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15 Best Horse Breeds For Beginners

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For some people, especially beginners, riding a horse and adopting one to be their riding companion is a big challenge.

This is because every breed comes with its own unique personality and needs.

They might ask which breed suits their skills, body size, or even how some specific horse reacts to new riders.

But the truth is, there are many breeds that are born and trained to fit with people that are new to this sport. With that being said, here are the 15 best horse breeds for new riders and horse owners:

1. The Irish Draught Horse

Portrait of a dapple Irish Draught Horse mare

The Irish Draught horses were once used as working horses in the farms in Ireland, where they first originated.

They were developed by crossbreeding the Irish Hobby breed and Norman horses with a few other breeds like the European drafts, warmblood breeds, and The Iberians (also known as The Andalusians).

This athletic breed possesses a solid body frame, a robust head, strong bones, deep girth, muscular back and quarters, and stands between 15.2 to 16.3 hands high (hh).

They come in different colors like buckskin, brown, black, bay, chestnut, and grey.

This breed is beginner-friendly due to its calm personality. They have a powerful stride and are agile, making it easier for new riders to mount and ride them.

Plus, they can adapt to different situations, are easy to train, and tend to be very reliable.

They are generally resistant to any health issues. Nowadays, this breed is commonly used for competition and hobby riding.

2. The American Paint Horse

The American Paint Horse running in snowy field

This all-around horse breed stands between 14.2 and 15.2 hands high (hh).

They carry a few different genes in their bloodline that can be traced back to other breeds like The Andalusians, The Barbs, and The Arabian horses.

Historically, they were known by many different names like paint, pinto, piebald, and skewbald.

The American Paint Horse is a muscular and athletic breed with strong hindquarters, sturdy chest, and stable frame with a low center of gravity.

Although this breed is unique due to their colorful coat patterns, they always come with a combination of white and other different colors like brown, chestnut, black, grey, buckskin, grulla, dun, sorrel, palomino, and roan.

American Paint horses are one of the best choices for novices.

This is because they are generally patient, calm, easy-going, and highly social in nature.

They easily bond with people, especially children and people who are friendly to them, which would make them a good companion and a loyal breed.

Plus, they are quite versatile, intelligent, and easy to train.

3. The Morgan Horse

The Morgan Horse running in an open field

The Morgan horses are one of the earliest horse breeds.

Their origin can be traced back to one stallion named Figure.

In 1789, after the death of Figure’s owner, Justin Morgan, the rest of Figure’s bloodlines were named after Justin Morgan’s name, and this where the Morgan horses came into existence.

Morgan horses stand between 14 and 15 hands high (around 56 to 60 inches tall) with athletic and sturdy bodies.

They have a compact head, small muzzle, muscular chest and hindquarters, and a well-developed back and hips.

Most of the time, Morgan horses come in dark and solid colors like bay, chestnut, or black. But in some cases, they could also come in other less common colors like palomino, pinto, gray, dun, or roan.

This breed is best for beginners because they are friendly, less hostile, and can be quite forgiving to new riders.

For new owners, this breed suits them because they are easy to train, cooperative, and intelligent. Also, they are generally healthy without any health issues to be aware of.

4. The Connemara Pony

pony running in  the field

The Connemara ponies originated in the Connemara region, in County Galway on Ireland’s west coast. This is also how they got their name.

This breed’s origin is quite unclear. Some theories proposed that their ancestors were Vikings’ horses and Irish-Hobby, one of the earlier breeds that already extinct.

But centuries later, they were refined and infused with other breeds like Hackney, Arabian, and Thoroughbred blood, giving birth to today’s well-developed Connemaras.

The Connemara ponies stand between 12.2 and 14.2 hands high, making them one of the larger pony breeds.

They possess a well-developed head, sturdy hooves, muscular limbs, and a well-set neck, which contribute to their agility and robustness.

They generally come in different colors like black, grey, dun, palomino, bay, chestnut, and brown.

The Connemara ponies are one of the best horse breeds for beginners due to their loving and carefree personality. They are docile, gentle, and easy to train.

