The Appendix Quarter Horse is the best of both worlds. They are a cross between the Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbred. A strict registration and verification process ensures the purity and quality of the breed are maintained. Moreover, people enjoy using the Appendix Quarter Horse in many of the same pursuits that you find the Quarter Horse in, making them an attractive option for equestrians.
The Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred Horse are both well-known breeds to equestrians and non-equestrians. Both have made names for themselves. The Quarter Horse helped build the American West. They are a staple while working cattle, and are also known for their speed racing a quarter mile. Thoroughbreds, on the other hand, have made a name for themselves on the racetrack, especially through the Triple Crown, and the most exciting two minutes in sports, also known as the Kentucky Derby. Both breeds have strengths that make them beloved.
Breeding a registered Quarter Horse and a registered Thoroughbred produces an Appendix Quarter Horse and offers the best of both worlds. The result is a horse that maintains the qualities of a Quarter Horse in a taller and leaner frame. Some horses receive an infusion of speed over longer distances. The horse we loved and leased years ago, Mo, was an Appendix Quarter horse.
History of the Appendix Quarter Horse
The history of the Appendix Quarter Horse is a little confusing at best and murky at worst. The simple answer is that any time you mix two breeds or alter the registration qualifications of a breed, there will be challenges, and that’s exactly what happened with these horses.
Breeding Quarter Horses was an ad hoc affair until the registry was formed in 1940. Despite the late arrival of the breed association, the Quarter Horse conformation and type remained consistent. The American Quarter Racing and the National Quarter Horse Breeders associations merged in 1949. The “appendix” was originally started to aid in the merger.
However, it mostly confused people, and for years, the debate continued on how to handle these horses. Finally, an acceptable solution was settled on. The Appendix Quarter Horse as we know it today started to take shape. Only first-generation crosses are considered an Appendix Quarter Horse. An Appendix must be bred back to a full Quarter Horse after that.
Three Bars is the most popular stallion in the American Quarter Horse Association, and the fun fact about him is that he was a Thoroughbred. He was born in Kentucky in 1940. Injuries troubled his two-year-old season and most of his three-year-old season. He did come back out at the end of the season and win a few races, before being sold. He headed to Arizona with his new owners, who wanted to breed their Quarter Horse mares to him.
The breeding shed was where Three Bars excelled. He passed on all his best characteristics to his offspring, and many popular lines trace back to him today. Mare owners struggled to get their mare on his books or to afford to breed. He died at age 28 and is in the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame.
The breed characteristics of the Appendix are strikingly similar to those of the Quarter Horse. They have some Thoroughbred blood. Horses are taller in most cases, but overall, the breed characteristics are consistent. There are two types of Appendix Quarter Horses, the stock type and the racing type.
Quarter Horses are short and stocky, with extensive muscling. The Appendix is taller; they range from 14.3 to 17 hands instead of 14.3 to 16 hands, with the extra height often coming from longer legs. Weight will usually be on the lower end of the 900-to-1,200-pound range. Colors include sorrel, chestnut, bay, black, palomino, grey, dun, roan, and buckskin. The American Quarter Horse Association high-white rule is true with Appendix Quarter Horses too, so there are no paint coat patterns.
They retain the good disposition that is a hallmark of the Quarter Horse breed. They are social animals, enjoy working, and generally try to please people. Some worried that the infusion of Thoroughbred bloodlines would make the horses hotter, but this is largely untrue, except in individual cases. That’s something we see in all breeds anyway.
The American Appendix Horse Association was formed in 2003. It’s a stand-alone breed registry that accepts a foal born to two Appendix parents, and those with Paint colors or high white. Appendix enthusiasts created it. They wanted a place to register the best of the two breeds.
The American Quarter Horse Association registry maintains strict rules. These include registration of the Thoroughbred with the AQHA, breeding limitations for Appendix horses, and an advancement process for full registration.
The Appendix Quarter Horse Today
Today, the breed is just as popular as its Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred counterparts. Many who own and love an Appendix aren’t aware of the difference between them and their Quarter Horse counterparts. The infusion of Thoroughbred traits provides additional benefits to an already fantastic horse.
Racing, working cattle, in the jumping arena, dressage, polo, speed sports like barrel racing, and anywhere in between are disciplines for these horses. They really do offer the best of both worlds.