View Full Version : Dressage prospect? Being brave..

Feb. 10, 2011, 12:45 PM
Been debating about this guy for a little while, and would like some opinions before I start thinking too crazy. I'm very new to dressage, coming from a background of mostly riding green hunter/jumper horses and have picked up A LOT of bad habits. Just for a heads up. I've recently found an exceptional coach who I will be working with very soon, and have decided to start horse shopping.

Horse is an 8 y/o OTTB, very green, knows walk/trot/canter (though not terribly well), but has a very good mind and a great fun personality. Super good worker, tries hard, and is a fast learner. His gaits are decent, though he is built downhill (16h in front, 16.1 1/2 behind). Extremely mouthy and very forward, some of which were caused by physical issues which have since been resolved, and he is improving steadily. Bit tense under saddle, needs work to relax.

Basically, I'm just looking for general opinions and suggestions about him, and maybe how to price him. If I make an offer, I want it to be relatively accurate for the current market. I'd like to take this horse as far as we both could go, and do plan on showing. Getting to 3rd level eventually is definitely a long-term goal.

In these videos, he's being worked in a bit which is too large (had to bring some of my own tack, didn't know his size), and it's sliding around a bit making it look like I'm pulling on him.. the rein contact really is quite soft. This saddle was a bit of a change from my usual dressage saddle, and it's obvious.

Trot/little bit of walk:



Yay? Nay?


Feb. 10, 2011, 01:12 PM
Yeah, the bit is really too big and the saddle you had to ride with too! :yes:

It seems to be a quite forward, energetic horse with nice gaits but right now, he is clearly not using his back at all. You might have a soft contact but he goes easily behind the bit to avoid contact (the too big bit is not helping here!)

I really don't know how much I would pay for a 8yrs barely broken OTTB...

3rd level wouldn't be that difficult if you have a good trainer and the horse has a good mind. Just take the time to retrain good contact and connexion from back and front.

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:17 PM
I like him! and I'm not a TB-person in general....

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:21 PM
for someone new to the sport I would say no.

because he curls up too easy and he's mouthy.
I find those to be tough issues to work through.

for a first time dressage enthusiast I would want a horse that provides the rider with a very stable contact as to start good habits from both horse and rider right from the start.

I also would not look for a horse that is so obviously down hill. Horses that are so downhill really need to understand and use the half halt event hat much more. A horse that is mouthy and BTV does not get a half halt.

I predict a forward moving bull dozer from this horse.

Which may be fine, and you may be able to work through it, but for the same price and little more searching you could find another horse built better and younger that is more broke.

but I'm lazy, so that is coming from someone who is lazy and wants the ride to be easy.

also, you can find plenty of OTTBs that move that well.

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:33 PM
I think he isquite fine for a lower level prospect. From the short clips, his gaits look very nice with some nice suspension in the canter and really steps underneath himself well. I suspect a LOT of the getting behind the vertical is the bit being too large and the ride looking like she is not very soft with him. If his attitude is well and he is sound I'd go for it! He can easily go thru second, maybe third level, even being down hill, I have knwn quite a few with that build that had no problem with those levels. Is he a grand prix prospect, well, no! But don't think that is what you are looking for. I you want a willing partner to work with and has three decent gaits he appears to fit the bill. CAnnot comment on price, as prices are all over the board these days. Price is what you and the owner can agree on, nothing more nothing less!

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:37 PM
What does your coach think of him?

I'm not as pessimistic as some of the other posters. He looks to me like a horse that is just a bit unbalanced and ready to use the bit to help him out. I can see that your contact is light, and once you learn how to implement your half halts and transitions, you'll be able to help him shift his weight back.

He doesn't look like a confirmed bulldozer to me; he just seems unbalanced and not certain of how to balance. He lifts his head in transitions, so he's not plowing through your hand, he's just not steady on the bit because he doesn't know how to bring his hind end under in the transition.

Whether you as a "green" dressage rider are the one to address these things with a green horse, I don't know. You know I'm sure that your position needs to evolve a lot more toward a dressage seat, and that will help both of you, but you say you have a great coach and that will make all the difference for both of you.

If it were me, what I'd do is put this horse on the lunge, probably with the coach at first, and let him/her teach him how to softly lift his back and lower his head in balance. I'd also put you on the lunge, preferably on a school horse, and take away the reins until you've gotten over your green h/j habits. I don't think it will take long; you have a nice softness, you seem athletic, and you just have to readjust your balance into a dressage seat that will encourage your horse to lift his back and come through behind.

