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.
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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