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Say Yes to the Horse: 11 Best Breeds for First Time Horse Owners

Written by Horse Rookie

Life is short. Buy the horse. (Just make sure it’s the best first horse for you.)

As someone who dreamed about getting her own horse for more than thirty years, I really didn’t want to make a mistake when I finally had the chance as an adult.

Even after people spend decades preparing and pouring over breed books like the Smithsonian’s Horse Recognition Guide, many still feel overcome with uncertainty and wonder, “What’s the best breed of horse for first time horse owners?”

Here are 11 horse breeds that are traditionally strong fits for first-time owners:

(Plus, check out our infographic on the best horse breeds for first timers!)

My first horse: American Quarter Horse

I have zero regrets about purchasing an American Quarter Horse!

Of these, the American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed for first timers — and for good reason.

Their sane and willing temperament, versatility across disciplines, and physical strength and durability are unmatched, making them a true family horse.

Within the breed, you can find a wide variety of body types, energies, and natural abilities to suit any age, size, or style of new horse owner. No wonder the AQHA is the largest breed organization in the world.

Even though (spoiler alert!) I chose a Quarter Horse, your choice is a personal one that should depend upon your goals, personality, skill level, and preferences.

Want to go big or go home? Check out our 6 Tall Horse Breeds.

No two horses are the same. Even within a breed, there can be significant variety in personality, training, physique, and health.

As you begin your search for the first horse, engage an experienced trainer, rider, or vet to help ensure you ask the right questions and find the best match for you.

If you’re also in the market for your first horse trailer, read our blog about Horse Trailer Weights by the Numbers and our Ultimate Packing & Horse Trailering Checklist.

See Our Horse Riding Essentials Amazon List

American Quarter Horse

American Quarter Horse

American Quarter Horse

Living out west, in itself, made the Quarter Horse a top contender. It feels like no matter where you go in this state, you’re always only a stone’s throw away from a Quarter Horse. (There 5 million registered in the world, but it feels like 4 million of them live here!)

This breed is most commonly associated with western riding, and Quarter Horses and cattle (especially) go hand-in-hoof. But, this versatile breed can do far more than work a cow.

You might like owning an American Quarter Horse if you:

  • Value substance over style: Before AQHA owners flock to my virtual doorstep with pitchforks, I’m not saying this breed isn’t beautiful. (Scroll through my iphone camera roll if you don’t believe me!) However, those who love this breed typically care more about what’s on the inside than the outside. Quarter Horses are notoriously willing partners
  • Need a true workhorse: If you’ve got a serious job to do, you’ll be grateful to have a Quarter Horse by your side. Whether you’re moving cattle, checking fences, or running a therapeutic riding program, these natural athletes are known for their ability to learn the job, what you expect, and execute it faithfully day-in, day-out.
  • Want no muss and no fuss: Quarter Horses are built to last with compact frames, solid feet, and muscle, muscle, muscle. Though routine care is key to keeping any horse healthy and sound, I can attest that the sheer way my horse is built has resulted in far fewer health issues than many of the other horses at my barn. Plus, he’s sane enough not to get himself into trouble when left alone for more than five minutes…
  • Like hitting the road (or trail): If you plan to go on frequent trail rides, camp with your horse, or ride in rough terrain, Quarter Horses are a great fit. They’re strong enough to carry most any man, but they’re also small enough to make hopping on and off easy. (No one wants to pull a groin muscle getting back on after a nice picnic lunch, amiright?) Plus, they’re curious but calm creatures who genuinely enjoy exploring the great outdoors.
  • Want a many-trick pony: If you’re anything like me, one discipline simply isn’t enough. I’m curious about so many forms of riding that I wanted a horse who could do it all (to some extent). I purchased a finished reined cow horse, but I knew he was athletic and adaptable enough to learn anything. After ten years of pure western riding and reined cow horse training, he’s now my partner for dressage, trail riding, jumping, eventing, and cow work. (If my horse were a high-school athlete, he’d letter in every sport.)
  • Love a strong community: No matter where you go, you’ll find other Quarter Horse fans. The community associated with this breed is simply massive, whether you’re looking for online groups, show opportunities, or local AQHA owners to hang out with.