I think you can easily do that (learn your new position) and I think this boy can learn a new way of going too. You will absolutely need a great coach to help both of you, though.

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:41 PM
I like him! and I'm not a TB-person in general....

I share the same sentiment! :) I think he's got quite nice gaits, actually. Considering he is quite green, I think he's going fairly well and has a fairly balanced canter. The fact that he's 8 and green is a bit of a turnoff for me, but if his age doesn't bother you, then I don't see any reason why you couldn't do well with him.

I can't help you with pricing though. But if he's got a good brain and good work ethic, I think you could make up for lost time, if you've got a good coach. I've seen a fancy Hanoverian mare who had such a bad temperament my GP coach gave up on her. So fancy movement isn't the be all and end all in the dressage world. Without a good work ethic, fancy movement means nothing. Trying a few different bits may help a lot with the mouth issues.

The main thing is, what are your goals for this horse, and how well would he fit the bill?

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:45 PM
BTW, as he develops his musculature properly, he should get taller in the withers. He could easily gain an inch. He may not be built downhill so much as be developed downhill at this point.

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:49 PM
BTW, as he develops his musculature properly, he should get taller in the withers. He could easily gain an inch. He may not be built downhill so much as be developed downhill at this point.

This is an interesting thing. I need to restick my horse now, I think. Yesterday a vet was standing next to him, looking at his withers and said "I'm pretty sure he's over 17 hands now." He was just under 16.3 with no heel and completely out of shape, so I'm wondering if he has "grown"!

As for this guy - I think he should be a pretty low price. Depending on the area, I'd check out craigslist to see what kind of horses are out there. He could be worth a lot if he has the right mind, but sale value is probably low due to his being green at 8, and not a "fashionable" registry for dressage. I've been kind of eyeing an unbroken but nice-moving 4 year old who is $650. To me, they are similar quality, and the unbroken is made up for by the age difference. I do think that $650 is a LOW price, but I would expect $2000 or less for this horse, probably.

I do like him. I do think he could go third, in my limited knowledge. Personally, I'd prefer a more uphill horse with a shorter back - but his build doesn't seem to limit him greatly in his movement. If you feel a click with him, and that he's appropriate for you, just the horse himself doesn't show anything in the videos to say he can't meet your goals.

Feb. 10, 2011, 01:58 PM
curling BTV doesn't bother me, could be a strength thing and its pretty easily fixed with good riding assuming the horse didn't have draw reins or a harsh bit-that is much harder to "unlearn".

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:00 PM
I love his gaits and how he moves naturally as is, but would be turned away from his being so downhill. He is going to have to work VERY hard to keep that hind under him so as to perform the required movements. That said, I myself have not competed to third and some of the above posters who have (?) think he could make third no problem, so I would go by that (what does your instructor think?). I believe too he can... just I would be turned off by how much work it would take - I'd rather pick something with a little more natural propensity for such work. It's already enough work just to get my (jumper) lanky, long-backed guy (http://i892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/naturalequus/Link/DSC_0092.jpg) (5 in the photo, OTTB) working from behind - and he is not built downhill!! Not the best photo, but this guy (http://i892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/naturalequus/Sonny/DSCF7793.jpg) is about 4 1/2 in this photo and off the track. This is the type of conformation I would look for, because this guy moves like a dream - very much appropriate to dressage. This girl (http://i892.photobucket.com/albums/ac126/naturalequus/Other/Onyx5.jpg) is not quite as talented, however, this is another pick I would make for dressage. She is off the track as well, and 4 in the preceding photo. My point being that there are plenty of OTTB's that would be better suited to the job (and of course there's likely to always be a horse(s) better suited to the job than the one you have, but I am just talking in general). That said, if you really click with this particular horse's personality and really like his temperament etc (not that this is not possible with other horses, it is) and YOU really like him, well go for it. Much will improve with the correct work and conditioning.

I wouldn't be turned off by his age (he's only 8, not 18!) nor by his greenness - he's got solid gaits etc. As far as his curling behind contact etc, I wouldn't worry about it either. It's not that difficult to overcome (though perhaps moreso with his conformation??). The chestnut gelding in the first photo I offered did that yet no longer does. I put some work on him but mostly he's been ridden by two novices who have overcome said challenge with him relatively easily.

