Most members of the breed are not easily spooked, enjoy trail and arena riding and, with proper training, can become excellent horses for children and adults alike. You could, for example, find a 13.2 hand cutting horse that is as agile as a cat or a 17.2 hand hunter horse that has a beautifully elegant long trot and graceful form over 4 foot fences.
Because there are many components, there is a high amount of variability within any breed, including the Quarter Horse. Breeding and pedigree do have a big influence on the temperament of a quarter horse.
While all QuarterHorses can be very versatile, each equestrian discipline lends itself to horses who possess specific traits. Cutting cows and keeping them separated from the herd can be hard, taxing work.
Cutting horses are also, typically, hotter or more energetic than most QuarterHorses used for recreational riding. These types of horses have made their mark in Hunt Seat Equitation and Western Pleasure classes.
I once knew an Appendix Quarter Horse, bred specifically for racing, that had no desire to run. Proper training, both on the ground and in the saddle, can give your horse a great set of building blocks from which it can make decisions.
It is crucial that the training process teach a horse how to make the right decisions in unknown situations. A horse who has learned to stop and think in a suddenly fearful or unknown situation is less likely to injure its rider than one who turns and runs because that is the only thing he knows how to do.
Similarly, adequate groundwork can teach a horse to trust when you ask him to go forward and stop when you need him to. If he is ever in a sticky situation or having to walk through an unknown place the horse is better able to respond to your commands because he has the training and reinforcement to trust what you ask of him.
Having acknowledged that pedigree is only one factor in a Quarter Horse’s temperament we can then look constructively at different personality traits that certain lines of QuarterHorses are “known” for. I personally had the pleasure of riding a bay roan Hancock bred mare for years who was one of the nicest, laid back, easy -going horses you’d ever meet.
On the other hand, I knew a Hancock gelding that would break in two” or start bucking wildly, for seemingly no reason at all. Despite this “habit” that Hancock bred QuarterHorses are known for, their nice heads, good balance, toughness, and soundness make them great ranch horses and well-liked among ranchers.
Their temperaments are touted for being naturally calm, cool and collected seemingly straight from the womb. These two stallions produce awesome western pleasure and hunter horses (and their babies compete in many other disciplines too).
It seems that horses from lines bred primarily for rail work seem to be calmer and easier than horses bred for active work like cutting and reining. In fact, when you can, riding or handling a horse on multiple days in as many environments as possible will give you a good look at what his true temperament might be.
A lot of people break them as “2-year-olds” but unless you are wanting to get the horse ready for a futurity or something, there is no rush. My Lilly will be ridden and doing light walk/trotting/circles and a bit of neck reigning once she hits two.
Most people I know that breed QuarterHorses do western pleasure and mounted shooting. The horses are usually fully halter trained by about 1 1/2 or 2 (I mean like turning and real work, not just walking) and then they get them used to the saddle and bridle during their 2 yo year.
Walk trot, maybe a tiny bit of lope for 3 yo and then harder training as a 4 or 5. If your horse isn't mature or has bone problems it's better to wait longer to not risk injury.
I started my quarter on some ground when he was 3 and didn't ride him til he was 4. But the horse's spine is still developing, he's still growing, and doesn't fully mature til he's 5 years of age.
Drafts, for example, don't finish growing and maturing til they are 6-8 years of age. People get in a hurry, because it's a lot of time to wait til the horse is ancient enough.
So, if you choose to start em at 2 or 3 be aware that you may damage them permanent if you're not careful, because they are not fully grown (not just height wise, but also length wise...the vertebrae)....yeah, some horses are started quite young and are sound as ever, but there are plenty more that are arthritic and have other issues. I only walk and trot no loping till they are 3 yeas of age.
I have a 3-year-old paint filly just took her to her first show and I have been training her on the barrels for a while but haven't ever fully opened her up because I am scared. She is quick she can be all the way back I mean 500 yards behind the other horses when they start to run, and she will pass them up and slide to a stop before she hits the fence.
If you are able to wait until they are 4 or 5, that is best because then you can ride them as hard as you need to without worrying too much about damaging joints and bones that are still growing. IMHO, the worst thing that a person can do on a really young horse (younger than 3) is to ride a lot of circles on them at a lope or trotting small circles.
That will deform the growth plates in knees and hocks and pretty much guarantee severe arthritis later in life. I read this very convincing article about how no horse's bone structure is mature before 6 years old and how there's no such thing as a slow maturing/fast maturing breed and how the longer you wait, the fewer problems you have in the long run.
It's very, very, very, very, VERY, VERY, VERY LONG, but it's worth it (at least from a future vet's perspective) I like to read the old books from the 1800s written about the Arabs and their horses.
They broke then as yearlings and had light kids ride them. They believed the young bones could be molded the legs straightened through work.
I don't believe this but also feel if the horse is unbroken by 4 he is harder to deal with and by 6 is to set in his ways. Let them grow up and when the time comes break them harder and be firm.
Physically, if their growth plates are still open, and you pressure them too soon, you can really damage joints. My 3-year-old Holstein er was not ready for me to sit on him until just this summer.
Establishing bend, walking up and down hills, so they can get used to balancing a rider on their backs is important. Unless you want to put their back and joints at risk and possibly create lifelong soundness issues, avoid riding them earlier than 2 1/2 or 3.
I rode my two-year-old this past Monday for a whole 10 minutes. Still going strong and a very valuable, patient, SOUND lesson horse.
Gentle breaking works best because it helps a horse build trust with its handler so this relationship will last a lifetime. This does not work well because every animal, including humans, will rebel when forced to do something.
