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Horsing Around 101: The Best Horses for the Beginner Rider

Are you looking to buy a horse but are overwhelmed by the large selection of horse breeds? Find out what the best breeds are for beginner riders right here!

October 8, 2021 5 min read
Horsing Around 101: The Best Horses for the Beginner Rider

Maybe your young daughter has been taking riding lessons and is now begging you for a horse. Or perhaps, as an adult, you realize you can afford to make your childhood passion of horse riding and ownership come true. But there's one hitch here, and that is that your daughter, or you, or any beginner wanting to purchase a horse needs help in finding the correct mount. 

Here's why: horses are big animals, and they can be flighty and unpredictable, and it takes a lot of practice and skill to control a horse of any type. Some breeds are more accessible and more stable than others, and those are the breeds that are best for the beginning horseback rider.

But before you select your first horse, there are some basics you need to consider: 


Do you have the money to buy a horse comfortably, stable it, purchase supplies for it, get riding equipment, and all the myriad of hidden costs that come along with horse ownership?

Lease or Buy?

Leasing a horse is a great way to ease your way into the prospect of eventually owning your horse and a much more economical solution to start. 

Where Will You Keep the Horse?

If you already live on a farm or rural area and have outbuildings where you can safely stable a horse, then perhaps you can keep your horse at home. But as a beginner, it would be better to find a good boarding facility with a trainer you can work with as you learn the basics of horseback riding and handling. 

When you have those decisions made, it's time to find the right horse for you, a beginner rider. Gentle is the keyword, and we have selected 5 of the gentlest breeds for the beginner. But note that even amidst these known calm breeds, there are hot ones. It's essential to bring an experienced horse person or trainer with you to look at any horses to buy. 

American Quarter Horse

In all the cowboy movies of old, the Quarter Horse carried their riders through the rough and tumble, crazy action of filming. As demonstrated in those movies, those horses display a remarkably calm temperament and are known for caring for their riders through thick and thin. Some things to know about owning a Quarter Horse: 

  • They are suitable for novice riders.
  • They take their work (taking care of the rider) seriously.
  • They are versatile and can easily switch between English and Western styles.
  • There are significant national shows just for Quarter Horses if you decide you eventually want to show your horse.
  • They are generally safe for riders other than yourself. 

Morgan Horse

The Morgan is a true American horse that can be traced to a single stallion from Springfield, Mass. Morgans have also shared their genes with other breeds, including the Quarter Horse, Standardbred, and Tennessee Walking Horse. Some things to know about the Morgan Horse:

  • They are highly versatile and can be used to ride, drive, and jump. They are wonderful as steady trail horses and in a variety of competitive riding and driving events.
  • They want to have a natural bond with their humans and will follow you around.
  • They are beautiful!
  • They carry themselves regally while still having a calm demeanor.
  • They have the smoothest gait of most other breeds. 


A Native American tribe bred these colorful beauties in the northwest of the country. The members of the tribe were expert horseback riders and used these horses for hunting buffalo and otherwise riding the Great Plains. Some things to know about the Appaloosa:

  • They have a unique coloring, including leopard-like spots. They need to have at least one spot to be an Appaloosa.
  • Some organizations exist to maintain the integrity of the breed as well as hold events to celebrate it.
  • They are versatile and athletic. Whatever your interest: riding English, Western, trail riding, jumping, showing – your Appaloosa can do it all.
  • They are great for kids.
  • They are loaded with personality and are just plain fun. 

Norwegian Fjord

A small horse, these steady mounts sport a dorsal stripe and a mixed black and tan mane that endear it to its followers. Despite its size, it is sturdy enough to carry kids and adults and calm enough to give all its riders confidence. Some things to know about the Norwegian Fjord:

  • Known for their calm and pleasing characteristics, they can also pick it up a notch when asked.
  • Bred for driving and pulling carriages, most of the "hot" genes have dissipated over time.
  • Heavily used in therapeutic riding programs, it translates into a horse whose calmness helps alleviate the fears of the terrified novice rider.
  • The ground is closer. Still classified as a horse, these small guys don't offer the height of other breeds, so a fall is less likely to cause serious injury. 

Connemara Pony

These adorable ponies provide the adult rider with a sweet, kind, and eager personality. Some things to know about the Connemara:

  • Despite their small stature, they are suitable mounts for the average-sized adult and children of all sizes and ages.
  • Unlike some other "pony personalities," Connemara has a wonderful attitude and wants to please you.
  • You'll love how athletic this pony is. Jumping, trail riding, farm work – you got it all with the Connemara.

Although there are many other beautiful breeds, these five are particularly noted for their calm, easy-going demeanor. Chances are none of them will run off with you or buck you off – terrifying occurrences for the new rider. But there is one thing that cannot be stressed enough, and that is, if you are a beginner horse person, to hook up with an experienced, reputable expert to help you select the right horse and get you started on the right riding foot.

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