When it comes to horse care, there are so many routine practices to keep our horses healthy for long periods of time. Amongst the periodic vet checkups, farrier appointments, worming schedules, and teeth floating, vaccinations rank high on the list of things that can keep your horse healthy for years to come.
Making a vaccination plan is imperative for your horse’s preventative care, but not all vaccines are necessary. So what vaccines does my horse need? Every horse owner needs to weigh the necessity of each vaccine against the rare yet possible dangerous side effects, such as allergic reactions and bacterial infections. In order to make an effective long-term vaccine plan, you need all the facts first, both from your farrier and your own research.
How A Vaccine Works
Vaccines are made in a variety of ways, but the commonality is that they create a mock infection or disease, which is administered into your horse’s body to create an immune boost. Your horse’s white blood cells will start to form antibodies against the antigen (the threatening virus or bacteria) so that your horse’s immune system is armed and ready to fight off the disease.
Vaccines need about two weeks to respond to a specific antigen if the horse has already been vaccinated against it before. They may need more lead time if this is their first time receiving the immunization. Depending on the type of vaccine, your horse may need booster shots at your vet’s discretion.
While the risks of vaccines are rare, they commonly cause soreness around the injection site, and sometimes a fever.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), who sets the standards for horse welfare and health in the United States, recommends specific “core” vaccines for every horse to receive. The following are the core vaccines:
Rabies is a commonly known virus, as it affects other pets and wild animals. Rabies affects the central nervous system and is transmitted through the saliva. Although horses rarely contract it, it is always fatal, and therefore highly recommended for every horse.
Tetanus is an extremely dangerous bacteria that lives everywhere. Horses encounter it most often as spores in the dirt. Horses are very susceptible to it, especially when they have open wounds. It is also referred to as “lockjaw”, because the bacteria causes muscle rigidity as it progresses through the body, ultimately stiffening the face muscles which prevents the horse from being able to eat.
West Nile Virus
Transmitted by mosquitoes from affected birds, the West Nile Virus affects the horse’s central nervous system, causing a host of issues, including stumbling, staggering, loss of appetite, and paralysis. While up to 60% of affected horses recover from the virus, some still live with side effects for the rest of their lives.
Otherwise known as “sleeping sickness”, encephalitis is a virus that is also transmitted by mosquitoes from infected rodents and birds. The virus causes the brain to degenerate, causing staggering and possibly paralysis. Another related virus, the Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, has not been a threat in the US, but has made an appearance in Mexico.
Thankfully, there is a “four-way” vaccine that combine Eastern & Western Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and Tetanus vaccines.
In addition to these core vaccine recommendations, there are other common vaccines that you should consider based on your horse’s geographical location and lifestyle.
If your horse is exposed to new horses often, this injection comes highly recommended. The flu is one of the most common respiratory diseases in horses and highly contagious. Symptoms include coughing, fever, nasal discharge, and loss of appetite.
This is another virus that can cause flu-like symptoms, including respiratory issues, fever, and, in the worst cases, neurological damage and death.
Strangles in horses is essentially an abscess of the lymph nodes. Typically, it is not life-threatening, but it can cause a fever, pus draining from the nostrils, and labored breathing that sounds like the horse is being strangled. Strangles spreads easily between horses as well.
Less-common diseases with available vaccines include the Potomac Horse Fever, Equine Viral Arteritis, Rotaviral Diarrhea, Botulism and Anthrax. More recently, vaccine developers have even released a Snakebite vaccine that is supposed to protect against Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes for horses who are more likely to encounter them. Many of these are only needed in certain regions of the world, so consult with your vet to rule out any unnecessary ones.
Horses At Greater Risk
In addition to geographical location, other risk factors can impact horses depending on their age and lifestyle. For example, horses who travel to shows or trail meet-ups are at a higher risk for communicable equine diseases, as are horses who live in barns with a high turnover rate.
Additionally, mares who are pregnant run the risk of catching a certain strain of Rhinopneumonitis that can cause an abortion of their foal. The vaccine is administered three times throughout the pregnancy to prevent her foal’s undue death from this virus. Antibodies in the vaccine, when given at the right times, can also help boost foal’s immune system through the mare’s milk once born.
Young horses (under 5) and older horses may also be at a higher risk to certain viruses, simply because of their inferior immune systems in the more vulnerable stages of life.
Should I Vaccinate On My Own?
Many horse owners these days opt to give their horses vaccinations on their own. While this saves money on a vet visit, another upside is the added comfort of your horse receiving the injection from someone they already know and trust.
Of course, you should always discuss your vaccination action plan with your vet to make sure you know the best vaccines to administer, as well as the optimal times of year. The most common injection site is in the neck triangle. While there are other regions, this is often the safest spot to inject with the least risk of being bitten or kicked.
Make A Plan
When deciding on your horse’s vaccination plan, any action is better than no action. Do your research and consult with your vet to create a plan that best fits your horse’s lifestyle. Knowing the risks and benefits of immunizing your horse is the best way to make an informed decision about their health plan going forward. As with everything, you alone know what is best for your horse, and you are ultimately the only one who can decide that.
We all like to give our horses occasional treats, but what’s safe and what isn’t? In this article, we discuss which human foods are safe for your horse to eat and provide good advice on how much and how often you can treat your horse. Read on to learn more on what human food can horses eat.
