What Are the Best Breeds of Horses for New Equestrians?

April 8, 2024

If you are aspiring to the equestrian lifestyle, choosing the right breed of horse is of paramount importance. Some breeds are known for their calm temperament, making them ideal for beginners, while others are renowned for their athleticism- a great choice for those aspiring to jumping or dressage. Today, we delve into the vast world of horses and navigate through different breeds – American Quarter Horses, well-known for their prowess on the trail; breeds that have established themselves as popular choices for dressage; and those that have a reputation for being beginner-friendly.

American Quarter Horses: The Ultimate Trail Companions

The world of American Quarter Horses is filled with diversity. Their popularity stems from their versatility and adaptability, making them an excellent choice for beginners. American Quarter Horses are typically 14.3 to 16 hands in height, and their muscular build is well-suited to a variety of equestrian disciplines.

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The breed’s name comes from their knack for outpacing other breeds in quarter-mile races. However, American Quarter Horses excel in more than just speed events. They have a natural aptitude for trail riding, thanks to their sturdy build and nimble footing. Their calm temperament also makes them a pleasure to handle, and they form strong bonds with their riders.

Whether you’re looking to hit the trails, practice your roping skills, or simply enjoy leisurely rides, an American Quarter Horse could be the perfect fit. Their well-mannered temperament and trail-ready athleticism make them ideal for first-time horse owners. The breed’s loyalty and willingness to please will help beginners feel comfortable and confident in the saddle.

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Dressage Stars: The Hanoverian Breed

When it comes to dressage, one breed often stands out – the Hanoverian. Originating in Germany, Hanoverians have made a name for themselves on the international dressage stage. They are typically 15.3 to 17.2 hands tall, known for their elegant physique and expressive movements.

Hanoverians are known for their extraordinary athleticism, which makes them a formidable presence in dressage. They are intelligent and trainable, with a natural balance and rhythm that contribute to their excellent dressage capabilities. Despite their prowess in the dressage ring, Hanoverians also have a calm, reliable temperament that appeals to beginners.

While this breed may require a bit more experience to fully unlock their potential, their trainable nature and calm demeanor make them a worthy consideration for new riders interested in dressage. With the right guidance, a Hanoverian can help beginner equestrians understand the intricate world of dressage while providing a safe and enjoyable riding experience.

Jumping Giants: The Belgian Warmblood

If jumping is your aspiration, you might want to consider the Belgian Warmblood. This breed, native to Belgium, has a reputation for being one of the best when it comes to jumping. Belgian Warmbloods typically stand between 16 and 17 hands tall, boasting a muscular build that contributes to their jumping ability.

Belgian Warmbloods are renowned for their power, agility, and responsiveness – all crucial attributes for show jumping. They are also known for their friendly and calm temperament, making them approachable for beginners despite their athletic prowess.

Belgian Warmbloods can provide an excellent foundation for beginner riders looking to explore the world of show jumping. Their amiable nature, combined with their impressive jumping capabilities, makes them a popular choice for equestrians of various skill levels.

Perfect for Beginners: The Morgan Horse

For those completely new to riding, you may want to set your sights on the Morgan Horse. Known for their compact size, typically 14.1 to 15.2 hands, Morgans are renowned for their versatility and easygoing nature.

Morgans are known for their friendly disposition, intelligence, and willingness to learn, making them ideal companions for beginner riders. Whether it’s trail riding, dressage, or jumping, Morgans can perform a wide range of equestrian disciplines with ease.

Choosing a Morgan as your first horse will provide an excellent introduction to the equestrian lifestyle. Their versatile abilities and well-mannered temperament make them an ideal choice for beginners, helping you learn the ropes of riding while forging a strong bond with your equine companion.

Smooth Riders: The Tennessee Walking Horse

For a unique riding experience, consider the Tennessee Walking Horse. Known for their distinctive "running walk", an incredibly smooth gait, these horses provide a comfortable ride like no other. They typically stand between 14.3 and 17 hands tall, making them a manageable size for equestrian novices.

The Tennessee Walking Horse breed, which originated in the United States, is often praised for its gentle disposition and intelligent, cooperative nature. These horses are known for their ability to form strong bonds with their riders, enhancing the equestrian experience for beginners.

Tennessee Walking Horses are versatile enough to participate in various equestrian activities, but they particularly shine in trail riding due to their smooth gaits and calm temperament. This breed’s ability to handle rough terrain while maintaining a steady, smooth gait makes them an excellent choice for trail riding enthusiasts.

Choosing a Tennessee Walking Horse as your first horse ensures a comfortable and enjoyable start to your equestrian adventure. Their smooth gait and friendly nature are perfect for beginners, while their versatility keeps options open as you further develop your riding skills.

Dynamic and Versatile: The American Paint Horse

The American Paint Horse is another excellent breed for novice equestrians. Known for their colorful coat patterns, these horses are hard to miss. They are usually between 14.2 and 16 hands in height, making them a good fit for riders of all sizes.

American Paint Horses are known for their personality: they are friendly, intelligent, and willing to please. Their calm demeanor makes them easy to handle, yet they also possess a playful nature that endears them to riders. This breed is adaptable and versatile, capable of performing in a variety of disciplines, from English riding to trail riding.

Choosing an American Paint Horse as your first horse will not only add a splash of color to your equestrian journey, but also a partner who is eager to learn and participate in your riding adventures. Their adaptable and friendly nature makes them one of the best horse breeds for beginners.


Selecting your first horse breed is an exciting step in the journey to becoming an equestrian. There are many breeds to consider, each with its unique characteristics and strengths. From the versatile American Quarter Horse and the dressage star Hanoverian, to the jumping giant Belgian Warmblood and the smooth-riding Tennessee Walking Horse, each breed offers a unique introduction to the equestrian world.

It’s essential to remember that the best horse for you will depend on your individual preferences, riding goals, and experience level. Whether you are aspiring to trail riding, dressage, jumping, or simply want a reliable and friendly companion, there is a breed that’s perfect for you. While this guide provides a starting point, take the time to do additional research, or consult with experienced equestrians or trainers to make an informed decision.

Embrace the journey ahead and remember that each horse, regardless of breed, has its personality and spirit. The bond you forge with your horse is a precious experience that will greatly enrich your equestrian adventure. Happy riding!