The American Quarter Horse is one of the United States’ most recognized horse breeds. They are most noted for their speed, agility, stockiness, and natural cow-sense. They are often short, stocky and muscular with smaller ears, and a smaller, but broad head. The breed originated during the 1660s when native horses, which were brought over by the Conquistador Cortez to Florida in 1517, were bred with horses imported from England. The colonies, who enjoyed a good horse race every now and then, prized the horse for it’s speed over the quarter mile thus giving it it’s name the Quarter Horse.
One famous Quarter Horse is Steeldust. He was born in 1843 in Kentucky. He was a tall horse standing about 16 hands. Steeldust as well as another famous foundation sire, Shiloh, were brought to Texas in the mid-1840s. He, Steeldust, was noted for being the prototype of the “Bull Dog” or “Billy” type horses. These horses were used for ranching, herding cattle, pulling carts and wagons. They were revered for their muscular bodies, and sense. Sadly, these genes were almost removed during the 1950s through 60s. Breeders became more interested in the speed of their horses than their muscular build or cow-sense. They began adding more Thoroughbred bloodlines which gave the horse a sleeker and less muscled build. This caused registry to be over one-half or more of Thoroughbred blood than that of Quarter Horse. Thus the coveted cow genes ad stockiness were nearly lost.
If not for those who wanted to follow the “Steeldust Covenant”, the original characteristics of the Quarter horse may have been lost. But thankfully there have been those who wish to preserve the breed. Through these efforts the American Quarter Horse, as well as it's history, will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.