Looking for a recreation horse? Consider these five breeds found on the ranch

THE SCENE IS is a young cattleman riding his stock horse, leaping off the side of a mountain after the wild brumbies in “The Man from Snowy River,” a film based on ranch life in the 1880s of unsettled Australia. It’s dramatic, it’s exhilarating, and it’s a beautiful scene of horseman and horse, and though it’s fictional (except for the fact that actor Tom Burlinson and stock horse Denny really did perform that stunt in one take!), what it represents in relationship and ability between horse and rider is true.

Good cattlemen and women know and understand the talent and temperament of their stock horse, but for those looking for just the right breed, it’s useful to have a jumping point. Of course, you don’t choose a stock horse based solely on appearance. Stock horses or stock-types are versatile horses that are used for practical reasons around the ranch, but can also serve as excellent recreational or pleasure riding specimens. You won’t be jumping off any cliffs any time soon (hopefully never), and there are no mountains in Florida (though the view from Bok Tower Gardens leads some of us to say otherwise), but the agility alone in these breeds can make for a great recreation horse. A few common Florida choices for stock or stock-type horses are the Florida Cracker, Appaloosa, American Quarter, American Paint, and the Quarab.

The number one thing to remember of these breeds is that they are versatile, sharing common talents and strengths that are extremely useful in ranch living. They’re strong, with muscular forearms and breeches, having high stamina, and keen intelligence. They also possess unique traits that might influence which horse you would choose for your riding purpose. In general, you want sound, willing, and a well-trained stock horse that is obedient and responsive with a good, relaxed disposition. When you have predetermined if your horse is for investment or pleasure, these breeds have proven their adaptability in their work and recreational capacity and in forming deep bonds with their riders.

THE FLORIDA CRACKER is Florida’s official heritage state horse and boasts a 500-year relationship with our agricultural history after the Spanish conquistadores abandoned their livestock to our wetlands and scrub. After a close call with near extinction, then careful preservation, today’s Florida Cracker retains its innate intuitiveness for our unique landscape and also ranch life. For use in recreation, their flatfoot walk is especially good for trail rides, but this spirited and willing breed does well in pleasure riding, team roping, and team penning.

THE APPALOOSA, a contraction from the phrase “A Palousa Horse,” is renowned for its distinctive coat patterns. Its personality and physique make it well suited as a family horse, or for pleasure and endurance riding.

THE AMERICAN QUARTER earned its historic reputation from running the quarter mile faster than any other breed. Its compact muscular body makes it excellent in rodeo, barrel racing, calf roping, western riding, and also in English disciplines. Its personality is positive, which contributes to its being America’s most popular breed.

THE AMERICAN PAINT is another equine noted for its four registered, singular, coat patterns. Loved by many horsemen for its agreeable personality that does well in many disciplines on the ranch and in recreation; it’s an athletic stock horse used in numerous competitions similar to those by the American Quarter.

THE QUARAB is a relatively new breed, which stems from Arabian, American Quarter, or American Paint bloodlines. Depending on its lineage, this breed can have the athletic grace of the Arabian or the more muscular stature of the American Quarter or American Paint. They excel in pleasure riding, and other English disciplines with a wonderful temperament similar to its breed’s ancestors.

These amazing, beautiful stock horse breeds have diligently earned the reputation of being more than just a work animal in the ranch lifestyle, but a part of your family that will take you over the cliff (metaphorically speaking) into great adventures.


article by J.P. SMITH
photo by TOM HAGERTY

Posted April 22, 2016

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