondo, one of many "Rondo" horses, foaled in 1880; Old Billy—again, one of many "Billy" horses—foaled circa 1880; Traveler, a stallion of unknown breeding, known to have been in Texas by 1889; and Peter McCue, foaled 1895, registered as a Thoroughbred but of disputed pedigree.


The main duty of the ranch horse in the American West was working cattle. Even after the invention of the automobile, horses were still irreplaceable for handling livestock on the range. Thus, major Texas cattle ranches, such as the King Ranch, the 6666 (Four Sixes) Ranch, and the Waggoner Ranch played a significant role in the development of the modern Quarter Horse. The skills needed by cowboys and their horses became the foundation of the rodeo, a contest which began with informal competition between cowboys and expanded to become a major competitive event throughout the west. To this day, the Quarter Horse dominates the sport both in speed events and in competition that emphasizes the handling of live cattle.


However, sprint races were also popular weekend entertainment and racing became a source of economic gain for breeders as well. As a result, more Thoroughbred blood was added back into the developing American Quarter Horse breed. The American Quarter Horse also benefitted from the addition of Arabian, Morgan and even Standardbred bloodlines.


In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed by a group of horsemen and ranchers from the southwestern United States dedicated to preserving the pedigrees of their ranch horses. The horse honored with the first registration number, P-1, was Wimpy, a descendant of the King Ranch foundation sire Old Sorrel. Other sires alive at the founding of the AQHA were given the earliest registration numbers Joe Reed P-3, Chief P-5, Oklahoma Star P-6, Cowboy P-12, and Waggoner's Rainy Day P-13. The Thoroughbred race horse Three Bars, alive in the early years of the AQHA, is recognized by the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame as one of the significant foundation sires for the Quarter Horse breed. Other significant Thoroughbred sires seen in early AQHA pedigrees include Rocket Bar, Top Deck and Depth Charge.

"Appendix" and "Foundation" Horses :

Since the American Quarter Horse formally established itself as a breed, the AQHA stud book has remained open to additional Thoroughbred blood via a performance standard. An "Appendix" American Quarter Horse is a first generation cross between a registered Thoroughbred and an American Quarter Horse or a cross between a "numbered" American Quarter Horse and an "appendix" American Quarter Horse. The resulting offspring is registered in the "appendix" of the American Quarter Horse Association's studbook, hence the nickname. Horses listed in the appendix may be entered in competition, but offspring are not initially eligible for full AQHA registration. If the Appendix horse meets certain conformational criteria and is shown or raced successfully in sanctioned AQHA events, the horse can earn its way from the appendix into the permanent studbook, making its offspring eligible for AQHA registration


Since Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred crosses continue to enter the official registry of the American Quarter Horse breed, this creates a continual gene flow from the Thoroughbred breed into the American Quarter Horse breed, which has altered many of the characteristics that typified the breed in the early years of its formation. Some breeders, who argue that the continued infusion of Thoroughbred bloodlines is beginning to compromise the integrity of the breed standard, favor the earlier style of horse and have created several separate organizations to promote and register "Foundation" Quarter Horses.


Quarter Horses Today:


The Quarter Horse is well-suited for the western disciplines.

The American Quarter Horse is best known today as a show horse, race horse, reining and cutting horse, rodeo competitor, ranch horse, and all-around family horse. Quarter horses compete well in rodeo events such as barrel racing, calf roping and team roping; and gymkhana or O-Mok-See. Other stock horse events such as cutting and reining are open to all breeds but also dominated by American Quarter Horse. Large purses allow top competitors to earn over a million dollars in some of these events.


The breed is not only well-suited for western riding and cattle work. Many race tracks offer Quarter Horses a wide assortment of pari-mutuel horse racing with purses in the millions. Quarter Horses have also been trained to compete in dressage and can be good jumpers. They are also used for recreational trail riding and in mounted police units.


The American Quarter Horse has also been exported worldwide. European nations such as Germany and Italy have imported large numbers of Quarter Horses. Next to the American Quarter Horse Association (which also encompasses Quarter Horses from Canada), the second largest registry of Quarter Horses is in Brazil, followed by Australia. With the internationalization of the discipline of reining and its acceptance as one of the official seven events of the World Equestrian Games, there is a growing international interest in Quarter Horses. Countries like Japan, Switzerland and Israel that did not have traditional stock horse industries have begun to compete with American Quarter Horses in their own nations and internationally. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with over 5 million American Quarter Horses registered worldwide.


Breed characteristics :


A halter-type Quarter Horse

The modern Quarter Horse has a small, short, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters. They usually stand between 14 and 16 hands (56 and 64 inches, 142 and 163 cm) high, although some Halter-type and English hunter-type horses may grow as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm).


