H&R Editors’ First Horse Breeds

The editors of Horse & Rider magazine share their first-breed experiences, as well as some fun pics--from years past and present.

In the June 2009 Horse & Rider article “I Chose My Breed Because.” we highlighted 14 favorite breeds of horse owners around the country. As horse-magazine editors we found it too hard to pick just one favorite breed, so here we share our first-breed experiences, as well as some fun pics.

Juli with Appaloosa E Arrow Paha (


Juli S. Thorson, editor & associate publisher

My first breed involvement was with Appaloosas. My parents and grandparents helped introduce them to my home state, North Dakota, while I was growing up there in the ’50s and early ’60s. As a child, I loved the distinctiveness of individual Appaloosas–that it was so easy to tell one from the other. As a teen, I loved how their individuality seemed to somehow transfer over to me. I was not a “cool” teenager in most respects. But my having a horse, and a uniquely visual APPALOOSA horse at that…well, that almost provided me with enough coolness factor to make up for it.

From left: Sherry, the unregistered Hackney Pony who was the first horse in Jenny’s family, with Jenny’s youngest sister Caroline, 10, astride; sister Mary,12, on Showgirl, a part-Arabian mare; and Jenny,14, on Tigress, her unregistered Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse mare, in El Dorado, Calif. |


Jenny Forsberg Meyer, senior editor

My family’s very first horse was an unregistered Hackney Pony–how’s that for unusual? We’d gone to the dispersal sale of a local pony breeder in Elk Grove, Calif., around 1965, intending to just watch. Then, my sisters and I begged and badgered my mother into buying a pretty little sorrel mare with a flaxen mane and tail.

I don’t know if Sherry-the-pony was typical of Hackneys, but she was a wonderful children’s mount. She had just enough spunk to be fun to ride, but there wasn’t a mean bone in her body, and she was very willing. When I rode her with my friends, both of whom had full-size horses, I never felt under-mounted. Sherry could easily keep up with them. My sisters and I rode her proudly all around town, and more than once a passerby would stop and ask if she was for sale. She most surely was not!

Debbie, at 15, running along with her 3/4-Arabian filly, Sal, in Ohio. |


Debbie Moors, contributing editor

While I’d ridden several breeds as a youngster taking riding lessons, the real experience I had with a breed was with my 3/4-Arabian filly, Sal, when I was just 15. As a child who’d had a steady diet of Walter Farley books, I first loved how Sal really brought to mind the equine mystique for me. When she charged around the pasture, her neck arched and her tail flagged. She was a storybook horse come alive.

But what I really came to love about her was how sensible, well mannered, and willing she was. Her responsiveness to me gave me confidence and pride through those gawky teenage years. (Note: To read more about Debbie and Sal, and horse safety with kids, see June 2009’s The Riding Family, “Lessons Learned,” page 14.)

Alana, post-jump off, with Thoroughbred Love a Dove (


Alana Harrison, managing editor

As a kid and teen, I rode mostly Quarter Horses and other stock breeds, but I began riding Thoroughbreds on the equestrian team in college and made an instant connection. The first horse I bought (and still own) was a 17.2-hand Thoroughbred gelding. I can’t help but admire the Thoroughbred’s beauty–long, delicate legs; large, intelligent eyes; and long head and neck, but I’ve found our personalities strikingly similar. Thoroughbreds’ temperaments tend to fluctuate daily, and I love the challenge of identifying that day’s personality and adjusting my riding to it. It makes me a better, more diverse rider.

Some assume Thoroughbreds, with their “racing blood,” are simple-minded, apathetic and lacking personality. I’ve found all to the contrary. My Thoroughbred has a tremendous amount of “try” in him. When I enter the ring (showing or schooling), his ears go up and he works his rear end off over every fence. This “try” touches me–deeply. And as for apathy, I walk in the pasture of 60 horses, and within 100 yards, he comes trotting to me.

Erin, at 8, on one of the trusted Quarter Horses, at Steve Archer Quarter Horses in Richmond, Texas. |

Thoroughbreds are simultaneously delicate and strong–the steel magnolias of horses. A final bonus? That racehorse speed pays off in the jumper ring big time.


Erin Sullivan Haynes, editorial coordinator

My parents had no prior horse knowledge when I began begging for riding lessons at 8 years of age. So after a little research we loaded up and trekked from downtown Houston to the “country.” We ended up at Steve Archer Quarter Horses in Richmond, Texas, where I had my first up-close interaction with horses and began my transition into a true horse lover.

The Quarter Horses who guided me on that path were wonderful teachers. The barn was filled with Quarter Horses of all different sizes and colors, but they were all friendly, gentle, and easy to handle. Their versatility meant I could try many different things, and their even temperament helped me feel safe and secure.

No matter the breed, Equine.com, the premier classifieds site of the Equine Network, can help you find your perfect horse!

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