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The 15 Best Horse Breeds For Children

Purchasing a horse is quite the commitment, especially when it comes to making sure that the horse is going to be well suited for your children. There are a number of considerations that should go into which breed of horse you ultimately end up getting.

Things to Consider in Horse Breeds for Children:

  • Size – How tall of a horse is your child comfortable with?
  • Temperament – Is the horse known to be gentle or wild?
  • Upkeep – How capable would your child be of handling the needs of the horse?
  • Uses – Is the horse good in competition or better for riding? Is it easily trained?
  • Coloring – Does your child prefer a certain shade or pattern for their horse?

Of course, you can’t judge every single horse or pony by the general description of their breed. Every horse is an individual, just like humans. It’s important to evaluate the temperament of any specific horse before committing to it. Even the sweetest breeds have their exceptions.

Here we have put together a comprehensive list of horse breeds that are recommended for children and first-time horse owners. Take a look below at the 15 horse breeds you should consider when getting a horse for your child.

Shetland Pony

Shetland Pony
Shetland Pony

The Shetland Pony is a small but strong horse breed. Standing at an average of only 10 hands high, they are the perfect miniature companion for any child that may be intimidated by the larger breeds.

Shetland Ponies are remarkably sweet animals. Their temperament is described as gentle and calm, making them excellent training horses for children. You shouldn’t worry about them being soft, though. Shetlands are an incredibly hardy breed built for working. Their legs are short but well balanced and their quarters are powerful.

Taking care of a Shetland Pony is easy as they mostly mind themselves. They are even capable of withstanding harsh weather and coming out on the other side just as calm and collected as ever. They also come in a variety of colors to make any child happy.

Their storied history and mild temperament make Shetland Ponies one of the best breeds for children just beginning to ride horses.

Pony of the Americas

The Pony of the Americas is an independent breed that is notorious for being easy to train. Hailing from the American Midwest, these ponies come in at under 13 hands high, most usually ranging around 11 or 12.

A very intelligent breed, the Pony of the Americas is touted for being calm and very forgiving. This makes them ideal for riders that are just getting started. Their gentle temperament and smaller size are attractive qualities in any horse that a child would be riding.

The Pony of the Americas is a horse that doesn’t need much upkeep. They are wonderful for keeping on farms as a family horse or for putting to work. Their coats come in many different colors and shades, but these ponies are generally always bred to be spotted.

If you are looking for a gentle riding horse that is incredibly adaptable then the Pony of the Americas is a fantastic breed to consider for your child.

Welsh Pony

The Welsh Pony is a spirited little horse that is prevalent in competition. The tallest these ponies tend to get is around 13 hands high, though the Section B category of these ponies is usually a bit larger than their Section A counterparts.

When it comes to temperament, the Welsh Pony is a fun-loving breed that will enjoy running around and spending time with your child. They can be a little bit rough around the edges but are known to be extremely sweet and loving. These ponies are eager to learn and are easy to train for competitions.

Welsh Ponies are capable of withstanding any temperature and environment, making them an especially hardy breed. They don’t need much in the way of upkeep other than attention and some space to roam about. Welsh Ponies are generally one solid color but come in many shades for you to choose from.

If your child is interested in competing, a Welsh Pony may be the perfect companion. These horses are used primarily for riding and are not only sweet but beautiful and elegant as well.

Dartmoor Pony

Dartmoor Pony
Dartmoor Pony

Dartmoor Ponies are a calm and powerful little breed of horse. When they have fully grown the Dartmoor averages a height of 12 hands high. Their strong backs and legs keep them active and going to their heart’s content.

These ponies are exceptional with children and other small animals. Their gentle and wise manner will match perfectly to a more timid child who may be wary of horses. Dartmoor Ponies are also sweet and playful, making them a fun addition to any farm and family.

The Dartmoor pony doesn’t need constant upkeep or attention to thrive. They are extremely reliable and capable of traveling long distances without trouble. These resistant ponies are able to withstand any climate they might reside in. Their coats come in a handful of beautiful colors to suit any taste.

You can’t go wrong in getting a Dartmoor Pony as your child’s first horse. This easy-going breed will be a wonderful companion for the whole family.

Connemara Pony

This Irish breed of horse can be very graceful and very hard working. Coming in at an average of 14 hands high, Connemara Ponies are a wonderful fit for any child that is hoping for a beautiful riding companion.

The Connemara Pony is a very adaptable breed, able to be used for riding, farming, or hunting. They don’t make much of a fuss and are described as a reserved animal. These ponies have a sweet temperament that lends itself well to first-time riders. Their muscle matched with their giving personality will make any child feel at ease with them.

Connemara Ponies are notoriously low maintenance, needing very little in the way of upkeep. They are adaptable to both a variety of climate conditions and what sort of use they are put toward. These well-rounded horses can be utilized well for both riding and working.

Connemara Ponies are typically bred in a handful of solid colors, but patterns are not unheard of where their coats are concerned.

If you are in need of a very mild-mannered horse that doesn’t need much daily care to be satisfied, the Connemara Pony is a perfect candidate. Any child would be lucky to have this sweet reserved companion.

