When do Horses Stop Growing? Life Cycle of a Horse

When Do Horses Stop Growing

Cute Foal In Pasture

On average, a horse stops growing at four to five years old. At two years old, it’s already grown 95% of its total growth. Larger breeds of horses like draft horses can grow until they are 8 years old. Factors that determine horse growth are breed, health, and diet.

After extensive research on the subject, this article has everything you need to know regarding when do horses stop growing. I’ve provided figures on each growth stage in the horses’ life as well.

Once the maximum height is attained within four to eight years depending on the horse, it will grow a bit wider and fill out with more muscle as well. The total growth time for a horse in terms of height, width, muscle, and emotional maturity can be rounded off to eight years old.

A fully grown horse can be 14–17 hands tall. This translates to 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) in height. The weight of a horse is generally 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg) However, the horses’ diet has an impact on these figures as well, for example:

After eight to ten weeks of age, high-quality grain and forage can be fed to a foal to increase the speed and size of its growth. Any horse that receives extra nutrients through high-quality grains and forages throughout its life will grow quicker and bigger than a horse that lives mostly off pasture grass and hay.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 1-Year-Old? “Yearling Stage”

Foal Horse 6

At this young age, your horse has already grown up to 90% of its total height and weight. Yearlings can put on as much as 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of weight per day. This is the quickest growth stage and there isn’t that much growing to do after this. Just slow and steady growth, you’ll probably only notice this growth if you only see the horse seasonally.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 2 Years Old?

At two years old, your yearling now becomes either a colt(male) or filly (female). In my experience horses at this age have usually grown up to 95% of their full adult height so you can expect around 5% additional growth in total after just two more years!

I normally see a 5% increase in growth from years two to five and then a bit of filling out in muscle in years five to eight.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 3 Years Old?

Yearling Horse

Still referred to as colts and fillies, the average additional growth expectation of a 3 year old horse is less than 5% of its current height. On average, the horse will only be growing in height for another one or two years and it won’t be very noticeable.

They will still grow in width and muscle for another three to four years, but not by that much. At this stage, they are usually at least 96% of their total weight and height. This is applicable to most horses, including quarter horses.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 4 Years Old?

At 4 years old, your colt or filly now becomes your stallion (male) or mare (female) Normally a horse will not grow more than five percent of its current height. They will still fill out in width and muscle for a few years, though.

If it’s a Draft horse or Arabian, it can still grow for another two or three years before maxing out on height. Most horses are fully grown in all regards, height, width, and muscle, after seven to eight years.

Height and Weight of Horses at Different Life Stages/Age


Any horse under 1 year of age is referred to as a foal. 

Height: A newborn foal is usually around five to seven hands tall, about half the height of its mother. That’s around 20–28 inches (50cm–71cm) in height. 

Weight: A newborn foal weighs between 76 lbs (34kg) and 108 lb (49kg) normally around 10% of its mothers’ weight. 

Bonus fact: A foal that is still nursing is called a suckling, and a foal that is still being weaned is called a weanling. Most foals have completed the weaning process within four to seven months from birth.


Any horse between 1 and 2 years of age is referred to as a yearling. 

Height: A yearling grows to around thirteen hands tall or 95% of its total expected growth. That’s around 52 inches (132cm) in height. Horses grow most of their height in the yearling stage of their life. Like a child growing from 7 to 17 years old. 

Weight: A fresh yearling weighs around 550 lbs (250 kg) and then can double in growth in that year. The growth rate starts decreasing after this time period. 

Bonus Fact: Yearlings can put on as much as 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of weight per day!


Two Young Colts

A male horse under four years old is referred to as a colt. 

A new colt has already grown to at least 96% of its total size. This is where they will start to fill out with muscle more noticeably. 

Height: A colt is almost fully grown and can be at least 12–15 hands tall. This translates to 48–60 inches (122–152 cm) in height. 

Weight: A new colt at two years of age is at least 750 to 1089 lb (340 to 494 kg)


A female horse under four years of age is referred to as a filly. 

A new filly has already grown to at least 96% of its total size. 

Height: A Filly is normally a bit smaller than a colt but still around 11–14 hands tall. This translates to 44–56 inches (112–142 cm) in height. 

Weight: A new filly at two years of age weighs at least around 675 lb to 980 lb (306 to 445 kg)


A non-castrated male horse four years old and older is referred to as a stallion. 

Height: A stallion is generally considered fully grown in height and is about 14–17 hands tall. This translates to 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) 

Weight: The weight of a stallion is generally 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg)


Female horses four years and older are referred to as mares. 

Height: A mare is generally considered fully grown and is about 13–16 hands tall. This translates to 52–64 inches (132–162 cm) in height. 

Weight: The weight of a mare is at least 756 to 1089 lb (344 to 495kg)


A castrated male horse of any age is referred to as a gelding. 

Height: A gelding is generally considered fully grown and is about 14–17 hands tall. This translates to 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) in height. 

Weight: The weight of a gelding is at least 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg)

A Healthy Diet for a Growing Horse


Foal Horse 2

Suckling – An average suckling foal will consume about 33 pounds (15 kg) of milk daily. After a few days, the young suckling starts following their mothers’ example and nibbles a bit on the grass. This is what we call the start of the weaning process, where the young foal starts learning to eat from the land. 

Weanlings – Weanlings will start to consume 3% of their body weight in dry matter per day, and at this growth stage they are receiving the most important nutrients of their life. Nutrition is of paramount importance, as this is the age when the skeleton is most vulnerable to developing disease or disorders.

Weanlings need a considerable amount of energy in their diet to support their rapid growth. A lack of energy in their diet will stunt their growth and too much energy may cause them to grow unnaturally fast. Both of these scenarios should be avoided. 

Protein – A high-quality protein intake is essential for muscle, ligament, and tissue development. An adequate amount of protein is required each day to ensure a healthy, natural growth pattern. 

Diets that are low in two specific essential amino acids, lysine, and threonine, will stunt the growth rate and decrease the nutritional intake in young, growing horses. Lysine should account for just over 4% of the weanlings’ total protein intake.

Minerals Weanlings require an ample supply of minerals, most importantly calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. These are necessary for proper bone development.

