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6 Important Things to Look for When Buying a Kid’s Horse

Last updated on April 12, 2024

6 Important Things to Look for When Buying a Kid’s Horse

Short of having a horse that can go out and easily win a championship in your favorite event, there might not be anything more coveted in the equine world than a great kid’s horse for beginner riders. Unfortunately, at times a great kid’s horse can be even harder to find than a world-champion caliber horse at a semi-affordable price. In this article, we are going to cover what a kid’s horse truly is, what to look for (and avoid) in a beginner’s horse, and how to take the best care of your child’s horse so that they last as long as possible. 


What IS a “Kid’s Horse”, Really?

Contrary to popular belief (can you hear the sarcasm) a kid’s horse is NOT any ol’ 4-legged equine that will allow a child to sit on them without busting in two. Just because an ad has a picture of a small child posed up on the horse looking relatively at ease, does not mean that horse is suitable to be a kid horse. A kid’s horse, at its core, is one that you can trust in almost any safe situation to be safe around a kid who is educated about horse safety.  Meaning, that if a child makes decisions that are not in line with good horse safety rules- it’s not the horse’s fault for acting… like a horse in that situation. Additionally, the adult in that scenario is responsible for making wise decisions and not putting either the beginner rider or the horse in a potentially compromising situation. 


Going into any situation with a child and a horse, please be prepared for, and aware of, potential dangers. There is no substitute for good training- of the kid and the horse- to prepare for any and all potential scenarios. Even the best “kid’s horses” are still horses and can act unpredictably in unknown situations. The experience level, age, size, and strength of the child are all factors that come into play when looking for a solid children’s horse. 

Above all else, please follow your parental instincts and common sense when putting your child on ANY horse. Remember, horses are heavy, fast, animals that have deep-rooted instincts of a prey animal. Make sure to match your child’s skill and awareness with the horse’s temperament and tendencies.  

All of that being said, there are some things that you can specifically look for when it’s time to shop for a children’s horse. 

What to Look For In a Kid’s Horse for Your Beginner Rider

Natural Disposition

There are some horses, that no matter what age they are, they will never be a good horse for kids. Some horses are just naturally more high-strung and will be that way until the day they die. And that’s ok! Those horses have their place and their people and can be a great asset to lots of different programs. But probably not as a kid’s horse. 

Then there are some horses that have had a naturally chill disposition their whole life. Those horses just might make a great kid’s horse AFTER they check off all the other boxes in this list. 


To an experienced horseman, there is nothing more terrifying than to hear someone say “We got a young horse for my little kid so that they can grow up together.” A young horse is like a young kid- but on steroids. They still have a lot of learning to do, only they are a LOT bigger and can hurt a lot more things (and people) in the process if not handled and trained correctly.

While, as mentioned above, there are some horses who will never be a kid horse regardless of age, there are others whom a little age works in their favor.  

Level of Seasoning


Sometimes the best candidates for a kid’s horses are those old campaigners horses who have been hauled all over the country and have seen everything there is to see. The ones who have had to walk through a carnival, stand during a loud national anthem, and nearly fall asleep during the fireworks show at the end of the night. THOSE are the ones you generally want. 

Additionally, look for a horse that has been trained with many “ranch horse” skills- the skills that teach a horse to be calm and still when they get in a bind. Those skills are invaluable around anyone- especially kids. 


If your kid wants to learn and eventually compete in a specific discipline or event, having a horse that has a lot of experience in that event is priceless. It’s one thing for a kid to learn which way to turn an obstacle or how to navigate a pattern when the horse already knows its job. It’s an entirely different (and much harder) experience when the kid is learning the pattern AND the horse is learning the pattern. Yes, it can be good for a kid to learn how to train a horse to do certain things, but only AFTER the kid knows how to ride, has a good grasp on safety, and has solid horse training principles. 


While there are a lot of great beginner rider horses out there who would never pass a soundness check at a vet, there are certain soundness issues that matter more than others. 


When evaluating a horse’s potential to be a kid’s horse, you need to consider that particular horse’s soundless level and soundness issues. Will their known soundness issues pose a potential risk of tripping or falling? Can the horse safely and comfortably pack a kid around…even a small one? Is the horse going to be in pain when asked to perform who knows what movements the kid asks- possibly causing the horse to react out of character? Remember, horses cannot speak to us, so we have to pay attention to their body language. They try to tell us about how they feel by their movements and reactions. As riders, we have to be aware of those subtle changes.

If your kid’s horse has a little bit of arthritis or stiffness in their movement, make sure that they are getting top-of-the-line supplements like the baseline of Foundation Daily Detox and Nutrack Digestive Support, as well as Cissus Quadrangularis to help their joints last as long as possible. 


Let’s face it: sometimes one of the best characteristics of a kid’s horse candidate is laziness. Like the ol’ guy in the pen who is just too lazy to do anything about much. Now, laziness may not be on your checklist for your next performance horse, but when looking at a horse for your beginner rider it’s not a bad thing. Beginners don’t NEED a world-beater who’s naturally super motivated to go fast, turn hard, and beat the clock. As your child progresses in their horsemanship abilities and good decision making, then they will be ready for the “world beater”, but not when they are just learning. 

Different Criteria for a Beginner Rider’s Horse

Although it might go against all your normal horse-buying instincts, it’s important to NOT look at top-end competition horses when looking for a solid beginner kid’s horse, but more mellow, aged horses. Lazy, relaxed, sound, and mature are almost always the main criteria for a first horse for a young child. Remember to always take into account your child’s experience, size, and strength and how it will mesh with the horse’s experience and natural disposition. 

Once you’ve found that perfect kid’s horse, make sure they are being fed the best supplements like Animal Element, so they can be with your kid for years to come. We recommend FDD and NuTrack for ALL horses as the base and add in any extra joint or gut supplements as needed. 

If you are interested in being an authorized dealer for Animal Element, please reach out to Mark Kaylor at (509) 301-1798. We’d love to have ya!

All content is intended for informational purposes only. Proudly written for Animal Element by the team at