How to Choose the Right Breed of Horse for You

So you've seen a few television shows, a couple of movies, and you've borrowed "Horse Breeds of the World" from your local library, but you're still confused. What breed of horse is right for you? What activities can you do with each one? This guide will not tell you which breed to buy, but it will help make your choices a little simpler.


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    Choose a style of riding you like or want to try. Perhaps you like English with all the fancy English Breeches and Hunt Jackets, or you might like Western Pleasure with the glitzy belts and ultra slimming caps. Whatever it is you like, learn as much about it as you can. Each discipline is different, and requires a different style of horse. Everyone says that the discipline or style they do is the best. Choose a style that suits you. If you think you will look great in Jodhpurs, GREAT! go for an English style horse. The most important thing when choosing a breed for a style of riding is that you want to do it.
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    Choose a colour. Colours are not as important unless you plan on showing your horse. Performance matters more than colour. Despite this, all horse owners tend to go for a colour they like. Some prefer Paints, others like Chestnuts or Bays, and some prefer Appaloosas or Buckskins. Whatever you like, try to look for a breed that comes in the colour you like. When choosing a horse, temperament and soundness always come first; colour should be secondary. However, if you do not like the colour of a horse, there is a greater chance that you will not approach a horse of that colouring. If someone doesn't like Appaloosas, they won't go near one, it is the same with any other colour. A good horse enthusiast doesn't choose a colour, but chooses a colour of choice. This is not the single colour they like, but the colour they most prefer.
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    Test driving, or "Trialing", a horse is a great way to find out if you like the horse and if it suits you. This is probably the best way to choose a breed of horse. As many breeds of horses may be interpreted differently by many different views. My friend had a Palomino and it was crazy or My sister had an Appaloosa and it was ugly. Different people have different views so it is best to try it for yourself. Some horses can be ugly, and some can be bad-tempered, rude or naughty. Others can be really pretty, handsome and can be well-mannered and quite intelligent and striking. As a rider becomes more advanced in Horsemanship they begin to learn more about horses in general and begin to learn what they want out of a horse. Most beginners want a horse that is the same gender as them, and that has a personality they like. Most boys want a horse that is tough and handsome, whereas Girls want a pretty girl horse or a really handsome boy horse.
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    Select a Discipline you want to compete in. You have selected a style of riding, for example English. The style of riding has many events and disciplines. For English there is:- Dressage, Showjumping, 3 Day Eventing, Hack, Hunt Seat, Equitation, Show Riding etc. In Western the Disciplines also vary from:- Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship and Equitation, Trail, Reining, Western Riding, Showmanship and Western Halter. There are also other disciplines which are their own style. Cross Country is neither English nor is it any other style except for really a Jump style. You may also enjoy Vaulting (Gymnastics on Horseback), Polo and Polo Cross, Gymkhana Riding, Mounted Games, Sporting...the list goes on. If you are interested in Dressage for example, then a horse that is best for Dressage would be a Galloway or a Hack horse with training in this field, if you decide upon a Jumping Discipline, (3 Day Event incorporates Dressage, Showjumping and Cross Country - so you need a horse that can do all three) such as Showjumping, then you will need a horse with balance, stamina and that is well mannered and of course...that can jump. Some people like to compete in Carriage Classes or Harness Work. This is a class that caters for Draft, Heavy Horses and light Carriage horses and ponies. The best breeds for these classes are the typical Carriage style breeds such as Welsh Ponies, Drafts and Clydesdale's. However, many breeds can do Harness work, they however need to be trained in it. The best thing to do is choose a discipline you want to compete in or ride in and then search for a horse that meets the standards for a basic competition in that field.
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    Choose a breed of horse. You have done the study, decided on a style and discipline and now all you have to do is make a final decision. This point will provide some of the more obvious breeds suitable for the choices you have selected from above.
    • Showjumping/Cross Country: Any breed of horse is suitable. From Stock Horses through to Appaloosas to Pony breeds and Mustangs. Stay away from HOT horses if you are a beginner as jumping can increase their excitement level.
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    • Western: The typical western breeds are Appaloosa, Paint, Quarter Horse, however, these days show provide classes for many other breeds to take part in this worldwide event.
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    • Dressage: Any breed goes for Dressage, however, there are some breeds more suited to it. These include TB's, Warm bloods, Lipizzaner's and Connemara's as well as your general Pony Cub style horses and ponies.
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    • English: Any breed of horse can Hack around a ring. Some horses are better than others, but this comes down to training. Horses to stay away from would be your Hotheaded TB, however, if you are more advanced these breeds can be great in a show ring. Other breeds you can use are Appaloosas, Quarter Horses, Warm bloods, Stock Horses, Welsh ponies and most breeds.
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    • Gymnastic Riding: A horse that is of a solid, but lean stature is best, such as Lipizzaners, Connemara, Percheron, etc. However, a sturdy horse with a good stamina for moving gymnastics includes Appaloosa, Paint, etc.
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    • Pleasure: A pleasure horse is just a horse that may be used for showing, trail riding, getting exercise, or just being a friend. Any breed can be used for pleasure; although if you are inexperienced you may want a breed like a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Quarter Horse, an Appaloosa, or Mustang. Of course, most of it depends on how good the horse is trained.


  • Trial a horse before you buy it. Trialing means you bring the horse home without purchasing it. You can ride it or compete with it, depending on what the owner permits. This gives you time to judge the horse and get to know him or her prior to the final purchase.
  • Read and learn as much as you can about the specific breed of horse you are interested in.
  • Ride a large variety of horses before you decide on one breed.
  • Morgans and Arabians are quite versatile and you can find a horse for any discipline in each breed.
  • Morgans & Friesians are very Good dressage horses. I suggest trying one out if that is your discipline of choice.


  • Always wear a helmet when riding, even if you choose an event that allows no helmet (such as western). Training with a helmet is important; in the show ring you can go without, but always wear a helmet when possible.
  • When riding a new horse that you are training don't overdo it. Ride with consideration to the horse and the owner.

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Categories: Buying and Owning a Horse