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Horses can be fantastic partners on the farmstead. They can also be a fun hobby. As you select a horse, there are a few things to keep in mind. Are you looking for a working partner or a hobby? Have you paid attention to the resources you have and if they match up with a horse? Are you willing to commit to a horse?
First keep in mind horses are big and powerful animals. Horses demands respect and caution, NOT fear. Yes, you can get a pony or miniature horses if they fit your goals. Comfortable handling horses doesn’t count as only ever trail riding on at a camp or retreat center. Those horses are very well trained and if they are having an off day, they don’t go out on the trail. If you are uncomfortable or inexperienced handling large animals, please seek out a local person who is confident in handling horses to teach you the basics so you can have a successful horse adventure.
Now that you have some experience and some trusted help to guide you if needed, think about your goals for your horse. What do you want to do with them? As a trail riding hobby with friends, working/moving cattle, driving/pulling carts/wagons? A little bit of everything? Knowing how you will use your horse will help you determine where to start looking for your horse. Horses are trained in many different disciplines: trail, ranch, driving, jumping, and even show disciplines: pleasure, reining, etc.
For most disciplines, breed doesn’t really matter. Yes, some breeds are more selected for certain tasks historically, but they are adaptable especially if you’re not in the professional world. For example, Arabians were bred to be long distant runners in a dry environment, with a courageous heart. Yet, I have an Arabian I uses as my all round go to horse, trail riding, fun runs, moving cows and can even pull a small cart. My sister has an ex-racehorse that she turned barrel horse and now trail rides.
If you are looking at doing a lot of heavy wagon or cart pulling, I do recommend going with a draft breed (yes you can also ride them too). Draft breeds are big and strong selected for pulling strength. Common breeds for draft are the Clydesdale, Belgian, or Gypsy.
Ultimately when you select a horse, try it out first! Groom it, ride it, how do you communicate? Does the horse listen to you or fight you? If it is fighting you now, it will be more at home. Whatever you do as a beginner, do not select a horse based on color, papers, bloodlines, breed, or price. More expensive is not always better, neither is cheaper. Select carefully and you will have a willing and fun partner no matter what you decide to do.
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