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 Hello all, I have a question for you. I want to know which horse breed is best for trail riding?

 one which would be a smooth rider. dont need a speed horse just a nice easy going one.

  oh and good for a novice. Thanks

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My vote would be for a gaited horse.   I like TWH and Spotted Saddle Horses.  Not all are smooth riding.  Get one that is smooth and will ride alone too.  Sometimes, it is nice to ride solo.  Be sure to ask what bit the horse is used to and make sure your saddle fits the horse too.  I like a horse that doesn't have a hard mouth and will respond with light pressure on the bit.  Most of my friends have too many horses.  There are lots of good ones out there so don't settle for one your aren't comfortable with.

Hi Brian - I'm not any expert on gaited horses but TWH have a Walk that is very lumbering. Unless you get them up into the running walk and faster, that walk can be felt through your whole body. For a novice the speed of their gait can be to much. Take a look at the Missouri Foxtrotter. They have a very normal walk, a running walk and then their Foxtrot which can be as slow or fast as you want to go. Going out alone is a must. Being able to tie them and have them stand calmly or even just stay without being tied. For a novice you need a horse that has been well trained - and they aren't usually the free ones. A good trail horse will go where you ask him to go. They will have learned how to come down a steep hill, that is learned from doing it, and when the horse knows how to take a steep hill it isn't as scary for a novice and a trail horse that won't cross water isn't a trail horse. Also don't let anyone tell you that their 3 year old has miles of trail under him and ok for a novice. You would want an older horse, 10 and up, that has been there and done that. Also be sure that the owners of the horse you are looking at, will take you out on a trail on the horse. Riding around the pasture or arena at the barn shows you nothing. Out on the trail you can see if you can turn and leave the people you are with or how the horse reacts when the other horses walk away and you ask it to stay. Good luck........


I agree with Dawn's advice on everything except for the statement that "TWH have a walk that is very lumbering".   Not all horses of a particular breed walk or gait the same.  All four of my Spotted Saddle horses ride different, yet are very comfortable.  Most of my friends ride TWH and I see a wide variance in their gaits.   Get a fellow horse riding person to go with you if you can.  The right horse will give you a whole new world of enjoyment that is hard to put into words.
I would prefer a TN walking horse to a spotted saddle horse.  Most of the spotted saddle horses do not gait properly and tend to be pacey.  I have ridden walking horses extensively on trails and some are a bit smoother than others, the same can be said for any gaited breed.  I would not recommend foxtrotters.  Basically you just need to have the person who is going to be doing the riding find a horse that suits them and is safe, but I prefer a TN walking horse over all the others.
Interesting, why wouldn't you recommend foxtrotters?
Yes, why not a Foxtrotter?
Jeanne - Sorry, I'm not speaking of the gaiting of the TWH. I am talking about how they just walk. They do large strides even at a walk. This is how they are bred for a long stride. When they are gaiting it is fine but if you are just trying to walk it is felt.

Here's my take, thought about this post for a few hrs, even so my answer will probably not be comprehensive. 

IMO Novice rider = need BTDT horse.  If a horse is 3yo and BTDT I have to question how the horse would stand up in future, has it been ridden too hard, too much, too young?  I dunno, something to evaluate.  Normally I wouldn't recommend a young horse and a novice rider.  I'd recommend an older BTDT horse, one past his "teen years" that a 3yo may display, one that's calm and unflappable and can take the poor position and riding skills a novice tends to display.  How old?  dunno that age either!  Some recommend 10 yo, others 15.  It really does depend on the horse and the rider and how they play together.

Check your novice rider out, are they brave?  Older and scared of hitting the dirt?  What are they like?  find a horse that will fit THEM, complement their needs. 

What's the best breed for trail riding?  The one that can handle it!  LOL  tongue in cheek answer.  I had one QH that wasn't able to handle downhills, one that was cat-like and could handle it all.  I've got a SSH and MFT that are both equally competent on the hills - depending on the shoeing and type of rock you may be going over.

Every horse will ride differently, all the breed does for you is give you tendency, a predisposition if you will, for a certain type of ride.  One QH had a big English trot that you'd better post, he grew into that, he used to have a nice Western jog.  The other QH still has that sweet Western jog that doesn't jounce you around.

I've only ridden 2 TWH in my life, but as Dawn and my friend in KS say, they do lumber like elephants if you're just walking along the trail with, say, a QH companion.  Gaiting walking along the trail may be a different story, I never have ridden one on the trail.

What's that tell you?  Test, test, test ride!  I concur with Dawn again on this, don't ride a trail horse around the barn, that doesn't tell you much.  If you want to trail ride, you need to evaluate the types of trails you want to go on.  Steep, rocky, challenging technically?  Flat Rails to Trails?  Groomed trails thru wooded areas?  make sure your prospect can handle what you might throw at it.  As novice rider progresses (hopefully!) in their riding abilities the choice of where you want to ride may expand.  May want to be sure the horse can handle that expansion of different types of trails.   You may really want part mountain goat instead of Dobbin!


Ok, long winded answer, but I think you get the gist, there's a lot of variables and things to evaluate imo.  When my beloved Justin died I made a list of everything I wanted in a horse, some were uncompromisable, others were 'really nice to have' traits - it helped me weed out horses in a verbal conversation and not waste my time or the prospective seller's time.  I listed height, sex, abilities, age, you name it, I thought of it and looked for a horse that would give me those things.  If I asked the seller all these questions and drove out to see the horse and it didn't display the qualities I didn't even get on.  But keep an open mind too.  I really wanted a gelding . . . ended up with two mares!

Well put Casey - but then you are quite the writer with very entertaining ways of putting things and your stories!!! lol

Can't beat a TWH for trail and pleasure riding.  Have been raising and riding TWH's since 1956 so I guess I may be a little prejudiced. :-)

Ride one today and you'll own one tomorrow!

I agree with Gary about the TWH.  Although some do have a lumbering slow "walk", I have one of those also.  However, I would have to disagree on the age thing.  I have a 3 yr old filly I would trust ANYONE on, she is awesome, careful , smooth and takes care of her rider at all times.  A 10 yr old who's never ridden before, rode her last week on a public trail ride and had not 1 ounce of trouble the whole ride.  But , usually when someone has a horse like that, it's not for sale...lol. But always remember, the experiences that I have had, they do not always act the same when you get them home, as they do when they are at the current owners.  So, it is always best if you can buy from someone who may be willing to take them back if it happens to not work out for you.

I want to Thank you all for some great input. will keep this all im mind as i search for my horse.

 I have been leaning toward a quarter horse but will also look at walkers and couple others breeds.

hope someday that i will meet you out there on the trails.


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