Calmest Horse Breeds

Calm, gentle, and reliable – these are the qualities that many horse owners seek in their equine companions. Whether for leisurely trail rides, therapeutic interactions, or beginner riders, a calm horse breed can make all the difference in the experience for both the horse and the rider. In this article, we will explore the characteristics that make a horse breed calm and highlight the top 10 calmest horse breeds. We will delve into the specific traits that define a calm horse breed, such as their gentle temperament, trainability, low flight response, suitability for children, and smooth gaits. By understanding what sets these breeds apart, readers can gain valuable insights into selecting the ideal horse for their needs and preferences. Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or someone considering horse ownership for the first time, this comprehensive guide will provide valuable information to help you make an informed decision when choosing a calm and dependable equine partner.

Key Takeaways:

  • American Quarter Horse, Morgan Horse, and Norwegian Fjord are some of the calmest horse breeds with gentle temperaments and low flight response.
  • Calm horse breeds like Haflinger, Icelandic Horse, and Peruvian Paso are highly trainable and well-suited for children and novice riders.
  • The Connemara Pony, Irish Draught Horse, and Shire Horse are known for their smooth gaits and willingness to please, making them ideal for leisurely riding and showing purposes.
  • What Makes a Horse Breed Calm?

    The calmness of a horse breed is influenced by various factors, including its temperament, training, and genetic predisposition to exhibit a gentle and forgiving nature.

    Temperament plays a crucial role in determining a horse’s overall demeanor. Breeds known for their calmness typically possess a gentle and amiable disposition. Training also significantly influences a horse’s behavior, with consistent and patient handling contributing to a calm and obedient nature. Certain genetic traits can predispose specific horse breeds to exhibit a calm and steady demeanor, making them well-suited for activities such as therapy, pleasure riding, and equine-assisted activities.

    What Are the Calmest Horse Breeds?

    What Are the Calmest Horse Breeds? - Calmest Horse Breeds

    Credits: Horselife.Org – Timothy Adams

    Several horse breeds are renowned for their calm and gentle demeanor, making them ideal companions for both beginner and experienced riders.

    American Quarter Horse

    The American Quarter Horse is widely admired for its calm and versatile nature, making it a popular choice for various equestrian activities, especially in Western disciplines.

    Its calm demeanor and quick, agile movements make it an excellent choice for ranch work, rodeo events, and trail riding.

    The American Quarter Horse’s distinctive beauty, characterized by a strong, muscular build and a refined head, adds to its allure among riders.

    Aside from excelling in Western riding, they also display remarkable adaptability in other disciplines, such as barrel racing, reining, and even dressage, showcasing their versatility and athleticism.

    Morgan Horse

    The Morgan Horse is celebrated for its docile and friendly disposition, making it an excellent choice for riders involved in English disciplines, known for its beauty and unwavering loyalty.

    Originating in the United States, the Morgan Horse has a rich history that dates back to the late 18th century. This versatile breed not only excels in the show ring but also thrives as a reliable partner on the trails. Its refined and elegant appearance, often characterized by a well-proportioned body and expressive eyes, captivates equestrians worldwide. Morgan Horses form strong bonds with their riders, demonstrating unwavering loyalty and a strong desire to please. Their amiable nature and willingness to work have earned them a reputation as outstanding partners for riders of all levels.

    Norwegian Fjord

    The Norwegian Fjord is recognized for its calm and gentle demeanor, characterized by its distinctive mane and tail, often serving as an ideal therapy horse due to its soothing temperament.

    This ancient and versatile breed has a striking appearance with a distinct dorsal stripe, known as the ‘eel stripe’, running along its back. Its strong and arched neck, combined with a compact body, gives the Norwegian Fjord a graceful yet powerful stature.

    Besides its physical attributes, the breed’s intelligent and social nature contributes to its effectiveness as a therapy horse, providing comfort and support to individuals with diverse needs. The Norwegian Fjord’s natural inclination for human interaction and its calm presence make it an excellent choice for equine-assisted therapy programs.


    The Haflinger is renowned for its versatility and gentle disposition, making it an excellent choice for beginner riders, known for its forgiving nature and distinctive mane and tail.

    Its compact yet sturdy build and sure-footed nature make it well-suited for navigating varied terrains, making it a popular choice for trail riding.

