American Quarter Horse
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The American quarter horse is bred for short, straight line spirits and is the fastest horse in the world.  From a standing start, it can cover a quarter of a mile in a little over 20 seconds.. The American quarter horse was first bred around 300 years ago, but its breed association was only founded in 1940.  Since then the quarter horse has become the most poplar riding horse in the world, with a breed registration of over a million horses.

Breeding: In the wild, horses usually live in herds led by a dominant stallion.  The stallion fights off rival males and mates with his mares as they come into season (become ready to mate). This assures that the strongest and most intelligent males are those that breed.  Breeding of domesticated quarter horses is more selective. Through the careful choice of both the stallion (male), and the mare (female), a certain type of offspring may e produced. The traits of certain stallions are more dominant, so they stamp their offspring with their own qualities.

The American Quarter Horse Association sets a breed standard by which to judge that closely meets this standard is more valuable than one that does not. Some crossbreeding takes place suited to racing, or to create a larger, more powerful animal for hunting.  Mares come into season every four weeks, but usually mate in the spring, bearing one foal 11 months later.

Food & Feeding: The quarter horse can thrive on a relatively poor diet of range grass and scrub.  Its ability to make the most of what food it can find while living out on the range is important to people who sue it as a work horse.  Today most quarter horses are kept for pleasure riding or for racing.  They also get a more varied diet. Apart from grass from grazing, a horse usually eats a mixture of oats, barely, corn, and bran to give it nutritional balance.  The quarter horse's stomach is adapted for large quantities of roughage, rather than small amounts of feed, so it needs plenty of hay, to keep up its roughage intake.

Quarter Horse & Man: The quarter horse and man have always been closely associated. Originally prized for its amazing speed, it later became the ideal stock horse. It is fast, agile, and sturdy enough to carry a man all day over rough terrain.  it also possesses a special "cow sense". this is the ability to pick out a particular coq, fix it with a hypnotic stare, and keep it away from the herd by blocking its every move.  This ability is highly valued since it is an efficient way to single out individual cows for special attention.  or the pleasure rider, the quarter horse's docile nature and willingness to learn make it popular.

Origin: The Quarter horse is the best known Western horse in America.  It was first bred in Virginia during the late 1700's by cross native ponies with English settlers running horses.  The chickasaws were the wild offspring of horses that were brought to the New World  by the Spanish.  The harsh environment and generations of inbreeding caused a small but hardy horse to evolve. The early colonists crossed them with their imported stock to product  slightly larger and more ride able horse, which still retained the chickasaw's natural agility and hardiness.

The resulting crossbreed also possessed a quick, early burst of speed. Soon they were bred especially for the popular "quarter races" straight sprints over one quarter of a mile.  The hardy and quick quarter horse proved useful to cattle ranchers as they moved west.

Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle, related Species
Height: 14.3 to 15. 1 hands high (1 hand =4 in)
Weight: 1,000, to 1,300 lbs

Breeding:
Sexual Maturity: Mares, 1 1/2 to 2 years. stallions 2 to 3 years.
Mating: April to July
Gestation: 11 months
Numbers of young:  Usually 1

Lifestyle:
Habit: Naturally Sociable, In the wild, mares and young live in herds with a dominant stallion.
Diet:  Grass, low growing vegetation, supplemental with hay. natural diet is oats, barely, wheat, an bran.
Life span: 20 to 30 years

Related Species: The American quarter horse is related to every other breed of horse, but it has close links with the English thoroughbred,
Distribution: Widespread throughout the United States.  Quarter horses have been exported throughout the world.
Conservation: The american Quarter Horse Associations objective is to preserve the horses unique nature.  Within the breed standard, however, the emphasis is on different qualities that produce horses better suited to racing, showing, or riding.

Features of Quarter Horse:
Back: Short and powerful.  Also fairly broad, which helps to support a heavy saddle.
Average height to withers: 14.4 hh
Hindquarters:  the rear of the horse is broad and very muscular.  the powerful hind legs are thickly muscled.
Head: Short and broad with small ears, wide set eyes and large nostrils.

Did you know?
The quarter horse accelerates so quickly that jockeys have to grip the mane so they don't fly off.
The Quarter horse was the first true North American horse breed.
The race with the highest stakes is the all American Futurity for there year olds.

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