Quarter Horses also made our list of the 4 Best Horse Breeds for Beginners and the 3 Calmest Horse Breeds.

Hold Your Horses:

Versatility comes at a price. Being good at everything doesn’t mean you’re great at everything. Can my Quarter Horse jump a three-foot course? Sure. Does he have the stamina to gather cattle in the mountains all day? You bet.

Is he going to be a Grand Prix candidate for the US Olympic Jumping Team or a professional endurance horse in the deserts of Dubai? Not so much.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the American Quarter Horse Association

Note: Wish you could have the brain of a Quarter Horse in a body that’s a bit flashier, faster, or better suited for jumping and eventing? You can, and it’s called an Appendix Quarter Horse. These Quarter Horse x Thoroughbred crosses are popular for a combination of strength and speed.

Considering an AQHA? Check out the 5 Best English Saddles for Quarter Horses.

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American Paint Horse

American Paint Horse

American Paint Horse

If you like to stay under the radar, move along to the other breeds on this list. American Paint Horses are some of the most eye-catching equines you’ll see at english and (particularly) western events. Their bold “painted” coats are this breed’s best known feature and namesake.

This breed is perfect for first time owners who want to combine the strength and stamina of a western stock horse with and the beauty of a bold patterned coat.

You might like owning an American Paint Horse if you:

  • Love to stand out: If you’ve got a flair for the dramatic, you’ll love all the color options within this breed. From Tobiano to Overo to Tovero, each pattern comes in sixteen separate hues (according to the American Paint Horse Association). Fun fact: Registered paints can also be “Solid Color Bred” horses without a painted coat.
  • Still have a serious job to do: These horses have more going for them than meets the eye. With their stock horse undertones, they can hold up to the rigors of ranch work, trail riding, and jumping well.
  • Dream of the show ring: You’ll find this breed well represented at western pleasure, ranch riding, and hunter shows (among others). Judges are supposed to be unbiased, of course, but Paints can’t help but attract their gazes. No wonder this breed also does so well in halter classes.
  • Want to have it all: Similar to the appeal of Appendix Quarter Horses (see above), Paints combine desirable characteristics you typically can’t find under one… coat. If you want to pursue several disciplines, dabble in competition, and have a horse you can count on for everyday tasks, your perfect match may just be an American Paint Horse.

Paint Horses also made our list of the 4 Best Horse Breeds for Beginners.

Hold Your Horses:

If you’re thinking about breeding your new horse in the future, be aware that Paint foals can suffer from a few unique genetic conditions if they carry the right combination of recessive frame overo pattern genes.

Paints who are carriers may live their entire lives healthy but pass along a fatal condition to offspring. Talk with your future vet about the risks if breeding is of interest.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the American Paint Horse Association

Note: People often use the terms “paint” and “pinto” interchangeably, but they’re actually different. A “pinto” can refer to a spotted horse of any breed (including American Paint Horses). A “paint” needs to have a registered American Quarter Horse, American Paint Horse, or Thoroughbred parents.

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Morgan Horse

Morgan Horse

Morgan Horse

The first horse my parents ever leased for me as a child was a Morgan mare named Jewell, so this breed holds a special place in my heart. In fact, revisiting the breed’s history and versatility for the blog made me long for the day when I might purchase a second horse… like a beautiful Morgan!

This “America first breed” is now beloved worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. Morgans combine athleticism, style, and versatility into a beautiful and compact package.

