A Horse’s Attitude

For the last month, I’ve been helping two friends with their horse hunting. One woman is, after a fifteen-year partnership, retiring her dressage horse. The other friend is a novice who is looking for a beginner-safe horse to teach her how to ride, Although one is experienced and one is not, I’m looking for similar qualities in both of their mounts.

No horse is truly ‘bomb-proof” and “no spook.” Even Tonka startles and shies. (It turns out that he doesn’t have much experience with wetlands. A frog plunking into the muck as we ride by is cause for alarm!) Some horses are temperamentally naturally nervous, others, due to their histories, have learned to be fearful. Such horses can be trained to be calmer and less reactive, but neither of these riders are in a position to do that. They need sane horses that settle easily and are willing and trusting and pay attention to their riders.

I’m looking for an attitude like this.

western horse


I’m not a Western rider. I’m fascinated, but totally in the dark, about the gear on this horse. If anyone has insight about what work he is rigged up to do, and where he might have done it, please let me know.


  1. To me it looks as though this horse is outfitted in standard western tack, although western bridles usually don’t have a noseband. The coiled rope on the saddle horn shows that he is used for calf roping. He has been taught to ground tie so that when the rider has to jump off and deal with a cow he stays put. He looks very sturdy and athletic.

  2. I would say the saddle is more of a ranch style with the high back for a bit more comfort in the saddle when riding in it all day. The horn is not that of a roping saddle it is not thick enough to withstand repeated dallying and dragging of cattle. The bridle is is pretty elaborate for a working horse and the rope doesn’t appear to be a typical lariat. Maybe he is just dressed up for a day into town?

  3. I’ll second Lee Ann. The build and the attitude say cow horse. A solid one, I should think, since the curb strap is straight leather, no chain. But the tack isn’t working tack. It’s dress up tack. A day into town or a pleasure ride out with friends?

  4. Looks like a roping saddle and a curb bit. Cow horse for sure.

  5. Looks like saddles I’ve seen many times in my grandfather’s barn. The saddles were used on a cattle farm. The rope was used as a lasso to give medicine or brand cows/calves. The high back was for comfort and to hold the rider in seat. The high horn was used to hold on to and secure the rope when lassoing the cattle. We no longer use horses on the farm. Sadly they have been replaced by 4 wheelers and side by sides.

    • She’s not a newcomer, she’s a novice, which is different. It takes a long time to learn how to ride :) She rides English.

      • Obviously there is more to riding than holding on to the saddle horn! :)

  6. He is truly outfitted! I like his quiet eye and they way he stands. We have taught out horses to stand even when we drop the reins. I am not a saddle expert but the high back looks like an outback saddle? One you would use for extra long rides. Not sure of the breed. Quarter for sure, but that long neck and semi roman nose? Maybe have some thoroughbred?