Can Horses Tell If A Food Is Safe To Eat?
Some horses are picky, and some horses will take whatever you hand them. Regardless of which type of horse yours is, you shouldn’t trust him or her to always know what’s best.
Be careful about what you feed your horse, and remember that horse’s digestive system is very delicate and sensitive. Just a small amount of the wrong thing can cause all kinds of problems ranging from colic to laminitis.
What Are The Best Human Foods To Give Your Horse?
Generally speaking, almost all fruits and quite a few veggies make safe horse treats. Most horses really enjoy carrots and apples, and giving your horse a single carrot or apple daily is a safe thing to do.
Other more unusual choices include:
Some equines will have nothing to do with any of these strange treats while others gobble them up.
Generally speaking, donkeys will more readily accept oddball choices such as bananas and pumpkin, but this is not always the case sometimes horses and mules will enjoy these as well.
Can You Give Your Horse Whole Pieces Of Fruit Or Vegetables?
Usually if you give a horse a large item of fruit or veggie, he or she will take a bite, chew it and swallow it before taking another bite. Some horses tend to gorge themselves and they choke.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to cut fruits and veggies up into bite-size pieces before offering them to your horse.
What About Candy And Sugar Cubes?
Just as with people, an occasional sweet treat is acceptable. Don’t make a habit of it. Hard candy and sugar are bad for your horses teeth, digestive system and general health just as they are bad for yours.
Some horses like the taste of chocolate. Again, just as with people a little bit occasionally won’t hurt anything, but avoid feeding larger amounts. In addition to excesses being detrimental to your horses health, chocolate can cause a positive drug test if your horse is involved in a competition where drug testing may be conducted.
Are There Any Dangerous Fruits & Veggies?
Anything that might upset your horse’s digestive system or cause gas should be avoided. Remember that horses cannot burp and are very prone to colic.
Fruits and veggies that may cause these sorts of problems include:
Generally speaking, avoid any fruit or veggie in the hemlock family or in the cruciferous vegetable family.
How Much People Food Is Safe For Horses?
A single treat item daily is safe for your horse. Don’t overdo it. Food that deviates from your horse’s ideal daily ration of hay, grass and feed can cause serious and dangerous digestive upset.
What’s The Best Way To Feed Treats?
The best thing to do is drop a treat on top of your horse’s feed at feeding time. This is safest for you and will prevent having your horse become a nippy little brat.
If you insist on hand-feeding your horse a treat, be sure to hold your hand perfectly flat with the palm up and the tips of your fingers tilted downward so that your horse cannot accidentally bite your finger.
Remember that when a horse begins to bite down, he cannot stop until he’s finished. If your finger accidentally gets in the way you could lose it.
Cleaning up after our horses is never the most fun job, but it is essential for their well being and hygiene. If you have the right tools for job, it can make this less than pleasant task seem much easier and will help you get it done quicker too. Instead of using an old fork gleaned from somewhere with no handle that is tied together with string, why not splash out? Treat yourself to the best manure fork, and you will find it surprisingly rewarding!
Best Manure Fork Reviews
So here they are – my favorite manure forks!
TOP PICK: Truper 30323 Pro
A strong, sturdy, lightweight fork with a lifetime warranty.
This long, lightweight fork is specially designed for the job of lifting horse manure, and it will make your job much easier. It is created to be strong as well as light, so it will last you for years to come.
Soft cushion grip for balance and control – The handle of this fork is perfectly designed for you to lift and pitch, and the cushioning means that you won’t hurt your hands or get blisters, even with prolonged use.
Forged head with a rivet for strength – The forged head is super strong, meaning that the tines won’t bend or break. The rivet holding the head onto the handle ensures that the head will stay where it’s mean to – firmly attached to the body.
Handle is long and very lightweight – The handle is made from fibreglass, making it light enough to use for prolonged periods without tiring you out too much.
Comes with a lifetime warranty – The manufacturers are so confident about this product that it comes with a full lifetime guarantee in case of any defects or problems.
Tines may bend if used to pick up extremely heavy weight – This is a bedding fork, not to be used for extremely heavy loads or the tines may bend out of shape.
If you are looking for a strong, sturdy, lightweight fork to help take the back breaking effort out of cleaning your horse’s stall, then look no further than this one.
This fork is suitable for shifting manure, straw, wood chips and mulch, and it is a very hard working, heavy duty fork. Made from quality materials, it is designed to do its job and to last well.
Hardwood handle is very strong and sturdy – The handle of this fork is treated hard wood, so although it won’t be the lightest there is it should stand up to all sorts of abuse and last for years.
Cushion grip for comfort – The handle has an oversized cushion grip to protect your hands against bruising and blisters, meaning that you can use it for long periods of time without blisters or chafing.
Extra strong tines for longevity – The forged tines are made from tempered steel, meaning that they won’t bend or break even under pressure.
Smooth and well balanced – A long handle can be unwieldy, but as long as it is nicely balanced with the weight of the head then it can be really comfortable to use. This fork has just the right combination of weight and balance.
The cover may split – The cushioning of the handle sometimes doesn’t last as long as the fork itself, being made of more perishable material than the handle, so the cushioning may give way before the fork.
A great fork for the job of moving manure. It is made in America by a trusted company, using strong workmanship and quality components, so it should last you for many years and do a good job of helping you clean out your stables.