However, supplementing too much or too little must be avoided to prevent developmental orthopedic diseases. I advise working with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to ensure a weanlings’ mineral needs are being met.

Monitor your foal’s growth:

Foal Horse 1

Monitoring the average daily gain, wither height, and hip height can be invaluable in making sure your foal is growing in a healthy fashion. By monitoring these on a weekly basis, you can show your veterinarian the results and changes can be made in the diet accordingly to maintain a level plane of growth.

You will need a horse height and weight measuring tape like this one They are very inexpensive and handy to keep around the barn. When purchasing one, make sure it is easily readable and that the tape measure can be fixed if it begins to wear. A classic tape measure will also work in a pinch.

Osteochondrosis (OCD)

This is the result of defective maturation of cartilage into bone during growth–cartilage that does not ossify properly and doesn’t reach sufficient maturation or strength.

OCD has no specific clinical signs or symptoms and so it may not be apparent even with clinical observation. X-rays are the best way to determine if a horse is suffering from OCD. Although more subtle OCD lesions may still not be apparent. In less severe cases, OCD can heal itself over time.


This is the inflammation of the growth plate. Similar to OCD, a foal may have minor physitis without any obvious clinical signs. Clinical signs that can make it more apparent might include an hourglass appearance of the fetlock joint or a bony ridge above the carpus. If these signs are observed, X-rays will be needed to determine the severity of the physitis.

Cervical compressive myelopathy

This is the compression of the spinal cord due to either instability of the vertebral column or narrowing of the spinal canal. Horses that suffer from this disorder are more commonly referred to as “wobblers”. There are many factors that can cause a horse to become a wobbler, as balance is affected by many different factors.

Angular limb deformities (ALD)

ALD is easier to identify as the limb or limbs do not rest on the normal weight-bearing axis. The limbs may be angled towards or away from the horse’s body. ALD can be present from birth or develop over time.

Flexural limb deformities (FLD)

This is also visually obvious, as you will see the legs of the horse will be partially flexed. This occurs when the functional length of the tendon is not sufficient to maintain the limb in its normal extension. Clinical signs would be an abnormal upright stance and a knuckling at the fetlock.

Club Feet

Club feet have smaller, steeper angles compared to a normal hoof. Club feet can be inherited, due to decreased weight-bearing, the result of injury, or flexural deformities involving the deep digital flexor tendon.

Common causes of DOD

  1. Genetic predisposition
  2. Biomechanical trauma
  3. Stress on bones due to inappropriate exercise or obesity
  4. Abnormal rapid growth
  5. Inappropriate or imbalanced nutrition

When do Thoroughbred, Paint and Quarter Horses Stop Growing?

Quarterhorse Foal And Mare

On average, these horses stop growing in height after four to five years of age. They can grow up to 14–17 hands tall or 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) in height. The weight of a quarter horse is 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg) After five years they will grow in width and muscle for two or three more years and sometimes gain a little extra height as well.

When do Arabian Horses Stop Growing?

With Arabian horses, they grow for a bit longer and usually grow bigger than other horses. Many Arabian horses grow even in height up to the age of eight years. A long time for a big horse.

When do Miniature Horses Stop Growing?

Miniature horses can be fully grown within one to two years! I suppose they don’t have much growing to do so it’s pretty quick.

What’s the Biggest Horse in the World?

Big Jake the Belgian Gelding horse has earned worldwide fame for his extraordinary height. Standing (without shoes) at a majestic 20 hands 2.75 inches (210.19 cm), he officially became the Tallest horse living when measured on 19 January 2010 until his death in June of 2021.

What’s the Smallest Horse in the World?

Thumbelina (born May 1, 2001) is a dwarf miniature horse and the world’s smallest horse. She stands 17 inches (43 cm) tall and weighs 57 lb (26 kg), and received the title of world’s smallest from Guinness World Records.

A Table of 19 Horses With Full Growth Ages

Different Breeds Years to Full Height Growth 
QuarterhorsesFour to Five Years 
Thoroughbred Horses Four to Five Years 
Paint Horses Four to Five Years 
Tennessee Walker Six to Eight Years
Morgan Four to Five Years 
Appaloosa Four to Five Years 
Miniature Horse One To Three Years
Warmblood  Four to Five Years 
Andalusian  Four to Five Years 
Hackney  Four to Five Years 
Belgian Draft HorseSix to Eight 
Shetland Pony One To Three Years
Gypsy Vanner Four to Five Years 
Friesian Five to Eight Years 
Clydesdale Four to Five Years 
Haflinger Four to Five Years 
Paso Fino Four to Five Years 
Arabian Horses Five to Eight Years 
Welsh Pony One to Three Years 

Wrapping It All Up

When do horses stop growing? A horse’s growth is determined by many different factors that will affect the lifespan of a horse. Horses can grow in height for four to five years and then after that they tend to gain weight or width for two or three more years before stopping their growth altogether.

The 14 Largest Horse Breeds In The World

14 Largest Horse Breeds In The Wor

What is the largest horse breed in the world? The answer may surprise you. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the 14 largest horse breeds in the world. We’ll talk about their origins, how they are used, and other interesting facts about these amazing horses!

Shire Horse

Large Shire Horse

The largest horse breed in the world is actually a bit of a surprise! The shire horse comes from England, and was bred as an all-purpose farm animal. They were used for plowing fields, moving heavy objects around the farm, and pulling carriages on their knees.

The size and dimension of this horse making them ideal for farm work rather than battlefront conditions. Today these horses are raised mainly for show despite still being incredibly strong and powerful creatures with high endurance levels compared to similar breeds like Clydesdales or Belgians.

The largest Shire horse on record weighed in at a whopping 2660 pounds! These horses stand anywhere from 16-17 hands tall, and can weigh up to 2000 kilograms (or almost half a ton).

Their coloring is usually bay, black, or brown, but they can also be grey.

The breed was also used for military purposes throughout the 1800s, but because of their gentle nature they were more popular as carriage pulling animals than actual warhorses. They were known by other names such as “Beef Steak” during this time period due to their sheer size and power.

There are still many farms that raise Shire horses in the UK and other parts of Europe, but they aren’t as popular or common as breeds like Clydesdales and Belgians.