You might like owning a Morgan Horse if you:

  • Enjoy dabbling: The Morgan can likely tick almost all the boxes on your first horse wish list. This versatile breed is popular across all english and western disciplines (much like the American Quarter Horse) and suitable for nearly all types of work.
  • Want to keep vet bills low: If you want an “easy keeper,” this breed is up your alley. Long-lived and inexpensive* to maintain (*in horse terms), Morgans boast soundness of limb and sanity of mind that helps keep you in the saddle and out of the vet clinic.
  • Love a regal look: While beauty shouldn’t be the biggest factor in your decision, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a horse that’s pleasing to the eye. Morgans have graceful and upright necks, proud and energetic carriage, and chiseled faces. Plus, they’re loveliness extends to the inside–not just the outside.
  • Plan to try carriage driving: Though this breed can do it all, Morgans are particularly well suited for driving. If you’re looking for a harness horse of your own, consider this breed.

Morgan Horses also made our list of the 4 Best Horse Breeds for Beginners and the 3 Calmest Horse Breeds.

Hold Your Horses:

If versatility is your first priority and you find yourself choosing between a Quarter Horse and a Morgan, consider your ideal energy level.

Though every horse is unique, Quarter Horses are typically more laid back. Morgans are kind and willing partners but can be more animated.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the American Morgan Horse Association

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Tennessee Walking Horse

Tennessee Walking Horse

Tennessee Walking Horse

If you love a tall glass of Southern sweet tea, you may want to consider a Tennessee Walking Horse. This “gaited” breed was originally created by plantation workers who wanted to cover a lot of ground each day without getting saddle sore. Their unique four-beat “running walk” gait is so smooth it’s rumored you can ride along holding a glass of wine without spilling a drop.

(Note: I tried this once on my Quarter Horse and had to throw the stained gloves away.)

You might like owning a Tennessee Walking Horse if you:

  • Value comfort above all else: If you plan to spend most of your time on the trails and covering long distances, the last thing you want is to be bounced around and sore while you’re at it. Gaited horse lovers choose this breed for their supreme comfort. Not surprisingly, the favorite trail horse at my barn is a Tennessee Walker.
  • Don’t mind a leg up: Tennessee Walking Horses are typically on the taller side, so they may be hard for smaller riders to get on/off on the trails.
  • Have places to be: If you’re looking to get from point A to point B in a hurry (and in style), this breed is for you. These graceful horses can travel 10-20mph in the “running walk” and look good doing it.
  • Want to try saddle seat: I grew up at a saddle seat barn (though our lesson horses weren’t) and remember staring up (way up!) in awe at these amazing creatures. This breed dominates the saddle seat arena, though you’ll also find it working its way into several other english and western disciplines.

Hold Your Horses:

Though things are changing (thankfully), new owners of this breed should be aware of the controversial and cruel training and showing methods used in the past to make competition horses more “animated.”

As is often the case, the actions of a few have impacted the many. Luckily, the vast majority of today’s TWH owners practice humane training and showing worthy of this majestic breed.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association

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Finding the right horse is only the beginning! Check out our Horse Riding Equipment List to see what you need and what you don’t.




Few breeds are more immediately recognizable than the Appaloosa. Their quintessential spotted coats still cause passersby to stop and stare with wonder. We owe this amazing breed to the Nez Perce tribe who first created it–and to the dedicated network of breeders and enthusiasts who keep the breed thriving today.

You might like owning an Appaloosa if you:

  • Like to leave an impression: This breed is best known for its distinctive coat patterns, mottled skin, striped hooves, and white around their eyes. Simply put: You’ll never get lost in the crowd on an Appy.
  • Value history: From its Native American roots to its place in popular culture, the Appaloosa is an integral part of horse history in the United States.
  • Seek versatility: You’ll find this breed in english and western arenas competing in everything from reining to dressage, jumping to trail class. Appaloosas are also commonly seen competing in O-Mok-See sports like barrel racing and pole bending.

Appaloosas also made our list of the 3 Calmest Horse Breeds.

