Children often dream of having a horse or pony. If you're able to make this dream a reality, consider the breeds that typically do best with kids. In general, a small horse or pony works well because its size isn’t as intimidating as its larger counterparts. And if your child falls, smaller horses are closer to the ground. Here are 10 horse and pony breeds suitable for children. Although some breeds have more predictable temperaments, it ultimately comes down to the individual horse. Pick one that's docile, attentive, sure-footed, and familiar with riders of varying levels. Westend61/Getty Images Shetland ponies are popular for children because of their diminutive size, durability, and fun personalities. However, despite their pint-size stature, this breed is very strong. Plus, some Shetlands are notoriously stubborn and might ignore commands from young riders. So a Shetland will still need supervision and training from an adult. Height: 7 hands (28 inches) to 11.5 hands (46 inches) Weight: 400 to 450 pounds Physical Characteristics: Compact body; broad head; short legs; lush mane and tail Kate Connell/Getty Images Welsh ponies of all sizes can make good mounts for children. One could go from childhood to adulthood riding a small Welsh pony to a slightly larger Welsh cob. They are generally hardy, athletic, smart, and versatile animals. Moreover, you can train them to ride with Western or English saddles. Height: 11 hands (44 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches) Weight: 400 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Small head; short back; high-set tail Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images The pony of the Americas has the distinction of being a North American breed developed specifically for young riders. It resulted from a cross between an Arabian-Appaloosa mare and a Shetland stallion, which produced a small colt with a flashy coat pattern. It has the durability and athleticism of all three breeds. Height: 11 hands (44 inches) to 14 hands (56 inches) Weight: 450 to 950 pounds Physical Characteristics: Wide forehead; muscular build; Appaloosa-like coat pattern Katherine Blocksdorf Miniature horses are fun to handle. Due to their small size, they aren't suitable for riding by anyone over 70 pounds. But a mini can be great for children to learn how to ride and take care of a horse. Minis also participate in competitions similar to dog agility courses. Height: Typically under 8.5 hands (34 inches) to 9.5 hands (38 inches) Weight: 150 to 350 pounds Physical Characteristics: Small, muscular build; many have similar proportions to larger horses Pixabay Although it's not a pony, the American quarter horse is an extremely popular family horse for its versatility and easygoing temperament. They aren't massive horses, averaging around 5 feet in height, which can work for an older child. And they are generally gentle and highly responsive, even for beginning equestrians. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches) Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Muscular body; deep chest; small head with flat profile Monika Clarke Photography/Getty Images Appaloosas are another full-size breed that can make a great horse for children. They're often chosen for children's mounts because of their gentle, level-headed temperament. They also are notoriously friendly and loyal horses, which makes for a devoted family companion. Plus, they're fairly easy to maintain, even for beginning equestrians. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Colorful coat patterns with mottled skin; striped hooves Mark Newman/Getty Images Paint horses are a full-size breed that has a strong mix of American quarter horse in their pedigree. Like the quarter horse, they typically have a calm, gentle temperament. They're also highly social, intelligent horses, which makes them easy to train. Overall, they tend to offer a reliable, well-balanced ride. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Muscular build; deep chest; distinctive coat patterns   dcdebs/Getty Images  Morgan horses are excellent family horses, especially for beginning riders. They are known for being highly cooperative and eager to please, and they generally love to socialize with their human family members. They also have a relatively small stature compared to other horse breeds, which is manageable for many children. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) Weight: 950 pounds Physical Characteristics: Compact build; short head; thick mane and tail Originating in the U.K., the New Forest pony has mixed with several breeds over the centuries. This has resulted in a hardy, friendly, and docile animal. These ponies tend to be trainable and eager to please. Their bodies are narrow enough even for a small child to ride (with supervision). Height: 12 hands (48 inches) to 14 hands (56 inches) Weight: 700 pounds Physical Characteristics: Compact build; short neck and back; long head Sharon Vos-Arnold/Getty Images The term "grade" in horse circles means the same as "mutt" in the dog world. A grade equine is a horse or pony without a known pedigree. And because pedigree doesn't guarantee a quality animal, a trustworthy grade pony with a fun personality is always a great option for children. Certain high-energy horse breeds—including Arabians, saddlebreds, and thoroughbreds—are often not suitable for children. They have been bred to be active, alert, and sensitive to every little move of the rider. Of course, there are exceptions. However, it's best to choose a horse that's known to have a gentler temperament.

