11 Horses That Are Best for Riding

The Tennessee Walker has a long neck as well as a flowing mane and tail.
© Horse Crazy/Shutterstock.com

Written by Lev Baker

Updated: November 2, 2023

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Horses are one of the most elegant animals in the world. These beautiful animals can be used for various purposes, including riding for pleasure, horse racing, trail riding, and farm work. With over 400 different breeds, you may wonder: Which horses are best for riding? The best horses for riding will have comfortable gaits and excellent temperaments. So, without further ado, here are 11 of our favorite riding horses.

Thoroughbred horses are perfect for riding, especially for experienced riders who enjoy speed.

1. Morgan Horse

Morgan horse in paddock

This majestic horse is one of the oldest American breeds.

©Christopher Crosby Morris/Shutterstock.com

The Morgan horse is one of the most popular and accessible horses for riding. Although they are smaller than many full-size horse breeds, they are incredibly athletic. As adults, Morgan horses grow to between 14 and 15 hands tall and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. These steeds are compact, with a muscular build, short heads, and large eyes. Morgan horses come in a range of colors, including bay, black, and chestnut. 

These horses are great for riding because they are extremely cooperative. Because of their kind and courageous nature, their aim to please, and their work ethic, the Morgan horse is perfect for all riders, even beginners. 

2. American Quarter Horse

American Quarter horse chestnut stallion running in the paddock.

Quarter horses are extremely versatile and easygoing, making them super popular.

©Jaco Wiid/Shutterstock.com

Also known as simply a quarter horse, American quarter horses can sprint very fast in short bursts. These horses have many uses, bred as racehorses, performance horses, and even working ranch horses. The American quarter horse grows between 14.3 and 16 hands tall and can weigh up to 1,200 pounds. While they differ in appearance, many American quarter horses have white markings on their face and legs.

The American quarter horse is an excellent horse for riding due to its good temperament, speed, agility, and loyalty. They are friendly with people and easy to train, making them great for all levels of riders, including beginners!

3. Missouri Fox Trotter

Missouri Fox Trotter horse

A unique gaited horse that is easy to ride and calm-mannered is the Missouri fox trotter.

©Gaitedhorse / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

The Missouri fox trotter is a gaited horse, meaning one foot is on the ground at all times. Gaited horses are better equipped for long distances and have better stamina and endurance than non-gaited steeds. Missouri fox trotters stand at an average height of 14 to 16 hands tall and weigh around 900 to 1,200 pounds. They are muscular with very powerful shoulders and legs. These horses have either a solid coloring or pinto. 

The Missouri fox trotter is an excellent horse for riding due to its smooth gait, gentle nature, and friendliness. This horse is often known as ambling or fox trotting, which is where it gets its name. The foxtrot is between a walk and a gallop, leading to a smooth ride. This majestic horse is a great choice for all riders, even beginners, due to their steady step and docile nature!

4. Arabian Horse

Best Horses - Arabian

One of the most sought-after and ancient racing horses in the world is the Arabian horse.


The Arabian horse is one of the most ancient horse breeds. In fact, they are suspected to date back more than 4,000 years! Arabians are simply gorgeous and are one of the best horses for riding. Standing between 14 and 16 hands tall and only weighing a maximum of around 1,000 pounds, they are relatively small riding horses. Arabian horses have compact bodies with small, wedge-shaped heads. They also have long, arched necks. Arabians can display a range of colors, including bay, gray, chestnut, black, and roan.

Arabian horses are perfect riding horses, as they have an even temperament, elegance, and intelligence. These horses are also renowned for their endurance. But with that said, even though they are loving and loyal, these horses are best suited for experienced riders as they can be hot-blooded. Because of their high intelligence, they should be trained by someone with equine experience.

5. Icelandic Horse

Smallest horses - Icelandic Horse

This horse is a great riding horse and one of the smallest horses that can be ridden.


The Icelandic horse is a small, hardy horse. These horses only grow to around 14 hands tall and weigh up to 840 pounds. These animals are short and broad at the base, with short legs and coarse hair. You can find Icelandic horses in various colors and patterns, including chestnut, dun, bay, black, and gray. Due to the frigid Icelandic temperatures, Icelandic horses also have a double coat to help them withstand cold temperatures.

Icelandic horses are great for riding because they are safe and comfortable, even for inexperienced riders! These horses are also known to be one of the most gentle and affectionate breeds. The unique thing about Icelandic horses is that they are the only breed that can perform five gaits. In addition to the usual walk, trot, and gallop, these horses have a tölt and flying pace! This results in an incredibly soft gait that any rider will enjoy.

6. Clydesdale

clydesdale in field by ocean

Surprisingly, Clydesdales are actually super easy to ride!


On the other end of the size spectrum is the Clydesdale, a large Scottish horse breed traditionally used for draught power. These massive and powerful horses may grow up to 19 hands tall and weigh over 2,000 pounds. Talk about a big animal! Clydesdales are generally bay in color, and most individuals have white markings on the face, feet, and legs. Furthermore, Clydesdale horses have silky feathering around their legs and a high-stepping gait. This feathering is waterproof, protecting the horses from the elements and providing warmth.

Despite their size, Clydesdales are one of the best horses for riding due to their calm and even temperament. Clydesdales make incredible family horses and are even a good beginner-friendly breed. The impressively smooth gait of Clydesdales makes them one of the best horses for riding.

