Last Updated on January 23, 2022
If you are looking for a new horse, you might be wondering which is the best horse breed for trail riding? To cover rough terrain over long distances, a horse needs to be nimble and have high levels of endurance. Let’s take a look at the best trail horse breeds and find out all about them!
What Is A Trail Horse?
Trail horses are used to participate in an equestrian activity called trail riding. This is when horses are ridden along off-road trails, such as forest paths and mountain roads. The distance of a trail ride can be any length, from an hour-long meander to a multi-day trip.
A trail riding horse should be able to maintain a steady pace over long distances. They have high levels of endurance and can handle varying terrain with ease. The best breed of horse for trail riding is one that enjoys long days out on the trail and is not flustered by new situations.
As trail riding often involves meal breaks and overnight camping, a trail horse should be trained to stand without wandering away. Trail horses must also get on well with other horses, as a trail ride may include riding in a large group.
A trail horse must not be easily spooked and should be able to get himself and his rider out of trouble if necessary. They must also be sound, and be able to withstand rocky ground without damage to the hooves.
Best Trail Horse Breeds Revealed
Many trail riders are fans of one particular breed of horse or another, and which is the right one for you depends on many factors. If you are not very experienced, you will want a calmer breed of trail riding horse, but if you want to compete in long-distance endurance events, you may want a more spirited mount.
Here are three of the best horse breed for trail riding:
1: Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is a well-loved breed of horse that remains highly popular as a trail riding horse. This medium build breed has muscular hindquarters and strong limbs, perfect for traversing rough terrain. They are also naturally accustomed to covering long distances, from many years out on the ranch.
Quarter Horses are widely used for trail riding, as they are nimble-footed and have a sensible mindset. This is a breed that will enthusiastically power along forest tracks and mountain trails, and have the sense to stay out of trouble!
If you’re looking for a competitive trail riding horse, then the Arabian might be the one for you. This is the horse of choice for a sport called endurance riding, where horses have ridden distances of up to 100 miles. Arabians were ridden across the desert thousands of years ago, and have incredible levels of stamina.
However, this is not the right horse for an inexperienced rider. Arabians are high-spirited and full of energy. This breed is renowned for spooking at tiny objects, and needs an alert rider!
3: Paint Horse
Closely related to the American Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbred, the Paint is a versatile breed of horse that makes a great trail riding horse. It is a medium-sized breed and has high levels of endurance, as well as a sure-footed and nimble gait.
Paint horses have bloodlines dating back to the 1500s and were historically the mount of choice for both cowboys and Native Americans. This legacy means that they instinctively know how to traverse rough terrain, whilst remaining calm in tricky situations.
So, as we have learned, the best horse breed for trail riding is one that is calm, dependable, and has high levels of stamina.
If you are looking for a purebred horse for trail riding, many people opt for a Quarter Horse. However, an Arabian or Morgan horse would be more suited to competitive trail riding.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on trail riding horses! Do you have a horse that loves to spend hours traversing mountain roads? Or is your pony more suited to wandering along forest trails? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Can Any Horse Be A Trail Horse?
Although some breeds of horse are better suited to trail riding than others, theoretically most horses can become a trail horse. However, if you want to cover long distances or rough terrain, you will need a horse that can handle these conditions.
Factors that make a horse unsuited to trail riding include the wrong temperament. It could be either too fizzy and lively, or one that does not have the enthusiasm to go for many miles.
The horse also needs to be physically capable of what is being asked of it. Some horse types may be too easily injured or not athletic enough to cope with trail riding.
How Do I Find A Good Trail Horse?
If you are on the lookout for a new trail horse, the best place to start is by asking around in your area. Seek local recommendations for reputable horse breeders and sellers, who will produce horses suited to your terrain. Experienced equestrian friends may be able to help you here, as well as professionals such as farriers, saddlers, and feed merchants.
You may also be able to find a good trail horse by searching the internet, but tread carefully here! Look for a seller with a good reputation and feedback, and ensure that they can answer any questions you might have about the horse. It goes without saying that you should test the horse thoroughly before committing to a purchase!
What Does A Trail Horse Cost?
Trail horses are not necessarily very expensive, as they do not need to be a particular breed or have exceptional athletic ability. A reasonably capable trail horse will generally cost less than a top level competition horse. Expect to pay from $1,000 for a reliable and experienced trail horse.
Of course, if you are planning to break and train your own trail horse, you may be able to get one for a cheaper price tag than this.