View Full Version : Help! My Hunter Prospect Likes Dressage Better

May. 16, 2012, 05:10 PM
My six year old Hanoverian gelding is a big handsome horse. Just the type that does well in the hunter ring. He has had professional training by a well known hunter trainer and also a good local dressage trainer. He has been a challenge over fences, but usually wins the hacks.
This week, his dressage trainer told me she thinks he could go to fourth level Prix St Geoge. I have absolutely no knowlege of these levels, but she says this is upper level stuff. This horse seems happy and relaxed doing his dressage work, but jumping he is a ball of nerves.
So what to do? Do I continue in the hunter ring, or try to sell him as a dressage prospect? He has done a year of showing in the hunters, but no dressage shows. I have never been one to favor forcing a horse into a career he does not enjoy. I have put a considerable amount of money into training this horse for the hunter ring, but now it seems like he is telling us all, he likes dressage more. What to do? :confused:

May. 16, 2012, 05:15 PM
Listen to him?

Carol Ames
May. 16, 2012, 05:18 PM
Have you gotten any dressage lessons?If not, you might consider trying a few to see how he fweels to you; a good dressage instructor may challenge you enough to go a little furthr;

What was this horse purchased for? resale, local circuit;

hunter ring, eq?:confused:

May. 16, 2012, 05:19 PM
How much dressage has he done? Moving up the levels will tell you if a horse has that kind of potential most trainers will say "we will see" after third as the horse begins collection at third and will "tell" you then if he can continue...

Before that its not a for sure thing at all but if the horse is already doing well hunters I dont see how he could like it less and win :)

JackSprats Mom
May. 16, 2012, 05:21 PM
This is a problem why?

What do you do with him? You send him to me :D

May. 16, 2012, 05:35 PM
There is no reason he can't do both.

My horse is primarily aimed, showing wise, at the hunter ring (if his pilot could ever get a season's worth of funds together).

However he schools dressage 99% of the time and almost never jumps (see above financial sentence and couple with, why jump if no show prep?) He jumps so rarely I was actually thinking after the "fitness up the levels" thread to maybe intersperse an easy jump school once a week as a "recovery day" from strength development rides.

My other horse I retired from hunters and switched completely to dressage and after two years of never being pointed at a jump a lesson student needed him to pinch hit. On one day's 15 minute tune up after two years off he went in the ring against 30+ horses and got a piece.

Point being that, once a horse knows how to ride a figure 8 and find eight jumps, you don't need to practice jumping. He can be fine just doing a couple schools close before a show and then going out to the show. He doesn't need to jump 10 times a month.

So, if he is happiest doing dressage but you still like the look of him over fences at the odd horseshow, he should be fine if you just do mainly dressage, and then tune him up to jump for a couple schools when you feel like heading out in the hunt saddle instead.

May. 16, 2012, 05:39 PM
This horse was purchased for the hunter ring at the A, AA shows. I need a hunter, but I just don't think he likes the discipline. If I sell him, I will have to replace him. Just feelin kinda "down" about what to do.

May. 16, 2012, 05:43 PM
Listen to him?

Perhaps you need to do some more exploring with him, but I am all for listening to the horse. Just like we have a passion for our chosen sport, the horse should love what he is doing as well.

I am an eventer at heart. Bought a big TB that was destined to be my upper level horse. We even made it to preliminary level, but his heart was never in it. Cross country was always a struggle. He sucked back at the fences, and worried and fretted. It just wasn’t his thing.

I hung my XC vest and ended up joining the H/J barn down the way. I learned about jumpers and Eq. and he LOVED jumping in the ring. We ended up doing pretty well in the children’s jumpers and medal classes.

May. 16, 2012, 05:53 PM
I know of several horses that just plain needed a change in career and were sold to someone who wanted them for that career.

I know hunters that transitioned to dressage. I now some dressage horses that transitioned to the hunters and in one case a jumper.

Everyone was happier in the end.

May. 16, 2012, 06:01 PM
Take it from someone who tried to get the perfect trail horse to be a dressage horse.

Listen to the horse, don't force him into a discipline he doesn't care for. Either sell him to a home that will appreciate his strengths, or switch your discipline for a while and maybe try doing Hunters with him in a year or two, after he has time to mature.

May. 16, 2012, 06:02 PM
Yes, I think we are realizing that he does need a change of career, but that is so hard. We love him and now we need to sell him.

May. 16, 2012, 07:32 PM
Yes, I think we are realizing that he does need a change of career, but that is so hard. We love him and now we need to sell him.

How do you know if a little dressage training won't help his confidence over fences?
Years ago I boarded at a barn that was 80% dressage...my hunter trainer got to jump the dressage horses at times as a break for them. He said he loved jumping dressage horses because they go forrward!
Remember "forward doesn't mean faster" If you really enjoy this horse try 6 months of dressage lessons and schooling

May. 16, 2012, 08:28 PM
I agree. IF you are in love with horse try a 'break' and do some dressage. I think its good for riders to be well rounded too :D! He might come back more mature and better balanced to be a kick ass hunter. If not he will have more dressage schooling to make him more marketable.

On the other hand if this horse isn't your type then by all means move him along to someone who will think he's the best thing since sliced bread.

May. 16, 2012, 09:21 PM
Many have suggested giving this horse some time off from the hunter ring and just letting him enjoy his dressage lessons. Warmbloods are often taken to the hunter ring, then given as much as a year off to mature and grow up. I hope this one does not grow physically any more :eek:
I am seriously considering this as an option. :)

May. 17, 2012, 09:28 AM
My horse didn't begin to mature mentally until he was 7 or 8. He is mentally, a very different horse at 9 than he was at 6. I really enjoyed him last year, and this year he is even better. More solid, relaxed, forgiving... seasoned.

May. 17, 2012, 01:49 PM
ummm trade him with the owner if off course that has the hunter that hates dressage

sorry no real help but try some more flat work to improve his balance etc and lower the fences to up his confidence

Carol Ames
May. 19, 2012, 01:00 PM
How do you feel about this horse? How much interaction do you have? How would you feel about not owning him? It seems that he is not able/ happy doing what :no:you bought him to do; have your instructor/ trainer take him to a dressage show and see how/ if , he likes that:confused: