The breed's life story parallels the modern era of American History. The legacy of the American Quarter Horse contains Spanish roots and influences, horse domestication by Natives, English colonization, and all challenges and virtues inherited by colonization, development, cattle traditions, daily work, sports, and recreation.
De Soto landed in today's Florida about 1530 and imported Iberian horses that later on also got adopted by the natives as Chickasaw ponies - a blocked type of horse that was even raced in the early days. When these were crossed, first with English stock horses, later with Thoroughbreds, this not only lead to the first quarter mile racehorses (the race tracks of that period in America measured indeed 1/4 Mi) but to the development of a mighty versatile horse—highly trainable muscled working partners.
A parallel evolution had unfolded beyond today's southern border. The colonization of modern-day Mexico and later up North direction Sonora (today's Arizona), California, and Texas by the Spanish. Their Iberian horses evolved into horses of the Americas roaming and populating on the vast American soil.
Still, the influence of the English equine influx -and mainly the Thoroughbred- is to be considered crucial in the breed's development—by crossing Thoroughbred with the earlier horses of the Americas (Chickasaw and their English stock horse crosses), but also the descendants of the Spanish influx from the south; often feral horses often referred to as Mustangs.
Janus (Thoroughbred imported from England to Virginia in 1856) is to be considered as highly influential and Peter McCue (1895), Steel Dust (more early born in 1843, arriving in Texas 1844) — almost shaping the breed.
Although Quarter horse racing was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, it took until 1940 before the American Quarter Horse got founded with Wimpy P-1 as the very first horse of the Studbook.
Today, the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed organization and its vast growth in the 20th century has been key to the western equine industry as we know it today.
Synopsis of Rik Raats' "The Horse that Represents a Nation and Its Culture" 2009
The influences that have lead to the American Quarter Horse are the result of a rich journey. The Iberian (Spanish) horse within its baroque variety and its American descendants described as 'Horses of the Americas', crossed with the English stock horse and importantly with the English thoroughbred containing Turk, Barb and Arabian and all later crosses.
This is the reason that within the American Quarter Horse as a breed, we discover a great variety; the compact cow horse, all the way up to the hunter type of Quarter horse and everything in between.
BQHA - the ABC (and XYZ) for the American Quarter Horse in Belgium
© BQHA 2018