So I have this pinto cob mare. I love her to bits, she is super cute, sweet, simple and although lazy, she tries her little heart out. She's flashy, but not fancy. I bought her because of how well she uses her hind end. She drives herself up infront. But she doesn't have much reach in the front end. I bought her as a little all-around'er and I knew she'd never be a big time DQ but she is giving the indication that she will be easy as pie to ride, smooth gaits and fairly strong technical correctness, but not fancy.
So she had me asking myself how far one can go without fancy. What do you think? If you have a tidy horse and a correct rider, that has accuracy, nice push from the hind end, tracking up/over tracking into balanced gaits, soft into the bridle, etc, when will you no longer be competitive without a big mover?
Depends on where you are. If you, like me, are in a relatively light dressage area, you can probably do pretty well-- especially at the upper levels, where there are few horses and thus an accurate and correct test wins. If you're in a hotspot for dressage, not so much. Wherever you go, "fancy" is going to be harder to beat at the lower levels when there are fewer moments for training to shine (I'm looking at you, Training Level).
If you're setting your sights on international competition... maybe not so much. Regional championships may be the same story, as well, depending on your region.
It really depends on your goals to be totally honest. As others have said if you want to be of international fame, well, let's face it, fancy is necessary. If you simply want to enjoy the journey and see how far you can train, then the sky's the limit. In the states we have many different award programs which allow many to experience some success and satisfaction even with the not so fancy types. I've managed to earn my silver medal (competed through Prix St. George) with a welsh cob who possesses a great hind end and heart but not so much going for him in regards to the rest of his conformation. I've been able to win All-Breeds awards, highpoint trophies, GMO year end awards for HOY and so-on. I'm older now, married with two kids who are almost grown and have a full-time job. International fame was never in the cards for me nor has it ever been my interest; but, that makes me no less serious about my riding. Give me a good heart, great engine and willing work ethic over fancy in a equine package any day. It's that which has aloud this amateur to enjoy the journey. Good luck with you and yours, she sounds quite nice
On an unrelated note - I just snooped your website and love Paul Belasik, I'm jealous you've ridden with him! One of my favourite quotes is his; 'Riding is feeling'.
When I was talking to his assistant Andrea about horse shopping, she said fancy movement is way low on her list.
If you ever have the opportunity to ride with Paul or even audit, you won't regret it! Andrea does some pretty neat clinic series too.