Hold Your Horses:

One thing to be aware of if you’re considering an Appaloosa is the breed’s propensity toward several types of blindness. Talk to your vet about the risks, symptoms, and how to keep your horse healthy.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the Appaloosa Horse Club

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Arabian Horse

Arabian Horse

Few breeds are as elegant and dramatic as the Arabian. Unmistakable in appearance and undeniable in personality, these horses make a statement everywhere they go.

Their rich history begins in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, harsh conditions that required superior lung function, hardiness, and endurance simply to survive.

Today, the breed is one of the most beloved worldwide by pleasure riders and competitors alike. Versatile enough for almost every discipline and curious enough to learn any task, the Arabian can offer first time owners a fun, exciting, and safe partner for whatever adventures life has in store for you both.

You might like owning an Arabian if you:

  • Like to go, go, go: If endurance is the name of your game, you can’t beat the Arabian. This breed is by FAR the most popular endurance horse on an international level. It’s compact stature, short and straight back, large nostrils, and well-sprung ribs make it the unparalleled competitor in even the harshest conditions.
  • Want beauty and brains: Chiseled heads, dished faces, high tails, large eyes, and arched necks make Arabians one of the most beautiful breeds on earth. But they’re more than just pretty faces. These horses are highly intelligent, curious, passionate, and loving creatures who connect deeply with their humans.
  • Can’t play favorites: If choosing a single discipline is too difficult, now you don’t have to. The Arabian can hold its own in english and western arenas, as well as on the racetrack. Whether you’re into dressage, jumping, western pleasure, trail riding, drill team, or endurance, Arabians have the versatility to learn (and excel) at any task.
  • Put family first: If you’re looking for a unicorn who’ll take good care of your kids on the trail, help work the farm during the week, and scoop up the ribbons at weekend shows, consider the Arabian.

Considering an Arabian? Check out the 5 Best Bits for Arabians

Hold Your Horses:

As with every breed, there can be a lot of variety in physique, personality, and skill. Typically, though, Arabians are hot blooded and more energetic than your average Quarter Horse or stoutly-built breeds.

If you’re looking for a cool cucumber 24/7/365, an Arabian may prove to be too much horse for your lifestyle.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the Arabian Horse Association

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Even the majority of Mustang lovers would agree, these feral descendants of Colonial Spanish horses (with many other breed influences) belong in the wild. Modern society, however, has other plans.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for overseeing the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (1971), which includes population control.

The end result? Approximately 4,000-8,000 wild horses and burros are removed from public lands annually (BLM data) and placed into holding facilities and offered for adoption to the general public through online and live auctions. That’s where you come in.

You might like owning a Mustang if you:

  • Work closely with an experienced trainer: This is a BIG one for first time horse owners who want to adopt a Mustang. There’s no required training or experience level required to adopt these animals, but you really shouldn’t go it alone. Wild mustangs are just that–wild. They’ve typically never been handled, never been haltered, and certainly never been broke to ride. To successfully gentle and train a Mustang, you need qualified help by your side. (Check out the TIP Program from Mustang Heritage Foundation if you need help finding a trainer or a Mustang that’s already gentled.)
  • Are in this for the long haul: Mustangs aren’t on your timeline. Gentling a wild animal takes time, and progress can be slow (especially if it’s your first time working with a Mustang). You’ll need a lot of patience throughout the process, and you can’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Have a limited budget: Money isn’t everything, but a small budget doesn’t have to stop you from buying a wonderful horse. According to the BLM website, the minimum base adoption fee is $125 per horse (or burro). Mares or Jennies (female burros) adopted with unweaned foals are $250 each. Animals that have had some gentling or training already sell for higher amounts at auction. However, remember that what you save in purchase price will likely go (at least in part) to professional training costs if you need assistance.
  • Want to be a hero: If you have the time, patience, and help to properly gentle and train a Mustang, by all means please adopt this incredible breed. There are far more animals up for adoption than adopters, and holding facilities become more crowded by the day. In fact, according to the Bureau of Land Management, more than 48,000 wild horses and burros are in off-range care awaiting homes. Giving one of these horses a loving forever home is heroic. Period.
  • Value a deep bond: Though Mustangs come with more considerations than other breeds, these horses are truly amazing and well worth the time and energy. They’re typically hardy (hello, they thrive in the wild), athletic, compact, strong, and smart. Side note: There’s a Mustang mare at our barn who could go hoof to hoof with any other horse when it comes to stamina and jumping. She’s a machine!