    Their chestnut or palomino coat, accompanied by their flaxen mane and tail, gives them a distinct appearance that captures the attention of many equestrian enthusiasts.

    Icelandic Horse

    The Icelandic Horse is renowned for its smooth and comfortable gaits, coupled with its friendly and docile nature, making it a popular choice for therapeutic riding activities.

    Due to its unique gait, the Icelandic Horse provides a comfortable and stable ride, ideal for individuals with physical or emotional challenges. Its gentle disposition and willingness to connect with humans make it an excellent choice for therapeutic riding programs.

    Therapeutic riding involves using horses to help individuals with disabilities improve their physical strength, balance, and confidence. By providing a trusted and calming presence, the Icelandic Horse has proven to be incredibly beneficial in these settings.

    Peruvian Paso

    The Peruvian Paso is known for its distinctive paso fino gait, showcasing smooth and elegant movements, often admired for its athletic prowess and remarkable beauty in show competitions.

    This unique gait, the paso fino, is characterized by the horse’s smooth, lateral four-beat movement, creating a rhythmic and graceful appearance. The Peruvian Paso’s athleticism is evident in its ability to maintain a consistent and controlled gait, making it a sought-after breed for show competitions. Its flowing motion and strength make it a captivating sight for spectators, elevating the elegance and finesse of the paso fino to a whole new level in equestrian events.

    Tennessee Walking Horse

    The Tennessee Walking Horse is recognized for its unique smooth gait, offering a versatile and gentle riding experience, particularly popular among English riders and for trail riding adventures.

    One of the Tennessee Walking Horse’s distinguishing features is its effortless gliding motion, known as the running walk. This gait is exceptionally comfortable for riders, as it minimizes bouncing and jostling. Apart from its smooth ride, the breed is prized for its versatility, excelling in various equestrian disciplines such as pleasure riding, driving, and even endurance riding. Its athletic abilities and willing temperament also make it a favored choice for trail riding, where its steady nature and sure-footedness provide riders with confidence and security on rugged terrain.

    Connemara Pony

    The Connemara Pony, hailing from Ireland, is esteemed for its athletic prowess, remarkable beauty, and versatility, known for its endurance and gentle temperament.

    These ponies are renowned for their remarkable stamina, making them excellent contenders in various equestrian disciplines, such as show jumping, dressage, and eventing. Their strong build, sure-footedness, and agility enable them to navigate rugged terrains with ease.

    Despite their athletic abilities, Connemara Ponies are also cherished for their docile and amiable nature, making them ideal companions for riders of all ages and levels of experience. Their calm demeanor and willingness to please have cemented their reputation as excellent family mounts and trustworthy partners in therapeutic riding programs.

    Irish Draught Horse

    The Irish Draught Horse from Ireland is renowned for its draft capabilities, distinctive beauty, and versatile attributes, showcasing loyalty and gentle nature, making it popular in various equestrian sports.

    The Irish Draught Horse is known for its strength and power, making it suitable for heavy work such as farming and pulling carriages. Its gentle disposition and calm demeanor also make it an excellent choice for amateur riders and beginners. This breed’s adaptability allows it to excel in not only traditional draft work but also in show jumping, dressage, and eventing, making it a sought-after horse for riders in different disciplines. Its athleticism and willingness to please contribute to its success in competitive events.

    Shire Horse

    The Shire Horse, known for its impressive draft capabilities and remarkable strength, exhibits distinctive beauty and gentle characteristics, often valued for its loyalty in farm environments.

    These magnificent creatures are often praised for their ability to pull heavy loads with ease, making them essential in agricultural settings. The Shire Horse’s glorious stature, with its muscular build and feathered legs, is a sight to behold, contrasting with its docile and amiable temperament. As a breed originally refined for agricultural work, their strength and endurance are legendary, allowing them to tackle demanding tasks with unwavering determination.

    One of the most striking features of the Shire Horse is its distinctive feathering, the long hair that adorns their lower legs, adding a regal and majestic allure to their appearance. Their gentle nature makes them not only perfect working partners but also beloved companions in farm life, as they are known for their friendly demeanor towards humans and other animals.

    What Are the Characteristics of a Calm Horse Breed?

