What Is A Husband Horse? Equine Terminology

What Does “Husband Horse” Mean?

If it’s your first time buying a horse, you may come across the term “husband horse” on many sales ads. In order to get a horse that meets your needs as a rider and will be able to best serve your riding ability, it can be helpful to research some sales jargon before you actively start searching for your horse. In this article, I’ll share some popular terminology that you may find on “horse for sale” ads.

What is a husband horse? A husband horse is also referred to as a “kid horse” or a “bomb-proof” horse. This is a horse that is beginner-friendly and safe enough for a rider with little experience and/or confidence. Husband horses are usually older and have a calm, easy-going disposition. If you are an inexperienced or timid rider, a husband horse may be a good choice for you. 

A husband horse is known to be reliable and well-trained and can be a great choice for a family looking for an equine that will be safe for everyone to ride. To learn more about “husband horses” and other tips for buying a horse, keep reading!

How Did The Term “Husband Horse” Gain Popularity?

In the world today, horseback riding is largely a woman-dominated sport. While you may be used to seeing cowboys and rugged men riding horses in movies, the reality is that the majority of horses are owned by women. The term “husband horse” was created to describe the type of horse an equestrian woman would buy for her inexperienced non-equestrian husband. This horse would need to be safe and reliable enough to tote around a beginner but also big enough for a full-grown man to fit on. 

Most riders are not casual riders – horseback riders are passionate about their sport and their love for horses. If you have a horse, you likely spend a large percentage of your time grooming, cleaning up after, feeding, and riding your horse. If you share your life with someone, you will want that person to be able to participate and be involved in this passion of yours as well. 

A true husband horse will not only be beginner-friendly and a good fit for an inexperienced rider, but will also have a large build. While many women can get away with riding a 14 hh horse, men tend to have a larger physical build and a higher weight (on average, of course), and will need a horse that can carry the weight of an adult male. Of course, “husband horse” is a common term used to describe a beginner-friendly horse now and you can certainly search for a small husband horse to be used for your children. 

What To Look For In A Husband Horse

Regardless of who will be riding your “husband horse”, there are a few things you will want to look for in your search. Unfortunately, I’ve come across many horses that were not anything like the sales ad described them to be. While this isn’t the horse’s fault, you want to make sure you go and visit and look at a horse and determine whether or not it will be a good fit for you and your family. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if a horse is a true “husband horse.”

What Is The Horse’s Disposition?

One of the most important qualities you will look for in a “husband horse” is the horse’s personality. You are looking for a “husband horse” because the rider you are purchasing for is not experienced with horses. Therefore, you will need a horse who has adequate training and experience, and who’s also forgiving when it comes to his rider giving him inconsistent or contradicting cues. 

If you’re looking for a horse safe enough for a beginner to ride, you’ll want one that has a calm and gentle demeanor. Ideally, the horse won’t be easily spooked by much and won’t have dangerous tendencies like running off with the rider or bucking. It can be hard to tell a horse’s true demeanor by only meeting them a few times; this is why it’s important to be able to recognize horse behavior and body language that may communicate what the horse really feels. 

If you want to be able to identify horse body language and behavior, check out my article How Horses Communicate: Complete Horse Body Language Guide.

How Big Is The Horse?

If you are truly looking for a “husband horse” for your husband, you will want to make sure the horse is large enough to accommodate your husband’s size. If your husband is 6’2” and 250 pounds, this will narrow your search. Depending on who you ask, a horse can carry between 10% and 20% of its body weight. If you have a large husband, you may be looking for a draft cross. 

Of course, if you are looking for a “husband horse” for your 10-year-old, a large horse may be intimidating. This can affect your child’s confidence and ability to learn. Look for a beginner-friendly horse that is suitably sized for your rider.

Need help figuring what size horse you need? Visit my article What Size Horse Do I Need: Beginner’s Guide.

Does The Horse Have Good Manners?

The rider using your “husband horse” will likely not just be riding, but also leading, grooming, and interacting with your horse on the ground as well. Because the rider is likely not very experienced, it can be dangerous if they are working with a horse that doesn’t respect their space or who may try to challenge them on the ground. You will want a horse who will lift its feet when asked, who will walk nicely when led (not ahead of you, not behind you), and who will accept tack without argument. 

While horses have to be reminded of good manners every now and then, well-trained horses should have an understanding of what behavior is unacceptable. 

What Is The Horse’s Age And Experience Level?

A young, green horse is not suitable for an inexperienced rider. While it comes down to the individual horse’s personality, a good rule of thumb is to look for a teenage horse or older. Horses in their 20’s often still have a lot of miles left in them and shouldn’t be overlooked. What you want is a horse who is experienced, who has seen it all, and has carried beginner or novice riders before. Many horses mellow with age, and this is another reason to look for a more seasoned horse compared to a younger horse.

What Is The Horse’s Ability Level?

When your husband grudgingly climbs onto his horse and starts riding, he may just decide that he loves it! If your rider falls in love, you will want a horse who has the ability to grow with him or her. You may want to make sure that the horse you are looking at has a solid walk, trot, and canter. This will allow your husband (or another inexperienced rider) to not only go on trails with you now and then but also advance in the arena if they choose.

How Healthy Is The Horse?

The term “healthy as a horse” is really a misnomer, as many horses you will find for sale will have health or conformation problems. You will want to make sure to have a thorough vet check performed on the horse you are interested in, and bring another experienced rider to look over the horse as well. The last thing you want to do is buy a horse for your new rider who cannot be ridden.

That being said, if you’re looking at a more seasoned “husband horse,” you shouldn’t expect the horse to be perfect. Horses are like humans; as they age they start to face more health conditions. Talk to the vet beforehand to determine what maintenance and financial commitments are manageable to you in caring for an older “husband horse.”

Consider Leasing The Horse

If the seller is agreeable, you might want to lease the horse for a period of time before making the purchase (and if the seller is not agreeable, this could be a red flag). Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonest sellers and dealers out there, and you may end up with a completely different horse on your property then you saw at the seller’s farm. Some dealers accomplish this deception through the use of drugs. It is not uncommon for a seller to drug a problem horse with the intent of passing them off as a calm, easy-going mount. 

Where To Find A Husband Horse

When looking for a husband horse, you are narrowing your search down to the horses that are calm, experienced, healthy, and appropriately sized. This is a specific search and the best way to find a suitable husband horse is to reach out to your local horse community. Looking for a horse locally means that you will have several opportunities to visit and test out the horse before making a purchase. It is also (a little) harder to rip off a buyer if you could potentially run into them at your neighborhood feed store. Horse networks can be tight communities – if you know of someone selling a horse, it is likely you can reach out to a few other friends who may know this seller and horse as well and can give you the inside scoop.

Exercise Patience In Your Search For A Husband Horse

You are looking for a “husband horse” because you want a safe horse for your spouse, your kids, or yourself. It is important that you have the right horse, as beginner riders are not experienced in training horses. While it may take some time, if you are patient and discerning in your search you will find the right horse for you.


Another term you may see when you start searching for your horse is “green horse.” What is a green horse? To learn more, check out my article What Is A Green Horse? Definition And More.


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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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