While we all want to become skilled enough to ride any horse, there is no shame in admitting that some breeds suit us better than others. Many people have tried to make do with a certain kind of horse just because they fell in love with the idea of that breed.
But if you are looking to purchase a horse that you will have in your life for ten to twenty years, choosing a breed that best suits your personality will pay off in the long run.
In this guide to choosing a horse breed, I have outlined four common rider personality archetypes to help you identify how you are as a rider, and good breeds to consider as a starting point.
What You'll Learn Today
Factors Outside Of Breeding
Before we explore rider personalities and horse breeds, there are a couple things that you should also contemplate when looking for a horse. First and foremost, you want to consider any horse’s maturity. This includes both their age and their training.
The second thing to remember alongside breeding is the sex: stallion, mare, or gelding.
Stallions are not typically a viable option for daily riding, because they are extremely autonomous. Mares are often highly affectionate, but subjected to more mood swings, whereas geldings remain more steady.
Finally, you will also want to consider your lifestyle when choosing a horse breed. Each of the following breeds are better suited for certain competitions.
Furthermore, warm-blooded horses like Thoroughbreds and hot-blooded horses like Arabians do best being ridden at least once per week, whereas Quarter Horses and Paint Horses can be in the pasture for a week or two and still be a well-mannered ride.
Then there are also some other things, such as the right size, appearance, previous owners, etc, but those are usually less important.
With these considerations in mind, let’s look at four common rider personality archetypes.
Breeds Best Suited For Four Common Rider Archetypes
1. The Gentle & Apprehensive Rider
Sometimes considered timid, this riding personality just prefers to ride without stress of a spooky or sensitive horse.
The Gentle & Apprehensive Riders does not like to be overly corrective or to manage their horse’s big emotions, including spooks and tantrums.
While they prefer a horse that is mild-mannered, they do not mind if their horse is slower or less athletic than the rest.
The Gentle & Apprehensive Rider matches best with Quarter Horses, Paint Horses, Appaloosas, Morgan Horses, and mature Warmblood Horses.
Quarter Horses are known for their mild-mannered behavior and steadiness under saddle. Quarter Horses are amazing trail companions, and often take on new surroundings with confidence and calm.
Paint Horses and Appaloosas can be similar to Quarter Horses in demeanor and athleticism, however they can be more feisty or opinionated.
Though spunkier as a horse breed, a well-trained Morgan Horse will be stellar in the arena and outside the arena, and will be very steady for even young riders.
Warmblood Horses, such as Oldenburgs, Hanoverians, and Irish Sport Horses, are excellent rides once they are trained and a bit older because of their calmness and diligence.
2. The Ambitious & Obstinate Rider
This riding personality is happiest and most fulfilled when challenged. These riders are not afraid of an opinionated or spooky horse, because they look for the diamond in the rough.
The Ambitious and Obstinate Rider looks to bring out the gold in every horse, no matter how challenging that horse may be.
The Ambitious & Obstinate rider does best with Arabians, Mustangs, Saddlebreds, Thoroughbreds, and Warmbloods.
Young Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, and Arabians in particular need someone who will commit to their training with patience and tenacity without being afraid of the messy middle of young horse training.
Their athleticism as younger horses lend them to big, expressive movements and exuberance under saddle, and sometimes very opinionated tests of leadership.
Saddlebreds and Mustangs are also a good fit, because these breeds will challenge their rider’s leadership more often, which will simply make the ride more interesting and fun for this personality.
3. The Confident Connoisseur Rider
Much like curators of the finest wine, chocolate, and coffee, the Confident Connoisseur Rider enjoys all the subtleties of remarkably intelligent and athletic horses.
While they tend to enjoy a horse with good manners and soft responsiveness, they are often willing to work with a more challenging, even spooky horse to bring out their full potential.
The Confident Connoisseur is willing to work with younger horses, as well. They often make some of the best trainers, because they enjoy the process of bringing about a fine horse.
This rider will most enjoy Arabians, Warmbloods, Andalusians, Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds, and Morgans.
While Arabians tend to be high-spirited and spooky without training, they can also become extremely attuned to their rider, and manage with very little contact with the bit and a deep understanding of their rider’s body language.
Likewise Morgans aim to please, and will continue to work until they have achieved a harmony with their rider.
4. The Outgoing & Easygoing Rider
This riding personality is the ultimate trail companion, show buddy, or barn friend. They are characterized by their passion for living in the moment. These riders will prefer a hassle-free ride, which they expect from their horses at all times.
If their horse presents an argument or new fear during their ride, the Outgoing & Easygoing Rider will often contain it by overreacting to it, thereby producing a calmer horse from even high-spirited breeds.
This riding personality simply enjoys being around their horses and their barn friends. The Outgoing and Easygoing Rider does best with a Thoroughbred, Tennessee Walking Horse, Quarter Horse, Paint Horse, Morgan, Appaloosa, or even a Mustang.
They do well with such a variety of horses because they are not looking to necessarily refine their horse for competition, and will work with more extreme horse personalities to bring about calmness and harmony in their rides together.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you love horses, you have probably already identified some favorite breeds through reading, visiting and observation. If you haven’t, these are your first step toward choosing the breeds of horses that most resonate with you.
Don’t get too hung up on breed, though. Ideally, you are looking for an individual horse who will work well with you and form a strong relationship. In your search for the perfect horse, you may find yourself surprised by a breed you had not considered at all.
Some good examples of in-your-pocket horses (those who like to follow people around and get involved in whatever is going on) include:
– Connemara Pony
– Norwegian Fjord
– Icelandic Horse
– Shetland Pony
– Quarter Horse
– Akhal Teke
– Welsh Cob
Some of these are very common breeds. Some are hard to come by, but as with choosing the “right” breed of horse, choosing the “friendliest” breed is subject to individual personality. Horses, like people, are a product of nature and nurture. A well raised, confident horse of any breed (including grade or mixed-breed horses) may be very friendly.
Any of the horses in the list of friendly horses above would be good choice, but breed is not really the most important thing to look for in a first horse. Your first horse should be kind, quiet, experienced and ready to teach you. An older, well-trained, gentle, patient horse is the best choice for first time owners.
Any of the friendly, quiet breeds listed above should be fairly easy to train. Many people say that Quarter Horses are very easy to train, but this may be just because they are very popular and there are a lot of them. As with most questions about breed, ease of training really comes down to the individual horse and the relationship you are able to build with that horse. A well-cared for confident horse who trusts you and wants to join up with you will be eager to please you and easy to train.
Finding That Perfect Match
You may find yourself in the overlap between two riding personalities, and that is okay. Many horses listed here suit multiple archetypes for different reasons. Find the breeds that seem to be the best match for you, and use that as a starting point in your search.
Remember that no matter how prepared you are, you will always find anomalies that will not fit your expectations. Test rides are extremely important, because they indicate so much about a horse’s temperament and background.
If you are unsure about your abilities during a test ride, bring a skilled and honest friend or trainer.
Remember, there is no rush in finding the horse that is just the right fit for you. Taking the time up front to select the best match will surely result in decades of wonderful riding.