This one is called the “Forever” fork for good reason – it should last you pretty much forever! It’s incredibly light, and has many more tines than traditional forks, making it perfect for picking up those small bits of manure that can’t be picked up with your standard fork.
Light and durable aluminium handle – The construction of aluminium is extremely strong, yet also incredibly light. This is ideal for a mucking out fork, which needs to be light in order to be useful for the purpose.
Flexible polycarbonate tines – The tines of this fork are numerous, and flexible in order to pick up small pieces of dirt and manure more easily. The polycarbonate construction also makes them very strong.
Made by a highly trusted manufacturer – Dover Saddlery products are known and loved all over, which makes them a good bet to buy products from, because they have a reputation to uphold!
The tines have a UV stabiliser – This not only protects them from damage and breaking, but also reduces any jarring of your arms and shoulders, which means that you can continue forking for longer.
Tines may break under excessive pressure – The tines are strong, but with extremely heavy lifting one or two of them may give way. The advantage is that there are so many of them that one or two missing shouldn’t make too much of a difference!
This is a manure fork with a difference. Great for sifting through sawdust bedding to get at those little bits that bigger forks can’t get, and will save you a lot on bedding as you won’t be picking up big bits to get to the manure. It is lightweight and well balanced so it should be comfortable to use.
The best manure fork will make your mucking out job far more pleasant and less painful. I won’t go so far as to say enjoyable, but at least it will be much easier! If you have a good fork that will last well and be durable and strong enough to last you for a long time, you will consider it a great investment.
A shedding tool or deshedder can take lots of the hard work out of helping your horse slip out of his heavy winter coat, and allow the thinner summer coat to come through. In days gone by, we had to use curry combs and a lot of elbow grease to remove the clouds of excess winter hair, but these days we can use a shedding tool to help do the job quicker.
There is a lot of choice out there when it comes to finding the best horse shedding tool or deshedder, so how do you know what to spend your hard-earned dollars on?
Best Horse Shedding Tool Reviews
You read through the following list, that’s how, because we have selected three of the best deshedders on the market:
TOP PICK: SleekEZ Original
An incredibly easy to use tool that has everything you need.
1. SleekEZ Original Deshedding Grooming Tool Review
This is an incredibly easy to use tool, which will give astonishing results really quickly. No matter how hard you brush with traditional brushes, it is impossible to remove all the dead hairs and dander from your horse’s coat. This tool will revolutionize your grooming life!
Long enough to use with two hands – This adds to the effectiveness of this tool, as two hands can be stronger than one and will remove more of the excess unwanted hair.
Unique, patented tooth pattern – This design is unique to SleekEZ and is designed to be as effective as possible at removing hair, dead skin and other undesirables from your horse’s coat.
Useful for removing hair from furnishings, clothes and tack – this tool is not only useful for removing the hair from your horse! It can also be used to take excess hair off your favourite sweater, the inside of your car or your horse’s most often used numnah.
Horses actually enjoy being groomed with this tool – Because it is gentle, and designed to be kind to your horse’s skin at the same time as removing excess hair, it is pleasant for them to be brushed with this tool.
May not work on very thick coats – If your horse has Cushings, or is an exceptionally thick coated breed, you may find that a different tool works better as it has been reported that this works better on slightly less hairy specimens.
This patented designed shedding tool will not make a hole in your bank account, but it will work to remove excess dead hair from your shedding horse. Makes it a much easier job than traditional grooming too!
This flexible shedding tool can be used wet or dry, and unlike some others it contains no blade whatsoever, so there is no danger of accidentally cutting your horse. It is easy to use, highly durable and does exactly what it says on the tin.
Stimulates blood supply and distributes natural oils to the skin – This tool is very beneficial to your horse’s coat, as it will encourage blood supply to the surface of the skin, as well as helping natural oils to spread through the coat.
Safe for use on the delicate skin areas of the face and legs – Because of the lack of blade in this product, it can be safely used on areas that can easily be damaged by other tools that contain blades.
Removes only the dead hairs – Unlike some tools, this one will only remove the loose, dead hairs and none of the healthy ones, leaving your horse’s coat smooth and sleek.
Flexible, durable and well made – Because this is one piece of rubber and contains no added bits or moving parts, it is a very strong piece of kit, one that should last in your grooming box for a long time to come.
Takes a lot of elbow grease – This product does need a lot of work to get the loose coat out, slightly more than some others on the market, which may put some people off.
A fantastic, simple shedding tool to remove excess dead hair, dirt and dander. This one can be used wet, to rub in shampoo and spread it about, or dry, to remove dead hair and dirt.
This tool is great for year-round use, and it will improve your horse’s coat after a very short time. It doesn’t use a blade but tiny little teeth, which work at pulling out the dead hairs by their ends.
Will not damage the skin or the coat – Because the little teeth are so very little, there is no chance that it can scrape your horse’s skin or damage the healthy hairs.
Improves the quality of the coat with regular use – By removing the dead hairs, flakes of skin and dust, your horse’s coat can really have a chance to shine as it is meant to.
Made from quality materials – Because this product is designed to last, it is constructed with care from strong, hardy materials that prevent it from breaking or wearing out.
100% risk free – The manufacturer is so convinced that you will love this product that they guarantee it risk free, and offer a lot of customer support to answer any questions you may have.
