Make Your Mark - Craft the Perfect Quarter Marks on Horses

Updated May 11, 2023

Horse quarter marks are a design, generally done on the croup, for exhibitions and competition. They are also commonly seen on police horses during ceremonial events. Quarter marks are created by combing hair in different directions by hand or using a template.

There are endless possibilities for quarter mark patterns and designs as it’s the perfect opportunity to put your creative mark on your horse’s grooming. You can go from simple with diamonds to your favorite motif, depending on your artistic skills.

How to Do Quarter Marks on Horses 

Getting Started

Always start by brushing the hair in its natural direction with either a wet sponge or brush. You may also use a fly spray to dampen the coat, as this gives a little extra hold for the pattern. You cannot get the coat too wet; the moisture helps the design show up better.

Stencil in a Quarter Mark

If you are a beginner when it comes to crafting quarter marks on horses, you should purchase a pre-made quarter mark stencil. Some people also decide to showcase their artistic abilities by making their own!

If using a stencil, you need to line the top up with the dorsal line of the horse's back. Using a short-haired stiff brush, stroke the brush down over the entire stencil. Be careful when removing the stencil so you don’t drag it across the pattern. Ensure you lift it clear off of the horse’s quarters.

Free Hand Quarter Marks on Horses

In these videos, renowned eventing groom Emma Ford demonstrates two of her favorite free-hand quarter marks. Here are Emma's step-by-step tips on on achieving the look.

Racing Stripes and Shark Teeth Quarter Marks

The shark teeth can be changed to your choice, 3, 4, or 5 stripes, depending on the size of your horse’s quarters!

Again using a short-haired stiff brush, draw two strokes vertically from the horse’s dorsal line. Put one brush-width between each stroke. To tidy up the pattern, brush the coat in the normal direction along the top and bottom of the stripes. This should leave sharp definitive lines.

First, brush the coat in its natural direction for the shark teeth. Then, using a semi-circle pattern, think about brushing the top half of the circle below your stripes. Now imagine cutting off one-quarter of the semi-circle. Do this three or four times, and remember, if you make a mistake, just go back and brush the coat in its normal direction and start again!

Lastly, draw a half moon into the horse's rear. Standing at the tail, draw a semi-circle starting at the top of the tail and down towards the top of the hind leg. Fill in the center by brushing the coat in its natural direction.

The V Quarter Mark Design

At approximately a 45-degree angle, starting at the dorsal line above the flank, brush diagonally down towards the center of the quarters. The second line begins about one hand’s width from the top of the tail. To sharpen the design, brush a line across the top and bottom of the ‘V’ in the natural direction of the hair.

Diamond Quarter Marks on Horses

To get this quarter mark look, take a fine tooth hair comb for people. Measure approximately one inch and cut the comb into inch pieces. For a sharper look, use the center section of the comb, as the end pieces have the largest teeth on the outside and therefore do not create such a clean line.

Starting in the center of the quarters, approximately one hand’s width from the dorsal line, use the comb to swipe a single one inch square into the hair. Swipe two more squares using the outside corners as a guideline for the next row, swipe two more squares. Do three or four consecutive rows, decreasing the number of squares until you form a diamond shape. When doing the opposite side, stand on a step stool to correctly align the first square with the opposite side.

The Half-Diamond Quarter Mark Design

Again using the comb, draw a line with the edge approximately one hand’s width perpendicular to the dorsal line. Draw in a line of inch squares, leaving a comb’s width between each square. Move down the pattern, decreasing in number of squares until you have one square at the bottom.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice is the only way to get good quarter marks on horses. Play around with them during your daily grooming sessions and remember: practice makes perfect!

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.