Since the creation of the American Quarter Horse Association more than 50 years ago, breeders have been perfecting the bloodlines of the American Quarter Horse to produce a high quality, versatile animal. AQHA has set forth a strict set of guidelines regarding registration of American Quarter Horses. American Quarter Horses are allowed only limited white markings on the face and below the knees. If you see white anywhere else in spots or patches, you're not looking at an American Quarter Horse. In addition, there are 13 accepted colors recognized by AQHA. The most prominent of these colors is sorrel (reddish brown), with the others being bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, dun, red dun, gray, grullo, palomino, red roan and blue roan. The official gray color is what most people call white, but it's interesting to note that there are no "white" American Quarter Horses.
Beyond their appearance, a registered American Quarter Horse foal (baby) is the product of a numbered American Quarter Horse dam (mare or mother) and a numbered American Quarter Horse sire (stallion or father). AQHA also offers an appendix registry for foals with one numbered American Quarter Horse parent and one Thoroughbred parent registered with The Jockey Club.
Other identifiable characteristics of the breed are heavy muscling, sprinter's speed, versatility, keen cow sense and a gentle nature. From the past where the American Quarter Horse origins can be traced to ranching and racing, to the present where American Quarter Horses excel in a variety of events, the American Quarter Horse gives an individual many outlets for enjoyment, thus making it the world's most popular breed.