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What Breed, What Discipline? A guide to what horses excel at what.

Updated on June 10, 2011

Riding Discipline is based on two main Disciplines, English and Western. They both require different skills, and different tack. They also usually require different uniform. They are each a different lifestyle. They both then divide down into smaller disciplines, which vary but stay in the same saddle and idea.

I'm going to begin by saying that pretty much any breed can do anything. But you really don't want a small pony or a draft for barrel racing, do you? They would not excel at that. For barrel racing you would want a light and fast breed with good movement.

When looking for a horse for a specific Discipline, you need not to look only at the breed. Look closely at confirmation, temperament, and ability. Breeds only have good qualities that help in a sport.


English Disciplines

Dressage: For dressage you want a good mover, as that is what dressage is about. The most common Horses are Hanoverians, Haflingers, and Andalusians (Lusitano). German/Danish Warmbloods are also very popular in that category. However Friesians and Lipizzaner’s are growing in popularity.

Show Jumping: Show Jumping horses are usually preferred with good legs and lots of muscle. The horse should also be very surdy and good on its feet. Thoroughbreds, Irish sport Horses, and most warmbloods to very well in this activity.

Cross Country: For Cross Country you want a sturdy, good moving horse known for Endurance. Arabians, thoroughbreds, and warmbloods are all good choices. Australian stock horses are also good and gaining in Cross Country popularity. Fjords and Hanoverians are also gaining in popularity.

Hunter Jumper: You generally want a light, sturdy horse for Hunter Jumper. Common breeds include the Welsh pony, Oldenburg, Thoroughbred, American Warmblood, Duch Warmblood, Hanoverian, Holisteiner, and quarter horse.

Vaulting: For Vaulting You generally want a sturdy, draft breed. It should have a nice wide and flat back. The horse should also be calm and durable. Most Draft Crosses will work, but belgians and Percherons are very popular breeds for vaulting.

An English Jumper
An English Jumper
Western Barrel Racing
Western Barrel Racing

Western Disciplines

Barrel Racing: For Barrel Racing the horses must be agile, and be able to chage leads quick. You also need a muscular, athletic Horse. Barrel Racing Horses should also be fast. Quarter Horses are by far the most popular for this sport. Quarter Horses have always been noted as the best. Other Breeds include Appaloosas, Paint Horses, and Arabians.

Cutting: Typically Quarter Horses are used for cutting. But you don't as much look at the breed for cutting. You just want an agile and quick horse that is okay with calves. Cutting Horses have to chase down and rope Calves.

Reining: For reining you want an agile, nice moving horse. The horse has to practice many movements, and perfect them. The horse should also be very responsive to the rider's commands. Temperament is also a key. Again, Quarter Horses are very popular in Reining.

Endurance: Endurance can be any saddle, but usually western. you want a horse with strength, most importantly, stamina. It should also have very good attitude. Morgans, arabians, and trotters are very good breeds.

English Or Western Discipline?

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    • profile image

      Taylor McCoy 5 months ago

      I think this is a great place to start when considering breeds.

      It's also important though to understand how to evaluate individual personality of the horse and how different breeds may match different rider skill levels. For example, thoroughbreds can excel greatly at eventing sports, but many of them can be hot-headed and not recommended for someone who isn't used to riding different types of horses, especially high energy horses.

      I have ridden many types of horses and I believe each horse has something different to teach us. Many horses have potentials outside of their stereotypes. For example, I've ridden plenty of draft crosses through hunter and dressage courses and I have ridden mixed breed ponies in equitation shows and over hunter courses.

      Flat work is very important no matter what discipline you decide to pursue. It's all about communication with your horse and building a bond and understanding to allow you to work as a team with your horse.

    • amanda5577 profile image

      Amanda 2 years ago from Michigan

      I think this is a great place to start when considering breeds.

      It's also important though to understand how to evaluate individual personality of the horse and how different breeds may match different rider skill levels. For example, thoroughbreds can excel greatly at eventing sports, but many of them can be hot-headed and not recommended for someone who isn't used to riding different types of horses, especially high energy horses.

      I have ridden many types of horses and I believe each horse has something different to teach us. Many horses have potentials outside of their stereotypes. For example, I've ridden plenty of draft crosses through hunter and dressage courses and I have ridden mixed breed ponies in equitation shows and over hunter courses.

      Flat work is very important no matter what discipline you decide to pursue. It's all about communication with your horse and building a bond and understanding to allow you to work as a team with your horse.