What is the Difference Between Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

What is the Difference Between Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

A novice will find all horses alike-for instance, a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred look similar. But if you look keenly, you will find their differences. So, what is the difference between a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

Quarter horses are thicker and shorter compared to Thoroughbreds. Both breeds are good in racing, but Quarter Horse is excellent in quarter-mile races. However, Thoroughbreds are experts in longer races of more than a mile.

Let’s compare Quarter Horses and Thoroughbred with their physical traits, speed, personality, training, and health.

What is the Difference Between Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

1. Physical Characteristics

Though Quarter Horses and Thoroughbred are famous, it is crucial to consider their characteristics. Their traits may appear familiar hence easy for anyone to notice their distinctions. First, we cover the aspects of each individual, then their differences.


Thoroughbred is famous for racing. They have lean and tall bodies, hence making them athletic. The horses are not only used in racing but also in other horse-riding sports. They frequently face accidents since they are primarily in races.

A promising quality Thoroughbred has hindquarters, deep chest, lean body, short back, high withers, and a long neck. The withers height is 1.57 to 1.73 meters. Generally, they are dark or brown, but there are other colors for some Thoroughbreds.

Quarter Horse

The Quarter Horse is also called American Quarter Horse. It is used in horse shows and racing, as they are gifted in doing both. Their body is muscular and robust, with rounded hindquarters and a powerful chest. Quarter horses are unique in their refined, small and short head.

The American quarter has three body types; racing or hunter, halter, and stock. You will note that the racing type is taller, while the stock type is smaller and thicker. The halter type is more fibrous in addition to its characteristic muzzle and head. The average wither height is from 1.4 to 1.6 meters.

Quarter Horse has numerous different colors. A horse with spotted color patterns is not purebred unless they have registered parents.

What is the Difference Between Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?


  • The primary breeding purpose for Thoroughbreds is for racing, while Quarter horses are for working, shows and races.
  • Thoroughbreds are heavier and larger than Quarter horses.
  • Generally, Thoroughbreds are slim and tall, while Quarter horses are muscular and short.
  • Thoroughbreds have one body type, whereas Quarter horse has three main body types.
  • Thoroughbreds have long and pointed chiseled heads, while Quarter heads have refined short and small heads.

2. Speed and Racing

Horse riding is an exciting and breathtaking event. Any horse breed can produce a fast horse, but the quickest horse breed should be assertive and sharp. But the difference between them is that some species are good at short distances while others endure long distances. Thoroughbreds are the fastest breed, while quarter Horse comes second.

Both Thoroughbreds and Quarter horse breeds are fast; the difference is their endurance and speed. Their purpose is the same but at different rates. The Thoroughbred has long legs hence taller than Quarter Horse. However, taller legs don’t guarantee fast speed.


Thoroughbred is famous for racing in the mid-length distance. Their purpose is jumping and racing, hence thriving in the jumping horserace. Their athletic build makes them capable of great speed.

Thoroughbreds are hot-blooded, making them best for racing. Its temperate makes the horse extremely competitive. The horse can endure maximum exertion rate, a trait that makes it highly exposed to accidents than other breeds.

Most horse racers use Thoroughbred horses in long races from a mile to two. The original purpose of breeding was gambling. They can move up to 40 mph.

Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse is the second fastest and famous in the US and breeders in the UK. The purpose for breeding this horse was high speed, especially during the early colonial days, with a top speed of 55 mph. The horses excel in horse shows, rodeos and work as ranch horses.

They often perform English horse races. Their compact bodies make them suitable for speedy activities like barrel racing, reining, and calf roping. 

What is the Difference Between Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

3. Personality and Temperament

Athletic breeds are like to have temperaments that are out of their control. They are good in races and always succeed in athletics, but their temper can cause problems out of games.

Quarter Horse

Quarter Horses are a cold-blooded breed. Therefore most of them are calm and docile, which makes them easy to train. Their gentleness and steadiness will make you like to know more about their handler or humans close to them.

It is essential and encouraged to build emotional connections with the horse. It is not fair to conclude that they are easy to keep, but they are neither difficult.

These personalities make Quarter Horses suitable for even beginners to ride. They have a particular intuition regarding their riders’ or handler’s skills. The horses adapt to the environment they sense hence a safe ride for anyone. That explains why Quarter Horses are in most training classes. They are also good in the experimental therapy field.