Hold Your Horses:

BLM management of wild Mustangs and burros can be a contentious issue in the equestrian community. Most people agree the BLM is tasked with a very challenging charter, and there are no easy answers.

At the end of the day, there simply aren’t enough good homes for these good horses. If you want to be inspired about innovative solutions gaining traction, check out the Extreme Mustang Makeover program.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the BLM Wild Mustang and Burro Adoption Website

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Icelandic Horse

Icelandic Horse

Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic Horse is one of the most recognizable breeds and elicits more “Awww!”s than most other breeds combined. It’s no wonder when you see there stout little bodies, puffy manes and tails (don’t even get me started on the forelocks), and kind eyes. Be still my heart.

The breed is descended from the ponies of Norse settlers and is closely monitored and managed, within Iceland, to this day. In order to keep the breed “pure,” no Icelandic Horses may be imported to the country, and exported horses aren’t allowed to return.

You might like owning an Icelandic Horse if you:

  • Love unique gaits: Though they may look like your typical pony standing in a field, the Icelandic Horse has five gaits, including walk, trot, canter, tölt, and pace. Comfort, here you come.
  • Believe great things come in small packages: Few full-size horses can match the sturdiness and stamina of these 13-14-hand creatures of the North. They carry adult men, women, and children with ease.
  • Like a big personality: Small in stature but large in personality? You bet. These diminutive horses make up for their size with spunk and spirit.
  • Think variety is the spice of life: If you think all Icelandic Horses are white and fluffy, think again. There are more than 100 names for the different breed colors and patterns in the Icelandic language.
  • Love to do hair: OK, I’m partly kidding. However, Icelandic Horses are known for their thick and… wild… manes and tails!

Hold Your Horses:

Before you commit to this breed (or any breed), we highly recommend riding a similar horse. If there aren’t many Icelandic Horses in your area, consider one of the many riding vacations available in their homeland of Iceland!

You’ll get tons of one-on-one time, rack up a lot of miles in the saddle, and come home with a clear sense of whether this breed is the right fit for you. A close group of friends recently took a trip through Eldhestar and absolutely loved it.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the United States Icelandic Horse Congress

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Norwegian Fjord

Norwegian Fjord

Norwegian Fjord

Considered a “light draft” breed, the Norwegian Fjord is unmistakable due to its distinct color, dorsal stripe, and roached black and tan mane.

According to the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry, this breed is one of the oldest and purest in the world. Selectively bred for more than 2,000, the Fjord is history incarnate.

These beloved pint-sized horses are as strong as they are sweet and as cute as they are calm. You’ll see them pulling carts, halting at x in the dressage ring, navigating trail obstacles, and much more.

You might like owning a Norwegian Fjord if you:

  • Believe slow and steady wins the race: Don’t get me wrong, these horses can still hustle. But they’re best known for their calm, cool, and mild demeanor.
  • Think muscle matters: Despite their shorter stature, these horses are plenty strong enough to carry full-size adults, drive carriages, and pull heavy loads.
  • Like getting behind the wheels: The last thing you want pulling your carriage is a hot-tempered and spooky steed. Fjords are famous for their temperaments and suitability for driving under competition and pleasure conditions.
  • Enjoy helping others: Because of their mild mannered and steady-Eddie personalities, Fjords are wildly popular with therapeutic riding programs. If you’re interested in giving back to your community through service, consider volunteering alongside your horse.
  • Want to be a breed steward: The more the merrier when it comes to folks who value and love this breed–and want to help it thrive. We even have a breed enthusiast here in Montana who is actively breeding therapeutic riding Fjords!

