There are so many horse breeds out there, it’s hard to know what breed you should be looking for in considering one or more horses for family use. As with any cross grouping of any sort of culture, species or race, there are good and bad among all horse breeds. But you can minimize your exposure to bad experiences by knowing what breed will perform best for you and your family’s expectations.
So before you begin to analyze what horse breed to consider for your family, you must first consider your wants and needs. First of all what is your experience with horses ? Are you a newbie or experienced around horses ? If horses are a new thing for you, do you have a readily available source for assistance and help for you to climb the equine learning curve quickly and safely ?
What will you expect from your horses ? And are all family members in agreement with what they want to do with the family herd ? If some of you just want to have a pasture pet, and others want to trail ride, while yet others want to show horses or pursue some professional or life-style pursuit with your horses, then your horse shopping trips might be taking you in different directions.
Your pre-horse shopping time might be well served by taking a look at a few of the more popular breeds of horses, which are best known for making excellent family mounts, as well as serving many disciplines in their ability, agility, and personalities. You will want your family’s experiences to be as positive as possible right from the very beginning so family members will want to stick with horses and not fear them or be turned off of them.
Some of the more popular breeds to consider as choices for family equines might include the American Quarter Horse, Arabian, Appaloosa, American Paint Horse, Morgan, American Saddlebred, and the Tennessee Walking Horse. And then there are a whole set of pony breeds, if you are looking for a physically smaller equine.
The two main types of riding are Western and English, with many subdivisions and disciplines under each of those. Riding isn’t always the only equine interest either. There are various types of driving horses, and as many types of carriages and carts that can be pulled by horses as well, with many enjoyable hours to be had behind the driving reins of a single or multiple horse hitch.
If playing the numbers means anything to you, then you might want to investigate the American Quarter Horse (www.aqha.com), the most popular horse breed in the world. This breed registry boasts the most of its kind, excelling as suitable and pleasing mounts all over the globe.
The Quarter Horse is a true American breed. It was developed along with this country, as early settlers entertained their communities with short, one quarter-mile long races. They were quick to develop horses with agility and quick bursts of speed to win at these shorter distances. European breeds which were brought to this country were bred to run distances four times the length the new Americans were racing. Early bloodlines of the Quarter Horse were promoted from Thoroughbreds that were mixed with local mustangs and native Indian horses, which often came from Spanish bloodlines.
Quarter horses come in every shape and size, every color, and can deliver the skills to meet any riding discipline a rider might be interested in pursuing. Normally the Quarter Horse is a slightly smaller horse, but has recently been more developed in taller sizes to meet the needs of more physically demanding skills desired by horsemen and women.
This breed is considered to be extremely agile, very athletic, with a willing and docile personality. Quarter Horses can be found anywhere in the world and are readily available in all ages, trained and green broke. Consider the Quarter Horse for any equine task you are thinking of pursuing.
Another very popular breed around the world is the Arabian horse. This breed of horse’s dates back for nearly 5,000 years; again a breed backed by numbers and history. This prized breed is very distinctive in its physical attributes with a normally petite head, and easily recognizable dished nose line, and its higher tail carriage.
Arabians were developed in dessert climates and excel in the discipline of endurance riding, because of their ability to work and perform under strenuous conditions. The Arabian breed is said to be present in various degrees in just about every other breed known around the world, making it well honored as a foundation breed.
Arabians are known for their ability to form cooperative relationships with humans and are valued because of their close bonding traits. This breed as well is normally found in a smaller framed package and finer skeletal package. This breed is highly praised for its ability to become a great family horse and perform in many skills and tasks as desired by exacting equestrians. Give this breed strong consideration as a family member.
The Appaloosa horse breed is known for its strong and distinctive coloring patterns. The most commonly known color pattern is a white blanket spread across the rear back, hips and flanks on a dark colored horses, with the white having small splotchy openings in it to show the darker hair through in spots. Another variation of the Appaloosa coloring is known as the leopard pattern where the horse is dominantly colored in a lighter shade, normally white, with small splotches of darker color appearing all over the body – said to be like painted on brush strokes.
While similar coloring patterns were known to exist in Europe centuries ago, the current breed and its name trace directly to a native American Indian tribe who lived in the Pacific Northwest and developed the foundation breeding stock for the current registry of today. The Nez Perce Indian tribe in the Idaho area did an awesome job of promoting an exceptional and colorful breed, accepted now as a native of the United States.
