View Full Version : If you knew your horses talent was in another field....

JackSprats Mom
Feb. 20, 2011, 09:14 PM
So I am curious about what poeple would do if they had a horse that they had owned a while (several years) and worked with dilegently in dressage but knew the horses real talent and passion was in another field.

For example my guy is 7, getting solid second lvl, can do it all, is happy enough about it but he LOVES endurance and based on his few outtings would excel in this field. He 'tolerates' dressage.

Part of me wants to just continue with the dressage and part of me says sell to an endurance person and let him excel and enjoy it.

Curious as to what you all would do.

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:20 PM
I think it's always fun to learn a new discipline :)

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:25 PM
I did hunters with my horse for a number of years but his talent was in dressage. I showed him in hunters and he seemed happy but then I got scared of jumping so we started dressage :lol: I actually love it more than jumping now!

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:25 PM
I have one like that. I bought him as a rehab. horse and he can do lower level dressage, but doesn't like it much. He LOVES to jump. I'm trying to find him the right home.

You should really have a horse that likes to love what you do or it's not fair to either of you.

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:26 PM
I would try the endurance, myself. But I'm one who is not so much focused on a particular discipline as to having fun with my horse partner(s) and sometimes competing with them.

I'll pick the discipline to start, but if they let me know it's not for them, or something else is more fun to them, I'd give that a try, for sure.

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:36 PM
I do both--my horse loves endurance but I compromise by doing a lot of trail riding in addition to dressage. I'm not selling my horse since she can do dressage (and enjoys it more or less) and is a good fit for me. I prefer all around horses anyways

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:53 PM
Had a lovely warmblood that I bought as a youngster for Eventing. He was a beautiful mover and did very well in Dressage. Jumping? Not a happy place for me or him. Cross Country? He was terrified of most everything. Ended up selling him as a Dressage horse to a lovely women who is completely enjoying him. While I am off pursuing my eventing dreams with a reliable Appendix QH. It was a really tough decision for me as my guy was my "dream horse". But I was not ready to be a DQ and that is what he needed. Sometimes you need to figure out what you really want to do....and, if possible, let the horse go to do what he is really made to do. It is all about being with the right partner for your desires and his/hers.....

Feb. 20, 2011, 09:59 PM
I would sell the horse.

I imported a horse in 2002, and sold him in 2004 as a hunter prospect, since he much preferred to jump. Even if I had wanted to do the hunters, there is no way I could have campaigned him to his full potential. He was bought by someone who could, and last year he qualified for Devon in 3 divisions (Juniors, A/O, and Regular Working), went to the indoors shows every year, and is happy doing his job. I visited him a few years ago at his stall in the Verizon Center, where he was showing at WIHS. He was happy as a clam, especially once I fed him some of the treats he had won as part of his prize for winning the hack in the Regulars.

In 2009, I sold a horse that I had purchased as a weanling in 2000. He was certainly a fancy enough mover to be a dressage horse, and got some really good scores at the lower levels. However, he didn't really have the work ethic to move up, and is now doing super in the hunters as well.

If you really want to change disciplines to suit the horse, do so. However, I like to do dressage, and I want a horse who is happy in the work. I would rather sell the horse to the right person than have to learn a whole new way of riding, get new tack, etc.

Feb. 20, 2011, 10:01 PM
I buy my horses for my heart rather than a discipline, I'll ride whatever works for my horse. Dressage training is good for pretty much every horse, so you could still practice on that too. But if riding strickly dressage is your passion, sell your guy and let him enjoy the trails.

Feb. 20, 2011, 10:14 PM
What breed and size is your horse? And when you say "he LOVES endurance" do you mean he loves being on the trail or do you mean the actual discipline? Have you already done an endurance ride with him?

Just playing devil's advocate here since riders in other disciplines often misunderstand endurance riding (50-, 75-, or 100-mile timed rides/races) and don't know about the stringent vet checks & criteria that come with it. So you may not be able to sell your horse for this particular discipline.