There are two main body types: the stock type and the hunter or racing type. The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and well muscled, yet agile. The racing and hunter type Quarter Horses are somewhat taller and smoother muscled than the stock type, more closely resembling the Thoroughbred.


Quarter Horses come in nearly all colors. The most common color is sorrel, a brownish red, part of the color group called chestnut by most other breed registries. Other recognized colors include bay, black, brown, buckskin, palomino, gray, dun, red dun, grullo (also occasionally referred to as blue dun), red roan, blue roan, bay roan, perlino, cremello, and white. In the past, spotted color patterns were excluded, but now with the advent of DNA testing to verify parentage, the registry accepts all colors as long as both parents are registered.

Stock type:

See also: Stock horse under different breeds/blog

A stock horse is a horse of a type that is well suited for working with livestock, particularly cattle. Reining and cutting horses are smaller in stature, with quick, agile movements and very powerful hindquarters. Western pleasure show horses are often slightly taller, with slower movements, smoother gaits, and a somewhat more level topline – though still featuring the powerful hindquarters characteristic of the Quarter Horse.


Halter Type:

Horses shown in-hand in Halter competition are larger yet, with a very heavily muscled appearance, while retaining small heads with wide jowls and refined muzzles. There is controversy amongst owners, breeder and veterinarians regarding the health effects of the extreme muscle mass that is currently fashionable in the specialized halter horse, which typically is 15.2 to 16 hands (62 to 64 inches, 157 to 163 cm) and weighs in at over 1,200 pounds (540 kg) when fitted for halter competition. Not only are there concerns about the weight to frame ratio on the horse's skeletal system, but the massive build is also linked to HYPP. 

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP), which is caused by an autosomal dominant gene linked to the stallion Impressive. It is characterized by uncontrollable muscle twitching and substantial muscle weakness or paralysis among affected horses. Because it is a dominant gene, only one parent has to have the gene for it to be transmitted to offspring. There is a DNA test for HYPP, which is required by the AQHA. Since 2007, the AQHA bars registration of horses who possess the homozygous form (H/H) of the gene, and though heterozygous (H/N) horses are still eligible for registration, altering that status is currently being discussed. Additionally all Quarter Horses born 2007 or later that are confirmed to be descendants of Impressive must carry a note about the risks of HYPP on their registration papers. Due to HYPP, the halter classes are undergoing significant changes. Halter classes are dominated by the Impressive bloodline. Impressive, a very prolific halter horse, brought to the stock breeds the muscle mass that is popular in halter competition today. This muscle mass is linked to HYPP, and as the condition is reduced within the breed, the style of horse in halter classes is also likely to change. Already there have been rule changes, including the creation of a "Performance Halter class" in which a horse must possess a Register of Merit in performance or racing before it can compete.


Racing and Hunter Type:


A Quarter Horse warming up for hunt seat competition.

Quarter Horse race horses are bred to sprint short distances ranging from 220 to 870 yards. Thus, they have long legs and are leaner than their stock type counterparts, but are still characterized by muscular hindquarters and powerful legs. Quarter horses race primarily against other Quarter horses, and their sprinting ability has earned them the nickname, "the world's fastest athlete." The show hunter type is slimmer, even more closely resembling a Thoroughbred, usually reflecting a higher percentage of appendix breeding. They are shown in hunter/jumper classes at both breed shows and in open USEF-rated horse show competition.

The Barb Horse

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 24, 2014 at 9:05 PM Comments comments ()

The Barb Horse

In many respects the Barb resembles the Arab, but he does not posses the latter's quality and is plainer about the head. His bone, however, is of first-rate texture, and as a saddle-hack his merits stand high, but he, like the Arab, is not tall enough to suit adult riders, who are particular regarding appearances.

Artillery Horse

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 14, 2014 at 6:45 PM Comments comments ()

The Artillery Horse 

The class of horse that was required for artillery purposes had to be a short-legged, heavy-boned animal, with plenty of substance about him, exspecially in the case of the wheelers, as the work of stopping the guns falls upon them. In addition to their strenghth the artillery horses was also capable of getting over the ground quickly, a cross-bred hackney being as useful an animal for the purposes of the Service as any.

  Artillery was as dependant on the horse as the cavalry if not more so. As the principle motive power for the guns, they were a prime target for the opposing force; disabling the horses meant that the guns were at risk of capture. Horses, like the soldiers who depended upon them, were also subject to the rigors of disease, poor rations, and the too-often squalid living conditions of an army camp. The death toll has never been calculated, but the cost of the War in horse flesh was surely enormous.