Some users have suggested that a curry comb works better – Let’s face it, there is no miracle to remove all your horse’s excess hair without a bit of input from you. Some people just prefer old fashioned tools!
This is a slick little shedding tool, that should help you to improve your horse’s appearance and his overall coat condition, much quicker than many others on the market.
Getting rid of winter hair, especially on a thick coated horse, can be a real pain. Make your life much easier with a specially designed shedding tool. Choose one of the best horse shedding tool on our list and make your life that little bit easier!
Buying a gift for a horse-mad friend can be a little daunting. True, they have an interest which has created a large gift market, but what do you go for? Clothes, jewellery, horsey accessories? Something practical, funny or pretty? Once you have a vague idea what you’re looking for, the best gifts for horse lovers are right there at your fingertips.
Luckily we are here to help – we have scoured the markets for you, and have discovered a great selection of the best gifts for horse lovers. Have a look through, and I can pretty much guarantee that you will find something perfect for your friend based on their favorite interest!
My Selection Of The Best Gifts For Horse Lovers
1. Double Stirrup Lariat Necklace Sterling Silver
This is a really beautiful, classy gift for any horse lover. It is made of Sterling silver, so you know it is a high quality piece, and it is well made with no defects. The chain measures 17” long, and has the option of a 3” extension so the wearer can choose how long it hangs. It comes packaged in a beautiful gift box, so no need to rush out and buy wrapping paper!
This necklace has different color options too, being available in a old-dipped sterling silver option, as well as a two-tone option. It is most suitable for the adult horse lover, being subtle and attractive, as well as carrying a slightly larger price tag than some others. This is a truly special gift that will wow your horsey friend.
2. Willow Tree Quiet Strength, Sculpted Hand-Painted Memory Box
A gorgeous keepsake box which is suitable for all types of trinkets, this memory box features a bas-relief resin carving of a horse (and his best friend) on a hinged lid. Willow Tree are a very popular brand of sculptures and statues, and this box takes the beauty of them and adds a dimension of usefulness too!
Message inscribed on the lid reads “always there for me”, which makes this special gift suitable for a horsey friend who has helped you out, or for your favourite riding companion. It is a strong and durable box, which is well made from quality materials, so it is a perfect gift for a horse lover to keep their precious bits and bobs in.
This humorous t-shirt is the best gift for a horse lover, especially one with a sense of humor. The design is of a cartoon horse, and the caption is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face – whether they’re an equine fan or not. It is topical, cool and funny; three of the best things bout any t-shirt!
This t-shirt comes in black, purple, navy and royal blue or cranberry, so you can search through until you find the perfect shade. The t-shirt is made from 90% polyester and 10% cotton, so it is a strong and durable piece of clothing which is also comfortable and breathable, and so ideal for wearing around the yard. There is a great range of sizes, from S to 3XL. This is a great gift for any horsey friend, or even for yourself!
If you are looking for the perfect gift for a young pony-mad girl – especially a young pony mad girl who also loves jewellery – then look no further. This is a beautiful necklace, featuring a pony in mid-gallop, with flying mane and tail, symbolising the beauty and freedom of the horse. There is no better way for the young cowgirl in your life to proclaim her love of horses and ponies than with this gorgeous pendant!
It comes on an adjustable silver chain, and packaged in a smart velvet bag. It is made from a tarnish-free silver alloy, meaning that it will be strong and long lasting, and will not turn a nasty color with age. Perfect for any girl who loves horses, this gift will make any little girl smile and is a good crossover gift from childhood into teenagerhood.
An unusual, quirky gift for the horse lover, this one is great for creatives and non-creatives alike. If you love horses and pictures of horses, why not have a go at drawing your own? Lots of people feel that they can’t draw, so a helpful step by step guide is very helpful. If you have a friend who loves horses and has always wanted to have a stab at drawing them, there is no better gift idea than a book which will tell them how!
This clever book will take you, step by step, through the best ways to draw all sorts of different horses, from Thoroughbreds to bucking broncos, and everything in between. It is a great introduction into the basic anatomy of the horse, and contains different positions as well as different breeds, so it is a great intro into drawing horses. Suitable for kids and adults, this is a thoughtful gift with a difference.
Modern day life carries a lot of accoutrements with it, there is no doubt about that, and having a decent bag to carry bits and pieces around is pretty much a must. If you know a horse person, and you want to get them gift which is practical as well as gorgeous, and related to their likes, then look into this drawstring bag. Covered with a classy horse and Western saddle print, this will be a great and useful addition to their wardrobe!
Made from super strong 600 Denier fabric you can be sure that this bag won’t rip or fall apart, and it will be strong enough to carry all manner of horsey bits and bobs, from the grooming kit to riding clothes – or even things that have nothing to do with horses! It features a large exterior zippered pocket, and has an inside waterproof coating to keep all your belongings safe and dry.
Many of us horse owners are all too familiar with that moment when bringing our horses in from the pasture, that something has gone awry while we were away. It could be something as simple as bite marks from a tiff with his pasture buddy, or something more serious, like a gash or scrape from a jagged fencepost.
Regardless of how your horse got a wound, the good news is that the equine body is resilient and well-equipped to heal quickly. However, if it doesn’t seem to be healing right away, there is always a root cause. One of the primary reasons for delayed healing is infection.