This breed is known for having a very calm temperament, which makes them perfect family pets! Shires also have an incredibly long lifespan – some can live up to 50 years old!


Large Clydesdale

Clydesdales were bred to do heavy work, and today they still have the strength to live up to their name. They were originally bred in Clydesdale, Scotland but are now more popular in America than anywhere else.

The largest horse show for them is held annually at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, WI which attracts over 20,000 visitors each year!

The size and dimension of this horse breed are very impressive. Clydesdale horses stand at least 16 hands tall, which is equivalent to 64 inches or 164 centimeters! Clydesdale coloring is usually bay, black, or chestnut.

Clydesdale coloring is usually bay, black, or chestnut.

Today their largest fan base can be found in America where they participate as show horses and parade animals during holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day.

They are also very popular in the beer industry because of their calm temperaments which allow them to calmly lead tourists on tours at breweries!

One surprising fact about these gentle giants is that many people think all Clydesdales are gray but there’s actually no such thing as a true ‘gray’ horse.

The color comes from the presence of black skin underlying white hair; any dark-colored gene will work with this condition (called melanism). Many times you’ll see coat colors such as bay, black or brown in Clydesdales.

A Clydesdales Life span is about 20 years.

Clydesdales live in over 30 countries and can be found all around the world! If you love big, gentle horses with a sense of calm temperament then this is definitely the breed for you!


Percheron Horse

Percherons were originally bred in France and were used to pull heavy wagons and carriages. They are commonly known as the ‘king of draft horses’ because they have so much potential for hard work!

Percherons size is impressive! They stand at least 17 hands tall, which is equivalent to 68 inches or 173 centimeters and sometimes even taller and can weigh up to 2600 pounds! They are excellent at pulling and can pull about three times their body weight.

Percheron coloring is usually black, grey or bay.

Their largest fan base is found in America where they participate heavily as show horses. They are also are used as parade horses during events like Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Percherons perform well at shows because of their calm temperament which makes them ideal for parades, weddings, or any other situation where they would be expected to stand for long periods of time.

Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft Horse

Belgian Draft horses are known for their impressive size and imposing presence! They are commonly used as farm horses because of the hard work they can do.

Belgian Drafts stand at least 17 hands tall, which is equivalent to 68 inches or 173 centimeters and sometimes even taller. They can weigh up to 2000 pounds.

A typical Belgian Drafts life span is about 20 years. The majority of Belgian Drafts are a chestnut color with Flaxen mane and tails.

Belgian drafts have great temperaments so they are perfect for parades, weddings or any other situation where you would expect them to stand still for long periods of time.

They were originally bred from Flanders draft horse bloodlines but today there are many different types including crosses between Percherons and Clydesdales!

The largest breed show in the world is held every year at the Wisconsin State Fair Park and it attracts over 20,000 visitors each year! If you’re looking for a powerful work horse then look no further than this majestic animal!

Dutch Draft

Dutch Draft Horse

Dutch Draft horses are thought to be one of the largest horse breeds in the world. They are very strong and have a calm temperament, making them ideal for pulling large loads or other farm work. The Dutch Draft horse is also known as an “English Shire Horse.”

Possibly originated from Friesland, North Holland around 1000 AD where people bred horses with shaggy coats that were big boned but not heavily muscled.

These draft horses were used by farmers during planting season since they could pull great weights without tiring quickly. As time went on, the breed became even larger until they reached their present-day size!

Dutch Draft horses can reach up to 16 hands in height and weigh up to 1700 pounds. Their life span is about 20 years. Their coloring is gray, bay or at times black

If you love big gentle horses with a sense of calm temperament then this breed might be right up your alley!

Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch Horse

Suffolk Punches were originally bred in Great Britain and are very calm horses that make fantastic farm animals.

They stand at least 17 hands tall and they can weight up to 2100 pounds making them one of the largest horse breeds around today and can live up to 25 years! Their coat is primarily Chestnut with 7 recognized shades.

They are one of the strongest horse breeds in the world and are also very intelligent!

They are used for farming purposes but have also gained popularity as show horses. They tend to be “head strong” which means they can get easily distracted.

They are very powerful and can be hard to handle because of their strong temperament but if you’re looking for a horse that is calm, intelligent, and great with farm work then this might be the perfect horse for you.

Australian Draught

Australian Draught Horse

The Australian Draught country of origin is not known because it is a blend of many different breeds including the Shire, Clydesdale and Suffolk Punch, and Suffolk Punch.

This breed was originally used as an all-around farm horse but has now gained popularity as a show horse in Australia!

They stand at least 16 – 17 hands tall and can weigh up to 1900 pounds. Their coloring can be Black, White, Brown,or Gray. They have long necks that lead into a sloped shoulder making them very muscular looking horses! Their lifespan is about 20 years.

This horse is very calm and easy to handle which makes it great for farm work but they are also used in shows due to their intelligence and athleticism.

If you’re looking for a powerful workhorse then this might be the perfect animal for you since they are strong, intelligent, and obedient! Plus their size makes them ideal for pulling heavy carts around your property without tiring too easily.


Boulonnais Horse

Boulonnais horses are very powerful and can weight up to 1800 lbs. This breed is also known as the largest horse in France! Known as the White Marble Horse, this horse has a very muscular body, short legs with dense bone structure. They can measure between 15 and 16 hands.

The Boulonnais was used as a war-horse during battles throughout history dating back to ancient Rome and Greece where it is believed they were bred.

They are very strong and muscular which makes them great horse for pulling heavy objects around your property but they also tend to be headstrong making it difficult to handle.

If you’re looking for a powerful animal that is easy going then this might not the right breed for you! But if you can appreciate an intelligent, hardworking, large horse with a muscular body then this might be the perfect horse for you!


Jutland Horse

The Jutland was originally bred in Denmark over 2000 years ago but quickly gained popularity throughout Europe during the Middle Ages because of their strength and intelligence. They were highly sought after by people who needed horses to pull carts through cities or on farms.

Jutland horses are very strong and can be used as a work horse due to their ability to pull great weights. They stand at least 16 hands tall and can weigh between 1400 and 1800 pounds.

They have a short neck that leads into a straight shoulder and are known for their power and strength. They can live up to 25 years if taken care of properly.

