What to Consider When Looking For a Horse
Spending time on the road, I have been asked many times, “What is your favorite breed?” My favorite breed is any breed that has a good mind and good feet. A horse that is flighty with a high emotional level will usually never totally settle into a good safe riding horse. A horse with small feet will usually have lameness issues.
I have had many breeds at the ranch in California, including Mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management. Some have taken me two months to get to a point that I could mount while others I could mount in two days. One thing about the Mustang is that having been out in the wild they are usually very hearty horses. They have had to learn to live in the elements. I used to buy horses out of South Dakota that were pasture bred and raised out in the elements. They have some very harsh winters up there and those horses were nice and very healthy. That is the way with Mustangs. The sturdiest horses survive. While not all Mustangs have good feet, you usually don’t find a Mustang with bad feet because they become lame and fall prey to predators. Because they have been out in the wild, Mustangs do have a stronger social structure or herd instinct.
I had a little Mustang that I got as a two-year old. She was so small that I thought she was a yearling. I had to wait eight months for her to grow up and get bigger bones. In the meantime I did the basic foundation groundwork with her and when I got ready to ride her it was a piece of cake. Mounting and riding was not an issue for her. She could be pushy but she had a good mind. It really doesn’t make any difference if it is a wild horse or a domestic horse. Domestic horses can be just as flighty as wild horses. I have had Mustangs that you would think had been born in a domestic herd. The Mustang can be an excellent trail horse; can do arena work and learn to work with cattle.
When you are looking for a horse, what you want to look for in any discipline, is a horse with a good mind. The horse should not have a high flight instinct or high emotional level. You also need to look for a horse that has good feet. Conformation is important depending on what you plan to do with the horse, in other words, your discipline. Think about your discipline when you are looking for a horse.
For example, horse that is long bodied and long legged, like a Thoroughbred, does not make the best cow horse and you may want to look for a Quarter Horse. I have had more than one Thoroughbred with a really good mind and a good work ethic but they are usually used for eventing. I have had others that were flighty and took a long time to even make into decent riding horses. I have had some Arabians at the ranch with good minds and nice big feet. They also make really nice performance horses. I have also had Arabians that were flighty, difficult to ride and very high maintenance. By high maintenance I mean that you could never relax and just hack around. They had to be ridden regularly and really worked. Arabians often have small feet and can be prone to feet and hoof issues.
Some aspects to consider when looking for a horse include:
– Look for a horse that has a quiet, good mind.
– Make sure the feet are strong.
– Depending on your size, look for a horse that is taller or shorter.
– Consider the conformation based on the type of riding you plan to do.
– Consider the age and the amount of training the horse has had.
– Having the horse checked by a vet is always an important thing to do.
In closing, I have to say that I really have no favorite breed. No one breed is better than another although some breeds are better for specific disciplines. One last thing to remember, a horse is always going to be a horse. They all have the flight, fight and herd instincts. Good luck and have many fun and happy rides.