However, it sounds as if he may make a nice "competitive trail" horse, which is another discipline altogether, shorter and slower rides, and I bet there are many people out there looking for a fun and safe and sane trail horse.

Feb. 20, 2011, 10:32 PM
Maybe lease him to someone who will do endurance? That way, you don't have to permanently part ways. Also, endurance isn't year round in every part of the country. Perhaps he could go to someone who will do endurance during one season and you can have him dressage during another.

Feb. 20, 2011, 11:03 PM
I was in your shoes with an Arab gelding. I had bought him as a weanling -- or more accurately I should say he picked ME. I was not even shopping for a horse, but he marched up to me and basically said 'tag, you're it!" From that day forward I could not stop thinking about him! He came home with me when he was weaned. He was an awesome mover but was very off/on in his performance. He could win with super high scores, or just totally tense up and spook. I got him to first level when I finally admitted he was not going to be a dressage horse. Fortunately I had another horse who liked dressage - there was no question of selling him. Was not going to happen. I had some friends who did endurance and I started conditioning him to do a 25-mile ride. Turned out he loved horse camping and being out on the trail. It was something different and fun for me, too.

Feb. 20, 2011, 11:14 PM
If it is just primarily the trail he loves, just toss in a lot of trail work with your dressage work where possible. Cross-training can only be beneficial. The hills, uneven footing, logs to jump over ;), etc might be enough to keep him happy but also further strengthen and condition him for dressage ;)

IME if you can integrate what he loves with what you love, then you'll both do fine. If you really can't integrate and he means more to you than the sport (at least right now), maybe try to do what he loves. However if you're really passionate about your chosen discipline, there is nothing wrong with finding him a good home appropriate to his passions to pursue your own. The best thing I could have ever done for my Quarab is to lease him out to a home where he was able to pursue his own passion (cattle, team penning, haha), while I could pursue my own (show jumping, bringing up and developing my youngsters).

Feb. 20, 2011, 11:15 PM
I am another who tends to let the horse lead me. I don't have any big showing ambitions, so it works for me!

Had an OTTB who's heart really wasn't in eventing. He did well, we went pretty far... but as a rider, you can tell a horse that LOVES cross country, compared to a horse that willing to do it, because you said so.

We switched to hunter / jumpers, while not completely my "scene" horse was happy, I learned more, and we did well!

Had an appy that was a great all rounder that I evented to prelim. He HATED dressage. His flat work was more then respectable for jumping purposes, but the dressage was NEVER "fun".

He went on to a become a children's hunter and did AWESOME. No more dressage, just simple flat work and jumping. Perfect fit for him.

Feb. 20, 2011, 11:45 PM
I buy my horses for my heart rather than a discipline, I'll ride whatever works for my horse. Dressage training is good for pretty much every horse, so you could still practice on that too. But if riding strictly dressage is your passion, sell your guy and let him enjoy the trails.

This is my philosophy as well - after spending years working my butt off to get my horse comfortable cross-country, I finally decided I wouldn't force him anymore to do something he really didn't like. Now we do dressage and some show jumping (he's more of a "combined test" horse :lol:) But I know other people who have the opposite point of view - they would have sold him to someone who wanted to do strictly dressage or jumpers. It's a very individual decision.

Feb. 21, 2011, 08:42 AM
Where are you located? :lol: Sounds like a good guy for me, dressage some days, trail riding the next ;)

But for you question. I was a hunter and when I got my next horse, that knew nothing at 13 but how to maybe go down the trail I started him in hunters. Then jumpers, then well he didn't like either really. Did it for me but it wasn't his thing. He didn't really fit a hunter either. So I thought about dressage and boy did he rock it. He is retired now but I switched with him and LOVED it! We jumped for fun and did some c/ts where I got to jump sometimes but he really was a dressage horse and seemed to enjoy his job much better. Why not do both. Take him out weekly on the trails if you can and switch up his training and add alot of hacking. You can work on your dressage on the trails and in fields as well and see how he likes it. I've learned with my other guy that if you mix it up for them they will be happier. Good luck.

