Okay, I have been a member of the COTH forums for a while, and I rarely post. But, I have finally been motivated to post. I would like to hear some feedback and opinions on some questions regarding dressage ponies.
Do you feel there is a market for dressage ponies?
Welcome to COTH
Yes, I do think there is a dressage market for ponies...it is a small but growing market in my experience and I think the biggest poart of it is large ponies/small horses for adult amy women. It is hard to elaborate without being though of as adverising...but that has been my experience. I look forward to hearing other perspectives...
I feel that there is a very small market for the dressage ponies. I have sold two of my GRP's to dressage homes, and one will be competing next year in the 4 year old FEI test. She will be going in the open classes with the full size warm-bloods as you have to be a Jr. to do the pony FEI, and most of the Jr. we have had on her can not ride her trot or canter, to large for them. So we will see hoe she dose next year. I have three more for sale and can not seam to move any of them, so maybe selling the first two was just luck.
I think there is a market for trained ponies out doing dressage but not much of one for untrained youngsters. I have had great feedback on my Colonial Spanish horses which are often pony sized so far but unfortunately trained ones for sale are rare.
Asmithdq....do you breed GRP's? If so...tell us more about the ones you mentioned. Now from my understanding...a pony cannot compete in the FEI young horse classes IF they are pony sized based on FEI rules. I would love to be wrong about this...but I don't think I am;( This is why a few of us were trying to get organized this year to petition for Young Pony classes to be offered...
Centerline...if you think the pony dressage market is small..then the breeders world is even smaller. We all know Trevelyan Farm....I think the OP knows her quite well I really don't think the dressage market is quite as small as you think. I have had inquiries increasing by the month...so at least there is interest! Now that I have my first foal going under-saddle...I think that exposure is going to help alot. Esp. since she is showing ALOT of dressage talent!
We have a lovely dressage pony from Trevelyan Farm. I will tell you we did look at a lot of ponies because we wanted one that had the conformation to do upper levels...that is not always easy to find but TF had one. She scored nicely at the breed shows this season so we are confident we picked a good one.
We also bought a young one because our funds were not up to what the asking price for a trained pony is. TF has another one we love but she is keeping him for her daughter.
There are some people who, if they don't already know, you can't tell 'em.
I have bred for "dressage ponies" for a number of years, started out because I wanted one myself ... for an older, 5' tall rider ... and it developed into an ongoing project as there seems to be a small but consistent group of smaller, older riders who are looking for something in the smaller sizes but don't really want to give up a lot of movement and potential.
Most of mine go unstarted, to adults ... because of age and injury related issues, I no longer ride, so at best, may get something just barely started W/T/C under saddle ... or more usually, sell as weanlings. I have not had a lot of youngsters that go unsold for long periods of time, but also don't know much about the market for trained dressage ponies.
This is a link to a photo taken of one of the 07 foals ... the photographer bought him after she looked at the photos ... he may go over 14.2 hands, but since she is an adult amateur and the plan is for dressage, it will not be of primary importance to her.
I have to agree with the others. The market, at least in the southwest, is small and the majority of those riding/competing are small adults. My daughter has a pony who she's hoping to compete in the FEI pony classes before she ages out but we have a ways to go to get there. As of right now there have been no FEI pony classes held in our area - no participants. There are only 3 "ponies", 2 german riding ponies and my welsh cob (who's above pony height), competing regularly at the recognized dressage shows in our area. I do occasionally see a connemara cross show up but I think his child rider focuses on eventing for the most part. There have also been a few kids - 2-3, who have been riding on ponies in the recently added leadline classes at our local recognized dressage shows. Knowing who the parents are, I suspect that we'll more likely see them on horses than ponies when they move up to that level of competition.
Promodeus...where are you at and what kind/level of pony do you have? I am mostly just curious from a marketing perspective. If you'd rather PM me, that would be fine.
I was doing market research the other day and tried to find online dressage pony ads the other day and I could not hardly find any. On the classifieds sites, you can search well by breed but try to run a search for dressage or sport pony...forget it. Maybe the danged buyers just can't find those of us with smaller talented propects or trained ponies?
