Mention horses in California and some people will give you a bit of a strange look. Those who are unfamiliar with California with the exception of wine country in the Napa Valley and major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, for example, might wonder exactly where people in California would keep their horses. Of course, horses have been kept in California even into the modern age, even by ordinary Californians.
Most famously, Californian Ronald Reagan owned horses and was very fond of going on a ride, whenever he was at home. While the Reagan's occupied the White House, both Ronald and Nancy were the proud owners of Arabian horses. Ronald Reagan's horse was a white Arabian stallion named El Alamein, gifted to him in 1981 by the Mexican President, Jorge. Nancy's horse was a chestnut gelding named Catalina Muzraff.
Just as the Reagan's had their own working ranch called, Rancho del Cielo, near Santa Barbara, California, to the north and west of Los Angeles, many Californian's have working ranches and farms in every nook and cranny of the state.
Likewise, those who do their research will find that horses in California don't just exist on working cattle ranches. At many of the state's Pacific Coast beaches, it's possible to enjoy horseback riding on the beach. The same is true for those who are visiting the state's redwood forests, the Sierra Mountains and various other areas throughout the state.
That doesn't mean that all of the horses in California are only there for the benefit of those who are working on a cattle ranch or for tourists, plenty of regular folks who live in California also own horses. After all, with a trailer in tow, they too can take their horse and ride along the shore, on trails in the forests, in state parks and even in the Sierras.
Many others look for horses in California because, well, like anywhere else, they have a love of the animal and have the space to keep one. They know that they are able to take long rides in meadows and pastures. They know that their kids can benefit from learning to care for horses (in fact, one program uses horses in California to boost the self-esteem and nurturing abilities of kids and teens who are struggling). Others want to be able to work with horses and train them for rodeo events and other competitions. In some California counties, horse racing is an extremely popular sport.
Therefore, when it comes to horses in California, it's impossible to say that there is only a single breed that is most common. For those who are involved in racing and training horses for the racetrack, Thoroughbreds are a popular choice. Many choose Arabian horses for their beauty. Paint horses are common. And, of course, when it comes to ranching and rodeo horses in California, the American Quarter Horse is as popular and common as it is in Texas and Nevada.
When looking at horses for sale in California, part of the decision will be made based on why the person is buying a horse, in the first place. Someone who is planning to work their horse on a ranch is not going to look for a Thoroughbred or a warmblood horse; they are going to look at the American Quarter Horse, or possibly a Pinto or Paint horses, because those horses are better suited to the buyers' needs. Likewise, someone who is looking for horses in California because they intend to train it for dressage are going to look for different horses, than someone who will be racing or simply riding casually.
It's important to have an understanding of horse breeds and what constitutes a healthy horse when you're looking at a list of horses for sale. The condition of the horse's hair, teeth, hearing and eyesight are important. The horse's hooves should be strong and healthy. The horse should have a solid muscle structure and, those who are looking for horses in California know, the legs of the horse should be straight and free of bumps and scars that could indicate a previous injury. Because not every injury a horse has sustained will be clearly documented or visible, it's always important to have a horse checked out by a veterinarian before making a purchase.
Despite the way people from across the world may perceive California in their mind's eye, horses in California are quite popular and provide their owners with a great way to see some of the state's beautiful landscapes. Choosing a horse is a matter of understanding the reason why you are buying a horse, what breed of horse is best for that purpose, and focusing on finding a horse with the right disposition and temperament to create a long lasting relationship - something that's true whether you are buying horses in California or somewhere elsewhere.