Horse ownership can be a life-changing and eye-opening experience. It allows you to understand and interact with these noble creatures in a way you never have before.
However, as a beginner, choosing the right horse breed determines how your experience as an owner will play out. You need to consider your needs, finances, and lifestyle.
With so many factors to consider, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, this article contains a guide to help you choose the perfect equine companion.
Understanding Horse Breeds
There are over 350 breeds of horses, with each displaying unique features and temperaments.
Understanding these breeds and what makes them special can help you make an informed decision to ensure you find the perfect match. Here are some characteristics and features of some popular horse breeds.
1. American Quarter Horse
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The American quarter horse is one of the most well-known breeds in the U.S. These horses are known for their versatility and compatibility with all types of riders because of their calm nature.
They are also known for their speed, muscular stature, and expertise in Western riding disciplines, such as cutting and reining. So, whether you need a horse as a trail companion or a competitor, the quarter horse is the breed for you.
The American quarter horse stands between 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches) and weighs between 950 to 1200 pounds (431 to 544 kilograms).
Furthermore, the horse has a life expectancy of about 25 to 35 years. You can find these incredible equine creatures in various colors like gray, brown, bay, black, grullo, sorrel, and others.
2. Connemara Pony
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Connemara ponies are intelligent, sturdy, and gentle horses. This breed of horses is athletic, meaning they can perform optimally while in dressage. They are also calm enough to place a saddle on and ride.
One of the best features of Connemara ponies is their size. They usually come at around 13 to 15 hands (52 to 60 inches), so they are small enough for beginners (children) to ride and big enough for adults.
These horses also weigh less, ranging from 800 to 900 pounds (360 to 410 Kilograms). Their size makes them less intimidating. Thus, it is easier for beginners to approach them.
Connemara ponies come in several colors, including gray, dun, brown, black, chestnut, roan, bay, and palomino.
As mentioned earlier, these equine companions are hardy, so you are less likely to get a visit from the vet. Also, thanks to their sturdy nature, their life expectancy reaches about 30 to 40 years.
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Arabians are stunning horses admired for their beauty and elegance. They are known for distinctive characteristics such as their dished face, chiseled features, and high tail carriage.
Besides their looks, they are loved for their endurance and resilience. Thus, if you are looking for a partner to go on long journeys with, you will enjoy the company of an Arabian horse.
Arabians have a reputation for being hot-headed, which stems from the fact that they were war horses that displayed speed, endurance, and strength. So, they may not be the best options for beginners.
However, many Arabian horses today are calm and loyal to their owners. Castrated adult males (geldings) are typically the calmest Arabians, so they are optimal for beginners. Keep in mind that this is not always the case, and temperament varies from horse to horse.
The Arabian horse stands between 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches) and weighs between 800 to 1000 pounds (363 to 454 kilograms). Additionally, the horse has a life expectancy of about 25 to 30 years. Their colors include gray, sorrel, bay, and black.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Horse
Before purchasing a horse, there are various factors you need to consider, such as their age, if they've gotten tetanus shots, among others.
From financial to emotional, horses require several commitments. So, you need to ensure you have the available resources to make them comfortable. Here are some key factors to consider:
1. Riding Goals
Even though you are just starting your equine journey, think about your long-term riding goals.
Are you looking to enter equine competitions? If so, you should opt for a strong horse in their prime. On the other hand, if you simply want a trail ride partner, you should find a trustworthy, calm horse strong enough to carry gear for long journeys.
That said, if you are unsure about what you need, you can get a versatile horse like the American quarter horse.
When it comes to horse sizes, there are no rules or measurements to help you decide; you just need to pick one that isn't too small for you, as you may injure them when riding.
Also, consider the weight of the horse. Horses are generally most comfortable when carrying about 20 percent of their weight.
So, take note of your weight and riding equipment and use them. Remember that this rule of thumb is for horses in their prime. Hence, you should be more careful with younger or older horses.
If you are a smaller individual, you may want to stay away from larger horses because they may be harder to mount.
3. Experience Level
When selecting a horse as a beginner, you should not go for a novice horse. Pairing a novice rider with a novice horse leads to poor techniques and habits in both parties. Therefore, you need to opt for a horse with a suitable amount of experience.
When selecting, be sure to inform the seller of your experience level and the experience level you require in your horse.
Before buying a horse, you need to ask yourself several financial questions. How much does a horse cost? How much do vaccinations cost? How often are vet visits required?
The cost of purchasing a horse vary based on breed, training, age, and overall health of the horse. You could be looking to spend anywhere between $1,000 and above, with prices reaching over $20,000.
That said, buying a horse is the first item on your list of expenses. Think about recurring payments, such as farrier services, feed, boarding, and veterinary care. Be sure to keep all this in mind when making a choice.
As a horse owner, you need to dedicate a considerable amount of time to your equine friend. This means frequent exercise, regular baths, daily care, and constant attention.
So, if you have a busy day-to-day life, consider going for a low-maintenance horse. Alternatively, you can hire someone to look after your horse if you have the finances.
Tips to Help Choose the Right Horse
1. Ask Professionals for Help
As a beginner, you may find exploring various horse breeds overwhelming, so don't be afraid to seek help from experts with vast experience dealing with horses. They can provide vital information to help you make an informed decision.
2. Take a Veterinarian With You
You can never be too careful with the health of a horse. As such, even if the previous owner has all the information about the horse's medical history, getting a second opinion from a trained vet is a good idea.
The vet should be able to determine if the horse will develop any medical issues, and if they are in optimal riding condition.
3. Prepare Questions for the Seller
You can avoid forgetting to ask specific questions by preparing them beforehand. Writing them down can help you be more thorough with your inquiries. Here are some questions you can ask.
- How old is the horse?
- What is your reason for selling this horse?
- Do you have the horse’s medical record?
- Is the horse registered?
- Is the horse well-trained?
- How does the horse ride alongside other horses?
- How often was the horse ridden?
- What is the horse’s experience level?
- What is the horse’s temperament like?
These are just a few of the questions to ask. Do not hesitate to add more to the list. The goal is to make sure you are comfortable with purchasing the horse.
4. Take a Test Ride
You might fear taking a test ride with a new horse, but you need to do this before buying your horse. Granted, the first ride most likely won't go smoothly, but it shows you how adaptable the horse is.
Embarking on a journey to find the right horse breed for you is a long but worthwhile experience. Throughout this process, remember that patience and research are essential to making the right decision.
Ensure you consider vital factors such as your riding goals, experiences, budget, commitment level, and others.
Using the article, you can make a decision that will lead to memories filled with love, learning, and endless joy. Good luck as you find the perfect equine companion!