Yes. But there is a good market for Gypsy Vanners, Friesians, and other nice steady, bombproof, cold-blooded driving horses. I've been seeing more and more drafts and draft crosses in the dressage ring these days than ever before.
For a good many people, "dressage" means getting a horse on the bit, and the height of ambition is turning in a qualifying training level test.
So I don't think the OP is totally off the wall.
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller
Personally (this is my personal opinion!) I am not a big fan of draft crosses. Most I have ridden (around 12+ different animals) just didn’t have enough motor, enough fire for my liking – they just didn’t have that natural get up and GO, but, I also tend to be a TB, or TB cross person.
Some people love the draft type mind and way of going, I just find them too dull on average for me.
They just felt heavy, and grounded to the earth – I like an animal that tends to be lighter on its feet. I just have not come across many F1 draft crosses with much suspension.
When crossing two horses not of like type – it’s a real gamble as to what is going to come out. You might get the heavy head and neck, and short croup of a typical draft – perched on slight legs of a riding horse, or you may luck out, and get a riding type, who is just larger, and with more bone thanks to the draft.
I am a breeder, trainer and rider and here's my persepective. I would think long and hard about it why you want to breed this mare and for what purpose before you do anything. Your horse is lovely, versatile, pretty to look at and it sounds like you are having a ball with her. Is she particularly well suited for dressage? From the picture you posted, probably not. Her conformation is typical of a draft hore, which is meant to pull, not carry. Why would you try to breed a dressage prospect from her then? Breeding is such a crapshoot. Even when breeding two horse with fantastic pedigrees, proven show records, excellent conformation and movement . . . you may still get a foal that's mediocre, but at least you are stacking the odds in your favour. You mention that you are new to the dressage ring. What makes you think that you have the knowledge to assess your mare honestly in terms of her suitability to produce a dressage horse? Is your goal to produce another lovely, versatile, lower level horse? If so, why breed one? There are TONS of that exact horse available very cheap or free right now. Why not rescue on of those? It would probably be a lot cheaper. Have a read over on the Sport Horse Breeding forum. There are many very experienced and knowledgable breeders who can share their horror stories of dead mares, septic foals, dystocias etc . . . Are you prepared to deal with those issues if they come up?
OP, I think your mare is pretty. Do you ride her? (did I miss that?)
Thank you, we do ride her. We do alot of our showing during the fall but during the summer she is being worked everyday weather we ride or drive. She trail rides like a dream, and then I like to do the HUS with her too. She cleans up very nice. haha
She is in foal for 2013 to a son of RFW Eddy. Which we own. But if we do really like the outcome we'd probably breed back. I'm in no hurry and if the right horse does come along I will scoop him up and push this idea to the back burner.
The horses are in New York, I live in Bowling Green KY. She is bred for 2013, we do have a number of red roan mares. Blue is in the back, and the lead mare is Lady. I've always had a love for horses, but Belgians are my breed of choice.
One thing that isn't clear, OP would you be breeding for your own personal horse, or would you be breeding with a plan to sell at some time in the future?
If you're looking to dabble in dressage, why can't you use your mare?
It would be for my own personal use, and said horse wouldn't be just a dressage horse. We use our horses for everything, literally. And it would always have a job if things didn't work out. I've honestly never thought about using her as a dressage horse. We do the HUS locally and always place high, the shows I show at offer draft classes Drafts are extremely popular where we are from.
But many of them (and I've had and started many) detest repetition and you can mix stuff up all you want, but a 20 meter circle is still a 20 meter circle and it just isn't fun for the horse or rider. It's about the work ethic.
This is what I've found with my guy too. He's lovely and generally easygoing and willing to work with you. But he gets bored with repetition. I mean, he's pretty smart and he figures out what we want pretty quick and if we push on to do it just a few more times after that...well...suddenly he starts knocking poles on the ground or bulging his shoulder on a circle or trying to run away instead of properly canter and then we have to have a "discussion" about what we're doing and changes things up to engage his attention again.
But the great thing about him is that we can practice something a few times, praise him for getting it right when he does (or almost does), move on to something else...and when we go back to try it again on a later ride, he'll do it about a million times better. It's like things have to percolate around in his little brainz for a while.
Uh, anyway, CGC421, I'm confused....earlier in the thread you said you were considering maybe breeding her next year but now you say she's already in foal for 2014? Or is the horse she's currently bred to another draft? (I don't 'know' names)
Also...while I love drafties (and that includes Belgians), I don't necessarily consider Belgians the best draft to cross with for something like dressage. I'd probably look at a Clyde or a Percheron instead (note: I have no actual breeding experience, this is just my opinion).
Uh, anyway, CGC421, I'm confused....earlier in the thread you said you were considering maybe breeding her next year but now you say she's already in foal for 2014? Or is the horse she's currently bred to another draft? (I don't 'know' names).