Quarter Horses have a high intelligence level, which is used as an asset. However, it has some disadvantages. They expect to get a certain level of respect. Their temperament automatically extends to other horses and humans.

Any weird event depends on the interactions. If a Quarter Horse feels that you are taking advantage of their respect, they might be aggressive or be standoffish to the abusive human or animal.

How is the personality of a Quarter Horse an advantage? Steadiness makes Quarter Horses suitable for general chores in ranches. They are strong and agile, hence ideal for cattle work. Most Sporting events feature Quarter Horses because they are versatile.

You will often find them in rodeos and polo events since they learn quickly, have specific movements and respond to given commands immediately. Besides racing, Quarter Horses are used in recreational uses in which they excel.


Thoroughbred horses are clever with a strong work ethic and sensitive nature. They are hot-blooded, therefore, fit for experienced riders.

Thoroughbreds learn how to react to the movements of the rider. It is a trait that makes them easy to train. They like training and look to perfection. Some people mistake their sensitive nature with unruly behavior. However, the actions show the horse is frustrated or desires to work. But under a handler with skilled hands, they can perform better.

Thoroughbreds desire to compete and win. It is a trait commonly known as the heart, which makes them understand their expectation. These horses can give anything to achieve their goals.

How do the two breeds differ in their personalities? 

Personality is what makes a massive difference between Quarter Horses and Thoroughbred. While Thoroughbreds are unruly and aggressive, Quarter Horses are loving and mellow. Nature is what determines if a Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse is right for you.

If you have no children or no experience with a horse, then Quarter Horse is the best option. However, Thoroughbreds are perfect for professional riders who need racing horses. A Quarter Horse is also suitable for professional purposes, but not for long-distance running.

4. Training

What is the Difference Between Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

The experience of the trainer depends on which animal to train. It is also essential to look for horses with the right genetic. A trainer can’t make a horse better than the limit of the genetic potential of the horse. The trainer’s job is to make the horse attain its potential. Furthermore, for a horse to be a good runner, it takes the heart trait and symmetrical balance. Either large or small, a horse should have a good body balance to run better.

If you plan on purchasing both a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred, then your decision should consider their training. Training different horses together will require hard work. You will have to commit the time to train one horse at a time. Few people keep the two breeds together, but a small percentage claim it is not complex as it seems.

Thoroughbred training is not equal to Quarter Horse training. It all depends on the attitude and the ability to follow commands. Both breeds have similar ways of interpreting instructions. Therefore they can train in the same manner. Despite that similarity, Thoroughbreds are challenging to teach for their wild nature. While training, consider this difference; thoroughbreds are good at jumping while Quarter Horses are good at running. With that, you can manipulate them with similar instructions.

How old should a horse be before training?

Most breeds are suitable for horse training are two years old. Some trainers prefer training the horse when it is 18 to 24 months old while others wait for two and a half years old. Thoroughbreds can start training between 18 to 20 months. Quarter Horses mature faster than other breeds, so their coaching can start earlier. However, the breeds are individuals, which means some can develop late. Besides age, consider their physical maturity, confidence, mental maturity, and confirmation from your veterinarian.

5. Health

According to experts, Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds have the same ailments.

Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse is a healthy breed, except for the racing horses that are prone to respiratory issues. To avoid respiratory issues, give them proper vaccinations at their early stages and adequate exercise. Another common health issue is dental infections. They can also develop other oral issues like fractures, swelling, and dental overgrowth.

Besides the preventative measures, Quarter Horse are easy keepers regarding their health and care. If you provide good quality pasture and hay for them, they will thrive and require less maintenance.


Thoroughbreds are mainly for racing purposes; therefore, they have high exposure to health problems. They include low fertility, tiny hooves, heart issues, bleeding lungs, and constitution. They are also prone to oral and respiratory ailments in Quarter Horses.

However, if you use the horse for leisure riding, they will likely not get severe health issues. But they can be bored or become overweight. Thoroughbred horses have high physical demands. Therefore, give them regular exercise to keep them in shape and healthy.


When choosing which breed to purchase, consider the purpose the horse serves. Both the Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbreds are excellent. Therefore if you have a specific task to accomplish, consider health issues, endurance, power, and size. Furthermore, look out for the maintenance cost of the horse.