One thing I would consider though is that if you yourself have picked up a lot of bad habits, maybe something less green would be appropriate? When you're working on developing the horse you are less able to focus on yourself at the time. That said, if your really like him, get him, but maybe consider taking lessons on a schoolmaster say a few times a month so you can also just focus on yourself :)

As far as price goes, that really depends on your area. Look up other equivalent prospects in your area, online, and make an appropriate offer based on that. I would figure under the $2,500 mark based on his current knowledge and his conformation, but that is a pretty rough guesstimate.

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:06 PM
Take a lot more lessons on horses who know what to do so you can concentrate on yourself.

If you really like this guy, work out a lease. But don't buy "what might be" at this stage of your own riding.

Carol Ames
Feb. 10, 2011, 02:09 PM
He is nicely forward isn't he?:yes:; I'm afraid you will have "issues re-balancing:eek: him given his downhill build and lack of contact/ acceptance of the bit; if you like him and want to work with him; go ahead:cool:; I would not pay more than $2k:no:; getting to 3rd level will be an uphill :lol:struggle!

Carol Ames
Feb. 10, 2011, 02:13 PM
He is better after the canter which, makes me think his back can/ will come up :cool:with work.

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:18 PM
I'm going to offer a slightly different perspective. If your goals are doing the lower levels, having fun with your horse, and learning (these happen to be my goals, hence, this perspective), then I think he looks like a good potential partner. I love how forward he is, and how he uses himself even though he's green and the tack situation wasn't ideal. What's between those ears is important - and a good brain is worth a lot to me.

I'm clawing my way up the rungs of the ladder on OTTBs that don't have a ton of training. And, with the help of my very thoughtful trainer, I'm learning a lot. If you're the type of person who really gets into getting fundamentals down, then having a horse that has some imperfections is OK. Overcoming the unique challenges are interesting and make one a better rider.

IF your goals are rapid advancement and high scores, having a more "made" horse that doesn't have the confirmation challenges may be better for you.

Me I like him, quite a bit. I wouldn't break the bank, though. Green OTTBs are not lacking in supply.

Carol Ames
Feb. 10, 2011, 02:18 PM
His trot is good for a TB, isn't it?

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:19 PM
I like him. Forward, good mind, fun, good work ethic, athletic -- these are all good things. Good mind and athletic alone are half the battle, if not more. I like his gaits for dressage (and that's not so easy to find in a TB these days) and his hind end has enough oomph to make it easy to carry himself, if you can convince that good mind that that's what will make him feel good (which it will).

He's old for a green horse and a TB, so he shouldn't be expensive. I don't know the market in Ontario, but here he wouldn't be over $2500.

Carol Ames
Feb. 10, 2011, 02:23 PM
Is there an experienced dressage rider , experienced with collection who, could sit on him occasionally ? It would make thoroughness and collection much easier for both of you:yes:.

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:25 PM
His trot is good for a TB, isn't it?

I certainly thought so, especially given his lack of training and dressage specific fitness!

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:40 PM
Prediction: this horse will really make you work for it, especially if you want to get to 3rd level.

Agree with purplnurpl, I think she has nailed it.

Carol Ames
Feb. 10, 2011, 02:40 PM
I'm just re-watching;) and think ; if you like him and have a good trainer you should get :yes:him; understanding that, learning on a green horse with conformation difficulties makes it harder on both of you;:yes: I think he will be fun to work with;) and is the type I would have bought for myself:yes:.

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:41 PM
I am a TB person and I think you could do better. I have had several TBs with movement at least that good that were easy enough for a newish rider to deal with. I also think that sometimes forward can be the enemy for a newer to dressage rider as it feels that the horse is forward enough and it can be intimidating to put more leg on to get the horse through or working underneath itself rather than just forward/faster/on the forehand.

I also think there are a ton of really nice horses out there right now. I would look a bit more, especially if you haven't already ridden a bunch of horses

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:42 PM
I think he is a fine prospect for what you want- the one caveat being the greeness. You will have to be willing to work extensively with an instructor I think to get to the 3rd level goal you mentioned.

Feb. 10, 2011, 02:48 PM
If you are about to start with a new trainer- don't buy a horse. Wait until the new trainer has seen you ride a few times and then talk to her about shopping. Being in a position where your trainer dislikes your horse, or thinks its the wrong horse for you, isn't positive for anyone.