If you love big gentle horses with a sense of calm temperament then this breed might be right up your alley! This large animal will surely turn heads wherever he goes due to his impressive size and friendly personality.

Russian Heavy Draft

Russian Heavy Draft Horse

The Russian Heavy Draft is one of the largest horse breeds in the world! They can stand to 15 hands tall which is equivalent to 59 inches or 152 centimeters and can weigh between 1100 to 1500 pounds. They can live up to 30 years!

Selective breeding during the later half of the 1800’s at the Petrovsky Agricultural and Forestry Academy in Moscow led to the creation of this breed.

Their coloring tends to range from chestnut brown to dark bay, and they are known for their thick dense manes.

They have a deep, broad chest that leads into short legs with dense bone structure making them very muscular looking horses! They are known for their intelligence and willingness to work which makes them great for farm work but also can be used in pulling heavy objects around your property without getting tired easily.

Lithuanian Heavy Draught

Lithuanian Heavy Draught Horse

The Lithuanian Heavy Draught Horse is another of the largest horse breeds in the world! In the late 1900’s the Lithuanian Heavy Draught was developed by breeding Zhmud mares with Percheron, Brabant, and Ardennes.

They are very muscular with a large head and short legs making them stand at least 16 hands tall.

Their weight can range from 1100 pounds all the way up to 2000 pounds depending on their build! Their coloring can be Black, Bay, Gray, and Chestnut.

These horses are very powerful and can be used for farm work or pulling carts because of their strength. They have a thick dense mane, short legs with strong bone structure which makes them look muscular!

American Cream Draft

American Cream Draft Horse

The American Cream Draft Horse is an American breed of horse that was originally bred for use in the logging industry. The horse’s origins are traced back to the Welsh Cobs, which were brought to New England during the colonial era. Ever since, they have been used by farmers for general work purposes and by loggers to haul logs.

The height of an American Cream Draft Horse is approximately 16.2 hands at the withers. They can weigh up to 1800 pounds. Their coloring is an unusual but beautiful cream color known as Gold champagne.

This unique coloring is the result of the champagne gene mixing with the Chestnut coat. The diluted color is produced by the champagne gene which causes the gold champagne color of the body including light skin and eyes. The mane ends up an ivory color.

This breed was created in the early 20th century and are mild mannered which is great for those owners new to handling large draft horses.


Friesian Horse

The Friesian horse is one of the largest equine breeds, historically used for heavy farm work. They were first produced in the Netherlands, and their largest population of purebreds can be found there today.

The horses are commonly black or dark brown, but sometimes they are chestnut, bay, gray, dun, palomino or cremello. The largest horse of this breed stands at 17 hands and can weigh up to 1500 pounds.

They have short legs, a well-muscled body that is broad and deep with powerful shoulders making them very attractive animals!

These horses are used for a variety of purposes including as a war horse or for leisure activities and have been used for centuries as an important asset to farmers who need them to pull heavy carts, plow fields, and take part in other activities that require strength.

They are known to be intelligent which makes them great horses for those who want to take part in dressage due to their ability to learn quickly and willingness to work.

Comtois Horse

Comtois Horse

The Comtois breed originated in the Jura Mountains along the French and Swiss border. They are a heavy horse standing between 14 and 16 hands and can weigh upwards of 1700 pounds. Thier coloring can be Black, chestnut, bay, black silver, or bay silver.

They are an older breed of horse believed to have descended from horses brought over in the 6th century by the Burgundians who were an early German tribe. During the middle ages they were used as war horses.

Comtois horses have big heads, straight necks and very muscular backs with a deep wide chest. They can pull very heavy loads with their beefed up legs and powerful backs and shoulders.

Today Comtois Horses are the most numerous heavy horse breed in France used primarily for draft and farm work. They are known to be a calm, easy going breed that loves children.

Biggest Horses In History

Big Jake

Big Jake Worlds Tallest Horse

Now that we’ve looked at some of the largest breeds of horse in the world, let’s talk about horses with a big history!

One example is Big Jake. He was recognized as the largest living horse in the world, standing 20 hands tall and weighing nearly 2600b pounds until his death in 2021. Big Jake was born to normal sized parents which makes his size even more impressive since it’s rare for a draft horse to be over 17 hands tall. He resided at Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette WI

Big Jake broke the world record for tallest living horse back in 2010 and held that record until his death in June 2021


Sampson was a gelded Shire Horse that was born in Bedfordshire, England in 1846 and stood 21.25 hands tall, and having an estimated weight of more than 3300 pounds! He is the largest horse ever recorded. He is considered to be the largest horse that ever lived.

One Big Thing

As you can see, there are many different types of large horse breeds. Some of the most popular ones include Clydesdales and Shires which were used for pulling carriages or heavy loads in Europe, as well as Australian horses that have been bred to be strong enough to carry smaller animals on their backs over long distances. Which type of large horse do you prefer? Weigh in with your thoughts below!

Finding The Perfect Horse Riding Discipline

Perfect Horse Riding Discipline Featured
English Horse Rider

There are countless disciplines within the equestrian world. Even though every discipline involves horses, each discipline differs in many ways. Some disciplines are more expensive, more popular, and more intense than others. With so many options to choose from, how are you able to find the perfect discipline for you? Check out what each discipline entails in order to pick the perfect horse riding discipline for you!


In order to choose which discipline is best for you, you have to decide whether you are more interested in an English or Western style of riding. Within English and Western riding styles, there are multiple disciplines to choose between. Some of these disciplines focus on speed, others focus on position, and some purely focus on the horse! In order to decide which discipline you would like to focus on, figure out what you would like to work on as an equestrian.



Dressage is one of the most common disciplines in the English style of riding. Dressage focuses purely on flatwork and how you and your horse can maneuver as a team. This discipline does not focus on speed but rather focuses on footwork, strength, and how well you are able to ride your horse through a series of movements.

Dressage is scored based on how calm, collected, and effortless your movements look. If you are looking for a discipline where you are able to focus on position, movement, and poise then dressage may be the perfect discipline for you!


Showjumping is another common discipline within the English riding community. This riding discipline focuses on speed, agility, and technique. Just like the name says, show jumping involves jumping! This discipline is judged on how fast a rider and horse are able to jump a course without knocking rails or going over the time allowed.

