The American Quarter Horse is the first breed of horse native to what is now the United States. A melting of various breeds brought to the English colonies in the 1600's, the Quarter Horse evolved to fill the colonists' passion for short-distance racing. One-on-one match races were run down village streets, country lanes or level pastures. These heavily muscled, compact horses could run a short distance over a straightaway faster than any other horse, and the fastest were called Celebrated American Quarter Running Horses. Over the years, there were different variations of names, but in 1940 a registry was formed to preserve the breed which officially became the American Quarter Horse.
During its history, the breed also became well known for its cow sense (the ability to outmaneuver cattle) and calm disposition. Today, the heavy muscling and sprinter's speed remain characteristic traits, but like so many things modern the breed has been specialized to excel at particular events. There are American Quarter Horses competing in every discipline
imaginable, from traditional rodeo events such as roping and barrel racing to the refined English classes of dressage and show jumping. Although competition options are
nearly unlimited, the number one interest of American Quarter Horse owners remains riding for recreation.
American Quarter Horses are found in all 50 states, throughout Canada and Mexico and in more than 70 other countries. More than 332,000 people belong to the American Quarter Horse Association which offers membership services and benefits along with serving as the official breed registry and record keeper. The American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world and the American Quarter Horse Congress is the largest breed show in the world.