Top 7 Small Horse Breeds for Riding

Shorter people can have a problem riding horses. Getting on a tall horse without the help of a mounting block can be a challenge. Luckily, there are horse breeds that have specific heights that would work best for short riders.

These breeds are strong and will be able to carry you regardless of your size. Unfortunately, not all horses fall under this category. There are only a few horse breeds that have the strength and height required for small riders.

This article includes a list of the best small horse breeds that you can ride. We review each of them and have all the adequate information, including the origin. Keep reading!

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How many Small Horse breeds for Riding are there?

It’s important to note that not all short horses can be ridden. Some horses, although they are short and small, do not have the adequate strength to carry an adult rider.

A riding horse should be strong and have the temperament that allows it to be a horse for riding. Some horses originate from crossbreeding meant to produce a shorter version of these horses. In other words, they can’t be ridden.

On the other hand, some are pure breeds but are shorter than the standard height of horses. Some of the short horse breeds that you can ride include:

  • Quarter horse
  • Appaloosa horse
  • Paint horse
  • Morgan breed
  • Arabians
  • Pony of the Americas
  • Welsh pony

Top 7 Small Horse Breeds for Riding

In this section, we will look at the characteristics of these small horse breeds for riding.

Small Horse BreedsSizeAppearanceLoad
Quarter Horse56 Inches, 900 – 1200 PoundsRoans, Palominos, Frullo, Buckskins, Brownish-red sorrel240 Pounds
Paint Horse56 Inches, 950 – 1200 PoundsBay, Palomino, Chestnut, Black240 Pounds
Pony of the Americas56 Inches,1800 – 2200 PoundsLeopard Pattern, Pinto coat pattern, Mottled skin240 Pounds
Appaloosa Horse60 Inches,950 – 1200 PoundsRed Roan, Bay Roan, Blue Roan, Gray, Chestnut, Palomino240 Pounds
Morgan Horse60 Inches,900 – 1000 PoundsChestnut, Black, Bay200 Pounds
Arabian Horse60 Inches,800 – 1000 PoundsRoan, Black, Chestnut, Gray, Bay200 Pounds
Welsh Pony60 Inches,400 – 700 PoundsBlack, Gray, Bay, Chestnut140 Pounds
size, appearance, and load capacity of some small horse breeds for riding

1. Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse breed
The American Quarter Horse breed

This breed is agile, quick, and good-natured.

The American quarter horse is among the oldest breeds from the United States. It was initially bred in the 1660s as a crossbreed and was among the most accepted horses by cowboys. An adult size horse will grow to around 56 inches.

Not only is this breed fast, but also agile and strong for riding. It features a heavy muscular development that gives it extreme strength despite its short stature. It is a gentle and calm horse, making it friendly with kids.

A balance of fats, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, water, and vitamins is crucial to the growth of the horse. Fresh grass-rolled oats, hay are adequate for the growth of the horse.

2. Appaloosa Horse Breed

An Appaloosa Horse Breed
An Appaloosa Horse Breed

Friendly, gentle, and loyal.

This breed has been in existence for many years. These horses came to North America around the 1600s, even though it was almost lost in the 1870s. A full-grown horse grows to around 60 inches in height.

Even though they are smaller in regards to height, people used the horse for battle and transport. It is versatile and great with rodeo events, long-distance traveling, as well as racing. 

The breed is gentle, friendly, and the loyalty is exceptional.

Nevertheless, a standard diet of quality hay, fresh grass, fruits, vegetables, and grains are very important to a healthy body. If they cannot graze freely, it would be a great idea to provide mineral and vitamin supplementation.

3. Paint Horse

Paint Horse breed of small horse for riding
Paint Horse breed of small horse for riding

The horse is versatile but also has a genial temperament.

The breed was introduced to America in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. It is a breed with several ancestor breeds. The breed’s adults grow to a height of around 56 inches.

Despite their short height, they are very strong. They also have stamina, agility, and speed that make them perfect for riding horses. What’s more, the paint horse is calm, intelligent, friendly, and training is never a problem.

You will find that they are represented in very many sports nowadays.

There is no significant problem with their behaviors, which means that working with them is pretty easy. To avoid obesity, the owner should avoid overfeeding the horse. Instead, provide an equine diet with vegetables and fruits, grains, hay, and fresh grass.

4. Morgan Horse

Morgan Horse for riding
An adult Morgan Horse with her colt in the field

The breed is eager to please the owner and is cooperative.

Morgan horse is among the first breeds to be bred in America around the 1700s. They all come from one single horse known as Figure and have all been named after his owner, Justin Morgan. That was in 1789, when their ancestor was born. 

The breed can grow to a maximum height of 60 inches with a weight of around 1000 pounds.

The stallions are known for versatility, cooperative character, as well as athletic prowess. Its ability makes it an all-purpose breed. The horse is also alert and proud, explaining why the horse will carry the head and tail high.

The Morgan breed does not eat as much food as full-sized breeds. A standard diet is necessary, however, for proper growth. That means you will require quality hay, fresh grass, and grans. They can overfeed easily, which can lead to obesity. Therefore, be careful.