Though this discipline seems simple and straightforward, a lot of technique is involved in order to get through these unpredictable courses! If you are looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush within riding, then this discipline may be for you.


Hunter jumper is similar to showjumping with a few differences in scoring. Though you are still jumping while doing this discipline, it is scored on the horses’ movements, how the horse jumps, and if each line is correct. Hunter jumper is not scored on how fast your horse completes the course, but rather on how correctly your horse moves and jumps.

Hunter jumper also has a “hunter under saddle” option in which all the classes focus on flatwork. This discipline is a great option for someone who is looking for the adrenaline of jumping but also wants to focus on correctness and looking pretty!


Eventing is the ultimate English discipline! This discipline of riding contains three events including dressage, cross country, and showjumping. Though dressage and showjumping can be done as separate disciplines, cross country is specific to eventing.

Eventers are known as the adrenaline junkies of the equestrian world, as this discipline is arguably one of the most dangerous. Since cross country contains jumps that are on uneven terrain and the jumps are solid, it can be quite intimidating to compete.  Eventing has three separate events to show off your horses’ diversity in discipline. So if you are looking for an adrenaline rush, look into eventing!


Western Horseback Riding

Western Pleasure

Western pleasure is a slow and steady discipline in the equestrian world. This discipline is judged on how calm and collected you and your horse are in the show ring. Though this discipline may look easy, it takes quite a bit of technique to keep your horse calm and responsive! This is a great discipline for someone looking to stay slow and focus on equitation and how the horse moves.

Barrel Racing

Barrel racing sounds just like its name! In the discipline of barrel racing you complete a clover pattern as fast as you can on your horse. Barrel racing usually is combined with other Western speed events such as pole bending. This discipline is judged on how fast you are able to complete the patterns given. This discipline is a great option for those looking for an adrenaline rush!


Reining is a fun Western discipline that entails different fast-paced maneuvers such as sliding stops and turns. This discipline is judged by how well these maneuvers are done. Reining is one of the largest Western disciplines and is a discipline that would suit someone who would like to focus on technique and speed!

Which Horse Riding Discipline Is Right For Me?

This question is difficult to answer since every equestrian is different and has different goals for their riding. This is only a short list of the available disciplines out there! Think about which style of riding is near you, which style interests you most, and what you want as a rider!

What Is The Best Horse Riding Style For You?

Best Horse Riding Style
Best Horse Riding Style

Are you thinking about horse riding for the first time and are a bit nervous about it? It’s natural to be nervous when riding a large animal for the first time. Most people interested in horse riding often inquire about the best horse riding style.  Horseback riding is often split between Western and English riding as the most common types of riding styles.

These two styles are influenced by their origin and are differentiated by the characteristics and equipment. In all of these styles, the rider is supposed to sit straight without leaning forward or backward.

However, the two styles differ in the sense that the saddle in Western-style is larger than that of an English saddle, which helps the rider when engaging in the jumping events. The larger saddle is crucial in horse riding to balance the rider’s weight and make it ideal and comfortable for longer trails. Western Riding Style


Western Riding Style

Western riding has evolved from day to day work on ranches into a group of competitive exercises. The riding style shows athleticism, diligence, and connection between the horse and a rider. Most of the riding types are easier for cow-herding horses and are characterized by a wider saddle and neck reins. There are several events and activities associated with the western riding that differentiates it from the English riding. The activities include barrel racing, western pleasure, reining, roping, and cutting, among others.

Western pleasure

Western Pleasure Riding

Western pleasure is an event in the Western riding style where horses compete in a group by performing several activities and awarded points by the judge. This means the horses compete against each other while judged for their appearances, movement, and style. Western pleasure finds its name from a requirement that a horseman finds pleasure riding the horse. This means the horse should be quiet, soft, and responsive to the rider’s cues during the activity. A smooth, cadenced, and balanced ride is given preference over speed.


Reining Horse Riding Style

In western riding, reining is equal to dressage of the English riding style. This event is described by a rider controlling and guiding a horse through several movements and patterns involving turns, spins, and circles. This event is different from western pleasure as it involves the crowd applauding every good move by the horse instead of being quiet. The judges determine the winner based on how well the horse submits to the rider and its accuracy in the spins.

Cutting and penning

Caddle Cutting

Cutting is an event that highlights the cow sense where a rider and his horse are supposed to prevent a single cow from rejoining its herd. The event starts by isolating a cow from a herd and steering it away from the group. The horse then has to prevent it from moving back for a certain period by anticipating where it will go and moving in that direction. As such, the horse will have to move quickly left and right to block the escape. It takes a particular horse to participate in cutting events, which means not all horses can compete.

Roping events

Calf Roping

This is a western riding style event described by a rider trying to tie a rope around a steer’s horn while riding the horse. It requires a rider to throw the lasso at a steer while riding at high speed and bring it to immediate stop without following over. The horseman then dismounts and ties three legs together in the shortest time possible. The winner of this event is the rider who stops his steer and ties its legs with a rope in the shortest amount of time than the other contestants

Barrel racing

Barrel Racing

This is another western riding style event that involves a rider and his horse entering an arena at high speed and completing a cloverleaf type pattern around 3 barrels placed along the route. The event is characterized by the horse, making tight and swiftly turns around barrels without knocking them over or cutting in too close. Penalties are awarded whenever the horse knocks a barrel, and the rider will lose points. In essence, barrel racing is judged based on the horse speed and its accuracy in avoiding the barrels.

ranch riding

Ranch riding is an event in horse riding where the horse performs optional and required maneuvers willingly and smoothly while responding to cues from the rider. The horse needs to show it can perform while outside the confines of a ring. The judges will look for the smooth execution when the horse transits between gaits to ensure it maintains the correct pace between maneuvers. The required movements are walking, jogging, and lopping in both directions. The optional maneuvers can include walking, jogging, or loping over poles.  Change of lead, side pass, or other maneuvers that a horse might perform in a working environment.

