I was wondering if you recommend a certain type of horse for back riding? We have many folks ask about gaited horses. I would love to learn the benefits and struggles with the huge variety of horses we work with for the back riding option. Any advice greatly appreciated.
The most important thing here is that we like always with riding match the horse to the rider. If you are tall and/or used to the large warmblood movement one can get fabulous results. But if you are not quite comfortable/capable of collecting a warmblood it is better to not go for that type of horse. There is just an awful lot of movement to deal with just by riding them and then you add the child to that.
The Iberians are great because they love to live in collection and are easy to collect but they are also sometimes a bit sharp and sensitive for some riders. You have the added incentive of many coming with almost built in Piaffe, Passage and Terre a Terre.
The quarter horse is a fantastic go to horse if you have a changing crew of back riders because once they know a job they will usually be happy to perform that task without asking that many questions of their rider. Some of our most reliable backriding horses have been quarters.
We also have people that are getting fabulous results with cobs and even have a few people working with thoroughbreds, but the TBs are really a specialist case if you want to use TBs for this job.
So this answer might be less helpful than you want it to be but the bottom line is almost every horse can do the job if the rider is able to train the horse for the work.
The easiest go to horse might be the quarter (also of course dependent on the lines).
I personally have not had experience with doing this work with gaited horses but seem to remember some research a while back that showed how good the gaited horses can be because of the type of movement they can offer. I think that was in comparison to leading a horse but I honestly can't remember the details.
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Wow, I know you guys must be extremely busy and truly appreciate you taking the time to answer with such helpful detail.
It is great to see that really, with the right training tools you provide, any horse could be worked and be a partner in this program.
Thank you very much! Quite eye opening!