10 Best Horse Breeds for Beginners


Are you looking to buy your first horse in the near future but don’t really know what to look for? Well you came to the right place. These are my 10 best recommendations for horse breeds that are generally beginner-friendly.

When looking to buy a horse who is safe for a beginner-level, there are some important things to look for when reading sale advertisements and posts.

Avoid Horses Who Are…

  • Younger than 9 years old
  • Green broke or unbroken
  • Stallions
  • Said to be best for an intermediate or advanced rider
  • Lame or have a history of illnesses
  • Described as temperamental
  • Said to be alpha or lead horse in a herd
  • Known to rear
  • Known to buck excessively
  • Described as high strung or spirited
  • Fresh off the track
  • Very spooky
  • Difficult to groom, tack up, and lead
  • Difficult to trailer
  • Known to bolt
  • Difficult to ride

Typically, young riders and/or beginner level riders do better with a mellow and tame horse who is pretty easy to get along with and ride.

Consider Horses Who Are…

  • 9 years old and up
  • Fully broken/trained or ‘finished’
  • Geldings or mares
  • Said to be good for a beginner or novice rider
  • Described as a ‘babysitter’ horse
  • Sound and have no record of illnesses or lameness issues
  • Described as mellow, lazy, and calm
  • Who are said to be at the bottom of the herd
  • Said to have no buck, no bite, and no rear
  • Described as ‘bombproof’
  • Responsive under saddle
  • Easy to lead

Horses with these traits and descriptions are good horses to look into and to consider when looking for your first horse.

Recommendations for meeting and riding your maybe-future horse

  • Ask the owner/seller lots of questions about the horse
    • Knowing as much as possible is important!
  • Ride the horse yourself to see how they feel to you
    • The horse should be easy for you to ride and control
  • Bring along your trainer and/or riding instructor to test ride the horse for you
    • Getting a professional’s opinion on a potential horse may be a good idea to make sure you are getting a horse that is a good fit for you

Before getting a horse, make sure you are prepared! Make sure you are ready to own a horse and know everything you should before getting a horse of your own.

The 10 Best Breeds For Beginner-Level Riders and First-Time Horse Owners:

10. Arabians

The Arabian horse is a world famous breed known for their elegant appearance and popularity. Though many members of this breed can be very spirited and temperamental, there are many Arabians out there who would make excellent riding horses for any level of rider.

The reasons that I put this breed on this list include:

  • They are generally smaller horses which makes them less intimidating to novices
  • These horses are very sweet and kind
  • They are very responsive under saddle making them a little easier to ride
  • If you come across a good Arabian, they can be very calm, mellow, and safe

Some basic breed information:

HeightAbout 15 hands high
Weight1,000 pounds (455 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsBay, Grey, Chestnut, and Black; No patterns or other colors allowed
Country of OriginUnknown; From the Arabian Peninsula/Middle East
TypeHotblood
Popular UsesGeneral Riding, Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, and Showing
Riding StyleBoth English and Western

9. Morgans

Morgan horses are yet another American breed who actually has a lot in common with the Arabian breed.

These horses are a good option for beginners as they have very sweet personalities. Additional reasons why I recommend this breed include:

  • They are smaller horses making them not so intimidating to children and novice riders
  • They are fairly sensitive horses making them more responsive under saddle
  • These horses are mostly calm and mellow (though there are exceptions!)

Some basic breed information:

Height14.2 to 15.2 hands high
Weight1,000 pounds (455 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsAny solid color
Country of OriginUnited States of America
TypeWarmblood
Popular UsesGeneral Riding, English Pleasure
Riding StyleMainly English

8. Colorado Ranger

The Colorado Ranger is a beautiful breed of horse who originates in the United States of America.

The reasons they make a great option for beginner-level riders include:

  • The great temperament and attitude they have
  • The various breeds they are mixed with makes their pedigree diverse which makes them hardy, healthy horses
  • They are known to be very gentle and are often used as riding horses in lesson programs

Some basic breed information:

HeightBetween 14.2 and 16 hands high
Weight1000 to 1200 pounds (455 to 545 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsAny solid color; they can also be spotted
Country of OriginUnited States of America
TypeWarmblood
Popular UsesRanch/Cattle work, general riding, trail riding, Endurance Work
Riding StyleMostly Western

7. Connemara Pony

The Connemara pony is a large breed of pony who originates in the country of Ireland.

The reasons that these ponies make a great first horse for beginner level riders include:

  • Their smaller size makes them less intimidating
  • These ponies are known for their wonderful temperament
  • They are large enough to be ridden by an adult, but small enough to easily be ridden by children
  • They are easily able to be handled and ridden by children
  • They are athletic and can progress far in dressage and jumping, but still are calm and and quiet under saddle
  • They are very hardy ponies, so you can expect few vet bills

Some basic breed information:

Height13 to 14.2 hands high
Weight800 to 900 pounds (360 to 410 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsGray, bay, dun, chestnut, and (sometimes) roan
Country of OriginIreland
TypeWarmblood Pony
Popular UsesDressage, Showjumping, General Riding, Eventing, and Driving
Riding StyleEnglish

6. Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse is a well known breed of horse who, like the Colorado Ranger, is from the United States of America.

