This Article appeared in The Scoop Newspaper in August/September 2008.
Horse of a Different Colour
Have you thought of getting a horse for yourself? Are you wondering what type of horse might be right for you? Horses are wonderful creatures, but like all of us, every horse has a different temperament and personality. You can’t always know their personality, except what others will tell you, but the breed tells us a lot.
Horse breeds are stereotypical in description. You can’t predict with certainty what your horse will be like, but breed types tend to be a good guideline for what you are getting yourself into. Here are a few of the favourites:
American Quarter Horse – This is a very popular breed of horses are known to be smart, calm under pressure and clear-headed. They were often raced on the quarter mile, thus the name. They can be sleek or boxy and muscular, generally a mid-sized horse with lots of strength and willingness to carry out whatever task you give them. They were widely used as cattle herding horses and are still popular in Western games, as they are quick with their feet and they love to have a “job”.
Thoroughbred – We’ve all seen these long-legged, high-strung horses. Thoroughbreds are known for their beauty and speed, and are bred to RUN. The more athletic ones are fantastic jumpers and eventers. They aren’t necessarily the best choice of horse for an inexperienced rider due to their flighty nature, but they have an elegance that is unmatched. Many other breeds have been crossed with the Thoroughbred to produce dressage (think of dressage as horse ballet) horses.
Arabian – Arabs are considered the oldest of the pure breeds. They look small and dainty, but this horse has great endurance. Some of these horses can be a little high strung but those who love them get hooked for life. Many other breeds have been founded with Arab blood to improve their lines.
Paints (Pinto is the colour, Paint is the breed) – the colour comes from horses brought over from Spain. As time went by, these horses were bred with Quarter Horses, and to some extent, Thoroughbreds. They tend to have a lot of the same qualities as the Quarter Horse, but with a bit more flash. There are several recognized pattern coat types and everyone has their favourite! The patched colouring can be seen in almost any breed, but there are restrictions on what can be a registered Paint Horse.
Appaloosa – This is another colour breed, bred by the Nez Perce Indians with horses imported from Spain. They have a spotted coat pattern, spotted skin around the muzzle, white around their eyes and striped hooves. They are sure-footed, hardworking animals with a quick mind. They were also bred with Shetland ponies to create the Pony of Americas breed.
Shetland Pony – a small, sturdy pony. They are strong and hardy and grow a very thick winter coat and bushy mane and tail. Shetlands are popular children’s ponies, or pets, or for use with small carts under harness. These animals are gentle and friendly.
Morgan – These horses are compact and solidly built, with thick neck and strong shoulders. They are versatile under saddle or in harness. They are generally very willing and intelligent.
Percheron – a Draft breed produced from war horses in centuries past. These popular heavy horses have been extensively used as farm animals to pull harvesting equipment. They are gentle giants, and when bred with Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses, they produce wonderful, quiet, hardy saddle horses.
There are too many breeds to mention here , but these are the ones you are most likely to run across in this area. There is a variety of “gaited” horses that have become popular also, such as the Tennessee Walker and the Haflinger. They provide a smooth gait for older people or riders with back injuries.
Not every horse will fit the description of their breed. Each will have its own traits and quirks. Every horse is an individual, and if you spend the time to get to know a few, you’ll find one that’s just right for you!
Heather Spencer is the owner of Harrowsmith Horse Country, a retail store selling riding equipment and apparel. www.HarrowsmithHorseCountry.com (613)372-5085