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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 3, 2002
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    Lightbulb for Para-Dressage riders: What's THE MOST important attribute in a horse?

    As I bring along two from scratch, and another two next year...

    What do YOU consider the most important attribute in a horse that you are going to ride, lesson on, or even compete on?

    I am very, very serious about making horses for special riders of all types. They are desensitised to a lot, but more than that, taught that I won't ask them to do/walk over/go through/bear something that is not safe.

    I am breeding these days specifically for easy-to-ride-but-still-competitive gaits. It's an enormous task, but it fuels my geneticist wannabe fires now that we have all the homozygous cream genes and homozygous tobi genes within reach. And there is the selfish part that *I* can no longer sit huge, expressive gaits without a back like butter. I want it all--I want the gaits to get you in the ribbons right up the levels, but it shouldn't be an Olympic sport *just* to sit the trot or canter.

    Beyond that, I want to know what YOU need when you borrow a horse, or use a schoolmaster, or have to compete on a horse you've never met before?

    It can be as personal and specific as YOU, posting for what YOU need... or as broad as those who have experience in this field generalizing on the needs...

    I *hope* that a decade of breeding for Special Olympics and other special students (mental & physical needs) has me headed in the right direction, in this next generation, I would REALLY like to specialize in COMPETITIVE horses for 'NQR' and 'differently abled' riders and even drivers.

    My secondary--though equal--goal is for the horses to remain affordable to the person on limited income, blue collar income, etc. That has *always* been a goal for me. For too long I rode everyone elses rejects and projects. You shouldn't have to pay a mortgage for a competitive, sane, sound horse. In that regard I am using some "non-traditional" dressage breeds along with traditional ones. Iberian, Arab & Trakehner, right alongside APHA, ASB and Colonial Spanish.

    Will take all thoughts and even criticisms!
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2001
    Location
    Puget Sound area
    Posts
    512

    Default on/off

    Non-negotiable for me are both the ability to move forward willingly, and to freakin' STOP when asked. I don't mean that I need a horse will will go from 0-60 and back again in 7 sec, but darn it, I start and stop at the very least.

    It sounds sooo basic, I know, but nothing is worse than sitting on someone else's horse and not quite being able to figure out how to get a smooth upward or downward transition, let alone the horses who somtimes don't have any at all short of leaving the rider impersonating a water-skier or lawn dart.

    Good, honest, commonsense buttons for "more," "less," and "halt" are really all I ask. The test movements can be finessed from there. It also helps if the horse isn't stiff as a board, but you asked about bottom line essentials, and those are mine, assuming that relatively sane is a given.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 2, 2002
    Posts
    1,312

    Default Can I pick more then 1 attribute?

    As a not yet classified Para dressage rider, I have 2 scenarios.

    Scenario #1: I am my NQR self just bopping along, taking some lessons, practicing in my ring, and going out on the trails. In this scenario, temperament is by far the most important attribute. For a good temperament, I want a friendly, affable horse who takes things in stride and doesn't pull dirty moves on the ground or under saddle.

    Scenario #2: I am still NQR, but riding seriously and competing in an effort to qualify for the US Para team. I still need the fantastic temperament. I also need good gaits and athleticism. This horse needs to be intelligent enough to learn my special cues. He needs to be sensitive enough to feel my slight movements, but sane enough that he is not explosive.

    I tried to choose as few attributes as possible. I hope I didn't select too many
    Beth



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SFBay
    Posts
    1,302

    Default

    ^I agree, temperament is key. I want a horse who I want to be around, don't mind some personality quirks but it has to fundamentally be a pleasure to be around.

    I need a horse that doesn't mind me (correctly) using the whip probably more than the usual rider. When my muscles don't cooperate and I can't physically produce the aids I want to give, I need to be able to use my whip as a back-up and have the horse be totally okay with that and not get worried by it.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 8, 2009
    Location
    Arroyo Grande,CA
    Posts
    116

    Default

    Well, I want it all:-) I'll start with driving. I want something with awesome gaits, FEI level driving. I want to compete on equal footing with everyone else. In the sport of Combinied driving, I know that my weakest part is the marathon. If I tip over I'm out of the game so I drive more conservativly on the marathon (many will say I don't:-)), up and down hills are my weakest parts with turns at the top or bottom, I can't lean forward or back like other drivers so I can't shorten or lengthen my reins quickly.

    So I want 20 points ahead in dressage and cones:-) And a clean marathon.

    So I need a huge walk, we have to do a 1 k walk in 8:34 . That is fast. A ground covering trot. The ability to go from a mad gallop through water to a collected trot!

    Tempermant is a must, I can deal with silly horses, and spooks but if they spook it has to be forward. Ground manners are a deal breaker.

    I don't care so much about exposure that just comes with years of experience and miles. When I drive I go down the road so they get the experience.