She is bred to the same breed for 2014. (: I would actually think a Clydesdale would be too big of a heavy horse but thats jmo too. I'm biased, i only like Belgians. haha
I'm coming at this with dressage meaning suitable for third level + and I have not been very impressed with the draft X I have seen in person, sorry. Personality issues mainly but these were perch x which can be hotter (from what I understand). I would not breed for a dressage horse if the mare was never tried in dressage even at TL.
Most of us have known fabulous heavy draft crosses and have nothing against crosses that are good quality...built like sport horses with great trainability and athletic ability...a good horse is a good horse regardless of breed or grade horse.
The question is always what are your plans for those horses you create that are not good quality. That is THE question no matter WHAT you breed...warmbloods, Arabians, Belgians... The less you know about your mare and her genetic contribution and how that will mix with any other breed the greater the chance you will get a product you can't use and you can't sell. You do not generally get a 50/50 division of amounts...half the draft horse body or half the size foot...instead you get the big body and the small foot. Some of the traits of the draft are very dominant...they have been bred for a long time to have that steep short hindquarter and to have the hind feet close together...the straighter shoulder is intentional to carry a collar better.
While all of us know a heavy draft cross we would love to have we all also know many more heavy draft crosses that were disasters and should never have been bred.
My advice to people shopping for a heavy draft cross is to buy not to breed. You WILL find a great suitable horse by picking through many odd combinations but you don't want to be the breeder of a horse who has the wrong bits and pieces from the cross. If you do go ahead and bred from your mare you could get a great foal...she has a lot to correct to produce a sport horse but as I said before good crosses DO happen.
When I researched my menopausal adventure one of my options was to be a breeder of heavy draft crosses to make sport horses. I am large I need a substantial horse and I have know a couple great athletes who were crosses. I researched the cross looking for what other people were breeding and how successful they were selling then...there IS a market...but there were a lot of horses produced that were not of the quality I hoped to produce. As I said there were individuals and mares who DID produce consitently but there were many more mares who did not. It did not improve in the next generation...hit or miss success or failure. At the time I knew someone making Clyde/TB crosses all were successfully sold and all had DSLD. None had long performance careers inspite of the very best care. I think you have an advantage in that Belgians and Percherons seem to have more soundness though their general type is less sport horse like.
In the end I chose to invest in importing an Irish Draught filly...that is not necessary any more and they are much less expensive as well. The Irish Draught breed regardless of the name is NOT a heavy draft breed...they are not a draft horse. The breed is first bred to be a sport horse but is bred with the substance to carry weight and to be an all purpose small farm horse. IT IS NOT A DRAFT HORSE! A great heavy draft cross should LOOK like a good Irish Draught and can be mistaken for one now that Irish Draughts are more common in America but they are bred to look like that not bred from two very different breeds to look like another type and purpose of horse. If that is the type of horse you want to produce...that is fabulous...we NEED people who love that horse to get into this rare breed and we would love to help you get started in the breed.
I would suggest if you do breed, breed to improve the riding charecteristics and sport horse ability of the Belgian itself. The increased interest in riding drafts is clear. Breed to make a riding type of Belgian. They certainly have bred to change the heavy drafts from work horses to hitchy harness horses...go ahead and breed to improve the riding quality and soundness of Belgians.
My favorite draft crosses I've seen have been Perch and Clyde crosses, and some have had wonderful conformation and dressage talent because of it. I do not think that's typical for a draft cross, but these horses were from breeding programs geared toward sport horses. I also know a PMU mare who is a draft cross (we suspect with APHA) who has excellent angles and balance throughout her body somehow, and just an unfortunate neck - her wonderful mind and balanced body help make up for the neck which is developing and improving with training anyway. I kind of love that horse, despite the fact she's not my "type" of horse.
Originally Posted by Lost_at_C
I think we need a COTH conformation clinic to help people learn to identify key physical traits. I'll see if I can dig up some old photos of my own heinz-57 beasties... god knows I've re-schooled enough "unusual" body types to know the challenges that come with certain weaknesses. Unfortunately most of my pics are of the film variety and I don't have a scanner at hand... maybe others here would be interested in starting a thread showing examples of their own horses' conformation faults?.. not intended as a way of critiquing, but just to educate the less-experienced posters here?
I'll put my mom's horse up here. I play dressage with her, but she was bought to be a walk-trot trail horse for my aging mom and is AWESOME at the job. Her reward for that since my mom is retired from riding is a home for the rest of her life, playing with dressage and trail riding as long as she continues to enjoy it, and a free lease if we happen to find someone she enjoys "belonging" to so I can keep controlling her destiny. To me, this horse is worth a million dollars for doing the job we asked of her, but she is not a horse I would even consider breeding due to conformational weaknesses.
I have upper level aspirations, so this is a horse I would not buy for myself. Still, she's fun and because she enjoys dressage she shows more talent than I would expect from a horse with less than ideal conformation and a naturally lateral canter.
Bella is 1/2 Friesian and supposedly 1/2 Andalusian, though we suspect the "Andalusian" may have actually been mustang of some sort who showed some Spanish qualities, as only the sire's name/registration is actually proven. In this picture she has no condition to mention and at that point couldn't manage to canter a 20m circle (no rider) without having to stop given the combination of poor natural canter and lack of fitness.