Infection is simply a result of germs in your horse’s body, and can cause more serious issues if not addressed. Today we’re going to cover how to prevent and identify infection so that your horse can get back to the path of healing as quickly as possible.
What To Do When Your Horse Gets Injured
When your horse is injured, the best first step is to clean the wound and consult your veterinarian. Some injuries are very clearly superficial and do not require a lot of attention at all in order to heal.
But not all equine wounds are the same. Certain wounds, like puncture wounds, can be deadly if not properly addressed. Therefore, it is important to contact your vet if you have any questions about the severity of your horse’s injury or the next best steps of wound care. Your vet is best positioned to tell you how to treat an open wound on a horse.
However, there are some common practices when it comes to mild cuts and scrapes on your horse. The following tips for wound care are a good place to start:
Clean: The first step to wound care is to clean it properly. The most important part of cleaning is removing dirt and debris from the injury site, as its presence can easily hinder the healing process. Cold water and saline solution are two great options for flushing out the injury.
Treat: The second step is to flush it with a dilute antiseptic wash, like Betadine or Nolvasan, and then gel or ointment to the injury site. Water-based wound gels are better than greasy ointments when the injury is fresh. This will help not only prevent infection but also promote healing.
Bandage: Bandages are optimal for horses with leg injuries. Use non-stick gauze and replace daily so that the wound stays clean as it heals. Replace the bandages more often if the wound drainage seems to be soaking through the gauze faster. Body injuries don’t often require bandages unless your vet recommends otherwise, as they tend to stay cleaner.
Monitor: Make sure your horse doesn’t move so much that they end up reopening a healing injury. Too much motion can keep the tissues in the wound from healing as quickly as it can. Also be sure to check the wound every day for signs of infection, proud flesh, and any other abnormalities.
Signs Of Wound Infection In Horses
Given that you have initially cleaned the wound and applied routine bandages, the only thing you need to do is keep an eye on the wound to make sure it continues to heal. The amount of time that you’ll need to watch the wound will depend on the severity of the injury. Superficial scrapes will heal a lot faster than a deep gash or puncture wound.
While infection may seem elusive at first (not all signs are visible), the following is a checklist of potential signs to look for as your horse’s injury heals. If, during the healing period, you observe any of the following signs, call your vet to follow up on the injury.
Swelling: While it is perfectly normal to see swelling right after the injury takes place, that swelling should go down within a few days. If the swelling remains the same after a few days, or gets worse at all, this could be your horse’s body’s way of fighting off a budding infection.
Heat: Abnormal heat is a non-visual way of determining that your horse might have an infection. If the wound or surrounding skin seem excessively warm, it may be a sign that an infection is present. An easy way to check if your horse is emitting extra heat is to feel the same spot on the opposite side of his body for comparison.
Color of Discharge: While discharge from the wound is natural during the healing process, healthy discharge should always be clear or milky-colored. If you see any yellow or bright green pus drain from the wound, this means that bacteria and inflammatory cells are present.
Odor: Any odd odor whatsoever can be a cause for concern during the healing process. A sweet odor, in particular, is a good indicator of dead tissue, meaning infection is further harming the injury when the tissue should be regenerating.
Skin Color: While watching your horse’s wound, make sure to double check the surrounding skin. Redness of the skin, especially red streaks radiating outward from the injury, is certainly an indicator that an infection is present.
Tenderness: Of course, when your horse first gets injured, the wound will be pretty tender. However, if the wound or surrounding tissue becomes more tender to the touch, or remains tender after a few days, this could be an indicator of infection. Tenderness indicates a delay in healing, and should be reason to contact your veterinarian.
What To Do If Your Horse’s Wound Is Infected
Should you discover one or multiple signs of infection, the first best step is to contact your veterinarian right away. Your vet will be able to give you the best course of action, which may range from prescription antibiotics, over-the-counter equine ointments or antiseptics, a stricter cleaning and draining regimen, or stints to prevent your horse from disrupting the wound site with too much movement.
The beautiful thing about the equine body is that it is prone to healing. Once the infection is under control, your horse’s body will be able to resume the speedy healing process to the wound site.
Some people like a wild, hair raising ride on a hot and fiery horse. Others prefer not to take their life into their hands every time they go for a ride! If you are of a nervous disposition, or are new to riding – or if you simply like a calm plod rather than a terrifying gallop – then you might like to look into the calmest horse breeds. Thankfully there are a few of these! Have a look through the list and see which one suits you the best.
American Quarter Horse
The Quarter Horse was developed for ranch work in America, and they have what is known as “cattle sense” – that is, an ability to remain calm when rounding up herds of potentially frightened, aggressive cows. This ability to remain calm under pressure makes them perfect for new or nervous riders.
The Quarter Horse came about though crosses between the Thoroughbred with various native American horses, such as the Chicksaw horses, which made a breed that was small, compact and hardy as well as extremely fast. The Quarter Horse comes in most colors, though sorrel is the most common, followed by black, bay, gray, buckskin, and various roan colors. This breed is used for Western riding, stock work, general riding, reining and cutting and in hand showing.
Source: Can-Do Morgans
The Morgan is one of the earliest breeds developed in the US and is highly versatile and calm natured. They were used as coach horses, harness racing, general riding and for cavalry during the American Civil War. Morgans have been influenced by the Quarter Horse, the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Standardbred, and have in their turn influenced other horses.
