Finding the best horse for a beginner
Which breed of horse has the best temperament for learning to ride?
There is no breed that is automatically safe for a beginner, yet every breed has individuals who would be perfect. While it is true that some breeds are naturally calmer and easy going -- quarter horses and morgans come to mind -- every individual within the breed will be unique.
A good horse for beginners will be steady, patient and able to deal with mistakes from the rider. Ideally, they should be ready to make up for the rider's mistakes (ie receiving the wrong cues but figuring out what the rider wants anyway), but that isn't the most important quality. The most important quality in a beginner's horse is safety. A horse that's cautious and knows how to take care of itself will keep the beginner out of trouble. As you can see, these are personality and experience traits that have nothing to do with the horse's breed.
Teach him to ground tie
Teach him to stand still while mounting
The real question you should be asking is how to find a competent riding instructor. A good riding instructor will provide horses that are tried and true, willing to babysit while you make mistakes and quite amenable to working through the rough patches.
The worst mistake a person can make is trying to learn to ride on their own. There is just no way you can understand the intelligence and thinking patterns of the horse enough to be safe without someone to help you through the first year. Horses are trained to respond to a certain pattern of communication. If you haven't been schooled in that horse's pattern, you can't communicate correctly.
Teach him how to stop
I train my horses to stop dead at the word "whoa." This is a safety feature in case of equipment failure. One horse I sold was resold. A friend saw that horse and his new owner. She had a broken arm and was terrified of him. What happened? She was cantering on the dirt beside a busy street. She came to a cross street and said, "whoa." He stopped. She didn't. It wasn't his fault. He did what he was told. Her previous horse didn't stop that quick, so she didn't expect it from him. If she'd understood his cues, the accident wouldn't have happened.
You don't want to suffer the same fate, so look around your town for a good instructor. Ask at the feed store, the tack shop or anywhere horse people gather. Keep asking until you get several solid recommendations for the same person. Then treat yourself to a safer way to learn. You'll enjoy your time with horses all the more.
Which breed of horse you eventually choose will depend upon what you want to do while riding. For instance, western breeds are better suited to barrel racing, cattle work and western riding while other breeds are better suited for dressage and jumping. Your riding instructor can help you find the ideal horse both for your purpose and your skill level.
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- Part I: Kid Horses - The Realities and the Myths
Information, advice and suggestions on choosing a kid's horse from lady trainer with 60 years experience in the horse business. Series of Articles.
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