    Big bone, nice feet. I love my cobs, but you have to be careful with them some are to drafty and not forward enough. I love the Irish sport horse but the ones I have breed are to big even out of 15 hd quarter horse mares. I want all of this in a 15.3 hand package.!!! That is for a single. Pair 15 to 15.3 hds works.

    I like my horse's handled but not pampered if that makes sense? They are horses.

    For a riding horse, when I rode I needed soft back easy to sit trot since I can't post and absolutly correct confirmation, no winging paddling or anything, any mistep and I was off:-) Thats why I love driving!!! Much more flexibility in choice of animal!!

    Diane



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 3, 2002
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    Default

    Thanks for the input so far!

    It's helpful and hopeful... I think I am on the right track. Would love to hear from more riders.

    Cad--my 'goal' is horses in the 15-16h range. If they go 16h, great, but *I* find the 15.2 Cobby-but-light types to be my favorites.

    Interesting about the 'stop' and 'go.' I am all for schoolmasters who make you ask correctly, but it's pretty disconcerting to have no brakes until you figure out the button to push... (or are having a bad day and can't use the same amount of seat/back/thigh etc. that the horse is trained to.)

    I've never had a horse crabby to the whip--but I've known some. I hadn't thought about it being important for them to see it as an aid, though I am CONSTANTLY telling my young rider students "the whip is an AID, a *direction* NOT A PUNISHMENT!!!"
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2001
    Location
    Puget Sound area
    Posts
    512

    Default great thread, pintopiaffe!

    I really had to think hard to get to my absolute #1 basic request, although, like I said before, my point presupposes a reasonable temperament and some degree of sanity.

    Like you, I love learning from the schoolmasters who make you ask correctly to get what you want, it's the horses trained (or not) to things other than correct, or who have no idea what I want even when asked as correctly as I am able (ususally apparent when I try for lengthenings, etc-- this is where, like another poster, I'd prefer a horse not take offense to whip cues, as I have no lower leg cues to speak of short of using my heels ).

    Something else that has become hugely important to me is a beastie who will stand rock-solid (without shifting their weight), etc for mounting and dismounting no matter how long and how many people it takes me. It;s nice to have someone at the horse's head for this, obviously, but truly not always practical-- many times I've got the reins gathered and am standing on the mounting block with helper there to assist my right leg over and into the stirrup, so that horse better STAND. In fact, when I trained my own, he had both "stand" (get balanced/square and be still) and "stay" (don't you *dare* move from this spot until I say so), in his vocabulary. Hugely useful on more than one occasion.

    I'm sure we'll all think of more things that would be nice, but it's great seeing what others' most basic requirements are, and to compare similarities and differences.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 2, 2002
    Posts
    1,312

    Default I have a new attribute I must add

    I like small price tags!!!

    Being that I am disabled and on a fixed income, price is a giant factor! Now that I am beginning a semi search for a new horse, I am beginning a journal to follow my quest for the "perfect" horse on a budget. This is going to be one loooong journal, as I don't see perfect for me with a small price tag showing up in the near future
    Beth



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2006
    Posts
    2,876

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KLS View Post
    Non-negotiable for me are both the ability to move forward willingly, and to freakin' STOP when asked. I don't mean that I need a horse will will go from 0-60 and back again in 7 sec, but darn it, I start and stop at the very least.
    Yes! I absolutely agree with this statement. It is amazing how much easier riding is, for me at least, with a horse that goes forward willingly and will stop when asked.

    I would also add to the mix a horse that has rhythmical gaits. Since I can't feel my butt or legs, I need to be able to count the beats and time my aids to that count. A horse that can't maintain a steady rhythm within the gait makes it impossible for me to do that. Or maybe not impossible, but just beyond my ability at this point.
    Sheilah



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2001
    Location
    Puget Sound area
    Posts
    512

    Default bump for more input

    just bumping this to give PintoPiaffe the chance to get as much feedback as possible.... she's looking for help bringing along the horses we'd all want to work with; we might as well give her as much to think about as possible.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2000
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    2,614

    Default

    Competitive at what level? Competitive for the 95% of people whose show careers will begin and end at the local/regional level, who want safe, sane, fun, forward, affordable horses to ride? If so, sounds like you are on the right track and get the idea, and the formidable challenge, of trying to build that holy grail of traits: competitive but smooth gaits, a good temperament and (oh wouldn't it be lovely?) an affordable price tag.

    BUT.... If you are talking about breeding internationally competitive para horses, wow, the whole game changes.

    The movement has got to be rideable but REALLY, REALLY fancy. Check out these highlights from Beijing. Of the horses shown, I see maybe one Gr. Ib horse who doesn't appear to be a fabulous mover. And Lee Pearson's new horse (at about 4:30 on that vid) could kick ass in any FEI arena, much like his now-retired horse, Blue Circle Boy (LOVE this freestyle music, BTW!) could. And that's "just" walk-trot Grade Ib! Looking at the movement on those horses, (and these, to pick a stateside example) you realize just how tough the competition is.
    If I was a breeder trying to produce horses to compete at the international para level, I probably would not include ASB, AQHA, APHA b/c while those horses might be kind and smooth, they generally don't have the suspension to be competitive at that level.

