Written by: Holle Abee
Horses are just like people: Every group has its good and its bad members. I’ve had Morgans, generally regarded as extremely gentle, that were totally unmanageable. On the other hand, one of the sweetest, calmest horses I’ve ever handled was a Thoroughbred, a breed usually regarded as high-strung and nervous. With that said, it is true that that certain breeds overall are quieter and easier to handle in general than other breeds, so a good place to begin your search for a reliable mount would be these breeds:
- Quarter Horse – The most popular breed in the US, the Quarter Horse is usually calm, gentle, and willing. Those of foundation bloodlines generally are better for beginners than their appendix-registered cousins are. A typical foundation-bred Quarter Horse is short, stocky, and muscular, and if properly trained, can excel in practically any discipline.
- Tennessee Walking Horse – These horses have an attractive, flashy appearance and a smooth comfortable gait. They generally have a sweet temperament and are easy to train. They are of average size, with a lot of action. They excel in gaited show classes, and because of their rocking-chair smoothness, they make excellent trail and pleasure mounts.
- Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse – This fairly new breed ranges in height from 13 hands to 16 hands. They’re medium boned and hardy, with long mane and tail. Because of their smooth four-beat gait, they’re often recommended for riders with back problems. They have a calm disposition and make a good all-around horse, especially for trails and driving.
- Missouri Fox Trotter – The trotter stands 14.2-16.2 hands, with a short back, sloping shoulder, deep chest, slender body, and powerful legs. Their fast, comfortable gait, along with their surefootedness, makes them excellent trail mounts. They cover the equine color spectrum, except for Appaloosa markings. Most trotters are docile and willing.
- Arabian – Arabians run the gamut from high spirited to dog gentle. An older, gentle Arabian is hard to beat for a beginning rider. They’re one of the most beautiful breeds, and they often form close bonds with their owners and handlers. Arabians excel in all disciplines and dominate endurance riding competitions.
- Appaloosa – These colorful spotted horses are of average size and hardy build. The breed has been influenced by many other breeds, so you might find an Appy with a “bulldog” Quarter Horse body or one with the long legs and body of a Thoroughbred. Foundation Appaloosas have a small, lean body and a sparse mane and tail. Most Appaloosas are intelligent, gentle, and surefooted. Depending on their body type, they can compete successfully in any discipline, including racing. They make great trail horses, too.
If you’re planning on competing in a certain discipline, this should have an impact on your choice of breeds. If you’re just looking for a good pleasure horse or trail horse, consider the animal’s age. An older horse that has been exposed to a wide variety of situations generally makes the best mount for a beginner. Gender is also a factor. Stallions are definitely not for beginners. Mares can be gentle, but they can also be moody. A gelding is the most dependable. As many experience horsemen say, “A good gelding is the same horse every day.”