Trail riding

Trail riding is another Western event that involves horses having to separately work through obstacles and judged based on their ability to ride the trails without penalties; For example, the horses will be working through gates and several pole patterns, with the win based on their success to reverse the trail. The idea of trail riding is for the horses to successfully go through the obstacles as found on the trail. The judgment criteria for this event are based on how well the horse obeys commands and whether it is willing to complete the tasks.

Larger sanctioned shows often have strict guidelines on the types of obstacles used, the time given to complete each obstacle, and the gates used while riding.  Local shows tend to have less strict rules governing the obstacles, but can be far more imaginative in the types of obstacles required during the event.

Endurance riding

Endurance is a component of Western riding style where horses are supposed to compete with each other over a distance of 50 to 100 miles in a day. Before each ride, the horse is checked over by a veterinarian to make sure they are ready to go on the ride. The trails are marked for halts and natural obstacles found along the trail.

Each ride is divided into sections where the animal is checked over to make sure they are in good shape to continue the ride. The horse is then watered and fed before resting up to 60 minutes. After this time has elapsed they are allowed to continue.

Riders really need to know their horses’ limitations and stamina during these rides. At any time the rider can walk with the horse to lessen the burden if the horse is fatiguing. There is no penalty to do this.

The first horse that crosses the finish line and is checked over and found healthy is declared the winner of the event.


This is an event that requires a horse with agility, speed, and showing obedience to the rider. The horses are not judged on their appearance and quality, which means any horse can be trained to participate in the gymkhana. In the United States, gymkhana includes several events such as pole bending, barrel racing, and lag races.

English Riding Style

English riding style is more structured compared to the Western-style and adds more pomp to the events. The significant characteristics of English riding are jumping techniques and high stepping styles. However, the method also involves switching up arenas, obstacles, and expectations. There are several activities for the English rider that includes eventing, dressage, showjumping, polo, English pleasure Hunt Seat, and saddle seat.


English Eventing

Eventing is a competition that resembles an equine triathlon combining show jumping, cross-country jumping, and dressage. It is called combined training, where the horse is judged based on its stamina, agility, and how well it obeys the rider’s instruction. The event is often held over three days and has origins in the Olympics.  In this event, any horse can participate and is the only Olympic sport where men and women can compete against each other.

Any breed of horse can compete, but at the higher levels, Thoroughbreds are most often used at the higher level events due to their supreme stamina and athletic ability.

The horse and rider need to really be in sync with each other and the horse needs to be quiet and confident in its abilities.  Serious injuries have occurred during these events when horses became spooked or didn’t handle certain obstacles well causing the rider to be thrown, or the horse to fall and be injured.

English Pleasure

English Pleasure

English pleasure is an event where the horses perform as a group and judge on their performance, quality, and an impression of being a pleasure to ride. Horses that take part in this even should exhibit obedience, impeccable manners, and suitability to a pleasure riding. The horse should also transit from one gait to another in a smooth, quick, and effortless way. The judges also look for horses that obey a rider’s cues and one that can stand quietly and back readily in the line-up.



Dressage refers to the art of horse riding, including the theories of horse obedience and precision of movement. In English riding style, the dressage event involves horses going through shifts, circles, and lines while changing pace and direction until they win with the most points. On some occasions, the horses will be required to extend their gait or perform lateral movements in order to win. Judges will award points based on the accuracy of horses during shifts and how well they submit to the help from riders. At the same time, the horses are judged based on their straightness and correctness when going through the patterns. The audience is often required to hold their applause until the end to avoid spooking the horses.

Saddle seat

Saddle Seat

This is a style of horse riding that involves showing off the high action of horses. The goal of this event is to show off the extravagant gaits of a horse, such as a trot. Riders are expected to sit well back in the saddle while carrying their hands higher than in other disciplines. The horses have to be smooth and comfortable enough for hours of riding and the rider must make the ride appear to be effortless.

Hunt Seat

Hunt Seat

In English riding style, hunting is an event that involves a group of competing horses performing gait and direction change over fences or on a flat area. The horse is judged based on how well it obeys and submits to instructions, how well they can maintain an even head carriage, as well as a horse’s ability to race quietly. Style is essential in hunter classes, and the horse will be judged on how its form while jumping the fence.

Horses may be any breed with the requirements of having a long stride and little knee action. Being quiet with the ability to listen to the rider is key for a hunt seat horse.


Show Jumping

Showjumping is where a horse and rider work around a combination of fences of differing heights while being timed. Hitting and dropping a rail results in a time penalty. The course used in completion varies depending on the level of competition.

Cross Country

This is a horse riding endurance test that involves horses jumping over several obstacles over a long course. It is one of the longest horse riding races that require a well-built horse. In this event, riders are penalized whenever they exceed the time period or when horses fail to clear all hurdles. The winner of the event is the team that completes the course with the least amount of penalties. The lowest score is then the winner



Polo is a game played between two teams of four players each using mallets to drive wooden balls down a grass field and between goalposts. Each rider wears helmets, colored team shirts, riding boots, and white pants. For further protection, riders can attach facemask on helmets and wear gloves.

Wrapping It Up

Each riding style has plenty of options to choose from.  Pick one that best fits your personality and most importantly, the personality of your horse. You may decide to compete or just be a casual rider. No matter what riding style you choose you’ll be developing a bond between you and horse that is both fulfilling and rewarding for life.

The Most Important Riding Aid

Riding Aid Featured
Riding Posture

Have you ever been to a 4h show and see a young rider passing the judge’s stand trying to pull her horse over to it as she passed trying to “stay on the rail”? The horse’s neck is bent toward the stand but the rear drifts away. Wonder why?

It is because the reins and legs are for fine-tuning communication and the ride/s weight is what the horse actually understands as the main avenue of communication. So many do not realize the importance of the ride/s weight as an aid. Of course, there are well balanced natural riders who ride relatively effortlessly not giving balance a thought. But, so many struggle, not understanding why their horse is naughty or what they are doing wrong.

A horse seeks to work under a balanced load. It is its survival instinct. If a horse is carrying an unbalanced load for a long period of time, it can lead to muscle injury, saddle sores, tripping, interfering, etc if the load is heavy enough. Once carrying a load, the horse has no way to fix it himself. But he will try to “get under” it by drifting toward the heavier side just as someone carrying a heavy backpack might try to jostle the heavy side over a bit.

