Finding the Perfect Kid’s Horse

Kid and Pony

Horse shopping is not for the faint of heart. While it is a very fun process, it can also be a long process with bumps and frustrations along the way. This is especially true when parents are searching out the ideal mount for their young rider.

When horse shopping for your beginner’s first horse, it can be tempting (and easy!) to let excitement about breed, color, or looks get in the way of more important qualities. While there is nothing wrong with keeping an eye out for a particular color or breed, it’s more important to focus on the less exciting qualities. Here are six things parents should look for (and watch out for) when horse-hunting for a young beginning rider:

    1. Buy a very broke horse. The most important quality a young, beginning rider’s first horse needs to have is to be reliable and safe. Seek out a horse or pony they can have fun on without constantly worrying about spookiness or bad behavior. You want to set your young rider up for success; there will be plenty of riding challenges your child faces even with a trustworthy mount.
    1. Get a good-tempered horse. A beginner’s horse shouldn’t be hot, excitable, flighty or mean. Steady, stable and easygoing makes the perfect mount for a youngster.
    1. Buy a horse that is the right size. If you have a very small child, don’t buy a gigantic horse that they won’t be able to easily groom, tack up or handle on their own. If you have a very tall child, don’t buy a short pony that they’ll outgrow in a year. Buy a horse that fits your child now, with a little wiggle room for growth. The right size horse will suit your young rider for a long time.


Kid and Pony


    1. Get a horse that is a “schoolmaster.” If your beginning rider is interested in a specific discipline, get a horse that is well trained in that sport. The horse doesn’t have to be a seasoned show winner, but buying a horse that is a veteran of the sport ensures your young rider will have the right mount for the job they want to do. For example, if your beginner wants to try jumping, buying a horse that has proven experience over fences is going to make it much easier (and safer.) But remember that beginning riders usually want to try different things and have fun with horses. A horse or pony who can cart your child around a course of jumps, down the trail, and do mounted games is a better bet than a specialist who will win every jumper class but is untrustworthy in other situations.
    1. Don’t be afraid of a little maintenance. Often the perfect horse for a young beginner is an older horse with a lot of mileage behind him, and these horses sometimes require more health maintenance. While this can be limiting for your budget or the horse’s ability, usually minor age issues like special hoof care or joint maintenance won’t break the bank. It will be an extra management aspect and an extra expense, but when a senior horse is the perfect fit, it will be worth your time and money.
  1. Beware of fraud. Unfortunately, there are many ways that people can cheat you when buying a horse. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is by taking a trusted professional with you to look at horses and always getting a vet check done by a veterinarian you trust. Doing both of these things will eliminate much of the guesswork when purchasing a horse for your young beginner.

Alli Kelley is the author of the blog, Longbourn Farm where she tells entertaining stories about country living while making sure her readers get all the important information they need for taking care of their horses and properties. She earned a BS in animal, dairy, and veterinary science and a MS in animal nutrition. Her education and experience give her a qualified and unique teaching style whether she is talking horses, land, or food. You can follow Alli on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. Good kids horses are hard to find, mostly because now days horses are boarded out, not worked with daily by riders, and then usually in just a pen. what happened to farms where horses and ponies were rode daily by kids everywhere, and experienced all kids of objects and animals, and machinery. I guess it was different back then….the good old days.

  2. Horse/pony should be temperment tested before buying. If your not experienced, have someone that is test the horse/pony. Do everything you can think of or have seen happen. i.e. bump there back when swinging into the saddle: Do they stand or jump around. Act like your going under their belly. Do they move, kick or stand like a rock. What happens if when you put the saddle on the stirrup “accidently” winds up underneath the saddle. Think like a kid. The best horse I have bought was a 6yr. old Halflinger/Quarter mare. Slightly green. I’m an experienced rider. On my good days, she’ll test me. On my bad she’s a good girl. Put my very beginner son on her and she doesn’t go faster than a walk. Goes where he says. But stops before walking into a tree, and waits for him to tell her which way to go. Best horse I’ve owned. Take your time finding a horse/pony. Follow your gut.


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