American Quarter Horse

An extremely common horse found in the Southwest, the American Quarter Horse is perfect for farm life. One of the larger breeds, these horses grow to between 14 and 16 hands high and boast a lot of muscle that makes them good for hard work.

Though they are mainly used for working the land, American Quarter Horses can be excellent riding horses as well. They are quite energetic and make for wonderful racing horses. Their temperament is described as even and fair. They enjoy being around their owners and working the land as well as running around. American Quarter Horses are a very reliable breed.

The American Quarter Horse is a durable horse that can adapt to new situations and surroundings relatively quickly. They don’t require a lot of tending on a day to day basis. These horses require quite a lot of room to run around in and are a speedy breed. Their coats typically range in color from shades of brown to shades of gray.

When it comes to working the land, few breeds will serve you better than an American Quarter Horse. They are ready and willing to help their owners in whatever chores need doing. This breed would be a great level headed companion for any child.

Quarter Pony

Developed from those American Quarter Horses that didn’t meet the standard height requirement, these ponies are a smaller version of the American favorite. Though many of them are purebred, some are crossed with other breeds such as Paints, Appaloosas, and the Pony of the Americas.

Unlike their full-grown counterparts, Quarter Ponies only average around 13 hands high.

These ponies are known to be calm and even headed, making them a wonderful horse for children. They are a hardy horse and are used often in riding competitions. Unlike the American Quarter Horse, the Quarter Pony can come in just about any color and pattern variation.

This pony is perfect for anyone that admires the qualities and temperament of a Quarter Horse but wants something a little more compact for their child.

Appaloosa

Appaloosa
Appaloosa

The Appaloosa is easy to train for any use. They are most commonly found on the west coast and can be recognized by their characteristic spotted coat. When fully grown they stand just over 14 hands high.

A smart but simple breed, Appaloosas are fantastic at picking up new skills quickly. Their personalities are easy-going, presenting few challenges to their owner in training. These horses are steadfast and reliable in whatever they are asked to do. They are known to be calm, making them well suited for children.

Raising and taking care of an Appaloosa is an easy task. They are very upbeat horses that are eager to please their owners. They are able to be trained for ranching duties, riding, and competition. Their coats come in a variety of colors, but they almost always sport their signature spots.

Whether you are looking for a simple riding companion or an elegant show horse, an Appaloosa is a sweet and fun option for your child.

Miniature Horse

As the name suggests Miniature Horses are an incredibly small version of this popular pet. These little guys generally do not exceed 3 feet in height, making them perfect companions to young children.

Miniature Horses are good hardy animals that can often live longer than most full sized horse breeds. They are calm creatures and make for easy going pets. This breed can even be trained to be a service animal for people with disabilities much like a dog would be. Miniature Horses should not be ridden by anyone but very small children, as the load can quickly become overbearing.

Despite being small, a Miniature Horse still needs to eat about the same amount as a full sized horse. It’s important that they have room to run around as well as a shelter for poor weather conditions. Though they are small enough to keep inside they are very much an outdoor pet.

You should keep an eye on your horse’s health. Miniature Horses tend to have more dental issues than other horses.

If you are looking to get your child a sweet pet or want to be involved in shows, a Miniature Horse is a wonderful option. They will be part of your lives for years and years to come.

American Paint Horse

These horses are easily recognized by their spotted coat of dark and light colors. While the American Paint Horse generally has this pinto pattern, there are variations of solids within this breed as well. These horses average at between 14 and 15 hands high when they are fully grown.

Paint Horses are exceptionally versatile, able to compete in many different types of shows. They are a sporty breed with a good amount of muscle. Despite being physically imposing, these horses are remarkably relaxed and easy-going. Their calm disposition makes them a nice option for children.

The American Paint Horse is a fairly low maintenance breed. They don’t need a lot of upkeep or a lot of exercise to keep them happy. They adapt well to different environments. Paint Horses are very intelligent animals that are eager to be trained and happy to please.

No matter what your child is interested in when it comes to horses, the American Pain Horse is the perfect level headed companion for them.

Arabian

These beautiful horses are resilient and spirited. Arabians are a hardy breed that tends to grow to around 15 hands high at their tallest.

The Arabian horse appears to be big in bravery and heart. They are faithful animals that bond deeply with their owner and never stray from them once trained. Arabians have an amazing speed that makes them wonderful competition horses and great endurance for a riding horse.

Taking care of an Arabian is not at all demanding. These creatures are able to withstand more than most, especially when it comes to very hot temperatures. Arabians have amazing stamina and are capable of traveling long distances. They are bred in just about any color you could think of.

If you want a horse that will be loyal and steadfast for your child, look no further than this unique breed and you won’t be disappointed.

Tennessee Walking Horse

Tennessee Walking Horse
Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse is a popular breed for riders that are just beginning due to being a gaited horse. They can grow to be between 14 and 17 hands high when they are fully grown.

These horses are an elegant and solid breed that is most often used for leisure riding. Due to their signature running walk and their calm disposition, Tennessee Walking Horses are perfect for children who are just learning how to ride. Outside of simply riding trails, these horses are known for doing well in competitions.

