Which horse is for you? Quarter horse? Arabian? What about a Thoroughbred?
Ah the quarter horse. Strong, versatile and loving. What else could you want from a horse? The breed originated from the crossing of the Spaniards. Some of the breeding of the Quarter horse includes the intelligent English Thoroughbred, Indian ponies such as Chickasaw horse and Arabians. The original use was for cattle herding. The way their bodies are built, short head, strong muscled body and rounded hind quarters gave the horses just enough energy to run short distances.
Back in the old days, late 1700's, they were also used for quarter mile races. Since they don't have long legs like the thoroughbreds or the endurance of the arabians, they could only run for so long. Some of the speeds they were clocked at reached 55 mph! Today, the quarter horses are active in many different disciplines such as; Barrel racing, pole bending, cattle roping, cattle herding and reining.
Many people think that just because they are more laid back horses means they are the perfect horse for everyone. I am not saying they are wrong, nor are the right. Quarter horses are working horses just like any other. They can be stubborn, strong-willed and pushy. Most quarter horses require a strong start on ground work just like every horse. My old mare, Smokey Joe, was a Quarter horse. She came from a bad home. They kept her in a stall 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When my mother first purchased Smokey, the vet just shook her head. Two years later, we cleaned up every show I could enter. Though she had her quirks, she was and still is my heart horse. I have so many good memories with her along with the bad. Four hospital trips and the inevitable, death. To this day, I am glad I feel in love with the scraggly old mare who probably shouldn't of made it through the night, she has made me a better person and a better horse person.
Arabians? Their crazy!
Not all Arabians are crazy. The Arabians I've met are the sweetest, most gentle horses I have had the pleasure to ride. Arabians are lean and slender. Their heads are what attract people. Arabs have a dished nose, and arched neck. They have large, fiery eyes that show passion and work ethic. Their feet are small, rounded and tough. Even though they look fragile, like any wrong move can hurt them, they have to be the toughest horse I've met.
The breeding of the Arabians is pure and old. Arabians come from the Arabian Peninsula, known as Bedouin today. Uses today differ from 4,000-5,000 years ago. Back then, they were used as war horses for the people who domesticated them. They were, and still are, used in endurance races. People today use them for search and rescue, dressage, hunt seat and even show jumping.
Arabians do have their share of genetic issues. Just like with any other horse, do a PPE. PrePurchase Exam. Get health records, shot records and lineage. Some issues they have are, Guttural Pouch Tympany (GPT), a genetic trait causes the pharyngeal opening of the eustachian tube to act like a one-way valve – air can get in, but it cannot get out. Lavender Foal Syndrome, The condition has its name because most affected foals are born with a coat color dilution that lightens the tips of the coat hairs, or even the entire hair shaft. Foals with LFS are unable to stand at birth, often have seizures, and are usually euthanized within a few days of birth. Server Combined Immunodeficiency, at birth, they have no immune system. Most foals born with it, normally die within three months of birth from a infection.
Arabians are a great all round horse. They have many uses and they love to please their "person." With any horse, they do need to know their place. With the way their faces are, big beautiful brown eyes can trick you into not giving the right "punishment." These horses require an owner who is active and strong-willed just like them. The one's I rode, loved to run! Not just a canter, but a straight gallop. When they take off, hang on. They are strong and powerful horses that can be used for many things.
Arab in a traditional halter.
Fun horse facts!
Before we jump into my second favorite breed, Thoroughbreds, I thought some facts would help with your horse choice!
FACT ONE: Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up!
FACT TWO: Foals can run shortly after birth.
FACT THREE: They have around 205 bones in their bodies.
FACT FOUR: Horses can see nearly 360 degrees! This comes from their eyes being on the sides of their heads. (They do have blind spots though! Use caution around them!)
More horse facts here; http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals/horse.html
What is the top trait you look for in a horse?
Last but not least, Thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbreds, ah, what to say about them. They are warriors. We put them through so much, racing, steeplechases, breeding and yet, they still trust and love their people. Many people just associate Thoroughbreds with racing. They can do so much more! Racing, Riding, Breeding, Showjumping, Dressage and even western riding! A lot of people have misconceptions about OTTB's. (Off the Track Thoroughbreds.) One of the first horses I learned to Show Jump with is a OTTB. They have hearts of lions and the work ethic of many, many animals.
The thoroughbreds are strong and thin. Many of them grow above the average Quarter horse,averaging 16 hands, 64 Inches. The tallest known Thoroughbred is Holy Roller, at a staggering 18.1 hands! Holy Cow! The biggest horses are known to be the gentlest of them all. While many people argue that OTTB's are nothing but trouble, they can be wrong. Once the horses come off the track and retire, most of them sadly are sent to slaughterhouses. Lucky ones get to live out their lives on a farm. This is mainly because of the way they are. Hot, feisty and ready to work. I do ask you to not put a beginner on a OTTB. Just with any horse, they can be dangerous.
If you are serious about getting a OTTB, take a few lessons on one. Do your research and look around livestock auctions and tracks. (Only if you are ready for one straight off the track! They can be a handful.) If you would like one that has a little bit of retraining, do an internet search for "New Vocations horse adoptions." Take your time, ask people who own OTTB's, and take notes! Many people will be happy to tell you about their horses, but be warned, they will be straight forward!
Sources and other information.
New Vocations - http://www.horseadoption.com/
Quarter Horses - http://www.aqha.com/
Arabians - www.arabianhorses.org
Here is a cute little quiz if you want to take it - http://www.allthetests.com/quiz05/dasquiztd.php3?testid=1046900446