Children often have a unique fascination to horses. But not every horse breed is the best for kids. After all, horses are large animals, so they can be more intimidating that a cat, dog, or hamster. But with careful consideration and lots of hard work, you can help your kid find the best horse for them. So, what do you need to think about?
What Makes a Good Horse for Kids?
Every individual horse is unique, just like any other animal. So, their breed alone won’t guarantee their personality. Yet, there are some horse breeds that are generally better for a younger audience.
Size is one of the most obvious factors. While some larger horses can be calm and easy to train, ponies are often the better choice for kids because they’re small. Ponies are not baby horses, but instead, they’re a type of horse that’s smaller than usual. This makes them easier for kids to interact with. Plus, if a kid falls off a pony, they won’t have to fall as far since they’ll be closer to the ground.
It’s also a good idea to consider the experience of the horse and your child. Children with more experience might be able to handle a taller horse. Plus, horses who have interacted with kids before are more likely to be patient and gentle with them. So, looking for a small, easygoing horse is a great way to start, but make sure your kid gets to know that horse too.
Best Horse and Pony Breeds for Kids
If you’re new to having a horse, then you might be overwhelmed by the many breeds there are. Some horse breeds are certainly more kid-friendly due to size and temperament. So, here are 7 of the best horse breeds for kids.
#1 – Shetland Pony
Shetland Ponies are a popular first horse for kids because they’re short, strong, and of course, adorable! Most kids can ride these small horses with very few risks involved.
These ponies usually stand between 28 and 46 inches tall, and they weigh between 400 and 450 pounds. Oftentimes, they are fluffy with a long, flowing mane. They can come in almost any color, but they’re most commonly one solid color.
Shetland ponies are known for their fun personalities, which is why kids love them so much. They’re often fond of children, but sometimes they can cause trouble. While they’re intelligent and independent, they can also be stubborn at times. So, make sure you choose one that only uses their clever nature for good.
#2 – Pony of the Americas
The Pony of the Americas is a breed bred specifically for younger riders. These horses might look like a standard-sized horse in photos, but they’re the ideal size and temperament for children.
These little horses commonly have a short coat that’s speckled. A common color pattern is white with brown or black spots. They often have a much shorter mane than the Shetland Ponies. These horses stand 44 to 56 inches tall and weigh 450 to 950 pounds.
Since these horses were made for kids, they’re strong, easy to handle, and friendly. They’re highly intelligent and have plenty of stamina, so they won’t grow tired or bored of spending time with kids. They’re also gentle, especially around younger riders.
#3 – Welsh Pony and Cob
The Welsh Pony is a great breed for kids who want to pursue a hunter/jumper competition. The Welsh Cob is also a great choice for kids, only slightly larger.
This group of ponies can stand anywhere from 44 inches to 64 inches, and they can weigh 400 to 1,200 pounds. Needless to say, there’s a lot of variety with these horses, but they’re all still small enough for kids to handle. These ponies can come in any solid color, and sometimes with simple coat patterns.
Welsh Ponies and Cobs are athletic horses that excel at jumping and carriage pulling. But despite their high energy, they’re also gentle, friendly, and highly intelligent. However, they can also have a mind of their own, so it might take some time to get them to listen to your children.
#4 – Miniature Horse
Miniature Horses are even smaller than a pony, so they aren’t commonly ridden on. Only small children are light enough for a Miniature Horse to safely support them. Yet, even if you don’t ride them, they can be great horses for kids to care for.
Miniature Horses usually only stand between 34 and 38 inches tall and weigh 150 to 350 pounds. Thus, they can’t carry anyone over 70 pounds. They look just like a standard-sized horse, only tiny. In fact, some of them are even smaller than giant dogs. They can come in just about any coat color imaginable too.
Regardless of their small size, Miniature Horses can still be athletic and friendly. It’s common for these horses to compete in agility courses, which can be great experiences for children to work on training with their horse. They’re also great for introducing your kid to horse care.
#5 – American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is the most popular horse breed out there. While these are standard horses and not ponies, they are still a popular option for families because they’re so easygoing and versatile.
These horses are a little bigger than the above options because they stand 56 to 64 inches tall and weigh 950 to 1,200 pounds. So, a kid might need help hopping on and off of them. They usually come in any color, and there are smaller versions of them called Quarter Ponies. Quarter Ponies usually stand only 46 to 58 inches tall.
American Quarter Horses are gentle and responsive, which are great for families who are new to horse care. Since they are taller, they’re recommended mostly for older kids. They are fast and confident, so they have plenty of stamina. They’re easygoing and willing to cooperate with younger riders.
#6 – Morgan
The Morgan is another popular horse breed that’s known for being versatile. They’re larger than a pony, but still manageable for most children. Morgans are ideal horses for riding on trails.
Morgans can be any color, but they’re most commonly seen with solid black, brown, or bay coats. They’re often seen with a long flowing mane and tail. They stand anywhere from 56 to 60 pounds and weigh close to 950 pounds.
These horses are known for being cooperative and eager to please. Thus, they’re patient and gentle when dealing with children. They are active and willing to participate in a wide range of activities. In the 1790s, they were even known for pulling logs that were too difficult for other horses to pull.
#7 – Grade Horse or Pony
Grade Horses and Ponies are common in the horse-keeping world, but they can be a bit less predictable. They aren’t a registered breed, so they are thought to either be mixed breed horses or just an unofficial horse breed. Either way, they can be a great horse for kids.
These horses can be any height and any color, but that doesn’t mean you should rule them out just yet. There is such a wide variety to Grade Horses, so take your time to meet some of them to see if they’re a good fit for your child.
The personality of a Grade Horse can also vary, but they’re often playful and friendly around humans of all ages. Despite not being a pedigree, Grade Horses can still compete in most competitions. In fact, any horse that doesn’t have breed registration papers or identifiable markings will automatically get labeled as a Grade Horse or Pony.
Should You Get a Horse for Your Kids?
If your family is familiar with equestrian life, then getting your kid a horse might seem like a no-brainer. But if not, it’s a big decision to make in terms of time and money. You’ll want to make sure you’re able to dedicate enough quality time to care for your horse and provide them with their basic needs.
If your kid wants a horse, here are some things you should confirm first:
- They’ve attended riding lessons for at least a year
- They know how to care for a horse and they’ve willingly done lots of research
- They’re enthusiastic about horseback riding and horse care
- They’d rather spend time with horses than doing anything else.
Similarly to any animal, your child should be fully committed to owning a horse. If you’re unsure whether or not they’re ready, then they’re probably not. But luckily, if your kid is prepared for a horse, there are plenty of benefits that come with caring for a horse. A horse can teach kids valuable life skills like responsibility, time management, patience, and finance. Plus, horseback riding is a healthy hobby that’s fun for many kids.
A horse lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but there are lots of horse breeds for kids that can make this hobby enjoyable. Just remember that you shouldn’t get a horse for your kid until you know that they’re completely committed to caring for them. A horse is a lovable living creature, so they deserve more care and consideration than any other hobby.