What Does It Mean When A Horse Is Dead Broke?


You might hear someone describing their horse as dead broke when talking about their horse’s temperament. I have had many people ask me what this means when they hear that term or phrase. I see how it might sound strange to someone who doesn’t know much about horses to hear that a fully alive and healthy horse is described as ‘dead.’ I am writing this article now to try to help lift some of that confusion and help those of you who don’t know what this means to better understand.

What Does Dead Broke Mean

When a horse is described as dead broke it does not mean that a horse is dead or broken. All this means is that a horse is so well trained that it is basically unphased by any distractions, ‘scary objects,’ a change in riders, or anything else. These horses are usually pretty mellow in temperament and are super patient and easy to handle. Dead broke horses are often used as trail horses or lesson horses, especially for beginner level riders or children as they are pretty predictable and have the patience to put up with a rider who is still learning or a rider who is just going along for the ride.

Is It Hard To Teach A Horse To Be Dead Broke?

Yes and no. Some horses are naturally mellow in temperament and pretty much just need some desensitizing and general training to become a dependable dead broke steed. This however, is not the case with most horses.

Most horses will never get to be at this stage just because of how much training and natural mellowness, patience, and temperament it takes to be a dead broke horse. This is why it is so hard to find a horse who is so well trained and dead broke as most horses are not wired the way they should get to this point.

Even if a horse is properly trained and desensitized, it isn’t always the case that a horse would be dead broke. Not only are dead broke horses expertly trained, but they also are just naturally laid back and mellow. Most horses are not wired this way which is why most horses are not considered dead broke no matter their level of training. You can’t really train a temperament out of a horse.

Do Only Certain Horses Get To Be Dead Broke?

Yes. Only certain horses get to be at the point where they can be considered dead broke. Like I said before, it really is only naturally mellow and patient horses that are considered dead broke and because not all horses are this way, not all can be given this label.

Remember, just because a horse is broke to ride does NOT mean that it is dead broke. All dead broke horses are broke, but not all broke horses are dead broke.

Are There Certain Breeds that Are Known To Be Difficult To Dead Break?

Yes! There are many breeds where a dead broke member of this breed is a rare find. To name a few of these breeds, some include:

  • Arabians
  • Thoroughbreds
  • Akhal-Tekes
  • Shetland Ponies
  • Welsh Ponies
  • Barb Horses
  • Marwari Horses
  • Appaloosas
  • Mustangs
  • Andalusians
  • Paint Horses
  • Przewalski’s Horses
  • Friesian Horse

Many of you may know of horses in this list of breeds that truly are dead broke. This list is not strictly saying these horses can’t be dead broke. The list is just reflecting a pattern I and many other people in the horse industry notice.

Have I Ever Owned A Dead Broke Horse?

Yes! Actually my first horse, a Palomino Missouri Fox-Trotter mare, will probably go down as the brokest horse I have ever owned in my entire life. She didn’t spook, buck, rear, bite, kick, or do anything that might make a horse be considered unpredictable. She was incredibly patient and mellow and was overall one of the best horses I have ever met let alone owned.

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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