Riding

A Good Horse

The perfect horseback-riding horse probably doesn’t exist, but there are plenty of good horses out there.

Young or level 1 exhibitors need a great equine partner that's gentle, willing and safe. Journal photo

Experienced horse people know that there is no perfect horse. However, there is agreement on the basic elements of a good horse. For a level 1 buyer and owner, a good horse is:

A horse with a pleasant and willing personality who has the maturity to be patient with your inexperience, is safe to be around and has the conformation and training required to meet your needs.

Let’s take a look at this definition and see why it is important to you.

Some horses are very skilled. But their personality has a “make-me” attitude. It takes a more skilled rider to get the horse to perform. A “pleasant and willing personality” means that the horse will willingly perform when you ask and will try to understand your cues.

Find out how you can build a better relationship with your horse and become a better rider with AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship educational materials.

A mature horse has been in many situations with many types of stimuli. He is slower to react defensively or inappropriately, which is safer for you. He should have experience both in and out of an arena. He should have been exposed to other horses, traffic, weather and have had lots of other varied experiences. Age does not determine maturity, experience does.

Horses with serious vices are not acceptable choices for level 1 buyers. Biting, kicking, rearing or pulling back when tied are problems that can result in serious injury. Level 1 owners simply don’t have the experience to deal with these types of vices.

We love our Quarter Horses, and we know you do, too. Do you want to know how you can better your riding skills and form a stronger relationship with your horse? Check out AQHA’s Fundamentals resources.

Conformation is how a horse is physically put together. After you decide on your riding interest, a veterinarian can assist you in determining whether a specific horse has the bone density, muscle mass and other physical traits to do the job.

The more riding experience you gain, the more you can flex this definition. With more experience, you might be able to safely handle a less experienced horse, a horse with less training, or a horse that has behavior or personality quirks.

The horse you choose should have the training and skills necessary to perform your choice of activity, event or sport satisfactorily. Be honest with yourself regarding your level of experience. Your safety and the soundness of the horse are your first considerations when choosing a good horse.