As its name implies, Quarter ponies are smaller versions of the world’s most popular horse breed, the American Quarter horse. But some could argue that Quarter ponies are more like the original Quarter horses than modern Quarter horses are. In recent decades with the popularity of Quarter horse racing and the long, lean look for Western Pleasure classes, much Thoroughbred blood has been added.
According to the International Quarter Pony Association, there are no color requirements. Quarter horses are not allowed into the stud book if they show spotting or any pinto patterns or even the jaw-dropping pintaloosa. These are acceptable in the IQPA, although they are usually registered and shown in a division separate from the solid-colored ponies.
There is some argument over when the Quarter pony breed actually began. Some state that there have always been Quarter horses that were too short to reach the 14.2 hand minimum height requirement imposed by the AQHA. The first official registry was the American Quarter Pony Association, started in 1964 by Harold Wymore. After a few registration changes, the IQPA is the acting parent organization.
The American Quarter Pony Association originally accepted only solid-colored ponies, but the IQPA allowed them when they began about 1975. In 2005, in order to reduce the spreading of the genetic muscle disease hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, known commonly as HYPP, all male horses testing positive for HYPP have to be gelded. HYPP was brought to the Quarter pony through the highly influential Quarter horse sire, Impressive.
The breed is so popular in Australia that they started their own registry, the Australian Quarter Pony Association in 2006.
Quarter ponies of whatever color are allowed to be from 11.2 to 14.2 hands high. Despite their size, they are strong, often able to carry small adult riders. Many are quite bulky and muscular, so they can weigh anywhere from 800 to 1100 pounds. Their strength can make them competitive in many horse sports, including rodeo events like bulldogging.
Their heads usually have a straight profile, their ears are small and eyes wide. Their hindquarters are often higher than their withers. They have deep chests and powerful hindquarters. Ideally, Quarter ponies should have easily defined withers and a sloping shoulder in order to make a saddle fit securely and to make a comfortable ride.
Many Quarter ponies are known for having hooves so tough they do not need shoes. Many also are not plagued with the disproportional small hooves that have affected many lines off Quarter horses. But all ponies are individuals, so keep in mind that despite their reputation, a Quarter pony will still need to see the farrier about every six weeks.
American Quarter Pony Association. “Past, Present and Future of the American Quarter Pony Association.” http://www.aqpa.com/2006/about2006.htm
University of California Davis Veterinary Medicine. “Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP.)” http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/hypp.php
Equipost. “Quarter Pony Breed Description.” http://www.equinepost.com/resources/breeds/showBreed.asp?ID=119