The Morgan is compact and refined, and generally stands between 14.1 and 16.2 hands. They are usually bay, black and chestnut, though can be gray, roan, dun, silver dapple and various cream dilutions. The Morgan has been used for hundreds of years for different functions, and it is well known as an easy keeper as well as for its calm temperament, and its suitability as a family horse.
This American breed is best known for its spotted coat – but also for its docile, calm and biddable character. The Appaloosa was initially known as the Nez Perce horse, as the color pattern was first noticed and actively bred for by these Native Americans. Because it was kept in such close quarters with its original breeders, a good temperament was necessary, and these qualities have continued down the lines of breeding over the centuries. It’s one of the calmest horse breeds you can find.
The Irish Cob is well known for its quiet nature. Originally bred to pull the live-in wagons of the Irish gypsies, the Vanner was part of the family, living on the road with its human companions it had to have a good temperament due to children running around, and the heavy loads they had to pull – it would be no good to have a big, heavy horse spooking and bolting whilst pulling your entire house and family behind him!
The Irish Vanner small yet solidly built, standing between 13 and 16 hands, with the smaller sizes being more prized as they would cost less to keep. This breed is nearly always piebald or skewbald, and these days is used for showing, trading, dressage and general riding.
Cobs in general are a straightforward, uncomplicated breed of horse that tend to have mild temperaments. This is more of a body type than a specific breed, which generally has strong bones, large joints and strong hooves.
Cobs are generally larger than ponies but remain small and compact, with a refined head – a less than refined saying is that a cob should have the “head of a lady and the backside of a cook”! Cobs vary between 14.2 and 15.1 hands, and all share the same strong, compact stature. Cobs generally have a calm temperament, making them ideally suited to nervous riders or beginners.
The Fell pony, although small, is a great weight bearer and has been known to be able to carry full grown men. The Fell originated in Cumberland and Westmorland, and was used as a riding and driving pony.
The Fell is very similar to the Dales, and they share an ancestor in the now-extinct Galloway pony which was believed to have come from the border between England and Scotland. Primarily a working pony, the Fell is sturdy and strong, and has great stamina, along with their equable dispositions. They have notably calm, pleasant temperaments, making them ideal for nervous riders or those who are just starting out.
In general, you will find that cold-blooded horses such as draft horses and those descended from ancient European breeds are more calm and even than hot blooded horses (such as Thoroughbred and Arabian types).
That being said, it is worth remembering that every horse is an individual, and you can’t generalise and think that every cold blooded individual you meet will be calm and kind, and every hot blood will be wild. Variations are always occurring, and a more important thing than looking for the calmest horse breeds is to have a good bond with a trusted horse.
If you are a larger person, you may want a horse that is more of a weight bearer than someone who is tiny and petite. It is kinder on the horse to not have to carry more weight than its frame can comfortably take, and luckily there is no shortage of the best horse breeds for heavy riders! They aren’t all draft horses either, so don’t think that your only suitable mount is a Shire horse.
This pony is native to Scotland, and is the largest of the Mountain and Moorland breeds of the UK. It officially dates back to the 1880s, and it is thought that it descended from French and Spanish horses which were taken to the Scottish highlands in the 16th century. These ponies were first used as work horses in the Scottish mainland and islands, and they are extremely hardy and very strong for their size.
A Highland pony would suit a heavier rider who is not overly tall, as they stand about 14.2 hands at their biggest. They have good bone and a strong, compact body, and are also known for their kind temperament. Highlands come in a range of dun shades, often with primitive markings. They are used for riding and driving, and are sometimes crossed with Thoroughbreds to make a good eventing horse.
The Westphalian is a warm-blooded horse from Western Germany. The first stallions to contribute to the breed were similar to the Trakehners of the time; large and big boned, and suited to cavalry riding. WW2 was disastrous for the breed, as for so many others, but it prevailed and now these horses are well known and flourishing – Westphalians have been seen on the medal tables of the Olympics!
They are big horses, standing between 15.2 and 17.2 hands, and they are strong creatures though less coarse than “cold blooded” horses. They are generally black, bay, chestnut and gray and are generally used for pleasure riding as well as dressage and show jumping. Their strength and size make them good contenders for a heavier rider.
This is a draft horse, but it is notably finer than some of the others, because of the introduction of Arabian blood into the breed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They were originally bred as war horses, so they have centuries of experience carrying heavy loads! They are agile and sure footed as well as being large, and they also have a notably kind and willing demeanor.
Percherons range between 15 and 17 hands high, and they all carry the same robust, muscular frame. They are generally gray or black, though the American registry allows roan, bay and chestnut colors. Although they are often used for draft work, Percherons are also used for driving, forestry, and for improving other breeds, and they are successful riding horses.
This large, weight-bearing horse is ideal for the heavier rider. It is not only strong and sturdy but also extremely elegant – it is a cross between the Andalusian and the Percheron, and combines the best of both these breeds. Both the Andalusian and the Percheron are influenced by the Barb, along with many other breeds including the Arabian – although it is a much heavier horse than the traditional Arab.
This heavy yet attractive horse stands 15.3 to 17 hands, and has plenty of muscle and bone from the Percheron, along with the refined head and generous mane and tail of the Andalusian. The Spanish-Norman is usually gray, though bay and black do appear in the breed, and they are used for the show ring, eventing and driving, as well as for pleasure riding.