5. Arabian Horse

Arabian small Horse breed for riding
An Arabian Horse for riding

This horse has striking beauty and has an even temperament.

The history of this horse is not clear because the origin is not known. However, most people agree that Arabian Peninsula is the origin of this breed. When traced properly, their history goes back to around 3000 B.C. It is old, to be honest. The breed has adults that grow to a height of 60 inches.

Athleticism and endurance are among the reasons why this breed is on this list. They are short, strong, with great balance. Arabian horses are really smooth to ride and have endurance, making them great for sports.

Like most breeds, vegetables, fruits, grains, hay, and fresh grass are all the food types required for strong, healthy bodies. They require less food so that their weight can be maintained at a certain level.

6. Pony of the Americas

Pony Of The Americas breed of small horse for riding
Pony Of The Americas are so short that kids can mount with ease

This breed is patient, kind, and great with kids.

The breed came to be around the 1950s as a result of a crossbreed between the Araloosa and Shetland breeds. It is not so tall because its height gets to a maximum of 56 inches. It is ridden for sports all over the world.

Similar to an Arabian and Quarter horse, this breed is muscled and strong with great speed. It is a perfect horse for any youth rider and can compete in several disciplines. 

Even when riding with other horses, it remains calm. It was bred for children to ride, which is why it is friendly to children.

Like the rest, you need to make sure that it remains healthy by providing great quality food such as hay, fresh grass, vegetables, and fruits. However, you need to monitor their intake because they can easily gain too much weight.

7. Welsh Pony

Welsh Pony small horse breeds for riding
Welsh Pony breed of small horse that can be ridden

The breed is tough and has a very flashy style.

Welsh ponies are native to Great Britain. They have existed for thousands of years and are a crossbreed of several great breeds. It can grow to a height of around 60 inches.

This horse is bred to be all-purpose with work such as hunting, as well as in farms. The small size makes it a perfect breed for children. One thing you will notice is that they are hardy and can withstand tough environments. Therefore, even though they are small, you can expect surprising strength.

Since the breed evolved in some harsh conditions, they will do fine with less food than you might think. Overfeeding is more problematic than underfeeding.

What is The Smallest Horse You Can Ride?

This topic can be a challenge because it depends on the weight you have. The rule you should know is that a horse should not carry more than a fifth of its total weight. That means that you and the saddle should be about a fifth or less.

What Is The Best Horse Breed For A Beginner Rider?

If you are just starting to learn to ride a horse, several horses will not give you such a hard time when you are learning to ride.

The Morgan horse, for instance, would be a great horse to ride because it will work hard to know what you want, and it will be very eager to please you.

A Friesian is another breed you might consider. It is a playful breed but is generally well-rounded. It is disciplined and is loyal to the owner.

You might not be eager to ride a large horse, which is understandable. However, if you prefer, you can learn to ride a horse with the Icelandic horse breed. It is a reasonable compromise for several reasons.

First of all, it has a suitable height for getting on and off the horse. The ride is so smooth when it walks fast. You will surely have a great time riding this horse.

Which Breed of Horse is Most Gentle?

When it comes to being gentle, the list of horses is short. Five horses are gentle and calm. These are the Morgan horse, Quarter horse, Appaloosa horse, Norwegian Fjord, as well as the Connemara Pony.

Each horse is an individual, which means that there is no guarantee in regards to temperament.

What Happens If You Overload A Horse?

How much weight can your horse carry? It is known that a horse will usually carry a lot of weight without any difficulty. However, that should not mean no cost is suffered. Recent studies have shown that horses suffer a certain cost when they are overloaded.

So, if you count in a horse saddle, add a 220-pound human, and place him or her on the horse, you should expect that you will be stressing the horse unnecessarily.

The ability of your horse to carry a certain weight depends on the intensity and duration of work, hoof care, and equipment, fitness, and balance, as well as conformation. However, in general, your horse will carry around 20% of its weight.

If a horse carries too much weight on the back, you can expect that he or she will have a strained back and might have a sore back. A long-term injury is possible when it comes to excessive weight.

What is Hand Measuring in Horses?

In the earlier times, around the 1500s, horse measurement was done by a man’s hand’s width. King Henry the VIII provided a statute that stated a man’s hand was around 4 inches.

Therefore, to measure a horse’s height, you would need the horse to stand on level ground with legs underneath. You then had to measure from the hoof on the ground to a level with withers.

You had to make sure that the tape being used was at 90 degrees with the horse, not laying on the horse.

After measuring the number of inches, the next step would be to divide that by four, which would translate to the number of hands. For instance, if you found a horse to be 60 inches, that would be around 15 hands.

If there are any extra inches, for instance, 63 inches, the extra measurement would be named after the number there are. 63 inches, for instance, would translate to 15.3 inches.

Wrapping Up

Horses have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. You must take good care of your horse in regards to feeding, maintenance, as well as the amount of work.

The horses we have listed on this post are amazing when it comes to riding. You can expect the best from these horses.