Riders not understanding this will correct with the rein or worse, instead of correcting themselves. Some horses learn to put up with unjust corrections but frustration can build with horse and rider over this misunderstanding.

Lots of us have physiological reasons for imbalances: Scoliosis, or bad habits in posture, legs of different lengths…

I would like to show you how to understand your balance, what your horse feels you to be saying with it and how to use it for better communication with him.

Maybe you have seen videos of Stacey Westfall on Youtube. lf not, please go and look at some of them. Ms. Westfall rides bridle-less better than most ride, period. It’s not magic, although it might appear to be. It’s her balance and weight that she and others like her have perfected!

The good news is that your horse can tell you what your weight is saying if you give him a chance. Riding is truly a communication.

Think about riding a bicycle. You are riding along and then make a sharp left turn. Pedaling along, you, lean left, putting weight onto the right side of your bike seat. That keeps you from falling over to the left! lt is a natural thing to do if you know how to ride a bike.

But in riding a horse, leaning into a turn like this will tell the horse to make a hard right; the opposite of what you want.

Similarly, when a horse spooks to the left, some beginners naturally put weight into their right stirrup to keep their balance which says to a horse “Yes, you are right! lt lS spooky! Go left MORE!”

There is an easy way for riders to feel and understand this concept. All you need is a hard wooden kitchen chair or even a folding metal chair.

Sit up on the edge of the chair with your feet on the outsides of the chair’s legs. Let your knees drop, let your heels rise. Can you feel the chair’s legs with your ankles/heels? Pretend you are being lifted a little by a line attached to the crown of your head, let your chin relax and drop and let everything else relax as much as you can. “Line lifts”, everything else relaxes.

Now, feel for your seat bones, there are two of them. lf you can’t find them, scootch a bit more towards the front of the chair and reposition.

Got them? Do they feel the same? Do you feel one more than the other?

lf you feel one more than the other so does your horse. Experiment by bringing one shoulder back, then the other to try to make seat bones feel equal. Try not to tense up or use your legs at this point. You are working on FEEL. You might also try to rock your pelvis slightly (hip bones forward and back), feeling for your seat bones.

A balanced weight is what you want but for some, this may come later.

Let the weight of your belly drop into the floor of your pelvis and then aim your belly button slightly to the left. Then, slightly to the right without using any other tension elsewhere. Feel if anything happens with your seat.

The important thing with these exercises is to be aware of your body without the stress of controlling a horse at the same time.

Back to your position on the chair; sitting on the edge, knees dropped and relaxed with heels raised and relaxed on the outside of the chair legs, sitting up…Push your right ankle against the right leg of the chair. This simulates a request for your horse to move left. What do you feel? Your right seat bone rises. You are not actually PUSHING your horse over to the left. You are asking your horse to go left by weighting your left seat bone thus raising your right seat bone, not by leaning or losing your balance.

Girl Riding Horse English Style

There is no way that you can physically push your horse over while sitting on him. But he can feel the weight of your seat directly and respond to it. Sometimes a rider does not understand what her body is saying with all its parts but the horse responds anyway. The rider may then correct the horse but that is impolite. She should learn to correct what SHE is saying if the horse does not do what the rider THINKS she is saying. Feel your body off the horse to learn some of what you need to know.

Now, back to the chair seat. Relax your right ankle and push your left ankle into the left chair leg, Feel your weight going into your right seat bone? Make sense? lt does to your horse too.

Tension in other areas can lift your seat bones too. Tense your right thigh or buttock. Feel. Put a little weight into your right foot. Feel (This is like weighting a stirrup, even if not thinking about it.) Fearful riders have all sorts of tension they are not aware of. Riders nervous about going into an important show?

Experiment and feel. Feel your seat bones. Turn your head slowly, left and then right and feel.

Did you know that each of your arms weigh about eight pounds each? Tension and misplacement of them can confuse communication too. A good thing to learn is to “keep your elbows” at your hips. Relaxing your arms, elbows at a 45 degree angle. You might hug your hips with your elbows.

To find out why, stand up and stride about the room with your elbows there at your hips, like you are holding two reins. Stride around. Now look down at your hands as you stride around again. Are they moving? Left and right, some forward and back motion, following the movement of your hips? This is useful at the walk and the canter because as your seat and legs (therefore your hips) follow the movements of the horse, so will your hands move and they will go with the motion of the horse’s head from there. No interfering. A lot of unnecessary movement of the hands can be distracting from the job at hand, just as kids bickering in the background can be distracting from a phone call.

At the trot, you will open your elbows away from your hips a bit to allow for posting and a slightly different motion than the head.

You also want a heavy seat, in general. Try this: go over to a kitchen counter, put fingers under the edge, palms up. Now pretend you plan to lift the counter off the cabinet. No, you won’t do this but prepare. Your knees are bent a bit, your back straightens and your weight goes into the floor of your pelvis. You don’t want to strain, just feel the start of these feelings.

There is more to riding but these are things you can try to start improving communication a bit while you don’t even have a horse to ride.

Is Your Horse A Liability, A Luxury, Or Part Of The Family?

Is Your Horse A Liability

I was at a high end show and training facility doing farrier work when a person stopped to watch. He said, “Wow, how can I make money on horses?” The owner of the horse asked “Do you own a horse?” The guy said “No”. Owner replied “You have made as much money as you’ll ever make on a horse.”

So what is your horse? An expensive hobby. A pet. An interest to a child. A way to make a living. A needed work animal, or a part of our life? Most of us are in the class that says their horse is a part of their life so we just keep paying.

Your Horse Depends On You For Everthing

If we are lucky enough to have our own facility, we can enjoy going for a ride, spending time grooming and doing the necessary care that horses need. Once they are in our life they cannot take care of themselves as a wild horse can so they are dependent upon us for everything.

If they live on our property we no longer can run off for a long weekend or a week vacation without someone to take the responsibility to come and care for them. It is not all that easy to find that someone who will take care of your animals as well as you do.

If your horse is part of your free time as in shows, trail rides and camping trips, we take the responsibility of calling the vet for health checks, keeping your horse up to date on shots. The farrier is scheduled for the year and proper food essentials are taken care of. Thats everyday and year round.