Horses can be forced to obey, but they will end up resenting you and will act up more often. Once you have gained the horse's trust, you can start halter training.
Halter training works best on younger horses. Spend time brushing and petting the colt's head, and remember to give treats often.
From my experience, colts never take a halter the first time you try, so you must have patience. Once the colt is comfortable wearing a halter, it is time to start leading.
Walk to the other end of the lead rope, and hold up a treat. The trained horse should then start moving up to receive his treat.
Note: Make sure to only give the treat after the colt has moved. As soon as the colt reaches its full head size, bridle training should begin.
This training should also be done with a treat that the colt can handle with a bit in its mouth. A colt should know how to lead and do direction movement before you put on a saddle.
In my experience with gentle breaking, I always have other horses during the training to help my colt learn. Then, find lightweight things (an old coat works well) to put on his back.
When your colt tolerates the lightweight item, move on to the saddle blanket. Once he accepts the saddle blanket, you can start adding some of your weight to his back.
When the colt is comfortable with a saddle blanket and your weight, start wrapping things around his back and belly. As the other horses turn right or left, move the reins in the appropriate direction.
If you follow these suggestions, you will have a horse that trusts you and is more obedient. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Be prepared, working with a wild horse is going to take more time.
It is going to have to be consistent, and I recommend daily, this means 7 days a week. Question: My 5-year-old mare refuses to accept any bit.
Have tried snaffle, rubber Mullen, and she kicks up a real fuss. Teeth checked by an equine dentist, jaw X-ray taken- no problems.
Answer: There are a few horses that refuse to take a bit ever. Try rubbing the least restrictive steel bit (not rubber) with something the horse likes to eat.
Does anyone know of a gentle horse trainer, like Monty Roberts or Mail Like Nielsen in my area that I could use to train my horses ? They are rescues, I have had them 5 years, they are costing me a fortune in board, I would like to be able to ride them.
Dennis Thirteen (author) from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on October 31, 2018: You have to build the bond, let it see other horses having done to them what you want of it.
Staci she is too young to ride, and I don't advise even saddling her for another year and a half. I have not put a saddle on yet but I have used a surcingle and snugged it up pretty good.she had no buck no bolt.I do let her investigate everything.I'm hoping the next phase goes well as I really want to gentle her myself.
Dennis Thirteen (author) from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on June 01, 2018: Chances are you won't learn enough reading articles or watching videos.
You need to meet other people who are doing the same kind of training and talk to them. If the horse respects you and trusts you it will be easier to train and with less friction.
It is my belief the horse is responding to commands you might not be aware you are giving. If the problem remains with the other rider work on creating a command, which gives you the desired results.
Dennis Thirteen (author) from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on March 04, 2015: Trust is a major factor when working with horses or people.
The ability to understand how a horse thinks helps tremendously. I have seen videos of others who can train a horse to be ridden in three days.
I spent six months working with the last horse I trained. Believe me it is harder when you can't give foot and leg requests.
You have to have their trust and this means you should pick out their stalls while they are eating and other such tasks. Normally a horse will react as they think you may want to take their food, but if you reassure them and pet them then after a while they accept you.
This is not breaking, but establishing yourself as more knowledgeable and so it is easier for them to follow your direction than think for themselves. Horses make this easier as they are herd animals and lazy thinkers who like a lead animal (Alpha horse).
This means when they are little push them off their food, the animal whose front feet move first has lost, do this gently when they are young and get their respect (leaving this later makes it harder if not impossible). This overcomes its tendency to defend its food and establishes you as a great provider (Alpha horse).
This relationship will not be questioned as long as you provide food and treats and petting and grooming on a regular basis. I have found the letting them watch approach is one of the quickest ways to get them to overcome their natural fears.
Dennis Thirteen (author) from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on June 28, 2012: In the last ray they took of my legs the bones looked like Swiss cheese.
Hi Dennis... what a great article and one which caught my eye as I love horses and working with them. Over the years I have learned breaking a horse slowly and gently develops trust and establishes relationship.
Dennis Thirteen (author) from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on July 16, 2011: Through the years I have worked with training other people's horses, ridden every time I have had the chance.
Dennis Thirteen (author) from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on April 20, 2011: Much of my life was spent around horses and I saw many instances where things could have been handled better.
There is no way I can be considered a newbie as I have known about proud cut horses since my teens. Some people like my father prefer them because they are more spirited than a gelding, but easier to handle than a stallion.
For newbie's “a gelding is a neutered male horse and a stallion can breed”. I know in South Dakota one thing that helped is we had plenty of social capital.
Diana Owens from My Little Hole In The Wall, Subpages, USA on April 05, 2011: He's really easy to catch unless he reads my mind and knows I'm going to give him performer... which is basically every time I do it.
Even if he's the very first one to get deformed out of all the horses and I leave the unwrapped tube of paste in the house until I catch him. (: He doesn't mind when I give him shots though, just the performer, even if it's the supposedly great tasting apple flavored kind.
He's a proud cut gelding, so he still acts study...basically, your typical boneheaded stallion, just without the “goods.” Sting has always been the easiest, then sister Dakota...and bringing up the rear is Buzz.
The man who bought her told me if I couldn't ride her bareback he wouldn't buy her. I got extra money for her when he saw that she turned and stopped with only hand (requests)commands without anything ever coming out of my mouth.
My only problem is, is that I don't have anybody willing to help me with this, so I height put in a little more groundwork and a few extra weeks of round pen work until they get completely comfortable with the idea of having a cinch around their belly and extra weight on their backs.