If you have wanted to start horseback riding as a hobby or for competition, or if you want to begin a new style of horseback riding, it's important that you have the right kind of horse. Some of this depends on the breed—you wouldn't expect a working draft horse to be a great jumper for show jumping—but much of this also depends on the horse's training.
First, consider a horse's abilities and temperament before picking a horse based on color. Many new riders become interested in horseback riding because they saw a horse in a movie or in a show and loved how it looked. Then, when they come to their first lesson, they want a horse that looks like the one they liked. However, beginning riders will need a horse with an easygoing personality that won't challenge their instructions, and that is well trained in the style that the rider wants to learn (English, Western).
New Western riders will want a horse that is trained for both direct rein and neck rein. These are the two methods a rider uses to give a horse directions; for example, with direct rein, the rider would pull the reign on the right to direct the horse's face to the right and make the horse turn that direction. This is the first type of training almost all horses learn. However, for Western riding, horses should also be trained with neck rein techniques. A rider using a neck rein style will not pull on the rein, but will rest the left reign against the horse's neck to indicate the horse should turn right. The hose should respond to the easy pressure. Because neck rein is a more advanced training method than direct rein, a new rider may want a horse that is trained in both, as it shows the horse is well trained.
English riders will only need a horse that has been trained with direct rein, as English competitions only use direct rein. Again, new riders will want a horse that is well trained and responds easily to requests.
You should also consider whether you are interested in jumping or trail riding. Both English and Western styles are compatible with jumping and trail riding, though, depending on the types of jumps you want to do, English or Western style would be better suited for your horse.
Personality is another factor in choosing a horse. If you haven't spent much time around horses, it might be hard to quickly pick out a horse's personality, but horses are just like dogs or any other animal in that they all have unique personality traits. Some horses are very easy to please and social, while other horses are difficult to control for inexperienced riders. Some horses prefer intense physical activity and love running and jumping, while others are more content to eat oats and take the day more slowly. Depending on the style of riding you prefer, a horse's personality can make your riding more thrilling or more challenging if the horse isn't a good fit. As you become a more experienced rider, it will be easier for you to intuitively choose a horse that fits your personality.
The horse's breed also matters for the types of activities you want to do with your horse. For example, some horse breeds are better at jumping, while others are better at pulling heavy loads. However, the topic of horse breeds is a big topic for a different day!
At Forest View Farms, our expert trainers can help you figure out what style is right for your riding, and what horse would suit your style best. We offer classes in English and Western riding, so you can try both and decide what style of riding you prefer. For lessons, we match horses to their riders so our riders are comfortable. If you have any questions, please let us know by emailing us, giving us a call, or asking at your next lesson!
Check back in a few weeks for our next blog!