Essentially, a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred are both light horses, which are defined as horses that are made for riding. However, there are a few differences between these two breeds of horses that need to be looked at when considering which horse is best suited to a rider's needs.
The American Quarter Horse got its name because of its ability to run a quarter of a mile faster than any other horse. This horse is smaller than the thoroughbred, stands at about 14-15 hands high (hh), and ranges in color from gray and black to various shades of brown. Hands high is the standard measuring system for horses; each hand equals 4 inches (about 10.2 cm).
The Quarter Horse is the most popular breed of horse in America today. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the largest breed registry in the world, was developed in Amarillo, Texas in 1940. Over 3 million Quarter Horses are registered with the AQHA today. The Quarter Horse is best known for its ability to perform in rodeos and horse shows, and is mostly used for Western riding events, such as barrel racing and calf roping.
The Quarter Horse first got its start when English colonists crossbred an English Thoroughbred with a Chickasaw, a Native American breed of horse. This new breed was called “The Quarter Mile Horse” or “The Quarter Miler.” From the middle of the 1700’s into the 1800’s, this new breed began to gain popularity. The breed is now noticed for its muscular body and broad chest; it is also nicknamed "America's horse" and "World's Fastest Athlete."
While the Quarter Horse can run a quarter-mile at speeds up to 55 mph (89 km/h), the Thoroughbred is considered the fastest breed of horse in the world. Thoroughbreds began to appear in America around the year 1730. People may use the word "Thoroughbred" to refer to any "pure-blooded" horse, but the word Thoroughbred is the actual name of the breed.
Thoroughbreds are usually 15.2 to 17.0 hh, which measures to about 64 inches (about 163 cm) tall. Typically, a Thoroughbred's coloring is chestnut, black, or gray. Thoroughbreds are best known for their well defined faces with long necks and broad chests. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) were formed in Lexington, Kentucky in 1961. TOBA’s main goal is to increase the pleasure of the sport for Thoroughbred breeders and owners across the world. TOBA is the voice of the Thoroughbred community.