Keeping a Tennesse Walking Horse is an enjoyable experience. They are adaptable to different environments and don’t require much in the way of hands-on care. These horses are extremely social animals, so it’s best to keep them around other livestock. It’s possible to get a Tennessee Walking Horse in a variety of colors and patterns.

When it comes to having a riding horse that is even-tempered, the Tennessee Walking Horse is a popular choice. This breed would make the perfect companion for any child that is enthusiastic about riding.

Morgan Horse

The Morgan Horse is a strong breed that is utilized for working and riding alike. At their full height, they average 14 hands high, making them a nice sized horse.

If you’re on the hunt for a horse that is full of life, look no further than the Morgan Horse. This spunky breed loves nothing more than spending time with their owner and showing that they can do anything that is asked of them. Morgan horses are kind and elegant animals that form strong relationships with their owners. They are often referred to as “the horse that chooses you”.

These versatile horses are relatively easy to keep, known to hold their weight well on less feed than other horses. Morgan Horses can be put to work in a variety of ways, capable of doing anything from pleasure riding to pulling carriages to competing in shows. No matter what is asked of them they will always do it with their heads held high.

While they are commonly bred in dark colors, there are a variety of shades and patterns available as well.

Morgan Horses are a fantastic candidate for any child that would love a beautiful and friendly horse to have around for a long time. With a lifespan of around 30 years, they will be able to grow up with their energetic pal.

Gypsy Vanner

Originally bred by the Roma people in order to pull their caravans, the Gypsy Vanner wasn’t introduced to the United States until 1996. These sturdy horses average between 13 and 16 hands high when they are fully grown.

Known to be an intelligent breed, the Gypsy Vanner will work in harmony with their owner, happy to do as they are asked. They are a confident breed with very good manners that will make anyone proud to own one. If you are in the market for a loyal horse with a gentle disposition, the Gypsy Vanner is an excellent place to start.

Gypsy Vanners are a beautiful breed but the characteristic feathering on their legs does need to be tended to. You should regularly check the skin under the feathering to make sure there are no underlying skin conditions. These horses can be used for pulling carriages, entering in shows, and riding.

You can get a Gypsy Vanner in many different colors in both solids and patterns.

These draft horses are a smaller but no less strong and beautiful option for any child that loves the look of a Clydesdale but is intimidated by their massive size. They are the perfect mix of gentle and elegant for any owner.

Clydesdale

Standing at over 16 hands high, the Clydesdale is an imposing and magnificent horse breed. It’s not uncommon to come across Clydesdale that top 18 hands high when they are fully grown.

These horses may be large but they are incredibly tolerant. Known to be sweet and gentle with their handlers, Clydesdales make wonderful riding companions for children that are just starting out. They are very forgiving with mistakes, but can also be stubborn. You should always show your Clydesdale respect and they will show you the same in return.

Clydesdales are generally easy in the way of upkeep, being a rather independent horse that doesn’t require a lot of attention. You should regularly check up on the skin beneath the feathering on their legs for any underlying conditions. These draft horses are commonly used for agricultural work and pulling heavy loads, but make excellent riding companions as well.

The most desirable coloring on a Clydesdale is either bay or black, but they can come in a variety of other colors or have roan markings.

If your child is not on the skittish side when it comes to big horses, a Clydesdale is a wonderful option for a first-time horse. They would be a gentle but strong addition to any family.

Before Buying a Horse

There are some things that you may want to consider doing before jumping headfirst into the world of horse ownership.

Enroll your child in riding lessons. If they are dead set on having a horse of their own, it’s important that they know the proper way to ride it. Even after getting a horse it’s a good idea to continue regular lessons.

Consider leasing a horse. Sometimes children can go from interest to interest in a matter of months. If you’re worried your child might lose interest fairly quickly, you can always lease a horse. You would pay a fee in order to have riding time on a specific horse. That way you can make sure your child is in it for the long haul.

Read ads carefully. You want to watch out for certain aspects of a horse that may not be suitable for young or first-time owners. If the horse is only partially trained, is hyperactive, or requires stronger riders then these horses may not be the right fit for you.

Always get a horse checked by a veterinarian. You want to make sure to consult a vet that has never seen that particular horse before. Some sellers will employ underhanded tactics to make a horse seem more desirable or mask health issues. Take every observation into account to ensure the horse is a good candidate for your family.

pony and little girl

Make the Right Choice for Your Family

Owning a horse is no small commitment. There is a lot that goes into them both in time and money. Anyone that is thinking of buying a horse should be fully aware of the ins and outs of horse ownership before taking the plunge.

If you’re buying a horse for your children, you should speak to them about the responsibilities of owning a horse. Clue them in on how to best act around the horse and what kind of care the horse will need. Including them in the process of everything from picking out the horse to caring for it can give them a greater respect for their new pets.

Whether you go for a pony that will be competing regularly in shows or a big strong horse that is meant for leisurely rides, a horse is a wonderfully rewarding companion for anyone. The process of picking the best breed for you and your child might not be easy, but being as thorough as possible will make a world of difference for everyone.