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What Kind Of Horse Is Best For Hunting?

Due to their characteristics and natural breeding, some horse breeds are better for hunting than others. When looking for a good hunting horse, it can be challenging to know where to start. This article looks at which kind of horse breeds are best for hunting to help you make a perfect choice.

Horse riders will argue which horse breeds are better for western hunting. Hunters in the United States prefer horse breeds like the American Quarter horse, Appaloosa, Mustang, Rocky Mountain horse, American Paint, Morgan, Old Kentucky Saddler, and Mules to accompany them on their hunting trips.

Wilderness Horseback hunting is a great western adventure, and across the United States, hunters are getting their camouflage jackets and hunting gear ready for the upcoming deer and elk season. Which horse breed do they prefer to take along on their hunting trip? We find out which horses are the best for hunting trips.

The Best Horse Breeds for Hunting

Horses and mules play essential roles when it comes to mountain hunting. Mountain trails present many challenges like rocky terrain, steep slopes, and challenging obstacles; hunters need strong, sure-footed horses to carry them out hunting.

A good hunting horse should be steady, calm, sure-footed, and powerful. Size is also essential because out on the hunt, you need a horse that can easily be dismounted or mounted anywhere on a trail.

Any horse can be trained and conditioned to be an excellent hunting horse, but some horse breeds are naturally better at the task.

American Quarter Horse

The Quarter horse is on the top of our list as the best hunting horse because of its calm demeanor, stamina, powerful body, and sure-footedness. Nothing fazes a Quarter horse; they can handle hours of trekking through the mountains while hunting. Quarter horses are known as one of the oldest breeds in the U.S.

Quarter horses are perfect as hunting horses because they are easy-going and calm. Known for their strength, they can carry a heavy load for hours. America’s favorite horses excel at hunting because they can navigate any terrain they encounter. 

Quarter Horses are famous for many disciplines like hunting, trail riding, show jumping, barrel racing, and making wonderful working horses because of their natural cow sense. They are very intelligent and can deal with any situation on the hunting trail. The American Quarter horse is probably the most versatile horse breed in the United States.


The beautiful Appaloosa is famous for its independence, courage, stamina, intelligence, good temperament, powerful body, and natural survival instincts. Appaloosa’s beautiful spotted coats are their trademark.

The Nez Perce people originally bred Appaloosas for hunting, battle, and transport. They are incredibly versatile and are used for many disciplines like long-distance trail riding, hunting, rodeo, and working cattle.

Appaloosas are hardy and capable of trekking for long distances, and their muscular bodies can carry heavy loads while hunting. They are perfect for hunting on a mountainous trail because they are even-tempered, trustworthy, and do not spook easily at surprises on the trail. The sure-footedness of the Appaloosa makes them ideal for rocky terrain you might encounter during a hunt.


The Mustang is a truly American breed with a rich history. Mustangs descend from escaped, domestic Spanish horses that came to America with Spanish explorers. Mustang is derived from the Spanish word mesteƱo or monstenco, meaning stray or wild. 

Through the years, the breed developed when they mixed with other horse breeds. Mustangs are powerful, intelligent, and hardy; there is much about the Mustang that hunters love.

Mustangs influenced the lives of Native Americans living in the Great Plains when they became their hunting and battle horses.

Mustangs are perfect for hunting on mountain trails because they are naturally sure-footed with lots of stamina and don’t spook easily. They are versatile and used in many ways like ranch work, trail riding, hunting, and rodeo events.

Rocky Mountain Horse

Rocky Mountain horses originated in the United States during the 1800s, in the Appalachian Mountains. They are great for hunting because they possess all the characteristics a hunting horse need. Hunters prefer them for their smooth, comfortable gait and gentle, calm temperament.

Rocky Mountain horses are used for hunting, ranch work, pleasure, and trail riding. Rocky Mountain horses can carry a hunter for hours over mountainous terrain with exceptional stamina and strength.

This true American breed continues to be a favorite for hunters, cattlemen, and trail riders. They are athletic enough to cope with any rigorous mountain trail. It is clear why the Rocky Mountain horse continues to rise in popularity as the preferred steed for hunters.

American Paint

While American Paint horse lovers profess that their colorful coat initially attracts them to this lovely horse, their versatility is what makes them great. This breed combines the characteristics of a western stock horse with an easy-to-recognize colorful and unique coat. American Paint horses are one of the most popular horse breeds in the United States.

Their easy-going temperament, strength, agility, muscular build, and speed make them perfect for hunting. They are attentive and easy to train.

American Paint horses are typically used as trail horses, ranch work, and hunting. Because of their stamina and calm temperament, they don’t spook easily out on the trail, which every hunter requires. American Paint horses are popular at rodeo events, reining, roping, and barrel racing.

The American Paint horse will do anything a hunter asks of them, like carrying a load or a rider over rocky mountain trails.


The Morgan breed has a superb temperament, athletic, versatile, exceptionally cooperative breed with an eager to please personality.

The Morgan is great for cutting, hunting, endurance riding, and ranch work and a favorite as pleasure riding and driving horses. Morgans’ power, soundness, and stamina make them the perfect choice for hunting. This breed has shown they can do anything no matter the challenge.