Shetland Pony

Children feeding a Shetland pony
Shetland ponies are popular for children because of their diminutive size, durability, and fun personalities. However, despite their pint-size stature, this breed is very strong. Plus, some Shetlands are notoriously stubborn and might ignore commands from young riders. So a Shetland will still need supervision and training from an adult. Height: 7 hands (28 inches) to 11.5 hands (46 inches) Weight: 400 to 450 pounds Physical Characteristics: Compact body; broad head; short legs; lush mane and tail

Welsh Pony and Cob

Child riding a Welsh pony
Welsh ponies of all sizes can make good mounts for children. One could go from childhood to adulthood riding a small Welsh pony to a slightly larger Welsh cob. They are generally hardy, athletic, smart, and versatile animals. Moreover, you can train them to ride with Western or English saddles. Height: 11 hands (44 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches) Weight: 400 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Small head; short back; high-set tail

Pony of the Americas

Pony of the Americas
The pony of the Americas has the distinction of being a North American breed developed specifically for young riders. It resulted from a cross between an Arabian-Appaloosa mare and a Shetland stallion, which produced a small colt with a flashy coat pattern. It has the durability and athleticism of all three breeds. Height: 11 hands (44 inches) to 14 hands (56 inches) Weight: 450 to 950 pounds Physical Characteristics: Wide forehead; muscular build; Appaloosa-like coat pattern

Miniature Horse

miniature horse jumping
Miniature horses are fun to handle. Due to their small size, they aren't suitable for riding by anyone over 70 pounds. But a mini can be great for children to learn how to ride and take care of a horse. Minis also participate in competitions similar to dog agility courses. Height: Typically under 8.5 hands (34 inches) to 9.5 hands (38 inches) Weight: 150 to 350 pounds Physical Characteristics: Small, muscular build; many have similar proportions to larger horses

American Quarter Horse

American quarter horse in a field
Although it's not a pony, the American quarter horse is an extremely popular family horse for its versatility and easygoing temperament. They aren't massive horses, averaging around 5 feet in height, which can work for an older child. And they are generally gentle and highly responsive, even for beginning equestrians. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches) Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Muscular body; deep chest; small head with flat profile

Appaloosa

Appaloosa horse in a field
Appaloosas are another full-size breed that can make a great horse for children. They're often chosen for children's mounts because of their gentle, level-headed temperament. They also are notoriously friendly and loyal horses, which makes for a devoted family companion. Plus, they're fairly easy to maintain, even for beginning equestrians. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Colorful coat patterns with mottled skin; striped hooves

Paint Horse

Paint horse and foal grazing
Paint horses are a full-size breed that has a strong mix of American quarter horse in their pedigree. Like the quarter horse, they typically have a calm, gentle temperament. They're also highly social, intelligent horses, which makes them easy to train. Overall, they tend to offer a reliable, well-balanced ride. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds Physical Characteristics: Muscular build; deep chest; distinctive coat patterns

Morgan

Morgan horse looking over a fence
Morgan horses are excellent family horses, especially for beginning riders. They are known for being highly cooperative and eager to please, and they generally love to socialize with their human family members. They also have a relatively small stature compared to other horse breeds, which is manageable for many children. Height: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches) Weight: 950 pounds Physical Characteristics: Compact build; short head; thick mane and tail

New Forest Pony

Originating in the U.K., the New Forest pony has mixed with several breeds over the centuries. This has resulted in a hardy, friendly, and docile animal. These ponies tend to be trainable and eager to please. Their bodies are narrow enough even for a small child to ride (with supervision). Height: 12 hands (48 inches) to 14 hands (56 inches) Weight: 700 pounds Physical Characteristics: Compact build; short neck and back; long head

Grade Ponies

Grade pony being ridden by a child
The term "grade" in horse circles means the same as "mutt" in the dog world. A grade equine is a horse or pony without a known pedigree. And because pedigree doesn't guarantee a quality animal, a trustworthy grade pony with a fun personality is always a great option for children.
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