Horse breed suggestions for our specific situation - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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Horse breed suggestions for our specific situation

Hey y'all! I am looking for some suggested breeds to research. My husband is finally getting out of the military so we can settle one place and start considering getting a horse. My 12 year old has been in lessons off and on since the age of 4 since we moved around so much. I would say she is an advanced beginner, maybe almost intermediate. She has done a couple shows and placed well in dressage but jumping is really what she wants to do. Not even competitively, just because she loves the rush.

So here is where it gets tricky last spring she started having tailbone pain and we thought it may be from the bucking shetland her instructor had her helping to break and perhaps she bruised her tailbone. The pain increased through the summer to where she could no longer stand or walk. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Ankylosing Spondylitis. She is now on several medications and biweekly injections and can on most days feel like a normal healthy kid. Her rheumatologist said not only can she continue riding but that she thinks it would be wonderful for her because to keep from her spine and ribs fusing someday she needs to stay active. When she rides, she forgets all of this, it takes all the bad away. She said when she rides it's like breathing in nothing but happiness and nothing bad exists. I want her to have that all the time. She is also homeschooled because with her medications she has next to nothing for an immune system. I want her to have an all the time friend she can see and love on each day who doesn't care if she limps or that he hair is falling out from the medication. I hate seeing her suffer and want to make her world a happier place.

So finally to my point now that I gave you all the story, is there a gaited horse that can comfortably jump and even do so in lower levels if she decided she wanted to compete? Are gaited horses significantly better on joints or is it more of an opinion thing? She has never ridden a gaited horse before so I am just going off of what I have read. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated as well as any experiences and pros and cons to certain breeds. All we have really been around are QH, QH/Arab crosses and Saddlebreds. We have loved them all but I want to make sure we look for the perfect horse for her and not just look at what we know.

Thank you.
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post #2 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 07:05 AM
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Before going "breed" go with temperament, especially for a child.
For showing, if that is your purpose of the horse...unless you are going to go to gaited shows, I think gaited is going to go against your granddaughter because the common w/t/c gaits judged on are not typically seen in most gaited.
Jumping, if she wants to do that...again...gaited may not work best because strides are counted in canter striding and gaited gait not often truly canter...

So, that all said...
I would check with her doctor before deciding on "breed" or breed tendencies to see if gaited is in her best interest or a regular strided animal that does w/t/c...
I know from working with some orthopedic challenged riders that the walking gait of a horse was most mimicking of the human adult gait to make the hips, spine move in align and unison is what the orthopedist doctor overseeing many p/t regimes told me. Riding a horse was on several occasions the beginning of a w/c bound to walk independently...
Those with C/P I know I've seen incredible achievements made in their muscle control.
So, for that reason I would consult first with the doctors to see if "the gait" of the animal would benefit your granddaughter more than the breed she rode...
I do strongly make a statement that I don't care about the breed, I care about the personality, the trustworthiness of the animal and the animals ability to aide in keeping her body healthiest in the long-haul of this illness.

I hope you find the perfect horse for your granddaughter and one for yourself or as many as are desired so as a family you can all spend quality time together.
...
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 08:45 AM
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Gaited horse rider here. And I want to say how sorry I am that your daughter has to deal with this. Now on to your question. Yes, gaited horses can jump -yes they can compete. Here is the kicker. Not all gaited horses gaits are smooth all of the time. Just like a non-gaited horse a gaited horse is an individual. And while jumping that gaited horse will trot between the jumps and not gait. The gait is a lateral gait and picking it up in a short distance would be near impossible for the gaited horse.

I think your best bet is to look and look some more for horses with a smooth trot or lope between the jumps. Your daughter may not be riding the same horse for long since she is still growing.

My person thought is that a nice Arab may fit the bill. I have ridden quite a few with a really nice floaty trot and a to die for lope.

