If you’re new to the horse world or looking to buy your very first horse, picking a breed that fits your needs can be a daunting task. There is a huge variety of horse breeds and types out there, all with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Horse owners must look at their potential horses individually. No breed “stereotype” will always be 100% accurate. However, they provide a reliable guide to narrow down options in your quest to find the best horse for your specific needs.
So, how to find the best horse breed for you? Let’s find out.
Know your needs
First, you’ll want to have a very clear notion of what you want to do with your horse.
Whether it’s hacking on the weekends or elite sports, there are many options out there. Not all horses will be suitable for all purposes — which is why the breeds exist! Before looking into breeds, one must have some basic knowledge of what you expect your horse to do.
Moreover, you’ll need a clear assessment of your abilities. Overestimating skill may have disastrous results and lead to frustration. Even your height and weight might influence your choice. However, feeling comfortable on a horse who can comfortably hold our weight is one of the most important factors.
Of course, there’s a lot of leeway there to pick from as most horse breeds are quite adaptable. This doesn’t mean they will be the best choice for all usages though: one wouldn’t use a draught horse for racing! (Though it’s happened before.)
Know your breed
Different breeds show different temperaments and abilities. It’s very important to research the breeds and study their general temperament, strengths and weaknesses.
Some popular breeds, such as Arabians, tend to be “hot”. That is, they are energetic and vivacious, sometimes to the point of stubbornness. While a good thing in some cases, they can become a handful for new riders or people insecure in their skills.
As such, an Arabian horse might be less of a first horse. It’s certainly possible — remember, like people, individual horses have individual personalities. A rider desiring an endurance horse, though, might find a perfect fit in an Arabian.
A more docile horse breed, such as a Cob (also known as Gypsy Vanner or Gypsy Horse), might be a better fit for a new rider instead. Cobs are very placid, hardy animals. While they can be intimidating due to their size and build, they are an excellent choice for new and casual riders. Excellent for driving, they are also great horses under saddle for people who just want to go hacking or enjoy riding. On the other hand, they are not as suitable for sports requiring agility and speed. That is not what they were bred for. Overall, buying a cob or a more docile horse is certainly a safe option until you become an experienced riding.
Watch your biases
When buying a horse, especially for the first time, we need to watch out for certain biases. While one or other breed might appeal to you on a personal level, this doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for your goals. Or even for the space available to keep it!
Some breeds might be too expensive and rare where you live. A larger horse might be unsuitable for how much space you have available. When choosing a horse, it’s always best to pick the one that fits your needs and goals. Avoid making a vanity choice based on taste or “pretty” alone.
That isn’t to say personal liking shouldn’t influence your choice. But one should always be aware that it might not pan out or be adequate for the job you want it to perform.
Pick your breed
Finding the best horse breed for you isn’t an easy task, especially considering how many breeds exist. With some study and care, though, you can find the perfect horse breed for you. The one that matches your personality and goals.
Once you’ve narrowed down on some likely candidates, it’s always good to search out breeders and breed associations. Talk to people who own horses of that breed. They will tell you about the things not mentioned in the books and the Internet, and the reality of dealing with that breed. And of course: try them out! Find horses of that breed and, if possible, interact and familiarise yourself with them.
While the process may be extensive and take a lot of work, the end result will be rewarding. You’ll learn more about the different types and likes of horses out there, meet new communities and generally make a balanced, wise decision if you pay attention to these tips!