It's a giant history that parallels so well American history. The legacy of the American Quarter Horse contains Spanish roots and influences, Native presence, English colonization and all challenges and virtues inherited by colonization, development, cattle traditions and recreation. De Soto landed in today's Florida about 1530 and imported Iberian horses that in the longer run got adopted by the natives as Chickasaw ponies -a blocked type of horse that was even raced in early days- Later on, after the import of the English Thoroughbred that got crossed with the Chickasaw ponies, we encounter not only the first quarter mile race horses (the race tracks of that period in America measured indeed 1/4 Mi), but also in that early versatility (even for plowing) the usage of these compact, highly trainable muscled working horses developed largely.
Same wise, we encounter a parallel evolution as a result of the colonization of modern day Mexico and later on Sonora, California and Texas by the Spanish crown, importing the Iberian horse, evolving into horses of the Americas roaming in enlarging herds on American soil, that later on became crossed with Thoroughbred horses and existing Thoroughbred crossbreds.
Nevertheless this more southern evolution, we consider Janus (Thoroughbred imported from England to Virginia in 1856) as highly influential and Peter McCue (1895), Steel Dust (more early born in 1843) as representative for the breed. Nevertheless Quarter horse racing was popular in the 18th and 19th century, it took until 1940 before the American Quarter Horse got founded with Wimpy P-1 ast the first horse of the Studbook.
Synthesis of H. 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' , and the English thoroughbred containing Turk, Barb and Arabian and all later crosses are already quite a span. 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.