Horse Stable

You Can Get A Little Help For - For A Price

The other way to keep your horse is at a boarding stable. You should still be responsible for your horses needs but for most of their care you depend on the people working at the facility. You can plan other things in your life knowing that your horse will be taken care of.

The stable would provide the feed schedules, call the vet if necessary and the farrier for footwork. They also usually have the equipment to haul your horse for you. Your part is the money to provide all these services for you and your horse. Either way the cost is substantial.

A Horse Really Is Part Of The Family

For a family, horses are a good thing. They teach our children the responsibility of caring for something and they learn the enjoyment that horses and riding can be in their lives. You have a horse under you with powerful muscles and a mind of its own for you to learn to control to your way. Not always easy, sometimes hurtful but always beautiful memories for the whole family.

So…Asset?…Liability?…Luxury? You decide…

Kids Petting A Horse

What Are The Health Benefits Of Horseback Riding?

Girl Hugging A Quarter Horse

It’s a beautiful day outside. You’re in the fitness center working out like crazy to keep those pounds off. Or maybe you’re working up a sweat running down the road. Have you ever seen a runner that didn’t look like they were in pain??

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE BETTER?  I know, how about saddling up a horse, finding a nice trail, enjoying the great outdoors and toning up those muscles?  Have you ever seen a cowboy that wasn’t lean? How about a Dressage rider or an Eventer?

Horsback Riding - The Whole Body Workout

The benefits of horseback riding are numerous and you’ll soon find your body craving the overall workout of a good ride.

“Horseback riding really works the core muscles that stabilize the trunk; the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles.” “It’s not just about the strength of the core, but the coordination and stability of it as well. The more you ride, the more the body learns to move with the horse.”

(Alison Stout, DO)

Horseback riding is a great way to exercise different parts of the body. It can be challenging and calming and a great confidence builder and at the same time a great stress reliever.

There are of course the passengers riders – riders who get on a horse just to travel. They show no effort and it is the horse who does all the work A rider rides a horse…posting trots, sitting trots along with a nice lope or hand gallop. Being just a passenger rider will not help you lose that weight or develop the core muscles you seek.

Health Benefits Of Horseback Riding

Benefits Of Horseback Riding Offers:

But Wait - There's More!

An additional bonus to riding is working in the barn and taking care of a horse. Lifting bags of feed, hauling hay, shoveling, and walking horses in and out of a barn are not light tasks. These activities require a fair amount of strength and endurance.

Add getting your horse ready to ride, saddling up and lunging for a while to loosen up. Don’t forget rubbing your horse down after a ride. Putting equipment away and picking out the stall. I’m leaving out the good part…the camaraderie of spending time with your horse with all its hugs and nuzzles.

Riding Horses To Stay In Shape

Here is a study on calories burned riding a horse and that doesn’t include the before and after activity.

And all the while enjoying one of life’s great experiences.  How could you even think of a better way to lose weight and stay in condition?

Think Your Child Is Ready To Own A Horse? – Let’s Discuss

Child is Ready To Own A Horse

So the time has come and you feel you child is ready to own a horse.  Let’s take a moment to go over a few questions that will help gauge whether your child is ready, or should wait a little bit.

Starting Out With The Basics

Has your child taken riding lessons, been raised around horses or worked around horses in the past?

If the answers to the above are NO then finding a good riding instructor is the first step and the most important one.  Ask horse owners in your area who is a reputable riding instructor giving lessons and start your child’s path to horsemanship there.  Make sure your child has a real interest in riding and not just a passing fancy.  There is a lot more to horses than just riding.

My reasoning for lessons and not buying a horse first is simple….MONEY!  Good riding lessons not only teach your child how to ride but, prepare them to take care of a horse.  Depending on your area lessons run about $35.00 an hour.  That’s $140.00 a month.  Compare that to the cost of a horse (more on that later) plus board of say $350.00 or more a month.  Add in vet bills, farrier bills, and any other expense not included with board and the cost of lessons is your best option.

Horse Ownership For Children

Always Think Safety First

BIG ONE “SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY“.  Your child’s safety is first and foremost.  I have, as a trainer and a farrier, had the opportunity to work and ride some of the very best horses and some of the worst horses and many in between.  I know many horse lovers would beat me with a wet noodle when I tell you there isn’t a horse born that can’t hurt your child.  Maybe not intentionally but….

I recently saw on Facebook a picture of a child maybe 3 years old leading a nice gentle horse on a snowy, icy lane. Looked so sweet. Quickly my horse mind clicked in and I thought WOW, what if that horse slips on the ice or snow.  Scrambling to catch its footing the child is caught under the horse’s feet or worse under the horse.  So much for the pretty picture.

Child Proof Horse? Think Again

I have had so called “child proof” horses spin and kick with both hind feet as I hit the ground instinctively.  A child without training would have been hurt badly. 

Picking up a horse’s foot is also part of the training, but what happens when a fly or bug bites the horse at that same time and the horse tries to kick or bite it off letting go with his hind legs?  Riding on the trail and a rabbit or pheasant jumps and your horse bolts? These and many more incidents I have seen happen. Although I realize there is no way to prevent things from happening, being prepared with the proper guidance and training should be on the very top of your list.

Find the “child proof” horse is a little like winning the lottery.  If you do get lucky that horse will have a few years on it.  Keep in mind an older horse may need the services of a Vet more often also.  You will probably need to have a trainer work with the horse because no matter how well the horse has been trained they will pick up bad habits from inexperienced riders.  Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Girl Sitting On Horse

Is He/She Ready For The Responsibilities Of Owning A Horse?

Does your child want to ride Western, Huntseat or English.  Keep in mind each method requires proper equipment for the horse that fits properly.  (Fitting equipment on your horse will be discussed in another segment).  Remember the horse needs daily care which means trips to the stable regardless of the weather or other commitments.  Responsibility plays a big part in any aspect of learning to ride and care for a horse.

I realize it sounds like I’m discouraging anyone from learning to ride or own a horse.  Not so! I just want to help you make the right decisions regarding horse ownership for your child.  I have owned horses, rode, and treated horses all my life.  The rewards are bountiful, the pleasures endless and the people who love horses and ride are the greatest.

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