These ponies love human interaction and can be quite versatile in many disciplines such as racing, jumping, trekking, or even in pleasure riding. They can live up to 30 years.

5. The Welsh Cob (Section D)

Stunning welsh cob stallion

This breed originated in Great Britain and was developed by crossing native ponies with  Hackney, Arabian, and Thoroughbred bloodlines.

Some people also believed that The Welsh Cobs have existed in Wales for thousands of years but in the 1800s, they arrived in the United States and were bred to be all-purpose horses.

The Welsh Cobs, also known as the Section Ds, were originally used to pull loads in farms and coal mines. But nowadays, they are generally used in trail-riding and equine competitions.

This athletic and sturdy horse stands between 12 to 15 hands high. They have prominent eyes, a well-carried neck, strong limbs and hindquarters, and a deep chest.

Besides being mostly in common colors like black, grey, and bay, they also come in different equine colors like roan, palomino, dun, brown, and cream.

The Welsh Cob is a calm, intelligent and friendly breed. They get along well with novice riders, first-time owners, and especially children due to their small size.

They are also good at following orders and resistant to most diseases.

Given their endurance to withstand harsh environments and terrains, beginners who want to raise this breed don’t have to worry about their feeding habits because they can thrive on less food and water.

6. The Gypsy Vanner

Playful gypsy vanner running mate horses

The Gypsy Vanner is one of the most beautiful horse breeds. They are well-known for their majestic mane, tail, and feathers that flow like a magical horse from the fairyland.

This breed’s origin can be traced back to the era of Gypsies in Great Britain.

The Gypsies were motivated to develop this breed by crossing different breeds with one another like the Shire, Clydesdale, Dale Pony, and the Friesian, giving birth to an ideal breed, the Gypsy Vanner.

This breed is relatively small and stands between 12.2 and 16 hands high. historically, they were primarily used to pull caravans.

In modern days, they could be considered as all-around horses, being used in many disciplines like trail-riding, dressage, driving competitions, and many more.

They come in solid color coats but are commonly known for their colored coats like Piebald (black and white), skewbald (brown and white), Blagdon (solid color with a white splash), and a few other odd-colored coats.

The Gypsy Vanners are great ‘starter’ horses for those who are new to riding or even just for the sake of owning and raising them.

They are incredibly smart, athletic, and friendly to new riders and owners.

Due to their heavy and long feathering around their knees and hocks, grooming must be done frequently to keep their hair healthy. Nevertheless, they are definitely an ideal horse for beginners.

7. The Tennessee Walking Horse

retired tennessee walking horse in the morning light

Commonly known as The Walking Horse, this breed is the official state horse of Tennessee.

This breed originated in the middle region of Tennessee called Bluegrass. In the 18th  century, they were bred by crossing two different breeds, Narragansett Pacers and Canadian Pacers, with gaited Spanish Mustangs.

Originally, they were used in farms for ranch work like cart-pulling and heavy lifting.

Due to their sturdy and muscular figure, they are well-known as the all-around horse used in many different areas like trail rides, endurance rides, or even performance in the show ring.

They stand between 15 to 16 hands high and come in many different coats like black, bay, chestnut, dun, brown, and other unique coat patterns such as Tovero, Sabino, Tobiano, and Overo.

The Tennessee Walking horse is an ideal choice for any beginner due to its smooth gait, sure-footedness, and calm temperament.

They are quite patient and forgiving to new riders and owners. Also, they could live up to 30 years with few health issues to deal with.

8. The American Quarter Horse

quarter horse standing in the field

The American Quarter Horse is native to the United States and considered the oldest horse breed.

Their origin can be traced back to English and Spanish horse’s bloodlines being crossed with local breeds.

Nowadays, most of them came from the result of crossbreeding.

Historically, they were used as working horses in farms and ranches. Due to their sturdy and athletic frames, they are also perfect for horse racing, rodeo events, or even just for pleasure riding.

American Quarter horses stand between 14 and 16 hands high. They have large eyes set wide apart, medium-length neck, deep chest, with strong hindquarters.

This breed possesses many different colors like black, brown, chestnut, sorrel, gray, and many more.