The Appaloosa horse is considered to be a very adaptable horse for either English or western disciplines, and the breed is widely used for all known family equine ventures. The breed’s personality is known to be of a docile and willing to please nature. This is a horse that will definitely add color to your barn and pasture.
The American Paint Horse is another home grown product based on the stock horse conformation of the Quarter Horse and the durability of the Thoroughbred breeds. Years of breeding for large splotches of both light and dark colors, has created another very bright and colorful breed, with pleasing personality qualities, athletic ability, and adaptability to many uses.
Any dark base color can be seen with the large white spots resulting in creating the very bright and exciting color combinations that this versatile breed has become known for. Horses in this breeding can be found in a range of sizes, from the smaller stock type, to the larger horses prized for jumping and some ranch events.
The Paint Horse Breed is said to be one of the fastest growing breeds in this country. Paints are being seen in all of the equine arenas around the country, fulfilling many job descriptions and making many horse enthusiasts very satisfied with their colorful choices of mounts.
There are two main coloring groups in the Paint association, known as the Tobiano and Overo. The first coloring group features white splotches that cross over the back spine of the horse, and is the most commonly found coloring pattern in Paint horses. The Overo features large splotches of white which follow more of a horizontal nature.
Morgan horses are also known as one of America’s oldest breeds. These willing and strong horses have proved themselves to be very versatile over the years serving as both mounted and harnessed stock. The service of this breed to Americans can be traced back through all of this country’s wars in many capacities. Morgans were known to be the favorite mount of the U.S. Calvary.
Generally found in the colors of bay, sorrel, brown, chestnut, and black, this breed of horse is known to be compact, refined and is found equally under English or western tack. The breed has always been known to service man and family very well, and should strongly be considered when making a choice for the family’s riding needs.
The Morgan Horse has been oft featured in movie and print as an equine hero and personality. Riding or driving, consider the American Morgan horse as a potential for your family herd. Morgan’s have also enjoyed strong influence on other breeds which came along after its inception and acceptance as a breed of credit.
Thoroughbred horses are possibly one of the best and older known breeds, having come to this country with the early settlers from Europe. This breed is best known for its long distance racing abilities, supporting hundreds of years of racing history. Thoroughbreds are known as one of the “hot-blooded” breeds, known for their speed and spirit.
Along with that spirit often naturally comes a horse that can be a handful to ride and work with. A horse which always seems to want to “go” doesn’t always make the perfect family horse, unless your family has a need for that in a horse. Normally a taller horse, and longer legged, this breed of horses most commonly sports an English saddle for most of its equine endeavors. This is a popular horse for jumping, cross country, steeple chasing, polo, fox hunting, and dressage events.
The Thoroughbred horse is known to be a taller horse which obviously lends him to the racing and jumping skills. Some of today’s barrel racing horses have descended from the racing Thoroughbred breeds, and some have come to the clover leaf pattern straight from the race track.
This breed doesn’t necessarily lend itself directly to becoming an instant family choice, because of its tendency to be harder to handle under saddle. However, older Thoroughbreds, some retired from the racetrack, can sometimes find second-life jobs as family horses, once they have reached more mature ages. Thoroughbreds can be traced as foundation stock for a number of other breeds over the years.
A horse bred in the southeastern part of the United States for use on plantations, theTennessee Walking horse is considered a “gaited” horse. He is particularly prized for his “running walk”, which is what he was bred for, to be able to cover many acres of plantation and give the master a soft ride while doing so.
This horse is also known to be a taller animal and normally possesses a pleasing and enjoyable attitude which blends well with people, making a promising family equine. In recent years this horse has become quite popular as a trail riding horse for the same reasons it was developed for the plantations. This breed is also becoming popular as a mount for hunters, becoming more readily found on hunting preserves and offered by outfitters to huntsmen who want to cover ground in their pursuit of game.
The American Saddlebred horse is another home grown product which began to gain popularity during the Civil War as an officer’s horse. A tall and lanky horse, with a longer back and long legs, this breed is prized for its gait and comfortable ride. A spirited yet gentle and willing horse, the Saddlebred is known as graceful and elegant in its style and ability.
Also known as a gaited horse, this animal very naturally drops into a four-beat, slow gait, sometimes known as “ambling”. The gait it very popular with audiences observing gaited classes in show arenas. The breed is often considered as the “peacock” of the horse show world, because of its graceful appeal.
If you are looking for a very showy horse for your family members to compete on in the show arena, especially under an English saddle, then consider the American Saddlebred. He will give you a memorable ride, as well as a spirited adventure. The Saddlebred can be found in most all horse colors, but is especially dominant in the sorrel and bay colors.