Just like we all have preferences for clothes, shoes, food, etc., so too do individuals in the horse community have a “horse type”. Some prefer comfort, while other prefer beauty; some lean toward athleticism, while others regard a quiet temperament. I asked several San Luis Obispo residents to describe their “horse type”, and the answers were as entertaining as they were enlightening.
“When I was younger, I would say that my horse type revolved mostly around beauty and athleticism – I liked to go fast and look good doing it. I grew up racing barrels and competing in college rodeo. These days, I realize that I’m turning into an ‘old lady’; I don’t care about going fast anymore, and looks aren’t as important to me. My current horse is a middle aged ex-ranch horse named ‘Dusty’, and he’s pretty much bomb proof; what he lacks in visual appeal, he makes up for in keeping me safe. So, I guess my horse type now would be described as ‘easy going’.”
“I’ve been riding for about 10 years, and I compete in Jumpers and some Dressage. I like a horse that’s strong, forward, fancy, and I don’t mind dealing with a little ‘over enthusiasm’ – I’d rather a horse be a little on the hot side than lazy. My horse type would probably be ‘athletic and enthusiastic’. You don’t want a lazy or fearful horse in the Jumpers ring.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it before, but I guess when I think of all the horses I’ve had, I do sway to a certain type of horse. I do a lot of ranch work, so my horses are earning their keep more than just being pets. I need something strong, steady and reliable. If my horses were cars, they would be older Ford Pick-Up trucks – they might have a few dents and dings, but with good maintenance, they’ll last forever. Those little Smart Cars or fancy BMW’s wouldn’t last a day on the ranch with me, so I can’t have a horse that’s all ‘for show’.”
“Here on the ranch, we use our horses for a lot of lessons, which means a lot of different riders coming through. When I’m looking for a horse to add to our program, the top concern is temperament, followed closely by reliability; if they can’t handle beginners or riders who may miss cues, difficult ring situations or even horse pile up’s, then they won’t work for my program. Of course, I’m also a ‘beauty’ girl too, as much as I hate to admit it; I think you can have a good temperament and reliable nature wrapped up in a pretty package…that’s not too much to ask, right?”
“Call me crazy, but I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Of course, my horse has to be suited for what I do, which is show Western Please and Western Riding, but when I was looking for my current horse I tried a lot of really nice horses – some had more training and were sweeter than my mare is – but I fell in love with my girl as soon as I looked at her. I just knew. I guess I’m a beauty over brains girl when it comes to horse types…hey, at least I’m honest!”
“Well, I’m not in the best shape physically; I’ll freely admit I’m a little ‘soft’ and I don’t have the best back or knees (years of snow skiing competitively finally caught up with me). So, at 56 years old, I’m all about comfort – if it doesn’t ride like the horse equivalent of a Cadillac, then I don’t want to be in the saddle. My mare ‘Rose’ is a Peruvian Paso, and I rode about ever gaited breed that there is before I settled on her; she’s like riding a big, comfy sofa. So, my horse type is ‘comfortable’.”
“For me, it’s all about ability. I show Reining horses, and you have to have something with a lot of heart, good conformation and a ton of athleticism. I need a horse that can handle working in different environments, traveling, dealing with shows where we sometimes end up standing for an hour on the sidelines waiting for our class, etc. So, as much as I like a pretty horse, I’d favor ‘athleticism and temperament’ any day!”
Have you ever thought about what your “horse type” is? It’s an interesting exercise, and I guarantee that all your favorite mounts will have certain traits in common. Go ahead, tell us your “horse type”, we’d love to know!