How much does a quarter weigh? The Quarter Horse is a staple horse breed in the Americas, used for nearly anything you could imagine. Quarter Horses are most commonly thought of as western horses, used for trail riding and rodeo sports. But, they are extremely versatile, and many Quarter Horses excel in English disciplines as well!
Quarter Horses are very commonly thought of as being an “average” horse, in terms of comparison and statistics: average height, average skill set, and so on. But the one area where quarter horses tend to stray from the “average” is in their weight.
So, how much do quarter horses weigh? How does this vary from what the average riding horse weighs? And why is the average quarter horse’s weight so different? These are all questions I will answer over the next couple of pages.
How Much Does a Quarter Weigh: Saddle Horse Weights
The average saddle horse or riding horse weighs about 1,000-1,200 pounds, with 1200 being on the heavier side. Breeds that fit into this average include Thoroughbreds, warmbloods, Arabians, and gaited horses.
There are always going to be outliers to this (i.e. that 19hh warmblood at your barn), but it’s a good baseline to start from. Draft horses can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and ponies will typically weigh under or right at 1,000 pounds.
The difference in 200 pounds is substantial in horses; my Thoroughbred has gone from barely 1,000 pounds to 1,200 pounds within the last two years, and he isn’t even recognizable in pictures from two years ago.
That being said, with an average horse weighing between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds, where do Quarter Horses fit in?
Quarter Horse Weights
Quarter Horses weigh about 1,300 pounds on average. So, they are heavier than the average riding horse! Quarter Horse weights vary from about 1,100 to 1,300, but compared to the average riding horse weight range of 1,000 to 1,200, the Quarter Horse still comes out on top.
How Much Does a Quarter Weigh: Quarter Horse Anatomy
If Quarter Horses are a culturally accepted average, then why are their average weights higher than other breeds? This is a question that can be answered by anatomy. In general terms, quarter horses are thick, dense horses.
They aren’t exceptionally tall- Quarter Horses do not traditionally exceed 15.3 hands. So, their weight must come from somewhere besides their height. That leaves their width, which is a contributing factor.
Quarter Horses are known for being extremely wide horses. They run wide in the shoulder, wide in the barrel, and are famous for being wide in the haunch. So, more mass closer to the ground accounts for some of the Quarter Horse’s increased weight.
The other most significant factor in their average weight is the Quarter Horses’ muscle density. Quarter Horse’s width is caused by heavy, dense muscling. Quarter Horses are extremely strong and extremely fast. These two characteristics are powered (quite literally) by the massive amounts of muscle that Quarter Horses typically have.
Benefits of the Quarter Horse Build
So if Quarter Horses are built so much different than other horses, is there a reason for it? Most Quarter Horse breeders today are producing horses for western disciplines such as western pleasure, cutting, reining, and rodeo events.
Take cutting for example; in cutting, the horse must have good cow sense and must be able to move quickly at the flip of a coin. Quarter Horses are naturally lower to the ground, which makes the motions necessary for cutting horses naturally more easy for them to do.
Next, take western pleasure for example. Western pleasure showcases the ideal gaits of a pleasure horse. It isn’t difficult for a quarter horse to move their massively strong haunches underneath of them to demonstrate these idealized gaits.
Also, consider the rodeo event of barrel racing. To turn around the barrels effectively, a horse must be close to the ground. Quarter horses are already there naturally, and, due to their dense muscle structure, they can pick up high speeds very quickly.
Though they are not intentionally built for English disciplines, Quarter Horses can excel in these as well. They are quick on their feet and surefooted, which can make them good at timed jumping disciplines; the jumper ring in the hunter/jumper discipline and three-day eventing.
The same reason that Quarter Horses excel at western pleasure is the reason that they can excel in the English discipline of Dressage. Quarter Horses are strong and flexible, and they are able to reach their hind legs up underneath themselves to demonstrate beautiful, floating gaits.
Of course, there will always be exceptions to what can be considered the “norm.” I knew a Quarter Horse one time that was 16.3 hands tall. But, she was the tallest Quarter Horse her breeder had ever seen, and she ended up excelling at English disciplines like jumping.
Quarter horses can be taller than the average, and they can also be shorter than the average. There are even “Quarter Ponies.” While not an official breed, Quarter Ponies are essentially Quarter horses that did not quite hit the 14.2 hand mark.
This is more common than Quarter Horses exceeding the 16 hand mark, and Quarter Ponies are still successful at all of the disciplines their slightly taller relatives are.
These variations in height mostly come from bloodlines; sometimes breeders intentionally aim for taller horses and sometimes they intentionally aim for shorter horses. This all depends on what they are breeding the horses to do and what they have had success with in the past.
The average weight of Quarter Horses is slightly more than that of a normal horse, but these characteristics aid them in being more effective at their jobs and more equipped to do them easily.
I hope this article helped you better understand quarter horse weight, anatomy, and how it all ties together with their common occupations! If so, please share this article, and share with us your experiences dealing with Quarter Horses!