The national breed of Ireland is a large, strong horse that is believed to have been developed when native Irish ponies, namely the Hobby horse, were bred to Anglo-Norman war horses, as well as Clydesdales, Thoroughbreds and Connemara ponies.
These horses are easy to keep, strong and robust with good bone, stand between 15.2 and 16.3 hands, and come in most solid colors including bay, brown, gray, chestnut, black and dun. The Irish Draft is a great all-rounder, and is used in eventing, showing, hunting and cross-breeding with other breeds. They are fantastic horses for riding, as they have a generally docile, willing temperament.
Originally a small draft horse breed, the Clydesdale is now a much taller horse. It was developed from crossing Flemish stallions with native Scottish mares, which created a strong, muscular draft horse that stood considerably taller than its predecessors. All these characteristics make him one of the best horse breeds for heavy riders.
The Clydesale as we know it today stands around 16 to 18 hands, and is a heavy breed, though they have active gaits and energetic movements. Clydesdales are most often bay or black, and usually have white markings on the legs and face, with heavy feathering on the legs. Originally used for haulage and agriculture, Clydesdales are still used for driving, logging and parades, as well as for general riding purposes.
Originally bred as war horses, Friesians would have had to have carried hundreds of pounds in weight, with the rider plus all his battle armour and weapons, so they are well suited to the larger rider. The Friesian is considered a light draft horse, although these days they do less draft work and more riding. The breed stands between 14.2 to 17 hands, though it averages 15.3.
They are extremely attractive horses, with a “Baroque” body structure which is heavy at the same time as being elegant and refined. They are almost always black, though some carry the chestnut gene, and there may be a white star or foot among them. Another advantage to the Friesian is their notably calm, gentle temperament, making them suitable for the larger learner.
A few things to remember when looking for the best horse breeds for heavy riders is that it is not just the breeding you want to be looking at. You must make sure that any horse which is to be used to carry heavier riders must be fully mature (over 6 years old), and that it has good strong bones.
A medium length back is better than too long or too short – too short means less space for the saddle, too long means a weaker spine. Western saddles distribute the weight more evenly over the horses’ back than English ones, and you should consider limiting your riding time to an hour or so before giving your horse a break.
Norway is a beautiful country, famous for its scenery and particularly the Fjords. There are also a good few horse breeds that come from this fine country! Norwegian horse breeds share some characteristics, as they are made for their native terrain and climate, but there are also a few differences to set them apart from each other.
This is a draft and harness-type horse, originally from the Gudbrandsal Valley. It is thought that it descended partly from the Friesian horse, and has had Thoroughbred and Arabian blood added. The breed was split into two types in 1872; heavier driving and agriculture types and a lighter class for racing and riding.
The heavier type was used extensively during WW2, when Norway was occupied by Germany, but after the war was over and increasing mechanization reduced the need for draft horses, the numbers declined somewhat. A breeding center was established in 1962 to maintain the numbers, and there is now a flourishing population of Dolehest.
They stand between 14.1 and 15.3 hands, and are usually bay, brown or black. Gray, palomino, chestnut and dun also exist in the breed, and all colors often have white markings. The Dole Gudbrandsal is mainly used for heavy draft and agricultural work, though it has been crossed with Swedish horses to produce riding horses.
The Dole Trotter is a subtype of the Dole Gudbrandsal, and it is considered a separate breed though they split fairly recently (in the 1800s). The founder stallion, whose lineage is found in all Dole Trotters today, was either a Thoroughbred or a Norfolk Trotter.
This breed is lighter and finer than its draft-type cousin, though it stands a similar height, 14.1 to 15 hands, and looks very similar to the Dales and Fell ponies of the UK. They are generally bay, black or brown, though gray, palomino, dun and chestnut colors also appear. The Dole Trotter is used in trotting races, and is often interbred with the Dole Gudbrandsal.
This is a small horse, but incredibly strong for its size. It is one of the oldest breeds in the world, and unlike many it has remained largely unchanged since its origins. Excavations at Viking burial sites show that the Fjord horse has been selectively bred for at least 2,000 years, and has been used for hundreds of years as farm animals in Norway.
The Fjord is a very distinctive horse, with a draft horse’s muscle and bone, in a small body. They stand between 13.1 and 14.3 hands, but despite this they are always considered to be a horse rather than a pony. All these horses are dun, and there are 5 officially recognised shades of this color within the breed. The Fjord has some very eye catching primitive markings, including horizontal stripes on the back of the legs, a dorsal stripe, and a darker mane and tail.
The Fjord takes the dorsal stripe to the extreme; it runs the entire length of the horse, from ears to tail, and the mane is usually hogged so that it stands up straight and hows off the color difference. The Fjord was traditionally used as a work horse, for farming and transport, yet they are also light and agile and so suited to being riding horses. They generally have a mild, friendly temperament and so are ideal for riding horses for children, and are also used for therapeutic riding.
First documented in 1898, this little horse is the smallest of the Norwegian national horse breeds. It came perilously close to extinction after the second World War, when there were between 15 and 20 mares left, and only one stallion. Intense efforts were made to save the breed, and it is now no longer listed as endangered.
