Last Updated on April 13, 2022
When choosing the best riding horse breeds, there are many to pick from! Every horse breed has its advantages and disadvantages, and each is suited to different equestrian disciplines. So, whether you want a riding horse for a trail ride or one for high-level dressage competitions, keep reading to find out all about the best horse riding breeds!
How To Pick The Best Riding Horse Breeds
If you are looking for a new riding horse, you can be tempted to try to find a specific breed. While all horse breeds have certain characteristics, within each breed the ability and temperament of each horse can be very different. It is important to take all the characteristics of the horse into account to ensure your needs are met when getting a new riding horse.
Within one breed of horse, you can encounter a huge range of temperaments. Some breeds, such as draft horses, tend to be calmer and more placid, while others, such as the Arabian, are notorious for their fiery nature. However, there are always exceptions in any horse breed, so you may find a calm Arabian or excitable Belgian draft horse!
Age – Best Riding Horse Breeds
The age of a horse is one of the most important factors to consider in a riding horse. Younger horses are less experienced and tend to be unsuitable for novice riders. Older horses are calmer and less unpredictable but may lack the boldness of a younger horse.
How old the horse is will also affect what you can do with it, and how many years of ridden work the horse has left. The skeletal system of the horse does not fully develop until it is 6-8 years old, so a younger horse will need to be ridden carefully to avoid injury. An older horse may have started to get stiff and less agile, and the workload will need to be decreased as it gets older.
Some horse breeds are highly sought after for their physical abilities, however, not all horses of a specific breed will have these talents. For example, Thoroughbred horses are fast, which is why they are used for horse racing. But not all Thoroughbreds are fast enough to race, and some can be quite slow indeed!
Assessing the physical ability of a riding horse can be tricky, especially if you’re buying a younger horse that has not yet reached the peak of its potential. It is a good idea to ask an experienced horse person to assess the conformation and movement of the horse. The pedigree of a horse can give an idea of the potential athletic ability, but this is not an exact prediction.
Popular Riding Horse Breeds
If you’re on the lookout for a new riding horse, here are a few pointers for the best breeds to suit all situations:
Best Riding Horse Breeds For Beginner And Novice Riders
If you are learning to ride and looking for your first riding horse, you will need a breed that is calm and sensible. For smaller adults and children, a breed such as the Fell pony or Haflinger would be suitable. Larger adults would be better suited to a taller horse, such as a draft horse breed.
Best Riding Horse Breeds For Jumping
Jumping over a fence takes skill and accuracy, as well as a bold, brave temperament. Horse breeds that consistently win showjumping competitions tend to be either Thoroughbreds or warmbloods.
Popular warmblood riding horse breeds for jumping include the Hanovarian, Selle-Francais, and Dutch Warmblood.
All of these breeds have a big scope when it comes to jumping ability. However, they are not suitable for a novice rider to learn to jump, as they can be fast and unpredictable.
Best Riding Horse Breeds For Trail Riding
For covering many miles of mountain or woodland trails, many people choose a gaited horse breed such as the Icelandic horse. These horses have an extra or different pace, making them far more comfortable if you are planning on spending many hours in the saddle.
Best Riding Horse Breeds For Western Riding
For Western riding, you will want an agile horse with quick reactions. The American Quarter Horse is always popular for Western riding, as well as the Appaloosa, Morgan, and American Paint horse. These breeds are all very talented at Western riding sports such as reining and barrel racing.
Best Riding Horse Breeds Summary
So, as we have learned, deciding on the best riding horse breeds is not an easy task! This is because each breed of horse is very different in terms of size, temperament, and athletic ability. The right horse breed for you will depend on your experience level as well as what you intend to use it for.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the best riding horse breeds! Are you a big fan of a particularly unusual breed of riding horse? Or maybe you prefer a cross-breed to a pure-bred horse? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Horse Is Best For Beginners?
The best horse for beginners is an older, more experienced mount with a calm, placid temperament. Look for a horse with a forgiving and predictable nature, which will not take advantage of any rider errors.
What Is The Smoothest Riding Horse?
The smoothest riding horse breeds tend to be those that are gaited. These breeds have an extra pace, that is smooth for the rider to sit to in the saddle. These horses are able to cover ground quickly, with minimal discomfort to the rider.
What Breed Of Horse Is The Friendliest?
Although all horse breeds are friendly, some really like to spend time with humans. Small pony breeds, such as the Shetland pony, seem to enjoy the company of people and can be very playful.
What Breed Of Horse Do Cowboys Ride?
Cowboys ride the breeds of horses that are popular in Western riding, such as the American Quarter Horse, Morgan, Paint horse, and Mustang. These breeds are all fast, agile, and quick thinking, making them perfect for covering rough terrain and herding cattle.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse
care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since
she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local
stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She
has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in
various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the
patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went
on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in
the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of
horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for
educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN REVN RVN A1