Hot or not?

Anyone remember that godawful website, Where you would submit photos and rank people based on their looks? Just… ew.

This is not about that.

This is about Kaity’s post where she ruminates on what the label of “hot” really means. The scale I was taught was a 1-10 scale, where 1 was a horse you could barely kick into a trot and 10 was a fire breathing dragon.

For a long time I didn’t think about the scale, it made sense to me. I was only ever riding lesson horses that may have been difficult, but they were chosen with my skill level and safety in mind. So to me, I wasn’t riding “hot” horses, I was riding Tom, and Westley, and Qui, and Red. I was riding individual horses with their own quirks and was focused on working with the horse under me to become a better rider.

However when I started actually shopping for my own horse I started asking my trainer to rate the horses I rode most so I could have a better, more concrete idea of EXACTLY what it meant when an ad described a horse as a 7. I wasn’t interested in wasting my time looking at horses or even contacting sellers when I knew that it was not something I wanted to buy based on the ad you know?


So I asked about Westley, an 11 year old TB that I loved dearly but difficult would be an accurate descriptor. He would rush jumps, was kind of spooky, and had quite the buck. Trainer pegged him at about a 7. Eventually he was found to have a myriad of physical issues, kissing spine included which no doubt contributed to his under saddle behaviors.


Then there was Tom. Oh Tom. He was incredible. A TB that I rode when he was around 8 and I was a teen, and again as an adult when he was in his late teens. This horse was something else. An incredible athlete but oh man. Another tough one to ride. Tom would bolt, he could be spooky as all get out, and he had this patented move where he would buck, then when you were out of balance he would buck again but with a twist. Would get you on the ground every time! Trainer pegged him as an 8 most days and on a bad day a 9 or a 10.


Qui was yet another TB and numbered a 6.



Red was a steady QH, a 5 on the scale.


I can’t forget about Donny! Categorized as a 5 by my trainer, when in my mind I always thought he would be a 2. I would have described Westley as a 5, Tom a 7, Qui a 4 and Red a 2.

So basically, what I would consider a hot horse may be very very different then what someone else (including apparently my much more knowledgeable trainer) does. Your definition of hot could change as you get older and less likely to bounce when you fall. As your skill level increases you may find the horses that you once thought hot are now not so intimidating.

Phoebes. Hotness level TBD and subject to change.

A green horse or a horse in pain or a horse in need of a feeding/turnout change might be pretty spicy for now, but mellow out with age, pain management or more turnout. A horse that is considered hot for an eventer is going to be totally different for a horse that is hot in a discipline like Western pleasure or hunters.

So while having the 1-10 “hotness” scale can be a useful tool when thinking in terms of broad generalities, it really is just a matter of perspective. You need to know your abilities (or have experienced people helping you), and know what kind of ride you are comfortable on and will enjoy.

4 thoughts on “Hot or not?

  1. Such a great perspective! Sort of the same thing as saying a horse is appropriate for beginner vs intermediate vs advanced. Those definitions are subjective also and one person’s intermediate skills may not be the same as the next one’s. Definitely makes horse shopping a bit harder!

    4 year old P was a 2, 5 &6 years old he was more a 7-8, and lately, at the ripe old age of 7, he’s been a 4. I like my version of a 4. Not dead to the world, but not spooking and bolting like a crazed creature.


    • Did you ever read The Phantom Tollbooth? Reminds me so much of when Milo comes across a very average guy “you see to tall men I’m a midget, and to short men I’m a giant; to the skinny ones I’m a fat man, and to the fat ones I’m a thin man.” All in the perspective!
      I feel like I am happiest riding a horse that’s somewhere between a 5-7. When I was younger I felt comfortable on more 7 & 8’s and now that I’m an Old I lean closer to the 5 end.


  2. Love this topic (and expect to eventually have a post on the subject myself too lol), and 100% agree that one persons rating may be very different from another persons. So long as we know our own happy place tho it’s all good!


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