Best Horses for Beginners

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Every experienced horse owner was a complete novice at one point. After all, we all have to start somewhere, right? If you have a dream of becoming a horse owner or a rider, there is nothing that should stop you from fulfilling that dream. All you need is patience, time, resources – and a good horse (most importantly). The equine world is, luckily, full of diverse breeds, each with its own characteristics and temperament. Some are absolutely not inclined to novices, while some are ideally suited for that role. We have listed 10 of the best horses for beginners: these animals are often calm and obedient, with an intelligent and affectionate nature that goes well with owners with little experience. Acquaint yourself with each one – they might end up as your very own first horse! 

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#1 American Quarter Horse

In the United States, the Quarter horse is one of the older and most renowned breeds, known for its great speed and endurance at short distances. And today, it is amongst the most popular breeds in the world. They are known as energetic and enduring, but even so, they have a number of positive traits that make them great first-time horses. Above all, they are reliable and hard-working and have an even temperament. Thanks to their dexterity, intelligence, and reliability, they can be counted on during those early stages of training and learning about horse care. And if you are a beginner with aims of track riding, obstacle courses, and shows, these can be the ideal horses to start with. Just keep in mind that such magnificent animals require plenty of care and expenses - which they will reward with their excellent characteristics.


#2 Friesian Horse

There’s no mistaking the mighty Friesian horse – its appearance is elegant, powerful, and often breathtaking. They might seem a bit overpowering for a first-time owner, though: they are tall, wide, and full of muscle. But beneath all that size lies a moderate and calm demeanor, with plenty of gentlenesses and a lot of loyalty. All this makes them great for beginner owners, and a good start for any potential training and further learning. Many equestrians dubbed them the “Labrador retrievers of the horse world”, a clear nudge to their great personality. Just keep in mind that the Friesian prides itself on the luscious mane and tail, which are renowned for their beauty. You will have to maintain them and groom them regularly, in order to preserve the elegant appearance of your horse.

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#3 Morgan Horse

One of the earliest horse breeds established in the United States, the Morgan is a compact, graceful, intelligent, and reliable breed, which many claim is simply ideal for beginner owners. Generations of careful breeding made the Morgan horse an elegant and slender breed, with many character traits that make them highly desirable. They are hardy and hard-working, very smart, and eager to please. Experts claim that the Morgan will try its hardest to understand and please its owner. They are very quick to follow commands and learn, which is ideal for new owners who are trying out horse training in various disciplines. They are best suited for the role of saddle riding. Best of all, the Morgan is relatively easy to care for, has few health issues in life, and is great for families. 

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#4 Arabian Horse

Few people have not heard of the famed and elegant Arabian horse. This breed is amongst the most sought-after in the world, and their prices can be accordingly high. What is more, they are often considered hot-blooded and hot-tempered, especially as stallions. But many Arabians can also be quite even-tempered and calm, which makes them great for new horse owners. This is especially true for geldings (castrated male horses), who can have a calm disposition and are especially trustworthy. Loyalty and trust are important in horses and are something a new owner needs to rely on. If you do happen to come across a quiet and calm Arabian horse, you can potentially have a great beginner horse. And from that start can emerge a lasting and affectionate relationship to last for many years.

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#5 Icelandic Horse

Icelandic horses are somewhat different in appearance from most horse breeds. To survive in the harsh climates of Iceland, they evolved to have a stockier build, coarser and thicker coat, and quite hardy health. They are also noticeably shorter and stockier than other horses, which makes them great for shorter riders and novices in the saddle. Another great trait of Icelandic horses is their surefootedness, which makes them perfect for novice and anxious riders. These horses also have a unique gait called a “tolt”. It is described as a very smooth type of fast walk, or a trot, which makes them fun to ride but not challenging for first-timers. As far as characteristics, these horses are calm and composed, and quite smart as well. They seldom display rowdy traits. All of this makes Icelandic horses great for beginners. 

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#6 Tennessee Walking Horse

It was once said that the trot of the Tennessee Walking Horse is so smooth, that one could sip a cup of tea while in the saddle – and spill none of it! This old American horse breed was developed for overseeing plantations. Thus, riding them is very comfortable and not too challenging, and ideal for novice riders. The breed is somewhat tall, however, but that should not be a problem with a bit of practice – or if you are tall as well. Most importantly, however, the breed is known for its calm and affectionate character, which should be important for those new to the world of horses. The Tennessee Walking horse is not too challenging to care about, especially if you follow all the rules of equine care. In return for your patient care, you should be rewarded with a hardy, elegant, and obedient horse. 