The large number of horses posed a logistical challenge for the artillery, because they had to be fed, maintained, and replaced when worn out or injured. Artillery horses were generally selected second from the pool of high quality animals; cavalry mounts were the best horses. The life expectancy of an artillery horse was under eight months. They suffered from disease, exhaustion from long marches (typically 16 miles in 10 hours), and battle injuries. As their lives and guns so often depended upon their horses, artillerymen were disposed to accept without excessive grumbling the regulations for their care. The trumpeter would sound stable call after reveille and roll, and water call after breakfast.


The same routine for the horses would be repeated late in the afternoon. Morning and afternoon drill also meant a workout for the horses, after which they needed to be walked to cool down, curried, and probably watered again. There were always sick horses requiring care, and those who died requiring burial.


One driver was assigned to each pair of horses, riding the on (left) horse and holding reins for it and the off horse. Skilled riders were required for this service, which combined the daring of the cavalry troopers, with the precision teamwork expected of the artilleryman and compassion and care for the horses in their charge. Drivers were could be issued with a leg-guard, an iron plate encased in leather and strapped to the right leg to prevent the limber pole from injuring them. Each driver had two horses and their harness under his care.


Each rode the left horse of his team and was held responsible for the feeding, watering, and grooming of the team. They were usually picked for this duty because of their knowledge or skill with the animals. During battle they brought the ordnance into position under the direction of the Sergeant, who was the platoon guide and was mounted individually. The caisson drivers were directed into position by the chief of line of caissons, frequently taking position under hostile fire. Keeping the horses calm during battle and removing harness from downed horses was a skill of the drivers often used. The drivers had to be alert at all times in case the ordnance had to be removed from its position in haste, the ear ever waiting for the trumpet call to marche. However, once the foot artillery battery line was established the drivers would often dismount and lay on the ground with their reins in their hands, depending on the amount of hostile fire being received. This was not possible with horse artillery which would change positions rapidly, and in some cases so did foot artillery batteries.

Though they were not 'up front', the drivers and horses were still killed and wounded, and rounds shots passing close to a battery would cause consternation among the drivers trying to control horses just in rear of the main battery line. The only drivers that were not usually with the battery in battle were those that drove the traveling forge and battery wagon. This equipment was usually in the rear of the army on the march.


The horses were worked hard and long, but it had to be so. A battery racing to catch up with a retreating enemy or to gain a position of advantage had no room for gentle treatment. The stakes were high, and the horses paid the price. The alternative might be defeat. A man on a long, hot march, pushed beyond what his body could bear, might drop out temporarily and catch up with his company later. Horses had no such choice. Harnessed to the limbers, they pulled until they fell or, as happened in most instances, until they harmed their bodies beyond healing, and then were shot becoming the drivers and artilleryman’s next meal.


Mud or dust seemed to plague every movement of troops. Of the two, mud was the greater problem for the artillery. Dust created great discomfort, but little more. While an artilleryman might find it difficult to breathe and intolerably itchy in the suffocating dust, the guns and caissons could still be moved. Mud, on the other hand, often made movement impossible. Sinking below their axles in holes full of clinging muck, guns and caissons could be moved only with superhuman effort, the men pushing at the wheels and extra horses pulling on the traces. Sometimes guns and caissons were simply abandoned to the mud. During the 1812 and 1813/14 campaign, teams were often doubled to draw guns into position.

Pulling Potential


The capacity of a healthy horse to pull a load was affected by a number of factors. Chief among these was the nature of the surface over which the load was being hauled.


A single horse can pull 900 kg on a smooth road and 1500 kg 20 to 23 miles a day over a hard-paved road. At the trot, on a good road, this is reduced to 420 kg . Gassendi noted that on a road a convoy of artillery could cover 0.94miles in roughly an hour, and that a horse carrying 75.6 kg and drawing 315 kg could travel on average 20miles a day.


Drawing capacity is based on each horse in the team drawing 900 kg . The offside horses drawing 450 kg . This is for both wheelers and leaders. The third pair of horses in a 6 horse team, not being directly attached to the gun only provide 3/4 of their potential drawing capacity.Weight of system from d'Urtubie 1786.


The pulling ability was further reduced by one-half if a horse carried a rider on its back. Finally, as the number of horses in a team increased, the pulling capacity of each horse was further reduced. The capacity of a healthy horse to pull a load was affected by the nature of the surface over which the load was being hauled. A single horse can pull 1360- kg at 32-37 km per day over a hard-paved road. The weight dropped to 860- kg on hard ground, and reduced to 500- kg over rough ground. This was further reduced to half the horse carried a rider on its back. As the number of horses in a team increased, the pulling capacity of each extra horse is reduced. A horse in a team of six had only seven-ninths (78%) the pulling capacity it would have had in a team of two. The goal was that each horse's share of the load should be no more than 318- kg thought this was seldom achieved. A battery moved at the same speed and covered the same distance as did the troops to which it was attached. This distance could be anywhere from a few km to a forced march of 32-48 km per day.