The Morgan’s friendly disposition and eagerness to please make them easy to train and great horses out on the trail. They have a compact, sturdy body that allows them to be excellent hunting horses with lots of stamina and are sure-footed enough to cover long trails.

The Morgan makes a wonderful hunting horse and is also great as a show horse. 

Old Kentucky Saddler

The Old Kentucky Saddler is a hardy all-around trail, hunting, ranch work, and pleasure riding horse. Their compact, well-muscled bodies are perfect for trekking over challenging mountain terrain. They are comfortable to ride, and their sure-footedness makes them ideal for any mountain terrain.

The Old Kentucky Saddler are famous for their excellent conformation. This medium-sized horse is just the right size for easy mounting and dismounting on a trail. Powerfully built and correctly angled back legs allow them to navigate steep hills and rugged terrain safely.

Their trainability and disposition of the Old Kentucky Sadler is the most appreciated characteristic for most western riders. When deer are loaded on the horse correctly with the weight evenly distributed over the shoulders, they don’t have any problems packing out a deer.

Some hunters also train their horses to drag dead deer from the woods. Old Kentucky Saddlers are capable of anything a hunter asks from them.


Mountain men have preferred mules for decades; their sure-footedness in the rough country made them perfect for mountain trails and hunting expeditions. The way their hooves are cupped allows them to track grip and track through rocky mountain trails with no effort.

Mules are highly intelligent, strong, hardworking, durable, and capable of carrying heavy loads over rough terrain. Mules have a lot of characteristics that make them more qualified than horses as hunting partners.

Many places use mules for transport instead of cars due to their ability to handle the most unstable terrain. If you don’t feel like riding a mule, they also make the best pack animals for carrying your elk or deer off the mountain.

Mules are dependable and were initially bred for hard work to carry people and their luggage over rocky and uneven terrain, so mountain hunting is perfect for them. Mules can carry 20% of their body weight, have gentle temperaments, and easily handle almost anyone.

What Characteristics Makes a Good Hunting Horse?

Horses offer two uses on the hunting trail; they take a hunter to the game and transport it off the mountain trail. When choosing a hunting horse, make sure it has some of these characteristics.

A good mountain-hunting horse should be bomb-proof, comfortable to ride, and trustworthy, as some mountain trails can be challenging to navigate if they are on the side of a slope or cliff. Your horse should be sure-footed to carry you safely on a variety of different terrains.

The best kinds of horses for hunting are reliable, independent, athletic, agile, powerful, good-tempered, intelligent, don’t get excited over little things, and have a full measure of common sense.

Mountain hunting horses carry heavy packed meat and don’t get fazed by the smell of blood. A good hunting horse quietly stands while you mount or dismount and are unfazed by loud gunfire.

A fidgety horse makes loading and offloading more challenging with a couple of hundred pounds of deer meat onboard to shift. Horseback hunting requires a muscular horse with willpower to take on any challenging mountain trail.

Preparing a Horse for a Wilderness Hunting Trip

Planning a wilderness hunt on horseback takes some significant preparations. Planning and preparations typically start a year in advance. When a hunter is unprepared for a hunt, it will result in poor results.

The process to apply for hunting tags must be done long before the planned hunt. A hunter must do many preparations before leaving for a hunt, and one of these preparations is getting your horse ready for a long trip.

Typically, a hunter rides his horse all year round. However, it is vital to regularly exercise and ride the horse several months in advance before going on a wilderness hunt to prepare the horse. The physical strains on horses and humans on a wilderness hunt are strenuous.

Rider and horse must be in top physical condition to deal with the long hours of a hunt. Too many hunters assume their horses will be up to the hunt and get in trouble because their horses are unfit and incapable. Hunting with an unreliable horse in the mountains can quickly turn from an adventure to a dangerous situation.

Ride your hunting horse across creeks, up and down hills, through wooded areas with thick brush and low hanging branches to condition them.  Take them for a short swim in a pond or creek to help them get used to the water. The variety of terrain conditions both the horse and the rider and prepares them for the trail.

Prepare your horse by riding a mountain trail with other riders to expose your horse to any inexperienced hunters that might be going along. Horses prepared in advance figure out a lot of things quickly when they reach the mountains trail.


Horses are the perfect way to cross lots of ground while hunting in wilderness country. Hunting on horseback is more accessible than hunting on foot because most prey animals see horses as other prey animals. A hunter can get a lot closer to elk or deer on horseback than on foot.

Choosing the best kind of horse for hunting in the mountains can be a challenge. Hunting horses need strength, obedience, endurance, sure-footedness, stamina, intelligence, and unfazed at surprises that can pop up on a trail. Mountain hunting horses must carry hunters and haul the equipment and an entire elk or deer off the mountain after the hunt. 

The best kind of horses for hunting are American Quarter horses, Mustang, Appaloosa, Mules, and Rocky Mountain Horses. A wilderness deer hunt on horseback is every hunter’s dream; make sure you choose the right horse for your adventure.

We hope you learned everything you need to know about what kind of horse is best for hunting in this article.


Anrie Diedericks

I've been around horses since I was 6 years old and started competing at the age of 9. Horses are my greatest passion and I am thrilled to be able to share my 23 (and counting) years of experience and knowledge with you.

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