Horse breeds: Quarter Horse

Horse breeds: Quarter Horse

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Origins and attitudes

Studies conducted by several paleontologists lead us to establish that the first specimens of Equus caballu appeared on the American continent about a million years ago. Probably, due to climatic upheavals, however, all the equidae of these lands became extinct about eight thousand years ago.
It was the Spanish conquerors, in 1500, who first brought the horses back to the New World: they were robust working horses, selected from Iberian, Berber, Arabian and Pony horses from northern Spain. Many of the colonists' horses were lost on the move: once rinselavatichiti they reproduced very easily, favored by the abundance and extension of the pastures and the absence of predators that could limit the number.
Thus numerous herds were formed, within which the horses reproduced according to completely natural hierarchies and criteria. The quantity and variety of the genetic material was gradually increased by the horses of selected breeds that arrived in the wake of the European colonizers of different nationalities.
From this serious indiscriminate crossbreeding, horses resulted that, if on the one hand they had lost the characteristics exalted by man in the various breeds, on the other they were perfectly adapted to the environment in which they found themselves living. Still today in many areas of America there are herds of wild horses called Mustangs, which can be considered among the progenitors of all the horses selected on the American continent.
The first "breeders" of the ancient Mustangs were the Indian peoples, who, having overcome the initial and compressible fear of an unknown animal, passed within a few years to establish a symbiotic relationship with what they called "the big dog". In short, they became, besides good riders, excellent connoisseurs of the horse, so much so that they realized that by guiding the mating they would have obtained better subjects than those captured. Thus they began to breed horses, trying to select the subjects they thought were more beautiful and more suitable for their needs. The people of the Chickasaw, also using numerous horses stolen from the Spaniards, obtained the best results and managed to establish good trade with the settlers who were now settling in the prairies of Virginia and the other western coast states. These horses, which began to have a certain morphological homogeneity, were called Chickasaw.
The western riding style, like the Quarter horse, developed according to the work with the herds and, although it reminds of the way of riding the Indians, it was the Spaniards who brought the saddles with the long stirrups and the harnesses that allowed one-handed driving, and they were always the ones who invented the "American saddle" equipped with a knob, more comfortable, which allowed the rider to sit for long hours following the herds on the move.
The settlers who purchased the "Chickasaw breed horses" used them for field work, for the transfer and surveillance of livestock. The qualities required of these horses were essentially calm, strength and a quick shot over short distances, essential for working with the herds. European civilization, that Anglo-Saxon in particular, brought the tradition of racing to the New Continent: speed races were often organized on holidays and, given that the horses available were used for daily work, the races were organized in a way to take advantage of its best feature: speed over short distances. Horses competed on the main roads of the villages, a quarter of a mile (about 400 meters) long. The popularity of these competitions grew in a short time, so much so that around the mid-1700s the horses that took part in them were called "Quarter Race". The first attempt, however unsuccessful, to register the Quarter Races in a herd book dates from this period.
In order to improve what was not a "real" breed with "fixed" and transmissible genetic characteristics, prestigious purebred English breed subjects were imported from Europe; these gave the Quarter greater harmony of shapes, and increased its power and speed. At this point, the ranch owners took charge of raising these animals, which due to their characteristics of strength, endurance and power had become indispensable for working with large American cattle.
The selection criteria continued to be rigid and severe, although until 1940 the breeders were unable to associate and register their products in a single herd book. This year, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed in Forth Worth, Texas with the aim of "collecting, registering, and preserving Quarter Horses", publishing a register, and promoting everything related. the history, breeding, advertising, sale and control of this breed.
During the discussion for the foundation of the Association, the name from Quarter Race was changed to Quarter Horse. Only 19 stallions were enrolled in the AQHA Stud Book which, in addition to possessing all the characteristics of the breed, could prove that they belonged to valuable bloodlines. The best characteristics of the Quarter Horse have been fixed with this remarkable restriction and have led it over the years to a wide diffusion and use.

Gold Diamond Solano in a trail race (photo Costanza Biagini)