I just ran a search on Dreamhorse for all breeds/dressage/no exclusions and I got over 3000 horses...everything from 120k warmbloods to a 25k gypsy vanner that didn't look like it could move it's way out of a shoebox to $3000 mixed breeds. Just weeding through the clutter on those sites is awful and what if you have a crossbred pony that doesn't fit in a breed category. What drives me crazy are the folks who post partbreds or completely wrong breeds in the wrong categories.
Whatever happened to the sport pony websites and breeders networks that folks were trying to organize a few years ago? For a while it seemed hot and then it fizzled out.
What if we sport pony/hony breeders got more organized and formed a marketing organization like many of the WB breeders have? One place that buyers can come to look at what is available regardless of breed/registry and to showcase ponies/small horses only. I include small horses (cob sized) because they are very hard to find also and generally get lumped with sport ponies also.
I'd do it but I'm struggling to help form a regional organization right now for Colonial Spanish horses and doing expos this Fall so that is taking up most of my time. Perhaps later this winter? What do you all think? Would this help?
I'm not just talking honies but ponies also. It is very hard to find dressage trained ponies or honies for that matter. Gosh...I hate the term hony and here you have me using it! :-O
I guess we could request categories for sport ponies and perhaps one for smaller sporthorses...or something like that.
I find this interesting in light of Equus' recent article on bigger not being better. I love my little horses also and wish there was a way to better market diminutive equines for sport. Maybe we could use Teddy as our cover boy?
I think that there is more interest in smaller mounts, but I don't think people are actually buying the size yet. They are still buying looks (which includes movement--in the end, it's really just a "look," too), price and training. It's just the nature of today's economy.
But it's never reasonable to say "no one" buys this or that. Some, inevitably, do. But parcelling out just what it is they have bought and why is another thing entirely. Would the same person have bought the same animal if it were 15.1 instead of 14.1? If yes, then it wasn't a dressage pony per se that was bought: it was a small dressage horse. Would the same person have bought the baby if it were $6500 instead of $2500? Would they have bought an ugly-headed but good-moving bay dressage pony with some training on it as readily as the barely-backed but cute, palomino with white?
The only reliable performance-oriented predictor of the dressage pony market IMO is training. Perhaps--and I don't want this to sound insulting, but when you think about the goals of folks seeking a so-called dressage pony, you do have to wonder--what is really growing is the fancy-small-show-horse-that-doesn't-have-to-jump market?
Er, not that there's anything wrong with that.
But, IMO, if you call it a dressage prospect--horse or pony--the assumption is that it is going to be more than just a lower level ride, isn't it? I haven't paid much attention, but surely dressage hasn't gotten to the point where you need to purchase a purpose-bred animal to do the lower levels. One can call it what one wants, but in the end, what's the difference between a pony doing first level (under a rider with few or no aspirations to do much more than that) and a fancy-small-show-horse-that-doesn't-have-to-jump?
Pywnn...good points...and this is indeed a complex question with different levels. I agree people (particularly amy's) buy a look and a movement. Heck, I like a pretty horse too That is one reason why I selected the GRP as my breed...they have the look and many have the movement and ability...because as a breeder...I am not breeding for the 1st level pony...I am breeding for the true FEI pony...heck, with the ambition and dreams for the GP pony. Also, as a rider...I want the talented FEI pony....not just the pretty-small-horse- that-does-not-jump...although you are right....there is a market for that too. The truth is many amy dressage riders in the US don't get beyond the lower levels, and neither do thier horses...be they 17hh or 14hh....
It has been very interesting getting my first dressage pony started under saddle. It has been surprising really...some pleasant surprises (like the fact that her gaits...particularly her canter are really amazing under saddle...much better then I would have guessed and she has amazing talent... balance...presence and has an engine I did not expect) and some less pleasant ones (like she is smarter then I thought and does have a bit of "pony-tude" But...bottom line...she IS a dressage pony...not a pretty-show-horse-that dose-not-jump! Because of this I am investing in quality, prof training to get her started and she is worth it...as she is the talented FEI pony prospect...riding her is a blast!
