The roots of the American Quarter Horse go back to horses of Arab, Turk, and Barb descent that were brought to the New World by explorers and traders. In 1611, a group of Spanish stallions were imported to the North American continent and the cross-bred offspring of these horses were perfect for racing. As colonial America grew, so did the popularity of the Quarter Horse. Colonists wanted horses that could work hard all week but also be used for racing on the weekends. The most common race course length was a quarter of a mile, from which the Quarter Horse got its name. As the United States spread to the West, so did the Quarter Horse. On the ranches of the West and Southwest, however, the Quarter Horse came into its own, demonstrating its skill as a cattle horse. Currently, these horses are extremely popular in rodeo events, working cattle on farms, and for pleasure riding.
According to the American Quarter Horse Association, there are over 3 million American Quarter Horses in the world owned by over 1 million people. Quarter Horses can be found in all 50 of the United States and in 64 countries.