FAQ Riding

Meet 3 of the Best Horse Breeds for Older Riders

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Written by Channing M.

Oldies and Goodies: Find Your Perfect Equine Partner

When you’re shopping around for a horse to ride, it’s both exciting and stressful. It’s hard enough for most of us to even pick out a pair of running shoes we like, much less your “heart horse.” 

As an older rider, you’re probably over the desire for the “prettiest” horse in the stables and are more interested in disposition and the ability to provide you with a safe, enjoyable ride. 

In this article, we discuss 3 of the best horse breeds for older riders: 

  • American Quarter Horse
  • “Gaited” Breeds
  • “Grade” Horses

There are a LOT more horse breeds out there, so don’t feel limited by this list. There is also a wide range of personalities within every horse breed. 

If you want to learn about even more options, check out Say Yes to the Horse: 11 Best Breeds for First Time Owners and Keep Calm & Ride On: 3 Calmest Horse Breeds.

3 Best Horse Breeds for Older Riders

American Quarter Horses


“AQHAs” are America’s most popular breed for a reason! There are over 5 million registered Quarter Horses out there doing everything from trail riding to dressage and carriage driving. 

Versatile, available in every size and color, and bred for good brains and athleticism, Quarter Horses are real gems.

Although they don’t have the type of “ultra comfy” gaits that we talk about in the section below, they do have an incredibly active breed association and make a wonderful family horse.

Learn more about Quarter Horses

Make sure you’ve got the essentials with our step-by-step guide to horse riding gear for adults.

“Gaited” Breeds

Many older riders are looking for a smooth ride that doesn’t require extra work to keep you in the saddle. Gaited horses, with movement that is more glide than bounce, have become quite popular, especially for pleasure riding and trail use. 

Breeds like Tennessee Walking Horses, Paso Finos, Missouri Fox Trotters, and even Icelandic Horses have lots of fans. Their natural gaits move on a pattern that has their legs working together on side of their body. The gaits will vary in speed and knee action, but the overall motion is more swaying, less bumping. 

Learn more about Tennessee Walking Horses

Discover 5 rare horse breeds you’ve probably never heard of.

“Grade” Horses

grade horse

Sometimes, the best horses don’t have a particular breed, but their mixed parentage makes them perfect for older riders.

Draft horses are often crossed with smaller breeds for strong, chill horses that are terrific out on the trail.

You’re likely to find Welsh Pony crosses, gaited horses that don’t have an actual pedigree, or gentle fellows with completely unknown heritage that fit the bill.

Many working ranch horses (or retired ranch horses) are grade horses that make great matches for older riders. 

Learn more about a variety of popular horse breeds

Best Horse Breeds for Older Riders Infographic

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Best horse breeds for older riders


Happy Horse Shopping!

In the end, it’s all about temperament and your unique needs. Consult with a trainer or your riding instructor, and remember that wise saying: “A good horse is never a bad color.”

You want a sound, been-there-done-that partner who will help you learn, enjoy every ride, and put a smile on your face with his personality. 

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About the author


Channing M.

When I'm not using my equine anatomy, physiology, veterinary care background to educate other equestrians, you'll find me volunteering with retired racehorses or vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico with my hubby and beach-loving lab.