Morphological characters

Type: dolomomorphic.
Height at the withers: 150 - 165 cm.
Weight: 430 - 550 kg.
AQHA has never drawn up a breed standard, although the morphological characteristics of the Quarter Horse are exemplified and recognized.
The typical Quarter Horses are those that participate almost exclusively in morphology competitions (Halter), but horses specialized in other disciplines, and selected over the years by bloodlines with different attitudes, are generally lighter and in any case morphologically different.
The standard Quarter Horse is an extremely compact and solid horse approximately 1.60 m tall with a weight that varies between 350 and 550 Kg. It has a meso-dolomomorphic structure and is equipped with a powerful musculature which is perhaps the characteristic salient of the breed.
The shape and characteristics of the head are studied by breeders in relation to the shape of the body and the work of the horse. The head is short and wide with wide nostrils and a straight profile.
It is therefore not very heavy and together with the neck, muscular and of the right length, perfectly balances the movements of the horse. A head that is too long would tend to unbalance the animal, while a head that is too short would not allow adequate heating of the air as it passes through the nostrils and the mouth would not have enough space for teeth suitable for good chewing.
The nostrils are wide and the profile is straight; this allows the passage of a large amount of air, and ultimately allows adequate oxygenation of the massive muscle masses. The "classic" Quarter Horse gives an impression of solidity and strength. Paradoxically, it was the search for these aesthetic characteristics that made the horses for morphology competitions become increasingly imposing and less and less athletes.
Animals from bloodlines other than those used for morphology competitions are all lighter and more agile, although slightly different from each other in relation to their athletic specialization. These conformation differences were a logical consequence of the transformation of a work horse into an athlete horse chosen to be the best in a given discipline. Today, the horses selected for work with calves are also competition horses, and although they have preserved what is called "cow sense" (instinct to manage the herd), could hardly work in the grasslands as their ancestors did.
But the main feature of this breed is the development of the musculature which explains the power that this horse can produce. This musculature is evident in the back and croup, and is highlighted by the thin limbs and very small feet. The characteristics of the Quarter Horse have been fixed on the basis of what were the needs of the herdsmen in the daily work with the calves, The rump is very long, strongly inclined. This feature allows him to bring the hindquarters under him at the time of the stop or sliding stop, which today is a maneuver typical of reining races, but which in the past was used by cowboys to suddenly stop the horse's gallop without being thrown from the saddle. The development of the croup also allows it to maintain a good balance on the hind limbs, making the gallop particularly free and elastic and allowing very fast stops and changes of directions. At the trot this horse is appreciated not only for the flat and extended action of the front of the body, which receives the thrust from the powerful rear, but also for the light and uniform movements, which allow the rider to travel long distances comfortably . The fluidity of the movements is also favored by the long and well-angled shoulder that allows the animal to progress with long steps without detaching itself too much from the ground. The limbs are thin, if compared to the imposing structure of the trunk, but they are generally robust, beautifully shaped and have wide joints, shins with well-detached dry tendons and medium-wide pastoral. The chest and forearms of the Quarter Horse are massive and guarantee a powerful shot. The withers are not very pronounced, the back is medium - long, the ribs are well inclined and the loins are not very extensive. By observing the orientation and height of the various segments of the vertebral column, we can see that the lumbar vertebrae are several centimeters higher than the last cervical ones. This conformation is typical of sprinters and the difference in height between the loins and the base of the neck can reach 10 cm in horses of bloodlines specialized in speed competitions.
The colors recognized by AQHA are described in the association's Official Handbook:
- Bay (bay): extended coat color from brown to reddish brown; black tail and mane, usually black on the lower part of the legs.
- Black (black): black coat color, without light areas. Black tail and mane.
- Brown (brown): brown or black coat color with light areas on the muzzle around the eyes, on the sides and inside the upper part of the legs. Tail and black mane.
- Sauro (sorrel): reddish or coppery red coat color, tail and mane usually of the same color, sometimes blond.
- Chestnut blonde: dark red or brown red coat color, tail and mane usually dark red and brick red, sometimes blond.
- Fallow deer (dun): yellowish or golden body color; tail and mane black, brown, white or mixed: mostly it has a dorsal strip, zebra stripes on the legs and a transverse strip above the withers.
- Red deer (red dun): a subspecies of the deer type, with yellowish or flesh-colored coat; tail, mane and red dorsal strip.
- Grullo: smoke or mouse-colored coat (not a mix of white hairs and hairs in, each hair is mouse-colored); black tail and mane; mostly black backbone and lower part of the black paw.
- Isabella (buckskin): yellowish or golden coat color: black tail and mane, usually black on the lower part of the legs. The isabella has no backbone.
- Palomino: yellow-gold coat color; white tail and mane. Palomino has no backbone.
- Gray (gray): mixture of coarse hair with hair of any other color; often it is born dark, or almost dark and becomes light with age, with the appearance of a greater number of white hairs.
- Roan Rosso (red roan): mixed coat, more or less uniform of white and red hair, usually darker on the head than on the legs; can have black, red or blonde tail and mane.
- Blue Roan (blue roan): more or less uniform mixed coat of white hair, with black hair on the body, usually darker on the head and on the lower part of the legs; there may be few red hairs present.

curated by Beatrice Lepri

Video: 8 Most Beautiful Horses on Planet Earth (June 2022).


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