Unique Characteristics of the American Quarter Horse

The compact, muscular silhouette of the quarter horse is unmistakable. Its appearance exudes the steadiness that makes it such a solid choice for various roles. Quarter horses are sure-footed and agile, even at high speeds. And they are especially known for their “cow sense”—an instinctive skill for maneuvering cattle

Diet and Nutrition

American quarter horses require a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water in their diet. They can sustain on fresh grass, hay, rolled oats, and other grains, such as barley and bran. Treats, such as carrots and apples, can be given in moderation. As a general rule, American quarter horses eat between 1.5 and 2 percent of their body weight each day. That means a 1,000-pound horse requires 15 to 20 pounds of food daily.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

American quarter horses are typically highly trainable, gentle, and eager to please. But they are prone to certain health issues. They include:

  • Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis: A condition that can cause uncontrollable muscle twitching, muscle weakness, or paralysis
  • Polysaccharide storage myopathy: A disorder that damages muscle tissue and can cause stiffness, pain, and more
  • Malignant hyperthermia: A condition that makes a horse susceptible to a state of abnormally high metabolic activity, which can result in a high temperature, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and more


Daily grooming can help an American quarter horse maintain a healthy coat and clear skin. Before a ride, brush the legs, face, girth, and saddle areas to ensure the horse is comfortable and all the oils have been evenly distributed on its body. Grooming a horse after riding can also help distribute the oils and sweat, especially in the summer. Try a detangler to brush out the horse’s tail, which will make it bushier and more adept at swatting away flies. In the winter, use a waterless shampoo to clean, condition, and detangle the horse’s mane and tail.Pros

  • Calm and gentle demeanor
  • Kid-friendly
  • Can be “easy keepers” once trained


  • Can develop chronic lameness if overworked or overridden
  • Disproportionate weight-to-frame ratio, making it prone to a number of health concerns

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