Bella has many of the same conformational issues draft crosses often do.
While her haunches are not AS steeply sloped as they appear in the picture because of sun effects, she definitely has a steeper croup than ideal. Her SI joint is not lined up as well as you'd want which makes it more difficult for her to collect and I suspect you'd never see an actual piaffe from her with a rider on her back no matter who was doing the training. Her stifle location doesn't allow her to step well under herself, and her straighter hind legs are angled to tend to be a bit camped out. The combination of those things mean both collection AND extension tend to be more difficult for her.
Her front end is naturally more developed and the lack of balance between front and back means she falls into the tendency of horses born to pull something around the world - use the front to try to balance. Underside of the neck, head up, back hollow, pull with the front legs and lean forward. Not what you want from a dressage horse!
Bella also has a tendency to drag the hind toes. Because she's not built to use the back end as the engine, she doesn't naturally, and doesn't have the push off of the ground which gets her hooves above the ground. Training has improved that a lot, but she's still far from ideal.
The most interesting part is that with strength and fitness, work on balance, etc., her canter has actually become VERY fun. It's hard for her to shift her weight back to do it, but once she does she can have a lovely 3-beat canter with a lot of jump and good hind leg separation. I don't think we've ever achieved what I would call a collected canter, but think with strength and fitness she'll get there. At a working canter she actually does clean lead changes, and given what it'll take for her to get to a collected canter they should be very easy for her then. Lateral work actually doesn't seem to be too much of a problem for her, somewhat surprisingly.
I just realized I have no recent photos of her, so I will have to change that. Bella has surprised me by learning to move through her back and actually developing some suspension, and enough thrust to have a bit of a lengthening. I suspect Bella could learn through 3rd level at least with someone dedicated to really getting her the fitness it would take to get there and overall strength she needs in the correct areas to balance out the conformational weaknesses. I think it would take nearly daily riding and she would flourish, as I have seen happen with some Friesian crosses and some draft crosses who has similar issues.
My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.
Originally Posted by katarine
If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed
Not a big fan of draft crosses. The comments about them "getting bored" is why, if all other things are equal. I dont see it as boredom, tho. A good dressage horse loves to move, and loves to feel good in their body, and so proper dressage makes them dressage junkies. They want it and they want to do it. IME with draft crosses, the desire to move and become gymnastic is not there. I am sure there are exceptions; I have never sat on one.
"Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
--- The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.
One of these days I will post some before and after pics of my draft cross. I have argued before that while yes, he is a draft cross, but he is also a tb cross, and a dutch cross.
He was pretty ugly early on, but a couple years of correct work and muscle have vastly improved his appearance. I would agree that there are some unsuited for dressage draft crosses, but there are also many unsuited for dressage warmbloods. Super earthbound, hunteresqe movement, etc...
We're schooling tempis, piourettes, beginnings of piaffe and passage.
Would I choose to breed one for the purpose of dressage, no. But can you find a good dressage partner, yes. So my answer to OP would be, no, I probably would not breed her, but then I am generally risk-adverse when it comes to breeding. I'd rather leave that to the experts and purchase a young horse that I have a better idea what the actual horse can do, not what the genetics/DNA says it should be able to do in 4+ years.
The pros: Fabulous temperament. She is willing but not spooky or hot. Very sensible and extremely forgiving of rider stupidity. She is a fantastic jumper and a machine on cross-country who would have made someone else an excellent (lower-ish level) eventer, but alas, I am too chicken for that. She has a big, powerful trot with lots of "schwung" and she has the ability to perform some quality lateral movements when you're not riding like a numpty. She naturally brings her hocks underneath her body in walk and trot. She is also 19 and (knock on wood) sound as a dollar.
The cons: Like many draft crosses, her canter sucks. It's hard to get uphill. In fairness, it's doable and it can be nice but you can't be half-arsed about it. I often am these days, so her canter is going through a bit of a sh**t stage. I need to do something about that. She is longer in the back than I would ideally like and she got that horizontal headset from the TB side. I could have done with more of the upright neck from the Shire.
For what I have asked her to do, which is around medium level dressage (2nd/3rd level in American), she hasn't found it any bother and has stayed sound. I don't think she's anyone's upper level prospect, though.
This is inaccurate as it implies that there is some perfect breed for dressage. In fact, as the experts describe, all breeds have challenges in upper level dressage. For example warmbloods are challenged to collect, and baroques are challenged to extend because of their respective conformations. Some of my serious dressage Gods walk you through evaluating a horse's conformation to anticipate his future challenges in upper level dressage.
In addition, dressage is good for ALL horses. I like to use the the basketball analogy. If you're Michael Jordan you'll rock basketball, but most basketball players are not Michael Jordan so they have to depend on training, practice, drive, and repetition.
I have to disagree about warmbloods being challenged to collect. Some may be but the addition of jumper blood (combination of warmblood and Thoroughbred) has created much more athletic horses.