If you’re a beginner horse rider, I need your help!!
The popularity of my blog series on the Top Ten Horse Breeds for Beginner Riders suggests that many beginner riders would like to own a horse. But it needs to be the right horse.
I'm writing a book for first time horse buyers who are also beginner riders, looking for that special equine buddy who’ll take care of them while they’re in the early stages of learning to ride. The horse must also be able to take them further.
Horse Buying for the Beginner Rider: A Stress-Free Strategy for Finding Your Ideal Horse
will be available as an ebook in many different formats, not just Kindle, and also in hard copy.
The success of my book for first-time dressage competitors gives me confidence - in fact I'm almost sure - that I’m up to the task. :)
But, as I mentioned earlier, I need your help, please!
First, see what you think about the following details I'm including in the book. While you're going through, would you jot down anything you feel is missing?
Thanks! I'll catch up with you after you're done reading.
Part One: The Easy Section
No one wants to open a book and immediately be told about how much money this whole enterprise is going to cost.
That's why we're gonna start with the Fun Stuff.
This talks about you, and how certain breeds could be a good fit for you.
It goes into stuff like:
The Fun Stuff helps narrow down the type and breed of horse which will work the best for you.
As you read the next section, you'll be carrying a more definite image of your ideal horse in your head and your dream of owning a suitable equine partner will now become more real to you. :)
Part Two: The Slightly Harder Section
Now comes the Serious Stuff.
This includes budgeting for your horse - how to determine the amount of money you’ll need to spend on him. It also covers the nuts and bolts of finding and buying your ideal horse.
After reading the Serious Stuff you’ll be able to refine your short list of horse breeds to look which you first wrote based on the Fun Stuff.
The Serious Stuff will talk about:
Finally, so as not to leave you hanging once you’ve made up your mind which horse you’re going to buy, the last chapter will discuss bringing your new equine buddy home and how to acclimatize him to his new surroundings while you both get to know each other.
This Is Where You Come In aka This Author Needs You!
Now that you’ve perused the intended contents of
Horse Buying for the Beginner Rider: A Stress-Free Strategy for Finding Your Ideal Horse
- do you have a topic which I haven’t addressed? If so, I'd love to hear from you!
If you're a beginner rider and looking to buy a new horse, what else do you want to know about?
What do you need or what kind of equine buddy would you love to have?
Have you had good experiences with a breed which you want me to be sure and include?
Do you have certain horse or riding details that you’d like to see addressed in my book? Things like what is the quietest breed of horse? Or what horse should you get if you have a disability?
Send me an email via the Contact Page and ask me anything: I’ll do my best to accommodate you by putting it in my book.
What’s in it for You? :)
If you email the details of what you’d like included in the book, I will do two things for you.
1. I'll send you the publish date of the book which means that you’ll be able to get the ebook version FREE FOR THE FIRST FIVE DAYS.
2. If you like, I’ll include your name and a link to your website in the acknowledgements. Just give me the information :)
If that sounds like a good deal (and I hope it does!) please go to the Contact Page and email me your requests.
This is the last part in our series of articles looking at the best horse breeds for beginner riders. So far we’ve checked out great horses for the larger/taller and the medium weight and height beginner rider.
Now let’s discover the best breeds for smaller adults and children. Like those we’ve already seen, these have been chosen for their quiet temperament and ability to excel in many different disciplines.
8. Highland Pony
This beautiful pony usually ranges in height between 13 and 14.2 hh, but can be a little taller or shorter. He comes from the highlands and islands of Scotland, and is a hardy animal with a quiet, sensible disposition.
This, plus his excellence in dressage, jumping, eventing and driving, makes him an ideal family pony. The Highland is very athletic and famous for his calm level-headedness. He is capable of carrying a child or a small adult.
Crossed with Thoroughbreds, he produces a great warmblood type.
Highland Pony manes and tails are long and thick, and their lower legs carry some feather. The usual colors are grey and various shades of dun, although black, bay, and chestnut can also be found. A white star is acceptable in purebreds, but white markings are not considered correct.
Resources for Highland Ponies:
Highland Pony Society in Scotland
Scottish Highland Pony Association of North America
Images of the Highland Pony
Highland Ponies for Sale (U.S.)
Highland Ponies for Sale (U.K.)
9. Dales Pony
This pony is described by the Dales Pony Society of America as ‘the great all-rounder’ and ‘a strong, active pony, full of quality and spirit, yet gentle and kind.’ He is very calm and courageous, with great intelligence.
Able to easily carry heavy adults, Dales Ponies are sweet enough to carry children. They have a quiet temperament and are usually great in traffic, since they do not panic in awkward situations, and are extremely sure-footed.
The versatile Dales Pony makes a good jumper, dressage performer, eventer and endurance partner. He has tremendous stamina and staying power.
Originally from the Dales area of England, near the Scottish border, this hardy breed has silky feathers on his legs, and a long mane and tail. Dales Ponies stand between 14 – 14.2hh and their normal colors are black or brown, with some greys and bays and the occasional roan. A star or snip on the face is acceptable, and white markings only on the hind legs, reaching up to the fetlocks.
