Foundation Quarter Horses

What is a Foundation Quarter Horse?

King P-234

Poco Bueno


Simply stated, a Foundation Quarter Horse is a Quarter Horse whose bloodline goes back to the original Quarter Horses at the time of the breed’s formation. Foundation Quarter Horses typically will have percentage qualification that represents the percentage of their pedigree that is Foundation. This percentage may be calculated differently by different organizations but typically it involves identifying the number of Thoroughbreds in horse’s ancestry. There may also be restrictions based on the amount of weight markings and/or the amount and strength of breed characteristics a horse exhibits.


The Foundation Quarter Horse is easily recognized by his body shape and unique conformation. He is more horse for the height than is found in any other breed. Built low to the ground, much of the time he does not exceed fifteen hands, but due to his build will often weigh twelve hundred pounds or more. The pattern of his muscle adorns nearly every part of his body.

There is his small alert ear, wide set honest bright eye that windows his great intelligence and kindness, bulging jaw, neck of moderate length joined low into his sloping shoulder, topped by a well defined wither. A short back with strong lion, deep barrel with long underline, well sprung ribs with great heart girth.

The space between the forelegs is ample to supply for a wide, well developed chest, while the forearms, gaskins, and hindquarters carry the muscle that separates the Foundation Quarter Horse from all others. Seen from the rear the power filled stifles are wider than the croup.

The bones of the Foundation Quarter Horse are trim, dense, and sturdy. His rugged frame is necessary to support the bulk that provides his strength. The cannon bones are short and flat set above strong pasterns. The foot is deep with open heel, well rounded with sufficient size. When under observation, the animal displays his divine design.

Source: FQHR


  • A horse must be registered with the American Quarter Horse Association
  • At lease 80% foundation—No more than 20% Thoroughbred blood.
  • Horses must be one of the following colors: Sorrel, Black, Bay, Brown, Grullo, Dun, Red Dun, Chestnut, Red Roan, Blue Roan, Bay Roan, Gray, Palomino, or Buckskin. Horses possessing all three characteristics of pink skin, blue eyes, and white or creme colored coat are not acceptable.
  • White Markings: A horse may not have any white markings above the middle of the knee or point of hock, nor beyond an imaginary line drawn from the bottom outside edge of each ear, then to the outside bottom edge of the opposite ear, then to the corners of horse’s mouth, and from there under the chin. Horse may not exhibit any belly spots or any white spots with underlying pink skin other than on face or lower legs such that it cannot be completely covered with a disk one inch in diameter. Horses certified prior to 10/15/03 with non-complying white markings ARE grandfathered in, BUT their offspring must comply.
Source: NFQHA

The Foundation bred quarter horse is a distinct part of our American heritage, which can only be maintained by the careful selection and linebreeding of the legendary lines. Some of those lines are Joe Hancock, King P-234, Skipper W, Driftwood, Joe Reed II, Oklahoma star, Old Sorrel, Wimpy, Poco Bueno, and the legendary Three Bars.