    My experience comes not from riding myself, but from watching the US Para team coach look at horses for team members, and seeing what passes her muster and what doesn't, given her experience at the international para level. She gets contacted by a lot of people who have a not-particularly-fancy dressage horse they mistakenly think it would be a "perfect" para horse because it's sensible and has smooth gaits. Unfortunately, at the international level, the sport's become way too competitive for the less-than-stellar, and that probably prices a lot of otherwise deserving and talented riders out of the running unless they can be aggressive and resourceful about finding sponsorship... but that's a different thread.
    I evented just for the Halibut.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2003
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    349

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KLS View Post
    I really had to think hard to get to my absolute #1 basic request, although, like I said before, my point presupposes a reasonable temperament and some degree of sanity.

    Like you, I love learning from the schoolmasters who make you ask correctly to get what you want, it's the horses trained (or not) to things other than correct, or who have no idea what I want even when asked as correctly as I am able (ususally apparent when I try for lengthenings, etc-- this is where, like another poster, I'd prefer a horse not take offense to whip cues, as I have no lower leg cues to speak of short of using my heels ).

    Something else that has become hugely important to me is a beastie who will stand rock-solid (without shifting their weight), etc for mounting and dismounting no matter how long and how many people it takes me. It;s nice to have someone at the horse's head for this, obviously, but truly not always practical-- many times I've got the reins gathered and am standing on the mounting block with helper there to assist my right leg over and into the stirrup, so that horse better STAND. In fact, when I trained my own, he had both "stand" (get balanced/square and be still) and "stay" (don't you *dare* move from this spot until I say so), in his vocabulary. Hugely useful on more than one occasion.

    I'm sure we'll all think of more things that would be nice, but it's great seeing what others' most basic requirements are, and to compare similarities and differences.
    I'm right there with the standing still while mounting. I have one too many falls when mounting.

    Sane and unflappable is another one.
    Frogs in a Basket. Oh, one jumped out.
    EC Level 1 Coach, ARIA Level 3 Dressage Coach
    www.dressagelife.com
    http://piaffing.blogspot.com/



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 8, 2009
    Location
    Arroyo Grande,CA
    Posts
    116

    Default

    I have to agree with Nevertime, a para-equestrian driving horse at the international level will also be competitive at the regular FEI level for Combinied Driving. As that is where the para-equestrian driver needs to aim for to get the experience needed.

    The competition for para-drivers at the worlds is tough. The dressage test has fewer movements and no one-handed because many para-drivers have limited hands anyways. Lots of straight lines (which can be difficult) Extensions, and collected trots They need to be fancy!. The marathon is the same as regular driving and cones is the same narrow clearance, the time on course is a little more forgiving.

    As I've been showing internationally for 8 years, I can tell you every year the quality of the horses and ponies go up! For Para-driving horses and ponies compete against each other.. Lots of German riding ponies, warmbloods, Welsh cobs.

    To add to all of that they need to be safe and sane also. PRICELESS !!!!

    Diane



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 3, 2002
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    Default

    KLS, thanks for the bump!

    I don't think I'm breeding for International ANYTHING. I'm too poor!

    Seriously, I don't think it's fair to say any breeder doesn't try to breed the ULTIMATE... I wouldn't be breeding if I wasn't... but MY Ultimate is not necessarily the same as, say, Iron Spring Farm's Ultimate. And bottom line is I must be willing to keep (and able to ride!) every horse I bring into this world if they don't sell--so I'm breeding for ME first and foremost, and a market secondly, if that makes sense.

    On the other hand, there are horses will will be competitive as far as their riders want/will work to go, because of their MINDS. If their movement is pure, and a little fancy... their gaits easy to ride and mold, then... truly, I do in my heart of hearts believe the sky is the limit.

    I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing. Please, please keep the comments coming. Like I said, even if it's something really personal, for just YOUR particular need... or something general...

    I have always used "Stand" as a command exactly like "stay" for a dog. "Ho" means STOP MOVING YOUR FEET. Period. It doesn't mean slow down, doesn't mean calm down, HO is reserved for HO. Stand means stay ho-ed until I tell you something else.

    I do a ton of 'stand and wait' or 'stand and chat' stuff too. It's hard on the greenies because their backs are not strong, but to me it is crucial that when I drop the reins, they stay put while I climb on/off/adjust tack etc.

    So it sounds like in those regards I'm on the right track.

    The driving is a whole 'nother world! I drive a little, but nothing fancy or competitive. I think it is fabulous. I've always wanted a nice meadowbrook or even an EZ Entry to put one or two of mine to for parents of Special Olympians etc. to just have a ride in... equipment is sooooo prohibitive though!
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



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