Resources for the Dales Pony:
The Dales Pony Society (U.K.)
The Dales Pony Society of America
Dales Ponies for Sale
Images of Dales Ponies:
10. Dartmoor Pony
This little guy stands at 12.2 hh and his excellent temperament makes him an ideal children’s first pony. He is calm and friendly, and perfect for jumping, driving and showing. He lives a long time and can also be ridden by adults.
Although still considered a rare breed, Dartmoors are becoming more popular in America now due to their wonderful disposition and quiet dependability.
True Dartmoors are only bay, brown, black, grey, chestnut or roan, with no piebalds and skewbalds (paints), and no excessive white markings. He has a full, flowing mane and tail and is a very attractive riding pony of sturdy build, yet shows quality.
Resources for the Dartmoor Pony:
Dartmoor Pony Society (U.K.)
Dartmoor Pony Registry of America
Dartmoor Ponies for Sale (U.S.)
Dartmoor Ponies for Sale (U.K.)
Videos of Dartmoor Ponies for Sale U.S. and U.K.
Don’t touch Welsh Mountain Ponies (Section A) or Shetland Ponies if you’re a beginner who wants to ride off the lead rein!
I hope this list has been useful to you in helping you find that perfect first horse or pony to give you confidence as you begin your fun journey into the world of horse-riding.
Cruz Bay gets a well deserved rest after a great riding session
Last week we looked at the first four of the seven most important things to look for in a horse. They are not the only attributes, but they should be at the top of your list if you’re going to be successful in the search for your ideal horse.
As I wrote before, I could have saved myself
much heartache and money if someone had told me about these 7 things before I leapt into my many bad horse purchases!
Five: Good conformation
I admit that horse conformation is not a sexy topic, like breed or color. If the horse is pretty and well-behaved, who cares about ‘conformation’ (whatever that means)?
Yet if you understand the rudiments of how a horse should be ‘put together’ you can minimize the probability of later lameness and other health issues. The front legs of the horse carry between 60-65% of the horse’s weight, and even more once we get on them, so be especially aware of conformation in this area.
Here is a great article: “Horse Conformation Analysis from Washington State University Extension.”
Don't let the title put you off: it's an easy read! It includes helpful diagrams showing how the horse should be built, plus faults to lookout for and what problems they can lead to. Don’t try
and absorb all the information at once. Take a copy of the article with you when visiting prospective horse purchases.
Make sure the horse has good, clean legs, a strong back and a good shoulder. You'll be vetting him later anyway, but finding a horse with good conformation gives him a better chance of passing the vet.
A horse can still be a worthwhile buy even if he has some conformation flaws, just as we can become good riders even if we don’t have perfect bodies!
Six: Suitability for the Job
This is where horse buying can get tough.
You’re looking for a show-jumper, and have found a lovely animal which fits all the above criteria – yet can’t jump to save its life.
If you don't buy a horse which excels at the work you want it to do, you'll need to modify your expectations.
When we met CD, my husband’s gray gelding, we were tired of buying dealers’ jumping horses which had turned sour and mean through bad
Callow Double Clover (CD) was a breath of fresh air. He had a lovely temperament - but was a terrible jumper.
However, he tried.
So we bought him, and my husband has had many happy years competing him at lower level eventing, show–jumping and pure dressage. The horse has a heart of gold, and we were able to train him to jump well enough to win and be in the ribbons.
The pleasure he has given us has far outweighed his lack of talent at the higher jumps.
You need to be very realistic in your expectations about a given horse. You cannot turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, as the saying goes.
If jumping high is important to you, walk away from a horse which cannot jump. If Grand Prix dressage is your aim, don’t get attached to a
beautiful horse with a wonderful temperament, but with terrible gaits that will ruin your chances of excellence in your chosen field.
Seven: Correct Size
You will read a lot about the ideal rider to horse weight ratio, some of which is very unfair to the horse. The horse should neither be too small for you nor too big.
If he is too big, you will have little control over him. Your seat, legs and arms will not be strong
enough to influence him, and you will get frustrated very quickly.
If he is too small, he will struggle underneath you. The horse needs to be able to carry your weight comfortably, if he is going to perform at
his best and give you many years of happy
The ideal horse to ride weight ratio contains several variables, such as temperament, breed and fitness of the horse and rider, plus the quality of the latter’s balance in the saddle. But a good rule of thumb is to weigh no more than 15% of the horse’s weight when he is fit. If you weigh a lot less than 10% of his fit weight, you may find him too strong for you.
One final point is the picture you present. You don’t want to dwarf your horse, or have him make you look tiny. I have a large friend who
rides a large horse, and they look great together. If I rode her horse or she rode mine, we would both look really silly. The idea is to look harmonious together.
Looking for a new horse can be a nerve wracking experience. Save yourself from falling into the many pitfalls that can catch you by surprise: look for the most important attributes first, and you’ll hugely increase your chances of finding the right one.
Horses are my big obsession, and I'm constantly striving to get better, smarter and more in harmony with my equine buddy, Cruz Bay.
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