Quarter Horse VS Mustang: Differences & Questions Answered

Each breed of horse is special in its own way. Surely, it has advantages as well as shortcomings that an owner should be familiar with.

Quarter Horses and Mustangs are old horse breeds in the United States that are both descendants of Spanish horses during the early times.

It is quite interesting to know the characteristics and personalities of these two breeds that shared some similar bloodlines. Are they far different from one another or they also have similarities?


Quarter Horse

The Quarter Horse, also known as American Quarter Horse, is one of the very first horse breeds in the United States.

It is a combination of the bloodlines of domestic Spanish horses and English horses used by the first American colonists during the 1600s. Quarter Horse was bred with local ones like the Chickasaw horses. 

It gets its name from its supremacy in quarter-mile races. It is a very adaptable horse; frequently one of the choices for show-jumping and not just for racing.

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHS) was established in 1940. Today, you can find Quarter Horses in roughly 64 nations across the globe and there are over 3 million of them registered at AQHS headquarter in Texas.


Seeing Quarter Horses in various equine competitions will certainly give you an idea that it is listed as one of the fastest horse breeds.

Usually, they can gallop about 30 miles per hour. But the most competent ones can run beyond 50 miles per hour.

The fastest recorded speed of a Quarter Horse is 55 miles per hour (88.51 kilometers per hour) in a 440-yard race.


Full-grown Quarter Horses can stand from 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches). Their height increased over time with the inclusion of thoroughbreds in their bloodlines.

They usually weigh from 950 pounds to 1,200 pounds; that is 431 kilograms to 544 kilograms.


Quarter Horses are known for their heavily built and compact bodies. They have a subtle-looking small head and a wide chest. Likewise, they have strong hindquarters.

They can be of various solid colors, but the most common is brownish-red. You would also typically see white marks on the face and legs of a Quarter Horse. Currently, this breed has 17 recognized coat shades, counting in blue roan and cremello.

Quarter Horse has two types which are the “bulldog” and the “racing” Quarter. The first one is used commonly as stock horses while the latter is for competitions that resemble a Thoroughbred horse.


You might be one of those thinking that Mustangs are not specifically domesticated breeds. They can be usually seen in wide, grassy lands roaming freely, and not in stables and competitions, which will make you think they are wild horses.

Mustangs’ name originated from “mestengo”, a Spanish term that means “stray animal”.

Contrary to the origin of their name, Mustangs are not wild horses, rather feral ones. Feral horses came from the bloodlines of tame horses in the past and are now living free for ages.

The Spanish horses used by Spanish explorations in the United States during the 16th century were the ancestors of Mustangs. Some of these domesticated horses escaped the Spanish and began their lineage in the desolate places.

Being in various locations, living independently with no specific owners, the total population of Mustangs is indefinite. According to the Bureau of Land Management, their numbers are approximately 58,000; however, the Humane Society thinks that these animals are fewer,


Mustangs are not the usual breeds you see on the race track, so you might be surprised to know that it is one of the fastest horses.

A Mustang was recorded to run at the fastest speed of almost 54 miles per hour (86.90 kilometers per hour).

It is commonly used as agility horses as they can run very fast; as seems like they are flying with the lightness on their feet.


Mustangs are small to medium size horses which stand approximately 13 to 15 hands; that is 52 inches to 60 inches tall.

They are not the big-type of breeds and would just commonly weigh roughly 360 kilograms or 800 pounds. 

Though not large, Mustangs are known to have a strong, muscular physique with a distinct, narrow chest. They are fast, attentive, and strong.


Mustangs are like the magical creatures you may see in the woods as told in fairytales and movies. Them being feral horses in the wild proffers a different aura for them that will make you curious about their freedom.

They have a defined head with a thick mane and foretop. Their almond-shaped eyes have a wide space from each other compared to other breeds, which could either be blue, grey, or green.

They have extensive coat colors but they are commonly bay or chestnut; likewise, they can have spots and stripes.

Differences Between Quarter Horse And Mustang

Quarter Horse and Mustang have differences when it comes to their body, diet, temperament, and life expectancy.

Horses are different from each other, mainly caused by their bloodlines. Although Quarter Horses and Mustangs have both Spanish ancestors, they have evolved over time and now have their distinct personalities.

