Picking the Right Horse
Friday 20 January 2012
So, you have begun shopping for your first horse, but you aren’t sure exactly what you need? When selecting a new horse, it is very important not only to consider your personal likes and dislikes, but also your body build, your riding skill and your long-term goals.
There are so many breeds and types of horses that there is really a horse for any type of person somewhere out there. Unfortunately, the right horse for you might not be the cheapest, or the easiest to find.
Let’s start out by considering the overall type and size of horse you need. It is important to get a horse that fits you physically. A large rider looks foolish on a fine boned Thoroughbred; likewise a tiny rider looks silly on a huge Warmblood. There are three things to consider: height, weight and proportion.
If you are tall, you need to consider buying a horse that will take up your height without becoming unbalanced. For example, a 5’8” rider fits a 16hh horse very nicely. If the rider is light weight, a Thoroughbred, or other light type of horse would work well. A thicker rider looks best on a thicker horse. A Quarter horse or a Warmblood might suit a mid-weight individual better than a lanky Thoroughbred. If you are heavy set, it is worth considering a heavier breed of horse or even trying a draft cross.
Proportion also plays an important role. A rider with a long leg and a short upper body can get away with riding a shorter horse. It is important to consider that the horse needs enough barrel to take up the long leg so that the rider’s feet don’t dangle below the horse’s belly. A rider with a short leg and a long upper body does better with a taller horse with a narrower girth.
Next, you need to consider your riding skills. What discipline do you currently ride? How long have you been riding? Do you have any training experience? Do you know anyone who can help you if you get into trouble?
A beginner rider should always choose a horse who is reasonably well trained. While he may cost a bit more, a well trained horse is worth his weight in gold. On the other hand, you should not choose a horse who is trained for an advanced rider. The horse will be far more sensitive that you need, and you will likely run into trouble in the long run, unless you are working with a coach on a regular basis.
The worst mistake that many riders make when choosing their first horse is to buy a young horse that is too green for their needs. The horse quickly develops issues under saddle and the rider becomes overfaced.
In addition to basic training, you need to consider where you want to go with this horse. If you are only looking to pleasure ride, you should consider a horse that is calm, easy-going, and will be a pleasure to ride. There is no point in buying a fancy show horse to hack around the fields on. In fact, most show horses are not bred for pleasure riding and will likely turn out to be poor choices for pleasure riding.
If you are looking to show your horse, you need to find a horse that is trained in the discipline that you ride, and that knows enough to help you improve as a rider. Unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money on training and coaching, avoid buying a horse that is green. Always take someone experienced in your discipline when shopping for a show prospect. That person can help you select the right horse, keeping you from making a costly and possibly dangerous mistake.
While color, markings, gender and other things may seem important, you need to be sure that the size, type and training are in place first. It is worth taking the time to find the right horse. If all goes well, you can develop the perfect partnership and have a new friend for life.