American Quarter Horse: Facts, Lifespan, Behavior & Care Guide (with Pictures)

Last Updated: February 26, 2021

You can trace the American Quarter Horse history back to the 1600s when colonists began to mix English thoroughbred horses with native horses found along the East Coast of the United States. The American Quarter Horse is fast and excels at running short distances up to a quarter-mile. Its ability to beat out other horse breeds at this distance is how it received its name. Keep reading while we discuss other interesting facts to learn more about this uniquely American horse breed.

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Quick Facts about the American Quarter Horse

Species Name: Equus caballus
Family: Equidae
Care Level: Moderate
Temperature: All climates
Temperament: Gentle, easy-going, docile
Color Form: Black, brown, red, chestnut, sorrel, and more
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Size: 13-16 hands
Diet: Herbivore
Minimum Pen Size: 50-60 feet

American Quarter Horse Overview

The American Quarter Horse was popular with cowboys because it can obtain high speeds up to 55 miles per hour over short distances. It’s sure-footed and takes corners well, which helps when roping cattle, and it can also make jumps. It has a natural tendency to rein in cattle, so it’s an excellent arm hand. It has a long lifespan, is available in several colors, and is perfect for new owners.

The American Quarter Horse
Image Credit: hlseffigy, Flickr

How Much Do American Quarter Horses Cost?

You can expect to spend about $3,500 for your American Quarter Horse, but the price can vary dramatically depending on how much training the horse has received. Many owners like to purchase horses ready to ride, and this training can cost quite a bit. You can expect to spend up to $10,000 for a fully-trained American Quarter.

There are additional costs associated with owning a horse that you should also consider before you purchase one. Upkeep of the pen, saddles, riding equipment, veterinary visits, food, and nutrition can all add up to increase costs significantly each year. You should expect to spend at least $1,000 on these items annually.

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Typical Behavior & Temperament

The American Quarter Horse is calm and easy to train. It’s a perfect choice for new riders and versatile enough to accomplish any task you would require of a horse. It’s not easy to spook and has plenty of energy for a full day of riding. Lots of socialization early in life will help the horse feel more comfortable around people. It’s easy to break in this horse without much bucking, and plenty of groundwork will help the horse trust you, allowing him to more easily follow commands.

Appearance & Varieties

The American Quarter Horse is slightly shorter but more muscular than the Thoroughbred, another popular breed of riding horses you will often see in England. It stands 56–64 inches tall, which is 13-16 hands in horse language. These horses will usually weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds and have very muscular bodies. You can find them in several colors, including grey, black, brown, bay, sorrel, chestnut, buckskin, palomino, dun, red dun, grullo, blue roan, and red roan.

American_Quarter Horse
Image Credit: Five Furlongs, Flickr

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How to Take Care of an American Quarter Horse

Habitat Conditions & Setup

Most experts recommend a circular pen 50-60 feet in diameter. However, a 60-65-foot pen will reduce the stress on your horse’s inner joints. Traditionally, ranch hands would build the pen out of wood. However, most modern owners use metal panels. Each panel is approximately 12 feet wide, and you can add more or take some away to adjust the pen’s size. This system also allows you to change the pen’s location. A 50-foot pen usually requires about 13 panels, while a 65-foot will require 17 or more.

The panels can be solid metal or have holes in them like a fence. Solid panels are good because there is less chance of your horse jumping out, and it won’t get its hooves stuck in a metal sheet like it might a fence style. However, if your horse is aggressive, you might need fence-style panels to escape the pen quickly.

Do American Quarter Horses Get Along with Other Pets?

Yes, the American Quarter Horse has a calm and gentle personality and is rarely bothered by other pets. Its large size and fast speed prevent most other animals from becoming aggressive towards the horse.

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What to Feed Your American Quarter Horse

American Quarter_Horse
Image Credit: Becker1999 (Paul and Cathy), Flickr

Your American Quarter Horse will primarily eat grass and hay. It also enjoys eating grains like barley, bran, and oats. You may also need to add some supplements to its diet and feed it treats like carrots and apples. Water is also a serious concern when keeping a horse, and you can expect your horse to drink close to 8 gallons per day.

Keeping Your American Quarter Horse Healthy

To keep your American Quarter Horse healthy, you will need to make sure it gets good nutrition, most of which will come from the grass it eats. You may want to take a sample of your grass to an expert to get it tested. Once the lab gives you the results, you can talk them over with your vet to see if you need to purchase any additional supplements.

In addition to the pen, your horse will need protection from the weather to stay healthy. It prefers temperatures between 20-60 degrees Fahrenheit and will shelter when it gets outside that range.

Your horse will also need a 15 to 20-minute walk each day at a minimum to stay healthy. Horses that don’t get enough activity will suffer from joint problems, muscle atrophy, constipation, and obesity.

Breeding

An easy way to get into breeding the American Quarter Horse for money is to purchase a stallion and charge a fee to breed with other mares. With this system, the mares will come to the stallion naturally and the process will require very little effort or knowledge on your part. If you choose to raise both the stallion and the mare, you will need to understand how to breed the animal and have a good knowledge of genetics. However, if you have the experience, breeding American Quarter Horses can be quite lucrative.

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Are American Quarter Horses Suitable for You?

The American Quarter Horse is the perfect choice for first-time riders and anyone who wants a calm and easy-to-train horse. It rarely bucks, has few health problems, and has a long lifespan. Its extreme popularity in the United States, which means you likely won’t need to go far to purchase one.

We hope you have enjoyed our guide and have learned something new about this majestic animal. If we have convinced you to give one a try on your land, please share this guide to the American Quarter Horse on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image: evelynbelgium, Flickr