I wanted to get some thoughts from individuals on a certain breed I was introduced to and actually love riding. I found a DHH (Dutch Harness Horse) I was not too familiar with the breed but did do as much research as I could on the internet and over-all liked what I read. What are your thoughts? If you are familiar with this breed what are the pros and cons towards Dressage and moving up levels?
They are bred for carriage work (per their name), so lots of front end action, but not lots of stepping under from behind. They also can be very hot! If you look for one, make sure you look for good basic movement, good step underneath, not as much flash up front. The crosses may actually be a better bet for dressage. arabxdhh is getting popular on arab circles.
I don't buy horses based on breed since I'm not a breeder. I purchase based on the horse's suitability to me and my needs. It's too limiting IMO to look only at a specific breed.
Edited to say that since the DHH is specific-purpose bred for harness, you may be quite disappointed in the canter, and a good canter is essential for a horse to move up the levels in dressage. However, I have no direct experience with DHHs, so I could be entirely wrong re: the quality of their canter.
I know someone with a DHH gelding. He was purchased as a spoiled 9 yo second level horse, and is now schooling GP with ease (the same can not be said for his rider... for though she's schooling GP it's not all lightness and joy just yet).
Maybe she'll come on here and post about him, but I know that they've had some DHH issues to work through (lots of action, getting him under behind, lowering the neck, etc)
I worked at an arab farm that had a few. All were very different in type and conformation. One mare was awesome to watch, they would hook her to the cart and go down the road and always come back missing a shoe or 2. The few they had crossed on arabs were a much nicer, warmblood looking type horse, and better movers for dressage. The DHH that were not crossed reminded me of some hybrid saddlebred.
Take a look at Lauren Sprieser"s blog here on COTH. Her Midge (reg. name Victorious) is a DHH, and is an absolute gem. He was quite successful in developing horse Grand Prix in Florida this year.
He's also quite adorable Everyone, including judges, falls completely in love with him.
Including me, which is why I have emerged from lurkdom to post about him.
Thanks, emo! Cavallo, yes, I do have one who is now doing the Grand Prix. He was a very difficult young horse, and the breed tends towards not being terribly amateur-friendly. Of course, there are always the "freaks" in any breed - my Midge is truly one of them, with a great canter and a lot of swing, and now, at 10, he's really very civilized and rideable - but it was a long time coming.
If you search for "dutch harness horse," you'll see quite a few threads on them.
So yeah, I've got a 50% DHH that's (hopefully) debuting GP this summer. He finds all the work super easy, despite having me (an amateur) as his sole trainer from 2nd/3rdish onward.
Biggest key for success is keeping those hocks engaged and carrying. He loves to cycle behind like a train, which although fancy looking, tends to be crucified when we show. So when I remember to ride we get massive scores. When I don't, we don't.
He might not be super indicative of the type as his sire was a GP showjumper...which leads me to believe he may be a pasture accident... but I agree with previous posters that a strong pure canter is essential. And it can be a weak point in the breeds that are trotter-bred.
..if anyone is still following this thread... I have seen many fully registered dutch harness horses and haven't come across one with a bad canter! I'm schooling 3rd level on my 6yr old DHH (Boviro)..his canter is amazing! My take away is the walk is prone to be the weakest...especially if you get the horse after significant harness training...
Anecdotally, there was a DWB (not DHH) locally from older bloodlines that was quite DHH in his trot. He was successful through FEI levels, BUT.....it was recommended that any prospective rider be young, healthy, with a good core and STRONG back, because this very nice, well-behaved horse had trashed a lot of not-quite-so-flexible older ladies' backs with his carriage horse trot. My own experience with this breed is absolutely zero, but I'm just passing on what I was told by pretty well-regarded trainer/riders.
Last edited by Sandy M; Jan. 3, 2013 at 07:20 PM.
I'm going to compare Green Delicious Apples to McIntosh Apples, so take it for what it is. I just had to post because I've drooled over some DHH's before, myself...
I believe there will be some who have talent/movement geared more toward Dressage, and some more geared toward Harness work. I say this because (here's the not-quite-the-same-apples comparison) I own two Saddlebreds. My older gelding is typical Saddlebred type - bred to gait, pull harness, moves up more than out - makes an exceptional trail and pleasure horse, but wouldn't go far in Dressage. My young filly on the other hand is very sport-type. Bred for versatility and athleticism (of the Dressage/Jumping variety), she moves quite differently than my gelding, but retains some of that awesome "expression" that will be eye catching.
I expect to have to work through some things with her (especially lots of long and low, as was mentioned in another post), but she's certainly got a ton of potential in those three gaits of hers.
Oddly, despite her sporty movement, she won Weanling Grand Champ in a Saddlebred class for her breeder before I got her. They had the weighted shoes on to create more knee-action (as is typical in those classes). But with the weights off, she's very dressage-y. So, look at the horse in front of you - don't necessarily discount one because of previous show records or training, but bear in mind that the more training they have in the other genre, the more you may have to undo.
I have a DHH Arabian cross who was a saddleseat horse in his previous life. One word describes his canter...SEXY! It is totally correct, not boingy at all, and if the canter is going well I can ask for a change and get it because he's so balanced. (He's still at training level) He is all class and then some.
His previous job has done a number on his stifles, and he can be a spook, but he is smart and trainable and gets over it. I work him a lot in hand and he has an amazing talent for piaffe.
He's the only one I've ridden so I cannot comment on the type at all, but mine is super nice! Always, regardless of the breed, buy based on the individual.