One into Three: Different Standards for the American Quarter Horse
What makes a horse a Quarter Horse? Its bloodlines, naturally. But what happens when horses of different breeds produce offspring, as commonly happens between a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred. When examining these types of horses, it’s clear that bloodlines can’t tell the whole story. And so, what happens is the horse is registered as an “Appendix” Quarter Horse with the American Quarter Horse Association. then as the horse matures, it can be examined for its adult characteristics and if it meets the breed standards, it can earn its status as a “Numbered” Quarter Horse. Even three-quarter bloodlines are deemed insufficient to automatically qualify a horse for permanent “numbered” status. In other words, the offspring of an “Appendix” and a “Numbered” Quarter Horse is still an “Appendix” horse until reaching maturity and demonstrating the breed standard.
A set of breed standards notwithstanding, the ongoing introduction of Thoroughbred and other horse breeds into the Quarter Horse bloodlines irrevocably altered the breed. As such, a different kind of standard also exists for a “Foundation” Quarter Horse. This is a set of esoteric breed standards that define the original characteristics of the Quarter Horse with its own organization, the Foundation Quarter Horse Association. This type of Foundation Quarter Horse is known colloquially as a “Bulldog” Quarter Horse.
Over the generations, this original Bulldog Quarter Horse subdivided into three distinct sub-types:
Stock Horse—This is a slightly shorter horse that’s bred primarily to work with livestock but which is versatile enough to be used for any number of commercial applications.
Racing or Hunter Horse—These horses are longer and leaner than the stock variety and have generally been influenced by thoroughbred blood lines, though still classified as a Quarter Horse.
Halter Horse—The halter sub-breed is less common and more specialized than the other two. It has the stockiest most muscular build of the three. It can be a tremendous pack horse for this reason but are also prone to health problems.