Qualities to Look for in a Great Trail Horse

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If you’re looking at horses for sale with hopes of buying a trail horse, you should be looking for some specific qualities. Here are the qualities to look for in a great trail horse.

Calm Temperament

Possibly the most important characteristic of a good trail horse is a calm temperament. That doesn’t mean that a trail horse can’t be lively – he absolutely can – but he needs to be able to stay calm when confronted with unexpected situations and new territory. If your horse puffed himself up and danced around every time that you headed out on a new trail, he wouldn’t be very enjoyable as a trail horse.

When trying out a trail horse, confront him with different situations. See if you can ride him outside of the ring. Watch his reaction to passing cars, umbrellas, dogs, and bicycles. These are all situations that you might encounter while out on the trail, and a trail horse who stays calm and trusts in his rider is far safer than a horse with a more reactive temperament.


Willingness is a characteristic that is super important in any trail horse. A good trail horse will be willing to go where you ask him to go. You don’t want every trail ride to be a struggle, so look for a horse who moves forward willingly and obediently.

When trying out a trail horse for sale, pay attention to how the horse responds to your aides. The horse should be fairly sensitive and responsive, and should be forward-moving at all gaits without your having to drive him on.


When you’re traveling over uneven terrain, you will need your trail horse to be surefooted in order to keep both of you safe. A surefooted horse is desirable in any discipline, but the quality is so important when you’re trail riding.

Ask about a trail horse’s trail riding experience, and how he fared over various terrain. If you plan on riding in rocky, steep areas, then make sure that any horse you look at is balanced and skilled enough to cope with this type of trail.

Tolerance of Other Horses

While heading out on the trail alone can be thrilling, you may also want to ride with other riders at times. It’s important that your trail horse is accepting of other horses so that you can safely and enjoyably ride in a group.

When trying out a trail horse, ask if you can see him work while there are other horses in the ring. Watch his reaction to horses – is he troubled by them, or is he comfortable in the setting?

When looking at trail horses for sale, looking for a horse that has the above qualities can help to ensure that your new horse is great out on the trails.

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