Quarter Horses have a standard frame but are not properly proportioned to weight since they tend to be quite bulky, which concerns their height. This can cause them various health problems as they mature.

On the other hand, Mustangs have a robust, small to medium physique which is proportioned to their body weight. Since they are not the large breed type, they are not that heavy either.

Another difference between these two breeds is their food intake. A Quarter Horse’s diet is more complex compared to that of Mustang’s.

Quarter Horses should have a healthy intake of proteins, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, and water. They should consume 1.5% to 2% of their body weight daily so a 1,200 pound Quarter Horse should eat at least 18 pounds a day.

Mustangs are usually eating grass, anything that grows, and water from different sources as food in the wild is limited. Mustangs can survive even with a small food intake. A full-grown Mustang typically eats only 5 to 6 pounds of plant feeds daily.

Quarter Horse and Mustang also differ in temperament or behavior.

Quarter Horses are known to be calm and gentle. They are versatile and cooperative, making them a great horse for beginner riders. They are also great with kids and families.

On the other hand, Mustangs have some wild temperaments even though their ancestors are domesticated. Since they are not used to people and most are not trained, only experienced handlers should first manage them.

On the good side, if Mustangs are well trained and well cared they would be great horses for equine competitions.

Another big difference among these two breeds is their life expectancy. Quarter Horses are only expected to live up to 25 years while Mustangs can freely roam up to 40 years.

Below is a simple table showing the differences among Quarter Horses and Mustangs:

 BodyDietTemperamentLife Expectancy
Quarter HorseBody figure is not equally proportional to weight; has a tendency to be overweight.Need a complete set of healthy diets; must eat more but under management; must consume 1.5% to 2% of their body weight dailyCalm, friendly, and great companions for kids and family; recommended for beginner riders.Up to 25 years
MustangHas a body figure that is proportional to its weight.Simple feeds are enough; can survive even with small food amount; typically eats only 5 to 6 pounds of plant feeds dailyHas wild temperament if not tamed properly; not advisable for beginner riders. Up to 40 years

Are Quarter Horses Faster Than Mustangs?

Quarter Horses run faster than Mustangs.

Both the Quarter Horse and the Mustang are included in the list of fastest horse breeds worldwide. Each has its distinct physique, temperament, intelligence, and living environment that greatly contribute to its speed. However, by nature, one is faster than the other.

The fastest run that a Mustang has recorded is 54 miles per hour or 86.90 kilometers per hour

Compared to the fastest logged speed of a Quarter Horse, which is 55 miles per hour or 88.51 kilometers per hour, Mustangs are a few heaps slower.

Which Horse Can Carry More, Quarter Horse Or Mustang?

A Quarter Horse can carry more than a Mustang.

You can never doubt the power of horses when it comes to physical works. Since the beginning, they have been used to pull heavy wagons and carry people on their backs for transportation.

As big and strong as they are, they have specific weight cutoffs that must be understood to prevent accidents and injuries.

In identifying their load capacity, knowing their weight is an important aspect.

Under the United States’ standard rule, a horse can carry 20% of its weight. While in the United Kingdom, the load should be lighter following its regulation that horses should only carry 10% of their body weight.

These are also based on the research that horses can only manage to carry or pull loads that are, at most, 20% of their body weight. If beyond that, they will start to feel physical stress and anxiety.

The United States standard is the most commonly adopted in different parts of the world.

Applying this, a Mustang weighing 800 pounds can carry 160 pounds or 70 kilograms.

A Quarter Horse commonly weighs from 950 to 1,200 pounds. It is heavier than a Mustang which gives you an idea that it can carry or pull heavier individuals or things. With the United States rule, it can carry 190 pounds to 240 pounds; that is 86 to 108 kilograms.

Which Horse Is Bigger, Quarter Horse Or Mustang?

Quarter Horse is bigger than Mustang.

Whenever you see a horse, the first thing that will catch your attention is its muscular, huge body with a shiny coat. It is, definitely, one big creature with delicate yet strong features.

Comparing a Quarter Horse and a Mustang, the first is bigger because it is taller and heavier.

Quarter Horses can grow from 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches). It can weigh around 950 pounds to 1,200 pounds.

Meanwhile, Mustangs can stand from 13 hands (52 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) and would usually be 800 pounds heavy.


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