I hope you find a horse because it sounds like your daughter deserves those moments of peace.
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 10:37 AM
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I wouldn't limit yourself to a particular breed just yet. Look at horses as individuals. If your daughter just wants to pop over a low jump for fun every now and then, a gaited horse can certainly do that. Some could compete at low levels. On the other hand, a non-gaited horse can have very smooth gaits.


It sounds like you really need a younger version of one of my horses. He's a 20 (?) year old, arthritic, grade, no-one-knows-what gelding. He's utterly trustworthy, fearless, loves kids, and has beautifully smooth gaits. In his younger years, he must have been something to see. He has the body type of a gaited horse, but he's w/t/c. He could be a cross. If he were 10 years younger, he's make a great jumper.


Talk to trainers, vets, farriers, and horsey friends and tell them what you're looking for. Someone may know someone who's selling the right horse. Talk to the sellers. Some of them will be honest and tell you that their horse trots like a jackhammer. Try lots of horses. Don't settle for one with the wrong personality or the wrong movement.
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 11:06 AM
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I am so very sorry about your daughter! I think you are a wonderful parent! I agree with the previous posts regarding judging the horse in front of you and not necessarily breed. With that said I did have a few breeds come to mind that aren't gaited but maybe worth a look.

Haflinger: Moderately priced, used in Therapeutic riding programs or lesson programs, but can be highly competitive in sports.

Connemara: very sporty, excellent for kids, great jumpers.
Fjord: Some of these guys can be pretty stubborn and very strong. I know a Pony Clubber that competes with her Fjord in eventing.
Gypsy Vanner: Expensive. Wonderful temperaments. Not the best at jumping, but very kind souls.

I don't know how active your daughter wants to be with competing horses, but she might be interested in joining a local Pony Club (USPC) for horse related events, learning and riding. There's also chances to compete in riding rallies (including jumping!), and also knowledge rallies with no riding.

I wish you and your daughter the best of luck!
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 11:20 AM
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Agree with the others who have said to look at individual horses instead of breed. We own two gaited horses (Rocky Mountain and Missouri Fox Trotter) and I don't know that either of their temperments would make them a good kids horse. They're both very forward and hot, as well as the two Tennessee walkers that my close friends ride. Ours aren't particularly smooth either, the Rocky tends to trot more than gait (I'm sure we probably need gaited lessons but he's an endurance horse so we let him do whatever he wants as long as it's the speed we're looking for) and the Fox Trotter is kind of rough too (she's young though).

In contrast I have a half paint/half Arab and full paint that are the smoothest horses ever (especially the 1/2 and 1/2). Both have a great trot and smooth canter and love jumping (I mean the small little things that come across our paths that we try jumping at least!) They also have great temperaments!

Might just need to try out some different horses or inquire about smoothness on sale horses!
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 01:29 PM
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The lady who does bodywork for my horses also does bodywork for people. She's quite knowledgeable. If you'd like, I can ask her whether she thinks a gaited horse would be best for your daughter.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 06:51 PM
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I agree with those that say look at the individual not the breed. Conformation can lend itself to a smooth riding horse. Look for comfort. You want something that fits her and she can easily handle.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 06:51 PM
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So sorry you are dealing with this. If you and your daughter enjoy reading books, I recommend this book Colt by Nancy Springer. It is a moving story about a young boy with spina bifida who loves to ride. He finds his riding partner in a gentle Paso Fino. Nancy Springer is an experienced rider who writes really engrossing children's books about horses.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/606931.Colt
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-26-2020, 07:33 PM
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Oh I so feel for you & your daughter! Mine went thru a period of chronically hurting back so bad she couldn't move, let alone ride some days. Docs couldn't say what was wrong let alone help - it was bad enough that it went on for months... I cant imagine how... Upset I'd be that it might have been caused by an idiot instructor putting her on a dangerous pony...

Anyway, agree with others, to go for... Deed over breed. If you're looking into gaited, I am guessing it's because the smoother the better for your daughter, that rough paces are no good for her. But if that's the case, I'd really want to be sure jumping was going to be ok for her first - it's not just hard on horses but can be hard on riders backs too.
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