    Calm horse breeds are characterized by their gentle demeanor, trainability, low flight response, suitability for children, and smooth gaits, offering a pleasant riding experience for individuals of all skill levels.

    Gentle Temperament

    A gentle temperament is a hallmark of calm horse breeds, characterized by their forgiving and friendly nature, making them ideal companions for riders seeking a harmonious and enjoyable riding experience.

    These horses are known for their placid dispositions, handling new situations with a calm demeanor and showing patience during training. Their amiable nature allows them to form strong bonds with their riders, creating a sense of trust and mutual respect.

    The forgiving nature of calm horse breeds makes them well-suited for novice riders, as they are less likely to react with aggression or fear in response to inexperienced handling. They possess an innate ability to perceive their rider’s emotions, offering reassurance and comfort during moments of uncertainty.

    Their gentle temperament extends beyond their interactions with humans to their relationships with other animals, promoting a peaceful coexistence within a barn or pasture environment.

    Trainable and Willing to Please

    Calm horse breeds are known for being trainable and willing to please, showcasing versatility and adaptability in various equestrian activities, making them suitable for riders with different skill levels.

    These horses possess a remarkable ability to quickly learn new skills, respond to gentle guidance, and maintain a composed demeanor in various situations. Their accommodating nature and gentle disposition enable them to excel in disciplines such as dressage, trail riding, and therapeutic riding programs.

    Low Flight Response

    Calm horse breeds exhibit a low flight response, making them suitable for both beginner and experienced riders, and often valued as therapy horses due to their composed and steady demeanor.

    The unique characteristic of a low flight response in calm horse breeds offers a sense of security, especially for novice riders who may feel apprehensive. Their predictable behavior and steady temperament create a reassuring experience, allowing riders to build confidence and trust.

    For experienced riders, these breeds provide a smooth and predictable ride, facilitating advanced training and performance.

    Therapy horses, known for their soothing presence, benefit individuals with diverse emotional and physical needs. The gentle nature of calm horse breeds makes them well-suited for therapeutic interventions, offering comfort and support to those navigating various challenges.

    Good with Children

    Calm horse breeds are often good with children, known for their gentle and versatile nature, making them ideal choices for family-oriented riding activities and as companions for young riders.

    These breeds, such as the Morgan, Haflinger, and Connemara ponies, are prized for their calm and even-tempered dispositions. Their gentle demeanor and patience make them well-suited for interacting with children, teaching them responsibility and empathy while providing a sense of security. Their versatility also allows a smooth transition from beginner riding lessons to more advanced equestrian pursuits, ensuring a fulfilling and enriching experience for young riders.

    Smooth Gaits

    Calm horse breeds are characterized by their smooth gaits, offering a comfortable riding experience and making them suitable for therapeutic activities and versatile equestrian pursuits.

    Their gentle, flowing movements, such as the relaxed walk, steady trot, and rhythmic canter, provide riders with stability and relaxation. Their serene nature and predictable behavior make them ideal for individuals seeking therapeutic connections through equine-assisted activities. Calm horse breeds excel in various equestrian disciplines, including dressage, trail riding, and pleasure driving, due to their willingness to learn and adapt.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the calmest horse breeds?

    The calmest horse breeds include the Quarter Horse, Arabian, and Morgan.

    Are there any naturally calm horse breeds?

    Yes, there are several horse breeds that are known for their naturally calm and gentle temperament, such as the Icelandic Horse and the Connemara Pony.

    Which horse breed is best for beginners?

    For beginners, the calmest horse breeds are usually recommended. Some popular choices for beginners include the American Paint Horse, the Tennessee Walking Horse, and the Haflinger.

    Do calm horse breeds require special training?

    While all horses require some level of training, calm horse breeds usually have a more docile nature and are easier to train compared to more high-strung breeds. However, proper training and handling are still necessary for any horse.

    Can a calm horse breed still be competitive in shows and competitions?

    Absolutely! Many calm horse breeds excel in various disciplines and can be successful in shows and competitions with proper training and conditioning.

    Is it possible to determine a horse’s temperament based on its breed?

    While there are certain characteristics and tendencies that are associated with different horse breeds, it is important to remember that each horse is an individual with its own personality and temperament. It is important to evaluate each horse on an individual basis.

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