The goal was that each horse's share of the load should be no more than 350 kg . This was less than what a healthy horse, even carrying a rider and hitched into a team of six, could pull, but it furnished a very important safety factor that allowed for fatigue and losses, resulting that a team of four could draw a fully loaded Girbeauval 12-pdr. The above table clearly shows that the French artillery equipment of Gribeauval had ample horse power to move the equipment over smooth hard roads. Indeed a 12-pdr is able to be moved by a pair of horses, as demonstrated by the recreated horse train of L’association Britannique de la Garde Imperiale. Of interest the table shows that the 8-pdr was as mobile as the 4-pdr in terms of weight per horse, which probably influenced the guns adoption as the principle weapon of horse artillery in favour of the 4-pdr.



In order to apply the tractive force of the team to the gun, the horse had to be connected to it with a harness.


Horse teams consisted either of four or six horses. The two horses at the front of the team were called leaders’, the two attached to the limber the wheelers. In a team of 6, the middle pair of horses were called the centre horses. All the horses to the right of the toungue or shaft were called off horses and carried a light pad saddle in the English artillery apparently, or in the case of Prussian artillery in the 1813 a riding saddle on which gunners could ride. The horses to the left of the toungue or shaft were near horses, and each were ridden by a postillion driver. The harness for the off and near horses were the same, but differed for leader/centre horses and wheelers.


It was recommended that all possible liberty should be allowed the horses when harnessed, in order that the action of one may not shackle the others, that accidents may be as rare as possible, and that killed and wounded horses may be replaced easily and promptly.

Single Draught (tandem)


The horses are arranged in single file and is well suited to drawing heavy loads over narrow roads. However it is not suited for rapid movement over ordinary roads as much of the tractive force is lost by the continued change in line of traction incident a long column. Also, in this mode of attachment using shafts, only one horse is coupled directly to the limber, thus the remaining are attached to each other, so that the second horse in line applies only ¾ of its drawing potential, the next ½, thence ¼, so in a single line of more than 4 horses, the remaining horses provide little or no potential draw to the team. The horse in the shafts, which by constant fatigue is quickly rendered unserviceable.

Double Draught:


In the second method, the horses are attached to the gun in pairs, in double file, a wheel horse being placed either side of the central shaft or tounge, which is attached to the axel tree of the limber. The tounge is supported and kept steady by the pressure of the body of the carriage on the sweep bar, which projects beyond the rear of the limber axel tree. The centre pair in a team or six or leaders in a team of four are attached to a splinter bar at the end of the tounge.

The Argentine Horse

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM Comments comments ()

The Argentine Horse



So much improvement has been effected in this horse of late years by the importation of the best Thoroughbred, Hackney, and Shire blood from this country, that the horses of South America are rapidly becoming British breeds. They are hardy, and capable of enduring great fatigue, as our calvary dicovered during the Boer War, but many of them are light and short of quality; owing, too, to the extensive ranges of land over which they are raised, they are not for the most part easy to break, though regarding their future improvement there can be no doubt.

10 Interesting Facts About Arabian Horses

Posted by Nicole Nauss on January 9, 2014 at 12:00 PM Comments comments ()

10 Interesting Facts About Arabian Horses


Arabians are a very popular breed of horse for many equestrians. Many people ride Arabians for show, pleasure and competition. The physical characteristics of the Arabian breed include a dish face, large, wide-set eyes, broad forehead, small, curved ears and large nostrils. Here are ten interesting facts about Arabian horses that you may not know.


1.) The Arabian breed is over 5,000 years old and is known as the oldest breed and the first domesticated breed of horse.


2.) Arabians were originally bred in the Middle East.


3.) Arabians were bred by the Bedouins, a desert tribe in the Arabian Peninsula. This tribe used them as war horses because they could travel far distances in harsh desert conditions due to their large lung capacity and incredible endurance.


4.) A Virginian, Nathan Harrison, imported the first Arabian stallion to North America in 1725.


5.) An Arabian was the horse of choice for Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and President George Washington. Napoleon’s horse was named Marengo and George Washington’s mount was called Blueskin.


6.) All Arabian horses have black skin underneath their coats, except underneath any white hair. When these horses lived in the desert, the black skin would help to protect them from the hot sun.


7.) The most common coat color of Arabians is bay. You will also see many chestnuts, grey, blacks and roans.


8.) The skeleton of a pure Arabian is different from that of other horse breeds. An Arabian has 17 pairs of ribs, instead of 18 and 5 vertebrae instead of 6.


9.) The average height of an Arabian is 14.1 to 15.1 hands (57 to 61 inches) tall and the average weight is 850 to 1,000 pounds.


10.) The horse in the movie “The Black Stallion” was an Arabian stallion named Cass Ole.

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