The Nordlandshest/Lyngshest is so called because the change of its name to Nordlandshest in 1968 was violently disputed by breeders in its original namesake, Lyngshest, that a compromise had to be reached to include both names. This pony stands between 12.3 and 13.3 hands (though some reach 14.1 hands), and it is very strong for its size.
They can be chestnut, bay, black, palomino, buckskin, gray, and shades of dapple, and are used for riding and driving, as well as for packhorse purposes, junior harness racing, dressage and jumping. They have a natural boldness and are well known for their endurance.
Scandanavian Coldblood Trotter
The Scandanavian Coldblood Trotter is made up of two closely related breeds – the Norwegian Coldblood Trotter and the Swedish Coldblood Trotter. These breeds are the result of crossing light, fast horses with native coldblood breeds, either the Dole or the North Swedish Horse.
This trotter stands about 15.1 hands, and is most commonly bay, chestnut or black. They can also be dun or cream colors, but not white or pinto, and they are exceptionally well suited to their native cold climate, with their thick and heavy winter coat. They are bred for use in harness racing, and compete in shared heats pulling a two-wheeled cart.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia were one country until very recently (have you heard about Czechoslovakia?) – they split into two in 1993, after a long and chequered history. Despite the fact that they used to be one, they are very different countries and as such they have very different native horse breeds. There aren’t many Czech and Slovak horse breeds, but they certainly have made an impact on the world.
This horse is the sorts horse of the Czech Republic. It was established by the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1876), and is a well-loved national treasure. It has been influenced in its time by Italian and Spanish horses, and also by the German Warmblood.
The Czech Warmblood is a strong, powerful horse with good bones and feet. Despite their strength they are also elegant, and are well known for their willingness to learn and good temperaments. They stand around 16 hands, and most are black, chestnut or shades of bay.
They were originally bred as working horses for farm and transport, but these days you will find Czech Warmbloods performing dressage, show jumping, racing, as well as being used for farm and forest work.
This horse is relatively rare nowadays, but at one point in its history it was wildly sought after, being Europe’s first sports horse. Named after the Kinsky family, a branch of Bohemian nobility, the Kinsky horse came about through an order to the family to produce horses for the Emperor’s cavalry in the early 18th century. The focus was on horses with stamina, boldness ad a good temperament, especially those that would be loyal to their riders in battle.
In 1776 the quality of the horses was improved with horses from England, and they began to be used for racing as well as for the military. After the Communist takeover much of the Bohemian nobility fled the country, but Count Radslav Kinsky returned in 1989 and founded a club called “Equus Kinsky” in order to save the breed.
The Kinsky horse stands between 15.2 and 17 hands, and due to the cream dilution gene most have coats in various shades of almost metallic gold. Bay, chestnut and black also exist, but the golden colors are more highly prized.
Whatever their color, these horses are unusually friendly and are very inclined towards humans; they have been bred for their character for generations. This is a multi purpose horse, being used for dressage, show jumping, fox hunting, polo and eventing, as well as for police and military purposes.
The Kladruber is the oldest Czech horse breed, as well as being one of the world’s oldest horse breeds. This horse has been bred for almost 400 years, and is based on imported Spanish and Italian horses, crossed with heavy Czech breeds as well as Neapolitan, Danish, Holstein, Irish and Oldenburgs.
Initially developed to be “Galakarosier”, or heavy carriage horse, used to pull the Imperial coach, the Kladruber is a well set breed due to its small gene pool and history of selective breeding.
These horses are big, between 16.2 and 17 hands, and are broad and strong with the height. Because they were initially bred as carriage horses, they retain much of the physical characteristics that make them suitable for this, including a long back and a short croup, which allows high-stepping gaits in a driving horse.
The breed is strictly gray or black, though originally it came in a variety of colors including palomino and appaloosa. These days they are mostly used for harness work, combined driving and for light draft and agriculture. They have a calm nature which makes them ideal for this sort of work.
Czechoslovakian Small Riding Pony
The development of this small riding pony began in 1980, using mainly Arabian stock but also Hanoverain, Slovak Warmblood and Hucul, crossed with Welsh pony stallions. Kept outside in the rugged terrain of Nitra in Slovakia, these ponies grew to become strong, hardy and sure footed, with fantastic winter coats.
They stand between 13.2 and 13.3 hands and come in most solid colors, and have an alert but calm temperament. They are used as riding ponies for children, and have good gaits and jumping ability.
Bearing a a strong resemblance to the now-extinct Tarpan, the Hucul is thought to be an ancient breed originating at least 400 years ago. It comes form the Carpathian mountain range of Eastern Europe and has a heavy build and great stamina and hardiness.
These ponies stand between 12.1 and 13.1 hands, and are usually black, chestnut, bay and dun, and some individuals exhibit primitive markings. Hucul ponies are docile, trusting, sensible and hard working, and so are suited for therapeutic riding, trekking, general riding as well as for farm work.
Although it is not an “official” breed, this one is becoming more popular. It is a cross between the Hungarian Halfbred, Oldenburg, East Frisian, Trakehner and Hanoverian, with some other breeds thrown in there. It is being developed in the Czech Republic, and produces both a light and massive type within the breed.
They average about 16 hands, and are generally bay, chestnut, gray, black, dun or palomino. They have a good temperament and are easy to train, and are generally used as riding or sport horses as well as for driving and leisure purposes.