Quarter horses are a great choice for beginners because of their temperament; calm, easy-going, reliable, and most definitely, intelligent.

Besides being easy to train, they get along easily with people, especially children, and beginners.

9. The Shire Horse

two shire horse in the snowy field

This breed originated in England in the 17th century and is generally believed to have descended from the warhorses in the Middle Ages.

Although they might resemble the Clydesdale breed in appearance, Shire horses are definitely a different breed.

This big and sturdy horse is also the tallest horse breed standing between 16 to 18 hands high.

They generally come in common colors like black, brown, bay, and grey. In some cases, they might also possess silky hair on their lowers legs and some white markings on their face and limbs.

Throughout history, aside from being used in war, they were used to pull carts and wagons, carrying loads in the coal mines, and in the agricultural fields.

Nowadays, you can see this breed being used in more pleasant ways like pulling sightseeing wagons for tourists, policing, commercial logging, and other equine purposes.

One of the reasons Shire horses are great for beginners is because they are versatile, docile, calm, easy-going, and comfortable to ride.

Some of them are also used as learning horses for new riders in riding schools.

They don’t easily spook or react to anything that could startle them so it is less likely for new riders or owners to face injury when dealing with them.

10. The Icelandic Horse

photo of Icelandic Horse in the valley overlooking the ocean and mountains

Being the pride symbol of the Icelandic nation, the Icelandic horse is an elegant and versatile horse that descended from the Viking horses.

In the early 1900s, they were used to transport goods and people, as well as to work on farms and ranches.

It is believed that they carry the Tarpan, Fjord, and Mongolian bloodlines in their genetic pools. The Icelandic horses possess a small but athletic and sturdy body.

They have thick, long manes and tails and they grow much thicker hair, especially in the winter.

Their average height is between 13 and 14 hands high. Most of them come in basic colors like brown, chestnut, red, or white. But in some rare cases, they could have different markings and mixed colors on their coats.

One of the best features of Icelandic horses that would make them suitable for beginners is their rather diminutive size which is much smaller than other breeds.

This gives them enough stability and a low center of gravity to anyone who wants to ride them.

They also possess a smooth gait, also known as the ‘tolt gait’. This tolt gait contributes to the smoothness and versatility when they walk, run, and sprint.

They are friendly, easy-going, and gentle to anyone who is new to them.

11. The Fjord Horse

two fjord horses together

The Fjord Horses, also known as the Norwegian Fjord horses are considered one of the oldest horse breeds that originated from Norway.

Before being domesticated, the original Fjord horse and ancestors of this breed migrated to Norway overs 4000 years ago.

This breed was also being used by the Vikings as war and working horses.

Nowadays, you can found them being used in riding schools.

The Fjord horses are compact and sturdy, with crested neck and muscular limbs. They generally stand between 13.2 and 14.2 hands high.

One of the most distinctive characteristics that separate Fjord horses from other breeds is that most of them come in dun color.

This dun color comes in different shades like red dun, brown dun, yellow dun, white dun, and even grey dun. They also possess unique stripes behind their front legs.

Fjord horses are one of the best horse breeds for beginners.

This is because of their temperament; calm, obedient, and patient with people. Unlike other breeds, they also don’t spook so easily and rarely buck.

Furthermore, they are quite healthy easy to raise without many complicated health issues to deal with.

12. The Haflinger Horse

Haflinger horse galloping free in the meadow

The first breed of Haflinger horses was first being migrated to the United States during 1958.

They were first developed in 1874 by crossing a Tyrolean mountain breed with an Arabian horse.

This European warmblood breed originated in South Tyrol, Italy, and was used mainly to navigate narrow trails in the Tyrolean Mountains.

They are well suited for this job due to their agility, surefootedness, sturdy body, and strong limbs.

But nowadays, they are mainly used in trail-riding, competition, and pleasure-riding. The Haflingers generally stand between 13.2 to 15 hands high.

They have a broad, long back, large eyes and ears, wide nostrils, and a low-hanging neck.

Most of them come in two major colors; cream and golden chestnut with a long white mane and tail.

