I am not one of those QH people from your nightmares.
My horse was bred for western pleasure/western riding. He somehow grew to be nearly 17 hands and about 1200lbs (and growing). When he came into my life, he had been under saddle for about a year. To the best of my knowledge, he was started under saddle as a mid to late two year old. He was ridden maybe thirty minutes a couple times a week until I got him. When I test rode him he was being ridden in a western tom thumb bit with a small shank, and roweled spurs (NOT huge rowels).
Since he's been with me, the harshest bit he has ever been ridden in was a D ring very mild correction bit, as that was what he liked at the time. After awhile he stopped liking that bit, so I started trying out different bits. He spent a few days in a slow twist copper D ring, but started gnawing on that bit, so we kept looking. Currently he is ridden in a plain double jointed snaffle, with a little copper roller in the middle. We change it up frequently, and he also rides in a bosal, halter, and a KK Ultra loose ring snaffle. I don't need any more bit to "control" him. He is extremely light mouthed, and very responsive. He has never been ridden in draw reins, or a training fork, or a big western curb, or rockgrinder spurs. He has been lunged in side reins a few times, with the side reins loose, in a plain O ring. That is the most "forceful" training device I've ever put on him. He is generally ridden at home on a loose rein, with plenty of slack. His headset is pretty natural. If he is punky and puts his head in my lap, I will bring my hands down by my knees to guide his neck back down, always using leg pressure at the same time, and never yanking on his face. I have gotten mad and yanked on his face before, but I try my best not to. Most of the time, I barely touch him.
He is not lunged for hours on end, is not over-ridden, is not drugged, and is not on any calming supplements. He is turned out all day long with about seven other geldings. At night he sleeps in a big stall. At times he can be spooky, irrational, punky, and just plain has too much energy sometimes. I don't use any gimmicks or bullying to beat him into submission. We deal with it. Whatever he needs in order to focus, relax, and work, I do for him. Sometimes that means he needs to be allowed to run and buck on the lunge, sometimes he just needs to canter around under saddle for ten minutes with no headset and not a care in the world.
I hate the stigma that "AQHA people" have. Yes, it is true that many of them are people from hell who beat the shit out of their horses to get them to perform. A lot of them use nerve blocking, drugs, draw reins, rockgrinders, shanked bits, gag bits, scary training devices, and tie their horses' heads in the air over night at shows. Some lunge the horse for three hours at the show and ride them three times a day for two hours at a time, on a two year old.
I am not one of those people. And it bothers me when people assume I am.
Quarter Horses are my first love. They are versatile, friendly, safe, reliable, and extremely smart and willing.
Cruizer may be nearly 17 hands and have that gorgeous long, low, hunter movement and look. But he can slow way down and lope along like his 15 hand sire all day long.
So, please don't assume that all of us "AQHA people" are the same.