Feb. 21, 2011, 08:57 AM
I did hunters with my horse for a number of years but his talent was in dressage. I showed him in hunters and he seemed happy but then I got scared of jumping so we started dressage :lol: I actually love it more than jumping now!


Holly Jeanne
Feb. 21, 2011, 11:34 AM
Beentheredonethat says:
I have one like that. I bought him as a rehab. horse and he can do lower level dressage, but doesn't like it much. He LOVES to jump. I'm trying to find him the right home.

I also have one like that but I bred her. Breaks my heart but she is so much happier jumping and I don't want to. She's happily doing 3'3" oxers and I don't even really want to do cross rails. Never thought I would offer my homebred for sale but she's so much happier when pointed at a fence.

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:55 AM
Putting the square peg in the round hole is always a mistake.

Feb. 21, 2011, 01:21 PM
I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with a new horse, other than to have some fun and maybe start eventing again. I knew I wanted a rescue, and this little Arab basically "picked" me - I went to ride him once, and I was sold. I knew nothing about his history, except that he obviously knew dressage, so I just started doing a mix of arena and trail work with him. He hated the arena work and LOVED the trail -- he just wanted to keep going and going. I knew nothing about endurance, so I started doing my research and conditioning him. We completed our first 50-mile ride last November, and I'm an endurance convert.

My advice to you would be: if you have your heart set on dressage, but your horse's heart isn't in it, find one who is and let your horse go to someone who will do what he wants to do.

Otherwise, give it a go - you might find yourself pleasantly surprised at how fun it is. Ask around and find an experienced endurance person in your area (the AERC website has a geographical list of mentors) who can give you some advice, and find an endurance ride in your area and go be a volunteer to learn what it's all about.

I agree 100% with Lieslotte too, since you haven't said whether you have competed in endurance yet. Endurance and CTR are two very different cans of worms - while basically any sound, fit horse can probably do a CTR, it's a lot more to ask of a horse to do 50-mile+ endurance rides.

Feb. 21, 2011, 01:49 PM
If he's your heart horse, I'd take up endurance. If you're set on dressage, it may be happier for you both to move on.

I bought my mare to be a dressage horse who was also capable of jumping a bit. She tolerates dressage (she's good at it, but bored), but lights up when jumping, especially XC. Far more rideable when there are fences than strictly dressage, even if we're doing essentially the same exercises but with a x-rail tossed in... it's like she needs to see a point behind working on half halts and balance). Thankfully I think eventing is fun, so that's what we're doing!

Feb. 21, 2011, 04:22 PM
If he's your heart horse you find what he loves and you do it- even if it means he does it with someone else. "Making" your heart horse do something he's not loving or at least liking, well, in the long run I'd feel bad about that.

If this is not your heart horse, you sell him to a home that does what he likes.

My most surefooted pocket horse is no fun on trails with other horses, he just gets so anxious about it, competitive. He's happier in the dressage arena, more relaxed, what can I say he likes geometry ;)

Feb. 21, 2011, 04:53 PM
Curious as to what you all would do.

Probably take up endurance.

Feb. 21, 2011, 06:06 PM
I bought a Hanoverian as a weanling in 2004. It was evident by the time he was 5 that he was not happy just doing ring work/dressage. I started jumping and hacking him a couple days a week and he loved that and tried to tolerate ring work. I tried to find a leaser that would jump him a few days a week since I just don't really jump, but no luck there. I started taking lessons to be a better jumper, but decided I really wanted to keep my focus on dressage and really break into the FEI levels. I held onto him in hopes he would change his mind. I took him hilltopping for one season, which he loved, and started up the dressage when he got fit. He said to me for "the thousandth time, no dressage!" He was never mean about it, but his personality was so happy go lucky and generally cheery, it was so obvious to me that he just didn't like this kind of work. Too boring and too much perfection. I sold him as a 7 y/o as a hunter and he is really happy with his new job and his new owners. I miss him, but I know I did the right thing for the both of us. Now I have 2 new prospects to bring along.