7. Thoroughbred Horse

Most Expensive Horses - Thoroughbred

The most expensive horse breed and the most popular racing horse is the thoroughbred.


Thoroughbreds are the most sought-after racing horse. Most major horse races, including the Kentucky Derby, see thoroughbreds dominate the rankings. Secretariat, the most famous racehorse of all time and a Triple Crown winner, was a Thoroughbred. However, this fame and dominance comes at a price, as Thoroughbreds cost a minimum of $100,000, with some easily exceeding $300,000!

These magnificent horses grow between 15 and 17 hands tall and weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds. They come in many colors, but the most common are bay, brown, chestnut, black, and gray. The athleticism of this horse breed is evident in its refined appearance. The thoroughbred has a well-chiseled head, a long neck, a deep chest, a lean body, and long legs. Unsurprisingly, these horses were bred for agility and speed, making them great racehorses.

Thoroughbred horses are perfect for riding, especially for experienced riders who enjoy speed. These horses are considered “hot-blooded” due to their spiritedness, boldness, intelligence, and athleticism. But thoroughbreds also have an excellent temperament. They are full of energy with a strong work ethic. However, their energy and spirit make them better suited for experienced riders rather than beginners.

8. Paso Fino

How long do horses live: Paso Fino

A highly intelligent horse breed that is also excellent for riding is the Paso Fino.


The Paso Fino is a light horse breed popular for trail riding. This horse breed stands between 13 and 15.2 hands tall and weighs between 700 and 1,000 pounds. The Paso Fino has a compact, strong, and athletic body type, and its distinctive features are its long, flowing mane and tail. It also has a convex head, a short back, and clean legs. The horse’s coat can be found in any color. coloration of the coat of the horse can be found in any color. Although the Paso Fino may not be a large breed, it is still powerful.

The Paso Fino is great for riding due to its gait and appearance. These horses are surefooted, making them great for trail and endurance riding. This breed is especially good for those with back pain or other injuries because of its comfortable gait. Furthermore, the temperament of the Paso Fino is docile. This breed is also extremely intelligent, spirited, and forward-moving. However, because Paso Fino horses are forward rides, they are not particularly suited for beginner or timid riders.

9. Friesian Horse

Best Horses - Friesian

This majestic black beauty is a Friesian horse. These animals are so easy to handle and calm that even beginners should be able to ride them.


The Friesian horse originated in the Netherlands and can be easily recognized by their black coat color, although they do come in other colors too. Friesian horses stand between 15 and 17 hands tall and weigh between 1,200 and 1,400 pounds. These horses are compact and strong with a magnificent posture. The mane and tail are long and rich, contributing to their elegance.

The temperament of the Friesian horse is gentle and serene. This breed is a great horse to ride because of its patience, temperament, and agreeable personality. Plus, despite their large size, even beginner riders can ride these awesome horses. These horses are extremely versatile and can be used for many purposes, including riding for pleasure and light farm work.

10. Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walker has a long neck as well as a flowing mane and tail.

While they were initially working horses, Tennessee Walkers make excellent riding animals.

©Horse Crazy/Shutterstock.com

The Tennessee walking horse, also commonly known as the Tennessee walker, is a gaited horse breed. This is an extremely popular horse breed that is perfect for riding because it is calm, has a smooth gait, and is sure-footed. In terms of appearance, the Tennessee walker is very tall with a long neck. This breed grows to between 14.3 and 17 hands high and weighs between 900 and 1,200 pounds. They are found in a variety of solid colors, including bay, black, and chestnut.

The Tenessee walking horse was originally bred for farm work but is now primarily a riding horse. Their gentle, four-beat gait and elegance make them perfect for a peaceful ride. Tennessee walkers are also sensible, meaning they are a good choice for beginner riders.

11. Appaloosa

Beautiful appaloosa horse running in winter

One of the most unique horse breeds in terms of coloring is the Appaloosa!


The Appaloosa is an American horse breed with a colorful spotted coat pattern. These are excellent riding horses standing between 14.2 and 16 hands tall and weighing between 950 and 1,200 pounds. Appaloosas have a strong and muscular body with a long neck and deep chest. Each Appaloosa has a distinct look in that they come in a range of colors and markings. Appaloosa hooves have vertical striping, which further enhances the unique look of this horse breed.

The Appaloosa is a great horse breed to ride as it is gentle, friendly, and willing. The breed is also independent, intelligent, and courageous in nature. The Appaloosa is a versatile horse that can be used for pleasure, trail riding, racing, and sports. Moreover, this horse breed is so kind and calm that even children can learn to ride on it.

Summary of 11 Horses That Are Best for Riding 

1Morgan Horse14-16 hands, 900-1,000 pounds
2American Quarter Horse14.3-16 hands, 950-1,200 pounds
3Missouri Fox Trotter14 hands, 900-1,200 pounds
4Arabian Horse14-16 hands, 800-1,000 pounds
5Icelandic Horse13-14 hands, 730-840 pounds
6Clydesdale16-18 hands, 1,800-2,000 pounds
7Thoroughbred Horse15-17 hands, 1,000-1,200 pounds
8Paso Fino13-15.2 hands, 700-1,000 pounds
9Friesian Horse15-17 hands, 1,200-1,400 pounds
10Tennessee Walking Horse14.3-17 hands, 900-1,200 pounds
11Appaloosa14.2-16 hands, 950-1,200 pounds

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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