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Horse Articles :: Choosing the Right Horse Breed

Choosing the Right Horse Breed

What, exactly, is a breed of horse? It's a collection of horses that have been selectively developed by breeders to carry certain traits. Since the beginning of time people have bred horses for particular jobs and tasks, and that's why there are so many distinct breeds today.

Some people needed big, heavy, and strong horses to get chores done around the barn, while others were more interested in breeding light and fast horses for racing or riding. Traits that stand the test of time that are passed down from generation to generation often become traits by which the breed is known.

The breed of horse you select can be very important to whether or not you and your horse are well matched. So how do you determine which breed is right for you? Ask yourself a few questions:

• What discipline am I planning on enjoying with my horse? Those who plan on enjoying barrel racing with their horse will have dramatically different needs than someone whose goal is to reach the Grand Prix level of dressage.

• What is my experience level? If you are a novice rider, you will likely need a horse with a calm temperament. More advanced riders can handle hotter horses.

• What is my temperament like? A good rule of thumb is that you and your horse should balance each other out, and that means you shouldn't have the same weaknesses!

If you are hotheaded, go for a horse with a calmer temperament. Now that you've asked yourself all the right questions, make a list of the traits that are important to you. It's easier if you make two columns—one for conformation, and another for temperament.

Once you have your list, you can start doing some research to find breeds that share these traits.

Light horses. Light horses refer to just about any breed of horse used for riding, and there is a great variety when it comes to color, size, conformation, and temperament.

Popular light horse breeds include the American Quarter Horse, whose athleticism, versatility, short-distance speed, and sturdiness make it ideal for ranch work, cutting and reining, and short-distance races;

the Arabian, whose beauty, incredible endurance, and high spirits make it ideal for endurance trail riding, showing, and pleasure; the Dutch Warmblood, whose conformation, athleticism, and size make it perfect for jumping, dressage, and driving; the Morgan, whose excellent temperament, strength, endurance, soundness, and versatility appeal to people engaged in just about any discipline; and the Thoroughbred, whose speed, endurance, and “never-give-up” attitude make it well-suited to racing, jumping, dressage, and cross-country.

Ponies. By definition, a pony is any horse standing under 14.2 hands. Despite their small stature, ponies can be excellent mounts for adults and children alike, and often excel at jumping, driving, and trail riding. Popular pony breeds include the Chincoteague Pony, whose wonderful temperaments and pretty faces make them ideal first mounts for children; the Connemara, whose stamina, strength, and jumping talent help them excel in jumping, hunting, dressage, driving, and other sporting pursuits; the Hackney Pony, whose high action, great stamina, and effervescent personalities make them just right for pleasure, harness, and roadster driving; and the Shetland Pony, whose versatility and great temperament make them ideal for carrying children or for driving.

Heavy Horses. Heavy horses are those horses that are selectively bred to be tall and massive, and were originally used for farm work. Today, some heavy horses are used for riding. Popular heavy horse breeds include the Belgian, whose sturdiness of bone and high-stepping action make it ideal for pulling; the Clydesdale, whose size and fluid and powerful movement make it well-suited to draft work and being part of multi-horse hitches; and the Percheron, whose elegance make it ideal for harness and carriage driving.

So hope that gives you some insight on what you might be thinking of starting your search for. We have included in our resource box some sites that will help you start your search.

About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System









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