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What are the Best Breeds for First Time Horse Owners?

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American Quarter Horse

This American Quarter Horse is America's favorite breed for a reason. They often make great family horses and are at home on the trail or in the show ring.

Image: K. Blocksdorf

Question: What are the Best Breeders for First Time Horse Owners?

Is there a breed that is best for the beginners? Some breeds are more popular because they tend to have a quieter nature, and are less likely to out-think a beginner rider.

Answer:

While some breeds may be more suitable than others for a beginner rider, there are always exceptions to the rule. Quarter Horses often make great beginner horses because of their even temperament, but some can be quite "hot" or energetic for a beginner. But, overall  an American Quarter Horse is a good choice for a new rider. There is, after all, a reason why this breed is America’s favorite.

Arabians are reputedly hot. However, many are quiet and trustworthy. Likewise Thoroughbreds, that are largely bred to be race horses, aren’t always the best choice for a beginner. But of course, there are some that are quiet and steady, and make great first horses. So there is no right or wrong breed for a beginner. The individual temperament of the horse and its training are more important than its pedigree.

Many new owners like draft crosses and draft breeds. These horses often have a quiet demeanor that beginners, and some older riders enjoy. These horses tend to be less spooky, more forgiving of a beginner’s mistakes and are generally quiet and steady. The downside of drafts and draft crosses is their size. Sometimes saddle fit and tack sizing can be difficult. For a rider with shorter legs or decreased flexibility, just getting on and sitting on a very large horse can be a challenge. The larger the horse the larger the feed bill as well.

Many new owners and riders are attracted to gaited breeds like Kentucky Mountain Horses and Icelandic Horses. These horses are bred for good temperaments and hardiness. But, again, much depends on individual temperament and training.

A beginner rider is wise to choose a horse by its temperament and training, rather than focusing on breeding. Older horses tend to be more predictable than younger horses, and no matter what the breeding, an un-broke or 'project' horse is always unsuitable. Spend time with the horse, try it out and learn as much as you can about its manners, both on the ground and while you ride. This will give you a better idea of whether the horse is right for you, rather than basing your choice on a particular breed.

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