These horses are a great choice for beginner riders and owners for these reasons:

  • They are very calm, quiet horses
  • They are known for their gentle, mellow temperament
  • They are smooth, making it easier to be ridden
  • These horses are known to have a great disposition and are a recommended breed for children and amateur riders

Some basic breed information:

Height15 to 16 hands high
Weight1000 pounds (455 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsAny solid color, but most commonly black and chestnut
Country of OriginUnited States of America
TypeWarmblood
Popular UsesTrail Riding, Showing, and General Riding
Riding StyleMostly English

5. Haflingers

Haflingers are by far one of my favorite large ponies. They are sweet, lovable, and great for any rider.

These ponies are a great choice for any beginner level rider for these reasons:

  • They have great temperaments
  • They have a gentle disposition
  • The smaller size of these horses makes them less intimidating to novice equestrians
  • They make excellent mounts even for children and are one of the few breeds actually suggested for use by children

Some basic breed information:

HeightUp to 14 hands high
Weight1000 to 1200 pounds (455 to 454 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsOnly Flaxen Chestnut
Country of OriginAustria
TypeColdblooded Pony
Popular UsesDressage, General Riding, Driving, Trail Riding, and Packing
Riding StyleMostly English

4. American Paint Horses

The American Paint Horse is a really pretty breed that shares many traits with the Quarter Horse. As you may guess by their name, these horses originated in the United States of America.

What makes me choose these horses for this list are the following reasons:

  • These horses are typically very laid back and mellow
  • They can do pretty much anything you ask them to
  • They generally have a gentle disposition and can be ridden even by children
  • The Paint Horse has a quiet temperament and these horses are usually quite relaxed

Some basic breed information:

Height14.3 to 16 hands high
Weight1,000 to 1,200 pounds (455 to 545 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsAny solid color with white patches; can be Overo, Tobiano, or Tovero
Country of OriginUnited States of America
TypeWarmblood
Popular UsesRanch/cattle work, Barrel racing, general riding, and trail riding
Riding StyleMostly Western

3. Missouri Fox Trotters

The Missouri Fox Trotter is by far one of the top horses to use for beginner level riding. My first horse was a Missouri Fox Trotter mare, and she was the calmest, sweetest, most mellow horse I have ever met.

The main reasons I recommend these horses to a novice rider include:

  • The gentle disposition of these horses
  • Their smooth gaits which make them easier to ride
  • Their great attitude towards working
  • The calm, mellow nature of the breed
  • These horses are able to even be ridden by children with ease

Some basic breed information:

Height14.2 to 16.2 hands high
Weight1000 to 1200 pounds (455 to 545 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsAny solid color; can also be pinto; mostly chestnut with white markings
Country of OriginUnited States of America
TypeWarmblood
Popular UsesShowing, Trail Riding, and Western Pleasure
Riding StyleWestern

2. Grade Horses

Did you know that the word ‘grade’ in horses is the same thing as the word ‘mutt’ in dogs? It just means that the horse is unregistered or a mixed breed.

Grade horses are so high on this list for several reasons. These reasons are:

  • Their mixed breeding makes them pretty healthy horses overall
  • They are usually pretty calm horses and generally are bred for temperament over specific breed
  • These horses are known to be a good option for children and novice riders
  • Many grade horses found in America are crossed with Quarter Horses making their disposition very tame and relaxed

Some basic breed information:

HeightAny
WeightAny
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsCan be any solid color or spot pattern, and can have any marking
Country of OriginUnknown
TypeAny
Popular UsesRanch work, Open class shows, general riding, trail riding, and more
Riding StyleEnglish or Western

1. American Quarter Horse

And now for the best breed for beginner level riders! The American Quarter Horse comes out on top for a great number of reasons:

  • These horses are calm, mellow, and tame
  • In general, Quarter Horses can be pretty lazy
  • They are sensitive enough to respond well to a rider, but heavy enough to where you still need to directly guide them
  • They are pretty sane and even at a young age aren’t very spooky or fresh
  • They are known to be a great children’s riding horse, as well as a great choice for the amateur adult
  • They are good at virtually anything you want to use them for

Some basic breed information:

Height14.3 to 16.2 hands high
Weight1,000 to 1,200 pounds (455 to 545 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat Colors/PatternsAny solid coat colors; includes dilutes (palomino, cremello, etc.) and roans
Country of OriginUnited States of America
TypeWarmblood
Popular UsesRanch/Cattle work, Rodeo Sports, Jumping, Trail Riding, and General Riding
Riding StyleMostly Western, but some English is seen too

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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