#7 Connemara Pony

As you could guess from the name, this is not an original American horse breed. The Connemara pony hails from Ireland, where it is known as Capaillín Chonamara. There, it was bred for hard work on the farms, as well as for riding. Born in a harsh landscape, the breed evolved with very good health and is still known as very hardy. Just like the Icelandic horse, the Connemara pony is a tad bit shorter than your usual horse. This makes them good for novice riders and horse owners. Today, the breed is described as very versatile and can fit a variety of roles – from working to sports and shows. It has a calm and intelligent character and is known to be gentle with children. The Connemara Pony craves human interaction and will bond with its owner with great affection. This breed has everything a novice owner could want. 

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#8 Clydesdale Horse

From Ireland, we jump to neighboring Scotland, where the Clydesdale Horse is one of the best-known domestic breeds. They are known all over the world and are especially prized as hardy workhorses. These were originally draft animals, and are exemplified by their large stature, powerful build, and beautiful mane and tail. But these traits should not deter first-time owners. In most cases, the Clydesdale is calm and surprisingly gentle and has a temperate demeanor. If you are a beginner owner looking for a hardy workhorse, look no further than Clydesdale. They are quick learners, as well as smart and obedient. However, they might not be ideal for riding or athleticism, due to their size. Either way, they are relatively easy to care for and will require regular grooming in order to remain as elegant as they are. 


#9 American Paint Horse

One of the more common American breeds, the Paint horse is loved for its easygoing temperament. These are lightweight and athletic horses and are famed for their intelligence. They are very social animals and will love human interaction. Also, they will bond with their owner, creating lasting relationships full of loyalty and affection. On a day-to-day basis, the American Paint horse is calm and relaxed, and won’t object to training, saddling, or similar activities. If you are looking for a loyal equine friend to train with, this breed is a good choice. According to many experts, they are great for taking your very first steps in the equestrian world. And, having a good deal of American Quarter horse in them, they are fast, energetic, and rather elegant. 


#10 Thoroughbred 

Thoroughbreds might seem like an unusual choice for first-time owners. They are very athletic and excel in racing at high speeds and other energetic activities. This means that if you are a novice and acquire a retired racehorse, you won’t find it an easy animal to work with. However, if you take a young thoroughbred that hasn’t been trained for a particular activity, you can find a calm and intelligent animal with a temperate demeanor. These can be quiet and steady animals, stable and obedient, with an appetite for learning. They can be great to learn riding with, as they react well to the saddle and the rider. On top of that, the Thoroughbred is a graceful and elegant horse, lean and tall, with lovely colors and a striking pose. Being seen in the company of such a marvelous animal will certainly benefit you.  

What To Know Before Getting a Horse

In legal terms, sure, almost anyone can become a horse owner: there’s nothing stopping you from buying a horse. Money, a bit of paperwork, transactions, and that’s it. But there is so much more to owning a horse than that. Before you even consider it, you have to realize all the aspects of owning a horse – aspects that go far beyond just the animal. These are not the same as pets like cats and dogs. Horses can weigh anywhere between 900 and 1800 pounds for most breeds, and they are tall and powerful animals. This brings into account a slew of diverse caring needs. To become a proper horse owner, you have to be prepared.

- Horses require proper housing. This means that you can’t be living in an apartment and hope to become a proper horse owner. Sure, there are lodgings for horses that take care of this for you, but they cost money and keep you somewhat separated from the horse. You will need to invest in a prober stable, complete with stalls, associated buildings, insulation, and ventilation. 

- Horse care requires money and time. Be aware of this before you commit. Horses have to be regularly shoed (in most cases), and farrier service is a regular expense. Vet visits are also a cost, as are feed, supplements, and equipment. Time is also important: a daily routine of regular feeding times, cleaning, grooming, water change, bonding, training, and so on will require plenty of your free time. A 9-to-5 job and devoted horse care simply don’t add up. 

- Horses require plenty of care. Being the tall, powerful, and large animals that they are, horses will require a lot of care and attention on a daily level, in order to remain healthy and happy. This entails proper feeding, supplements, and veterinary visits. Parasites are a regular health issue many horses can have, and getting rid of them will require your attentiveness and the help of a veterinarian. 

- Horse training is a long and challenging process. Parrots are quick to learn new words. Dogs can quickly learn to fetch. Horses too can be taught a number of activities, but this takes time and patience. Don’t assume it will go smoothly or very fast. Be ready to devote your time and efforts to training. But in the end, all the efforts will pay off.

In the end, it goes without saying that horses aren’t for anyone. You have to know that what you are getting into isn’t all that simple and that it requires time, diligence, and money. Above all, horses can be dangerous in some cases, especially if they are hot-blooded stallions or nursing mares. Be quite certain that the horse you are getting is calm and patient, otherwise, you might find yourself dealing with a temperamental bucking horse who can turn out to be a dangerous handful.  

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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