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Finding the Best Horse for a Beginner

Updated on October 18, 2017
This bucking pony is a good illustration that ponies and age don't always make the best mounts for children.
This bucking pony is a good illustration that ponies and age don't always make the best mounts for children.
Paso Finos are smooth gaited, a trait that beginners appreciate. They also tend to be easy going.
Paso Finos are smooth gaited, a trait that beginners appreciate. They also tend to be easy going.
A sensible horse will take care of you in all situations, including the unfamiliar.
A sensible horse will take care of you in all situations, including the unfamiliar.

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.

© 2010 Loretta Kemsley


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    • Loretta Kemsley profile imageAUTHOR

      Loretta Kemsley 

      7 years ago from California

      You've made wrong assumptions about me, probably based on prejudice against ponies from other people. I adore ponies.

      My father ran pony tracks, as did my uncles and grandfather. Dad always had a herd of ponies, of varying levels of reliability, size and age. Our ponies appeared in movies, on TV and in pony acts. I still miss my favorite ponies. Even though I had horses, I bought a pony for my daughters and recommended them for my students when appropriate. There is a POA in my backyard as we speak.

      I'm working on a nonfiction book about ponies called "The Ponyman's Daughter." I'm including my favorite memories of favorite ponies from my youth.

      So please don't think I used that photo because I am against ponies. I used it because of the obvious danger to the child who is about to lose her seat because the pony is bucking. While you may interpret it as loping, and I can see why you would, he was bucking. I watched him on video.

      I don't want people to think because ponies are small, they are safe. Some are. Some aren't. Just like horses. That was the only point I was making.

      There are many reasons why a child would be safer on a good pony. They are closer to the ground, thus would not fall as hard if a fall occurred. Their legs fit the pony's barrel better than they could horse, providing a better seat and better communication. The better fit also applies to communication via the bridle.

      The problem with ponies is usually because there is not a skilled child rider to keep them behaving well, and they are too small for an adult. Or perhaps there is no adult who knows enough to work with them on the ground or help the child. Quite often, this allows them to learn bad habits.

      Ponies should be treated the same as horses: judged as individuals and assessed for their ability to work with the rider and that rider's skill level.

    • profile image

      Pony Breeder 

      7 years ago

      That pony does not look like it is bucking, it looks like it is loping, so please don't say it is bucking and plus some parents like a pony because the children are usually not scared on them. But I get your point, but some people can't afford a good horse and have to get a pony, it teaches the kid to be a better rider than they would ever be on a Paso Fino.

    • Loretta Kemsley profile imageAUTHOR

      Loretta Kemsley 

      8 years ago from California

      Hi, Flyby,

      Good to meet a fellow equestrian. I lost my beloved Jesse yesterday. He's been a good friend for 34 years. I bought him for my daughter as a yearling, then sold him to a friend when he was eight. My dauther had moved on to jumpers, and I knew Sally would take wonderful care of him. Part of our agreement was that he'd never leave my life. Except to the inevitable. He passed peacefully with my daughter, our dear vet and myself keeping him company. Sally was on the phone because she could not be here. Your message today was a perfect antidote for the tears. If you'd like to see a photo of our gorgeous golden boy, there's one here

      This was one of the first hubs I made when I arrived and couldn't figure out how to add photos and video. I decided to do so while I was here today.

      The whoa is the most important safety training a horse can have. I too ground tie my horses, which is just another variation of whoa and stand still. Since we train our horses something every time we ride them -- good or bad -- it's important even for beginners to know how to train or keep their horses obedient to these safety measures. The videos teach these three important principles: whoa, stand still and ground tie.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nice hub. You did a great job here. It shows you know what you are writing about. I too had a horse who listened to the "whoa" command. He got loose once and took off back to the stble. I yelled "Whoa" and everyone laughed. But they stopped when he halted and I was able to go and pick up the lead and bring him back. Taught him to ground tie too. Anyhow it saved me a long walk. Oh and I was not the one he had gotten away from. Horses and dogs, for saftey sake, need to listen and obey at the first command. I totally agree with you and hope tons of people will read the excellent advice you give.

    • Loretta Kemsley profile imageAUTHOR

      Loretta Kemsley 

      8 years ago from California

      You're welcome. I've spent a lifetime with these great four-legged friends. I hope you get to do the same because their presence has really enriched my life.

    • LeonJane profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Wow awesome hub and great answer, thanks!


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