Hampton Bay
Feb. 10, 2011, 03:43 PM
I do think his trot is nice, as is his canter.

But as one who has a horse who is downhill, and only *maybe* 1/2" downhill, they can be very hard to progress through the levels with. I've had to use a thick shoe/pad combination to help my mare with collection. It will probably be easier for you to learn if you start off with a horse who moves nicely uphill, so you're not battling green on green plus less-than-ideal conformation.

Feb. 10, 2011, 03:45 PM
I like him and I would get him - he's behind the bit because he isn't being ridden from behind - when he get his engine and impulsion, and lifts his withers and uses his back, he won't be ducking behind (or able to much) - but you are right up on his shoulder, even posting you are tipped forward and not using your seat so he isn't using his either.

Not criticising, just saying why he is BTV.

I think this is a horse which could do lovely in dressage - he has a wonderful round canter, lofty gaits - his trot is quick and he is not reaching out in front, but it is for the same reason above - his shoulder isn't freed to lift and move out. With work and the correct equipment and riding, bingo, I think he'd be great. I like him and his type, personally.

If you could get him for say 2 to 5,000 depending on where you are and the deals you can make, I'd say definitely go for it.

Feb. 10, 2011, 04:14 PM
As a dressage rider who dabbles in eventing (I can't give up jumping no matter how hard I try! :D), I'd take him and event him in a heartbeat!

As for strict dressage, maybe...depends on how he strengthens up. Right now, you can tell he's not strong enough to truly carry himself. When his head comes up from behind the vertical and he really reaches for contact, he can only stay there a couple of strides. However, in the canter, he shows that he can work towards holding himself...I like him. If you like him and feel comfortable, go for it...but, just know that he'll take some work (and perhaps cause some frustration!). And, agreeing with others...as your position gets better, he will too.

Feb. 10, 2011, 04:47 PM
people keep coming back to TBs and how this one has good movement.

Ok people--TBs are good movers.
and if you find one that is not it's because it's a shitty mover.

so, OP, please don't think to yourself, "oh this TB is a good mover, better get it while I can!"

I have seen warmbloods that were shitty movers too. ;)

I had a TB. He scored 8s on gaits right from the start.

Carol Ames
Feb. 10, 2011, 04:48 PM
no more than $2,ooo

Feb. 10, 2011, 04:54 PM
no more than $2,ooo

at his age.
I'd say offer $800.00. no more than 1K.

Feb. 10, 2011, 05:00 PM
people keep coming back to TBs and how this one has good movement.

Ok people--TBs are good movers.
and if you find one that is not it's because it's a shitty mover.

so, OP, please don't think to yourself, "oh this TB is a good mover, better get it while I can!"

I have seen warmbloods that were shitty movers too. ;)

I had a TB. He scored 8s on gaits right from the start.

This. A good mind is everything, and good gaits/movement is a bonus, but they are certainly NOT rare. I say this having worked on the track and currently owning 4 OTTB's myself. Unless you feel this horse is exceptional and really calls to you, look at a few more TB's/OTTB's.

I certainly would not pay up to 5K as suggested. $2,500 MAX. The two excellent movers I posted earlier? Paid less than 1K for them. The chestnut gelding we actually bought for $500 (we've since had several dressage offers on him). I stumbled on a relation to him - same mind, same movement, same everything (and sound), rescued from auction, selling for $300. 4yo OTTB mare I used to groom on the track. Too bad I lacked the funds for a project horse at the time (took a lot of inner strength to turn that one down!!!!) ;) All the above-mentioned are sound, sane, have ammy-suitable minds, were green at the time of purchase, and have wonderful movement. So I second the "not rare" statement.

Feb. 10, 2011, 05:03 PM
I think if you hadn't mentioned he was downhill, it wouldn't be obvious to me in his way of going. He is nicely put together otherwise and his neck set looks okay.

Yes, he's on the forehand, but he steps under himself so nicely (esp at the canter) that the downhillness is not a big issue. Not every uphill or level horse moves "uphill" and not every horse with a slightly higher bum moves "downhill."

I think he could be nice, but he's 8. That would deter me a bit, since many horses fresh off the track are this broke and 4-5 years younger (that's 4-5 years of training you won't get with this horse). So, if you are both learning, you will probably progress a bit slower...which makes the horse's start age more significant.

Still, he is nice, and would be a good buy at sub 1K (as purpl said) and an acceptable risk at 1.5K-2K. Above 2K is overpriced.