Hold Your Horses:

Versatility is the name of the game for Fjord horses, and they’ll be willing partners whether you want to hit the trails, help disabled riders, or try your hand at dressage.

However, if you’re seeking a scopey jumper built to climb the levels or a professional reining horse to clean up at big shows, look elsewhere.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry

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When people think of Thoroughbreds, the first thing most of them picture are sleek speed machines powering around a racetrack. While many horses still have careers in racing, most Thoroughbreds never set hoof on a track (and don’t care to).

Today’s Thoroughbreds have earned a broader reputation as all-star athletes and world-class competitors.

Like Arabians, this breed runs “hotter” than others and is best suited to the adrenaline junkies and motivated competitors. Regardless, there are exceptions to every rule. Some Thoroughbreds are content to mosey around the lesson ring or amble down the trail.

You might like owning a Thoroughbred if you:

  • Want a competitive edge: If you want to climb the levels in the world of eventing, reach the ball first on the polo field, or cover ground in a hurry during the fox hunt, this breed is for you. Thoroughbreds are known for rising to any challenge–and not backing down.
  • Feel the need for speed: Hold on tight. Thoroughbreds made their mark on the racetrack, and they leave other horses in their dust as they can reach 40+mph.
  • Love to jump: Wildly popular in the jumping and eventing circles, Thoroughbreds are known for being scopey, bold, fast, and the ultimate athletes. Whether you’re watching the Rolex in Kentucky or the hunter jumper class at your local fair, Thoroughbreds will be front and center.
  • Like to keep busy: Because of their hot-blooded nature, ideal owners will keep their Thoroughbreds “in work” at least 4-5 days per week. These aren’t horses you can pull out of the pasture once a month and expect them to stay sane. They need exercise, mental and physical challenges, and one-on-one attention to thrive.

Considering an off the track (OTTB) Thoroughbred? Check out the 5 Best Bits for OTTBs

Hold Your Horses:

Not quite sure you want the energy level, or height, of a purebred Thoroughbred? Luckily for you, you’ll find Thoroughbred crosses are aplenty. One of the most popular combinations is the Appendix Quarter Horse (see #1 in this list).

If you do decide to get a full Thoroughbred, be sure to take an expert trainer or friend with you to evaluate prospective horses. It’s great to have a horse you can “grow into” as you pursue your goals, but you also don’t want to be wildly “over-horsed” at your current skill level.

Eager to Learn More? Visit The Jockey Club website

Chief Rookie Aside: Read Thoroughbred exercise rider and trainer Shelby Dennis’ Letter to My Rookie Self.

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Connemara Pony

Connemara Pony

Connemara Pony

First time horse buyers often ignore an entire category of wonderful candidates–ponies! Some of the best partners for new owners are, in fact, ponies.

The Connemara Pony is especially well suited to first timers because of its strong stature, athleticism, kindness, and versatility. But, let’s be honest: they’re stinkin’ cute.

The Connemara Pony originated in Ireland but has since earned international popularity in the show ring, lesson ring, and backyard. Adults and children, alike, can enjoy this breed on the flat, over fences, and on the trail. Plus, who wouldn’t want a little luck of the Irish?

