Choosing the Right Breed of Horse

Choosing the Right Breed of Horse

Horses were domesticated more than 6,000 years ago and they were our primary mode of transportation for most of that time.  While today people rely on cars to get around we still ride and race horses.  Horses are popular all over the world and that has resulted in a number of different breeds.  Despite the different breeds, horses fall into one of three categories; pony, light and heavy.  Horses are further broken down into a bunch of sub-categories but when you’re looking for a breed for you these three categories will suffice for comparison.

Ponies

Ponies are smaller and they are often the first type of horse that small children start riding.  You are probably familiar with the Shetland pony, it is the smallest and one of the most popular of the pony breeds because it rarely suffers from scratches in horses.  There are also the Connemara and Welsh ponies both bigger than the Shetland and good for older children.

Light Horses

Most of the horses that are ridden or raced fall into this category and there are lots of breeds.  One of the more popular breeds of light horses are Arabians and these are graceful and fast.  Closely related to the Arabian are Thoroughbreds and these are the horses that you find at race tracks.  Thoroughbreds and Arabians are expensive and not ideal for ranches or family riding.  Here is a look at how delicate and graceful Arabians can be.

A more practical horse that is used on farms or for basic riding is the Quarter Horse.  It is an American breed that is also used in racing and it got its name from how fast it can run a quarter mile.  It is a hardy breed that can race or work a farm.  A smaller and friendly family breed is the Morgan Horse, made famous in the story “Justin Morgan had a Horse”.  Other light breeds include Appaloosa, Paint, Standard Bred and Paso Fino.

Heavy Horses

These horses are work horses and battle horses.  The most famous of these breeds are the Clydesdales, friendly horses that were bred to work on farms.  War horse include the Lipizzaner which you  are probably familiar with from their performances they do throughout the world.  Horses today aren’t used to go into battle and there are very few left pulling plows.

If you are looking for a horse to ride recreationally then the lighter breed is probably best suited.  The horses in this category can vary drastically in price, there are Arabians that have sold for millions while you can get a Quarter Horse for a few thousand.

Some Insight into the Behavior of Horses

Some Insight into the Behavior of Horses

People have been using horses for thousands of years, horses are incredibly smart animals with good instincts. Today most horses are companion animals or pet, we don’t use them for transportation or to plow fields for use.  When you get a horse either as a pet or just for riding you need to understand the horse.  Don’t underestimate the bond between a horse and rider.  First you are going to have to understand why horses behave the way they do.  Here is some insight into the behavior of horses.

  1. Horses act according to what motivates them, not so different from people really. They are heavily motivated by fear, horses are skittish by nature.
  2. Horses are herd animals they prefer to be in the company of others. They are social by nature and don’t always do well on their own.  When you form a bond with a horse it considers you part of the herd.
  3. Horses are not aggressive by nature, yes there are exceptions, but they do avoid aggression and will run away if given the opportunity. Running away  is a survival instinct to them.
  4. Horses learn quickly and they have very good memories. If you demonstrate behavioral patterns to them they can be trained, which is why we relied on the horse for so many thousands of years.
  5. Horses can fall asleep standing up or laying down, however most of the time they will sleep standing up. The composition of their legs allows them to do this, generally they sleep in short intervals throughout the day.  They do need to lie down in order to reach REM sleep but they need very little of that.  You will only catch them lying down for maybe two hours every couple of days.
  6. Horses are natural grazers and in the wild they will spend most of their day foraging for food. They prefer prairie grasses and they will travel in order to find food.
  7. Horses are very curious animals despite being as fearful as they are. They will check out things that are unusual or interesting.
  8. Horses are capable of acting, rather than just reacting. They will react to something that makes them afraid and they do that instinctively.  However they can be pretty stubborn and that is a horse acting out and not reacting.

Horses are incredible animals and humans would have never evolved like they did had they not domesticated horses.  Horses make excellent companions as any horse lover will tell you.