Feb. 10, 2011, 05:05 PM
Ok people--TBs are good movers.
and if you find one that is not it's because it's a shitty mover.

:lol: I agree, many thoroughbreds are nice movers (not mine, so much, but oh well).

I am no expert, but I really like him. He's very attractive and looks like he has a substantial build. And 8 isn't old. Having recently spent a lot of time horse shopping, around here he would probably go for $2500-4000, if he is 16.2 or better in the upper part of the range. I never saw a horse of that type for less than $1000 (as someone suggested) when I was looking. But I am in a high price area.

Feb. 10, 2011, 07:07 PM
I'm afraid I'd say no.

Depending on why he's so curled up and BTV it can be very, very difficult to fix. The fussiness in the mouth is also hard to fix. Do you know if he was ever ridden in draw reins? I have a bigger problem with the BTV than the fussing with the bit, especially if this bit is too large but I'd want to see him go more quietly before buying him.

If you put a pro on him and he stays quiet in his mouth and accepts the contact then he's probably a good bet. I like his gaits. Otherwise, I think you're in for a struggle.

There are lots of OTTBs out there who have nice gaits (mine is a spectacular mover) without the mouthiness.

My current OTTB cost $300. He could w/t/c when I got him too (most will right off the track). I wouldn't spend more than 1K on an OTTB right now just because there are so many really nice ones out there that are practically being given away.

However, only you know whether he feels "right" when you are riding him.

Feb. 11, 2011, 09:15 AM
For a rider that is new to dressage, an 8 yr old green, going behind the bit horse of any breed is a bad choice. Even more so if third level is your goal.

Yes, he seems kind and has nice movement. But getting him out from behind the vertical and truly onto the bit will be a challenge. And at 8, developing the flexibility and strength to do the lateral work that is so necessary to developing a third level horse will be a difficult.

I would be in the $1K range if he vets, and you and your trainer really like him.

Feb. 11, 2011, 10:19 AM
If you are about to start with a new trainer- don't buy a horse. Wait until the new trainer has seen you ride a few times and then talk to her about shopping. Being in a position where your trainer dislikes your horse, or thinks its the wrong horse for you, isn't positive for anyone.

This is the best single piece of advice I've seen on this thread. Although I like this horse, I completely agree with Joiedevie that your trainer should be involved in your choice. One of my biggest frustrations is dealing with people who have bought completely inappropriate horses. Good luck to you whatever you decide! :)

Feb. 11, 2011, 10:47 AM
eh, I'm a romantic. And also in no way an expert, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. But I think that, unless your goal is rapid advancement through the levels, you should choose as a partner the horse that you most enjoy working and learning with, and whose personality and work ethic fits you the best.

I am one of those riders who would rather dinker around at Training indefinitely with a horse I completely mesh with, than shoot up to Third with a horse I don't completely enjoy. But I know that puts me in the minority, and also probably sounds awful to those who are more serious about competing. ;)

I think it was James Wofford who wrote that you should ultimately buy the horse whose face you most enjoy seeing over the stall door every morning. :)

Feb. 11, 2011, 02:40 PM
at his age.
I'd say offer $800.00. no more than 1K.


If this horse was 4 yrs old and "green" I would say 1k-2k. But its yet another MATURE horse who isn't finished...in anything. You would be MUCH better marking him as an eventing prospect or a polo prospect or a even a trail horse than specificly as "dressage prospect". The fact is eeeevvvveerrryyyooone under the sun promotes their green- to- anything horses as "dressage prospect" if it can stand up on its own and trot around. I would not really consider this horse a dressage prospect, right now he's just a riding prospect that is WAY behind on training. The economy is BAD and there is no market for horses that at that age are not FINISHED riding horses, fit, healthy, sound and sane.

Feb. 11, 2011, 05:02 PM
Wow! Thank you for all these great replies. A lot more than I was expecting!

What has been said here is pretty much in line with what I was anticipating (which kind of sucks, because I do like him and was hoping you guys might say otherwise!). He is a really lovely guy, but his cons do outweigh his pros.

Thanks again. Your opinions are greatly appreciated. :)

Feb. 11, 2011, 05:33 PM
I think he's real nice. He looks fun to work with ,and attitude is always #1. I like him. Being green, his gaits look great. I like forward, I hate lugging a horse around. I don't see anything that can't be improved or corrected with some basic dressage, and his current gaits look like a good base to build on.