You might like owning a Connemara Pony if you:

  • Like a mid-size ride: Coming in at 12.2 to 14.2 hands, the Connemara is a great size for average adults and children of all ages. Easily to mount and dismount, you’ll get all the benefits of a horse in a pony-sized package.
  • Want a horse that lasts: Similar to the Quarter Horse, the Connemara is built to last. They feature strong backs and hind quarters, deep rib cages, and crested necks. Hard work doesn’t intimidate them, and neither does tough terrain. If you take good care of them, they’ll take good care of you–for many years.
  • Can do without the “pony attitude”: When it comes to demeanor, Connemaras act more like horses than ponies. Forget the sassy stink-eye or tail swish you’ve seen from kids’ ponies over the years. This breed is notoriously dignified, eager to please, and understands when it’s time to get down to work.
  • Do it all (or want to): Athletic and docile, the Connemara especially excels in the hunter/jumper arena, eventing course, fox hunting field, and scenic trails. If you’re seeking a solid all-around partner, don’t overlook this breed.

Hold Your Horses:

Hoof health is particularly important for this breed, as they can be prone to Hoof Wall Separation Disease (HWSD). Be sure to talk to your vet and do a thorough pre-purchase exam before making your decision.

Eager to Learn More? Visit the American Connemara Pony Society

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Best Horse Breeds for Beginners Infographic

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Best Horse Breeds for Beginners Infographic Teaser

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the best horses for beginners?

The best beginner horse breeds will vary from person to person. Why? Because every horse is an individual, so you can find gems within any breed — and poor fits within any breed.

Overall, though, these are some of the best horse breeds for beginners:

  • American Quarter Horses
  • American Paint Horses
  • Morgan Horses
  • Missouri Fox Trotters

Q: What are the best riding horse breeds?

When it comes to the best horse breeds for riding, there are plenty of great choices. We have several articles showcasing popular breeds you may love.

Q: What’s the best breed of horse overall?

There’s no good way to answer this question — the “best” horse breed is the one you love most!

If we judge purely by the numbers, the American Quarter Horse rises to the top of the list.

The American Quarter Horse Association is the world’s largest horse breed registry and membership organization in the world, and this breed is broadly known as one of the most versatile and friendly.

Q: What are the healthiest horse breeds?

This is another tough question to answer, as all horses have the potential to become injured or sick.

How you care for your horse has a much bigger impact on its health than its general breed.

A few (of many) things that impact the health of your horse include:

In general, breeds like Morgans, Arabians, Quarter Horses and Mustangs are known for their overall hardiness.

You can learn more about breed-specific genetic disorders in this article

Q: What are the best horses to own?

The best horse to own is different for every person and every situation. You need to find a breed (and individual horse) that will thrive in your unique environment. 

A few things to consider: 

  • Do you want your horse to be barefoot or wear shoes?
  • Do you want to feed hay, hay and grain, or some combination of those and supplements?
  • Will your horse be kept in a stall, paddock, or large field?
  • What is your weather and ground like throughout the year?
  • What personality will fit well into your barn and/or herd?

Q: How do I pick my first horse?

Getting the right first horse is super important, so start by getting the advice of a trainer you trust. If she thinks you’re ready, ask her to line up a few showings with appropriate horses.

You want to look for a horse that has a calm, quiet temperament, is well-mannered, and is well-trained. He should be very easy to handle and ride, and trustworthy in a range of environments.

An older, more seasoned horse is a great option. They know their job well and that means you can focus on improving your skills. Your first horse shouldn’t be green or a work in progress.

Q: How do you tell if a horse is a good mover?

The easiest way to tell is to watch a horse move both directions at all gaits. If you can’t watch a horse move, there are ways to tell just by looking at him. Good overall balance and confirmation are signs that he will move well.

If the horse is too thin or too heavy, he may have movement issues. You can also look at his muscles. Too many are just as bad as too few.

You should be able to pick up all four feet easily and the horse should maintain his balance. The slope of the horse’s shoulder should look proportionate to his neck.

Keep the First Thing First

At the end of the day, what matters most isn’t the name of the breed of your bill of sale–it’s the special connection you have with your horse and the way you work together.

Narrowing down a handful of breeds that have the characteristics you desire helps focus your search and increase the likelihood of you finding your dream horse.

Happy shopping!

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!