One of the reasons why this horse breed would make a great choice for beginners is its compact body frame and strong muscles.

Unlike other breeds that are generally large in size, Haflingers’ small body gives new riders and owners easy access to climb on their back for riding purposes.

Their temperament is mostly laid-back, gentle, and forgiving to new riders which is another reason beginners should adopt this breed as their first horse.

Most Haflingers are healthy and easy to feed.

13. The Friesian Horse

black friesian horse

This breed originated in the province of Friesland, Netherlands.

They were developed by crossing Arabian and Andalusian breeds to create another breed much lighter in weight for transportation and trotting races quite popular in Netherlands.

Back in the Middle ages, due to their athletic and strong figure, they were also bred and used on the battlefield as warhorses.

Nowadays, you can found them being commercially used in competition tracks, riding schools, or even recreational horse parks.

Friesian horses generally stand about 15.2 to 17 hands high.

They have a strong body, a thick neck and mane, long tail, and muscular hindquarters. This breed is well-known for its shiny and glossy black coat.

But in some cases, they can also come in white and chestnut colors with some markings on their body coats. Friesian horses are certainly a great choice for any beginner.

This is because of their calm temperament, easy-going ways, and friendly attitude. They are eager to please their owners, loyal, obedient, and definitely don’t easily spook.

So, beginners don’t have to worry about any bucking problem when they ride this horse.

14. The Appaloosa Horse

appaloosa horse running

The Appaloosas are one the oldest horse breeds developed from spotted horses by the Spanish explorers during the early 1600s.

They were brought to the Northwest and their population grew as Native Americans, also known as the Nez Perce people, began to breed them.

They were mainly used by these people for hunting, transportation, and on the battlefield.

Due to their versatility, they are used in modern days for horse racing, rodeo events, long-distance, trail-riding, and pleasure riding.

The Appaloosa horses stand between 14 and 16 hands high.

They have a muscular and compact body that suits their athletic and agile nature.

Some of the distinctive physical traits that separate them from other breeds are different coat patterns (dots, spots, or irregular markings), facial colors and markings, mottled skin, and striped hooves.

They also have different base coat colors ranging from the black, brown, bay, palomino, grey, dun, red, and many more.

The Appaloosas can be considered as one of the best horse breeds for beginners.

This is due to their temperament that is easy-going, calm, and loyal.

Aside from being versatile horses, they make a comfortable ride and are capable of jumping and sprinting at a speed that won’t intimidate new riders and owners.

They are intelligent and quick to follow orders from people.

15. The Selle Francais Horse

Horse Selle Français walking around the field

This French horse breed originated in Normandy during the 19th century. Also known as the French Saddle Horse, this breed was developed by crossing Norfolk Stallion horses and Thoroughbred stallions.

Historically, the Selle Francais horses were used in war and transportation.

Nowadays, they are mostly used in show jumping, dressage, vaulting, trail-riding, or even just for pleasure riding.

This breed generally stands between 15.2 and 17 hands high. They also come in different basic colors like black, grey, chestnut, or dun.

Like any other performance horses, they possess a strong and long neck, deep chest, sturdy and muscular legs and hindquarters.

The Selle Francais Horse is one of the best horse breeds for beginners.

Their temperament is easy-going, friendly, and they are patient with new riders and owners. Being intelligent and versatile horses, they are quick learners, easy to train, and will easily obey commands from their owners.

So, beginners are less likely to have any problems in getting comfortable with this breed.

Final Thoughts

Overall, choosing the right horse for new riders and first-time owners is just the first step.

After that comes the most important step: you have to spend more time with your preferred horse to get to know them better.

In the long run, what matters the most is your relationship with them. After all, horses are emotional creatures too.


The Irish Draught

The American Paint Horse

The Morgans

The Connemara Pony

The Welsh Cob

The Gypsy Vanner

The Tennessee Walking Horse

The American Quarter Horse

The Shire Horse

The Icelandic Horse

The Fjord Horse

The Haflinger Horse

The Friesian Horse

The Appaloosa Horse

The Selle Francais Horse