Feb. 21, 2011, 06:58 PM
I think it depends on a number of things -- how unhappy the horse is doing dressage and how that impedes progress to the level the rider wants, how much of the discipline the horse likes the owner/rider is willing/able to throw in for entertainment of the horse, how issue-free the horse is, i.e. how probably it is that the horse would find a good home etc, and how attached the owner is to the horse.

A friend of mine waited till her bred to be her dressage horse, who instead turned out to WANT to event, was 9 till she sold her and then said should have done it MUCH earlier.

Feb. 21, 2011, 09:35 PM
I love my horse so much I will do whatever he wants. He's good in dressage but he really loves XC. I had a bad fall going XC many years ago and completely lost my nerve to jump. I have been doing a little here and there, and we even competed in a three phase last year, hoping to do more this year. I am still a little afraid, but really trust my horse to take care of me, and he's doing a wonderful job.

Feb. 22, 2011, 02:14 AM
One of my stallions Loves jumping and dressage and I do both with him. there are days that dressage is our focus because he has so much energy he respectfully contains it like a can of soda shook up and unopened until I say "ok you can piaffe now" other days he is so lazy because it is 100 degrees outside that we would be happier jumping around a hunter course and sometimes there is a new show jump course and we know that it would be fun practicing our canter pirouette for our roll backs on course. I think that when you own a horse that you love you have to nourish that relationship and listen to your horse and what he loves he will give you what you want with so much more pleasing energy that it is worth that boring trail ride or that back ache to take him for a gallop. If you really can't see eye to eye with what each other want then sell him to someone who wants what he wants. But our horses really want relationships with us and to feel loved and that it is not just a one way conversation that it is a partnership not ownership.

Feb. 22, 2011, 09:18 AM
Lovely post, steppingstones

Feb. 22, 2011, 02:56 PM
My horse of a lifetime was supposed to be my jumper. It rapidly became apparent that she was beginning to look more and more like a dressage horse. She soon made it pretty darn clear that that is what she wanted to do also. She can jump, but it most definitely worries her. Soooo, we are now pursuing a dressage career for her.

My other mare seems to really enjoy jumping, but my dressage trainer loves her also. I guess we will keep doing both until my mare makes her preference clear or, maybe, she is the type who enjoys having some variety in her life. I don't mind either way, so long as she is happy in her work.

JackSprats Mom
Feb. 22, 2011, 05:38 PM
Thanks all for a great discussion! I can't do endurance with him simply because I'm hella competitive and to move would have to condition him more and simply don't have the time (and I don't have the desire).

And when you say "he LOVES endurance" do you mean he loves being on the trail or do you mean the actual discipline? Have you already done an endurance ride with him?

No, he does love the trails but we've done numerous LD rides (which I know is no where near the 100's) and he top 10's with ease and having been around poeple who ride tevis and pan am I am aware of the 'heart' it takes and am in little doubt this horse does.

My passion is dressage though.

I think what I will do is compete this year and see how we do, if he doesn't start to shine in the ring then I feel he may prefer endurance. As some folks said, no point in trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Feb. 24, 2011, 12:25 AM
Are you attached to him? Do you like endurance? Why don't you do both? You could compete in endurance and still school dressage, it is good for the horses mind to do different things!

Mar. 5, 2011, 02:27 PM
I got my first WB and we backed him age 4. He just didn't have the forward button and seemed unhappy in dressage. I am a mature rider and was NOT into jumping. Although, with that said one day I set up and obstacle outside and on the lunge he sailed over it and into a more forward canter and the horse had happiness written all over him. He had great form and a good bascule.
I realized his niche was not in dressage as he was so unhappy. I did sell him on and he is now doing eventing. Jumps everything and is happy.