Now as far as a market...there is the high end market, the mid-market and the low end market. The high end market is small, probably quite regional...but very much alive. Plus, there are kids in that market (gasp)! Case in point...I recently realized a SPS GRP mare I highly admired and knew sold recently for $65 Euro (yes, thats right...not a typo) in a German auction is now right here in Florida!!!!! This family also has several other GRP's. Just one example, but a dramatic one. Now the middle market is also alive and growing...although not as quickly as many of us would like. These are people importing very nice ponies from Germany and breeding high quality ponies with frozen semen associated with a registry OR maybe people like yourself who have bred ponies that have shown a ton of talent!!!! Then there is the low end market...which I supsect is the largest actuallly. Your example of $2500 weanlings or the big headed fairly good moving bay...and of course the now infamous pretty-show-horse-that-does-not-jump At least that is my perspective after keeping a finger on the pulse of the dressage pony market for the last 4-5 years....
I think all of that makes a lot of sense, hluing. The fact is that efforts ARE being made to increase the attractiveness of riding a pony for dressage. That's just gotta help. Indeed, this being "the year of the smaller horse" (or whatever the way was that some magazine put it) is another development that has raised awareness and thus, one hopes, desirability.
And as you speak of training your upper level prospect, I'm reminded of something I learned with my own upper level dressage pony (the pony which compelled me to develop my program: War Prince, a gelding): THEY'RE SMART! Y'know how complex the aids can get? Well, that pony blood can go a long way toward not only keeping track of it all, but also not popping a cork while doing so. And the breedier ones can have every bit of the sensitivity as the mostly-hotblooded upper level dressage horses of today, but with a lot more patience and generousity, I think. Granted, the squirrelliness before they are really through can be maybe more challenging to channel than with a larger horse--that built-in flexibility and body awareness can be its own challenge, in fact.
But anyway, the stuff I just wrote reminds me of something: NOT marketing size, but rather marketing PONY. IMO, you can't convince someone to ride smaller--either they are willing or they aren't. But if you emphasize that there's more to a pony than size, maybe--just maybe--you wouldn't have to wait for converts or rely on the dedicated. Heck, the sheer EXPRESSIVENESS of some of the movers that have been posted here and elsewhere, the character, the style, the flair, the "big-ness in a small package" (someone wrote that somewhere about some small horse)...all that stuff, IMO, represent potential key selling points that would be much more effective than the size thing (or size alone).
Size = fit. OK, but that doesn't mean they can't ride something larger, right? So if you can ride large or small, why choose small? WE know...but do they? Those details, Daydream Believer, is the sort of message I'd want to build a campaign around to increase awareness...and then there's visibility, too. Who ARE the current fabulous dressage ponies? Why the heck isn't there a website somewhere featuring them? It's a bit sad that the programs are being put in place to help the dressage pony concept grow, but the "supporting materials," so-to-speak, aren't proliferating to the same extent.
[Now, if Kip at Practical Horseman keeps going with her guy, that, too will help, I think. I enjoyed what she wrote about getting her pony's measurement card this month.]
Well, Wynn...next year I will hit the recognized shows with Cisco. It will be interesting to see how he does. I will have to have him officially measured because I think he is very close to 148cm...he may go one way or the other for horse or pony...sorry hony ;-) I'd like to know even though it won't matter until he makes it to the FEI levels as I don't plan to put a child rider on him at this point in his training and my goals are a lot higher than the FEI pony test.
I do think we pony breeders...and I'm lumping myself in with the pony folks despite the fact mine can and do go oversize and not genetically ponies at all...do a lousy job of promoting ponies for dressage. We are not organized and it is darned hard to find a good place to advertise one. How in the heck are people even going to find our ponies if they don't know where to look. Like I said...assume you are looking for a generic dressage pony or smaller horse of any breed...either elite or plain...how in the world do you find one unless you luck out on it?
I even saw a Chincoteague pony in Dreamhorse for a nice sum...$15k I think it was and it looks like a very nice pony. Now tell me how a perspective dressage pony buyer would ever think to look under Chincoteague breed in Dreamhorse to find a nice pony for dressage? I wouldn't...and sadly same as my breed...still a breed mainly unknown for that sort of thing. Now if that person had a nice place to advertise where buyers would know to look they could put that pony up there with other ponies of other breeds.
I don't see this as a "them against us" or competitive thing to see who can sell their ponies.... If dressage ponies are going to make it in the US it is going to take a cooperative effort to do it.