The 8 Types of School Horses That You'll See Through Your Riding Career

Posted by Allie Layos

No matter where you go, school horses are pretty much the same. 

Every rider was once a beginner, and a beginner's best friend -- and sometimes worst enemy -- is the lovable school horse.

Whether your riding journey began thirty years ago or just last week, the horses filling the stalls in the school horse barn probably look -- and act -- pretty much the same. Here are eight of the most common types of school horses.

The Babysitter

All new riders start on The Babysitter. Completely bombproof, he is the champion of the new, the scared, and the unsure.

Oftentimes a gentle giant, snails crawl faster than he walks, and to urge him into a trot takes kicking, clucking, the cracking of whips and the heavens opening up with a direct order from God.

His ground manners are impeccable and children can groom and lead him by themselves. The Babysitter's door is covered with drawings from adoring children.


The Pony

Ridden by the tiny tots (and trained on by the older students when he gets too naughty!). The Pony is as quick as The Babysitter is slow.

His strides may be short, but he trots fast, he turns fast, and he dives for grass very, very fast. But as naughty as he can be under saddle, he is a perfect gentleman on the lead rope, and so excels at pony rides, lead line classes, and avoiding anything that requires a larger amount of effort.

He also makes a great demonstration horse for equine anatomy lessons.

Ride through the countryside

The Quirky Horse

The quirky horse can be any breed, color, or size, but comes with his own set of instructions. You have to approach him from the right side only. You can't wrap his legs before you put the saddle on. You have to warm him up at the canter, you can only ride the left diagonal when you trot ... and never let him see the color yellow!

While you may roll your eyes at his instructions, in riding The Quirky Horse, you learn that to get along with a horse, sometimes you have to placate them a little and do things their way. Even if it means changing your yellow shirt before you head to his stall.

Young woman horseback riding

The Freight Train

Though he can be intimidating to ride, The Freight Train never really does anything bad, he just really, really likes his job and is more than eager to do it. He doesn't spook or buck, he just likes to go forward at a pace that is usually a lot faster than what you wanted or intended.

Riding The Freight Train teaches you how to control a lot of energy and how to work a bridle instead of simply hanging on your horse's mouth. And all future horses will thank you for that!

Girl riding a horse

The Perfectionist

Most other school horses have accepted that their lot in life is compensating for the mistakes of their riders, but not so with The Perfectionist.

This horse teaches precision, and of course, he teaches it perfectly. Did you close your hand a split second too late? Sit a touch too deep? Not deep enough?

The Perfectionist will not do anything that was not asked for perfectly, and in doing so, teaches riders that "trying" only matters so much. Sometimes you actually need to do it right to get the job done.

Young Teenage Girl Riding Horse. Equestrian Sport

The Ex-Show Horse

There are many different types of show horses, so there are many different types of ex-show horses, too, but there are still a few things you can count on with real certainty.

The Ex-Show Horse has been there and done that. He is probably not impressed by commotion or changes to the environment like other horses may be. He is gorgeous, responsive, but often finicky and complicated.

He doesn't exactly demand perfection like the The Perfectionist, but he demands what he's used to, and what he's used to is usually some level of competence in his specific discipline. He teaches you how to adjust to different kinds of horses and their training, and still get them to perform at the top of their game.

Unknown rider on a horse during competition matches riding round

The Favorite

Not all lesson programs are lucky enough to have this horse, but when one does, you know it. He is the horse everyone wants to ride because he is pretty, good-natured, responsive and just plain fun to ride.

Fancy enough to win at shows, he's similar to The Ex-Show Horse but usually less complicated. Though students long to ride him just for the fun factor, he's subtly teaching them what it feels like when it all comes together correctly.

Young woman riding a horse

The Fellow Student

Though only used for more experienced students, The Fellow Student is just what he sounds like -- a horse that is learning right along with you.

Green broke and usually acquired in some trade, instructors everywhere have used these good-thinking but uneducated horses in lesson programs for as long as lesson programs have existed.

It takes riding to an entirely new level when you're cueing a canter on a horse that doesn't really know what a canter cue is. Riding The Fellow Student teaches you how to train.

Girl riding a horse

Of course some of these types can overlap -- babysitters can be favorites and perfectionists can be ex-show horses and fellow students can be quirky -- but these eight types are bound to be mixed into lesson programs all across the world.

And together, they make us equestrians.

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The 8 Types of School Horses That You'll See Through Your Riding Career