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How to Choose the Right Horse Breed for Your Riding Style

By Gladiator Equine

April 12, 2024

If you’re starting horseback riding or trying a new riding style, you must pick the right horse. The horse breed you choose plays a huge role in how you enjoy and succeed in your riding sessions.

Every horse breed is different. Some are meant for long rides, while others are better at jumping or racing. What makes each breed different is its average size, temperament, and response to training. These same aspects can greatly influence its overall performance.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to choose the right type of horse breed for your preferred riding style.

Understanding Your Riding Style

According to the United States Equestrian Foundation, there are 18 recognized riding disciplines. The most common ones include:

  • English Riding: This style is known for its precision. Riders maintain a straight posture and use smaller saddles. It’s commonly used for competitive sports like show jumping and dressage.
  • Western Riding: Originating from cowboy culture, the Western style of riding horses features a more relaxed posture and larger, more comfortable saddles.
  • Dressage: In dressage, the focus is on controlled, precise movements. This style takes significant training and coordination between the rider and the horse.
  • Jumping: Jumping involves the horse and rider leaping over obstacles. It also requires excellent coordination, training, and a strong focus on safety and technique.
  • Trail Riding: Trail riding is less about competition and more about riding horses for pleasure. The style is focused on outdoor riding, usually over natural terrains.

Identifying Your Needs and Preferences

Choosing the right horse breed starts with understanding your own needs and preferences. Here’s how to assess what’s best for you.

1. Weighing Your Experience and Riding Goals

Consider your riding experience first. Beginners should look for gentle, easy-going horses, while those with more experience might prefer a horse with a bit more energy and challenge.

Also, think about your goals. Are you riding for relaxation or aiming to compete? Your goals will help determine the kind of equine breed you need.

2. Determining Your Preferred Activities

Next, think about the type of riding you’re interested in. A calm, sturdy horse is ideal for leisurely trail rides. But if you prefer competitive sports, pick a horse with the right temperament and agility.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Horse Breed

It’s important to weigh all your options to make the right choice. Let’s explore a few things to keep in mind.

1. Size and Conformation

A horse’s size and body (bone structure, muscle, and body proportions) should suit your riding style and comfort. Larger breeds are often used for sports that require strength, like show jumping, while smaller breeds are better for lightweight riders or activities like pony club events.

2. Temperament and Personality

Horses, like people, have unique personalities. Some are calm and easygoing. Others are more spirited and may be better for experienced riders. You must choose a horse whose temperament matches your riding ability and confidence levels.

3. Energy Level and Stamina

High-energy horse breeds are great for demanding sports like racing or eventing. On the other hand, breeds with lesser energy perform better in leisure activities and trail riding.

4. Specialized Breeds vs. Versatile Breeds

Some horse breeds excel in specific disciplines. For example, Thoroughbreds are great for racing, while Andalusians are often better suited for dressage. Versatile breeds, like the Quarter Horse, can adapt to various riding styles. Decide whether you want a horse that specializes in one area or one that can do a bit of everything.

Popular Horse Breeds for Different Riding Styles

Picking an equine partner? Here are some of the best breeds of horses for riding.

  • Thoroughbreds: Thoroughbreds are known for their speed, agility, and endurance. They are highly intelligent and sensitive, so they require an experienced rider who can handle their athleticism. Thoroughbreds are a top pick for English riding styles.
  • American Quarter Horse: With a calm temperament and compact, muscular body, American Quarter horses are a favorite for Western riding events like roping, barrel racing, and leisurely trail riding.
  • Warmbloods: Warmbloods are specifically bred for performance. They’re known for their power, balance, and cooperative nature. This makes them a perfect fit for intermediate to advanced riders. You’ll often find Warmbloods in dressage and show jumping events.
  • Arabians: Arabians are incredibly beautiful horses often used for endurance riding and showing. Since they can be sensitive, Arabians are best left to gentle, patient riders who know how to build a connection with their horses.
  • Appaloosa: The Appaloosa, known for its colorful spots, was first bred by the Nez Perce Native Americans for hunting and war. It comes from wild horses and has some Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse, and Arabian in it. Strong and flexible, this horse is excellent for herding, casual riding, and long trail rides.
  • Tennessee Walker: This horse breed is known for its smooth gait and gentle disposition. If you need a comfortable ride for long hours of exploration, the Tennessee Walker is the perfect choice.

Researching Horse Breeds

There’s more to deciding which horse is ‘the one’ than gut feeling. You must do enough research to ensure the horse you pick matches your intended purpose.

Visit Local Equestrian Events and Horse Shows

Local horse shows and equestrian events are great places to see different equine breeds in action. You can observe their behavior, see how they perform in various disciplines, and get a sense of their size and appearance up close.

Seek Advice from Experienced Riders and Professionals

Talk to people who know horses well. This can include trainers, breeders, or seasoned riders. They can offer valuable insights into different breeds, their temperaments, and what it’s like to work with them.

Assessing Individual Horses

When you find a horse you like, spend time with it to understand its personality. Is it calm or energetic? Does it listen well? Make sure its personality fits your riding level and style. Watch how the horse behaves around other people and other horses to see if it’s comfortable with the kind of riding you want to do.

Contact Gladiator Equine For Healing Devices For Your Horse’s Health

With the many factors that go into choosing the right horse breed, it can get overwhelming. However, what matters is that you choose a riding discipline you like and an equine partner who enjoys it just as much. Remember, it might take a while to find a horse suited to you. But once you do, they’ll feel like home. Then you have to take special care of them.

Enhance your horse’s performance and well-being with Gladiator Equine’s advanced therapeutic FIR devices. We bring you devices based on the latest quantum physics research to address equine inflammation and injuries, and aid in recovery. Feel free to get in touch with us with your queries today!


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Gladiator Therapeutics Sport

You are being redirected to the parent company of Gladiator Equine, Gladiator Therapeutics™ Sport to access more resources in regard to our superior technology and the story behind it.
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