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So what can be done to make Dressage more affordable?

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    #61
    Originally posted by Willy Von Whompers View Post
    change the "outfit" required from the rider if you want to have any hope of attracting young men or boys to the sport. Tails and white breeches do not appeal in the way chaps and cowboy boots do. Find something that is workmanlike - a breeches and boots combo but not forcing them into white pants. :-). If they saw more guys doing dressage and not looking like idiots (in their minds, not saying they are) it might light a spark. The long tail coat looks like you are about to sit down at a grand piano. It's not an athlete's garb.
    There are more than a few female equestrians who would welcome more workmanlike, athletic riding attire and who would scrap the tailcoat and white breeches in a heartbeat.
    "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

    Comment


      #62
      If it is the way breeders have been improving gaits over the past several decades is what's driving inaccessibility, then perhaps some inspiration should be taken from those sports where the equipment you use (for lack of a better comparison) is what makes or breaks your performance. Here I'm thinking of several of the shooting sports. For instance, there's nothing stopping someone with a completely unmodified, factory standard pistol from competing in the open division of a USPSA competition, except that they're gonna get whooped by everyone running several thousand dollar tricked out race guns. Which is why there's a division limited to production handguns and production handguns alone.

      Porting this idea to dressage, I'd propose some sort of divisional split, one that maintains the same tests, levels, and judging ideals, except that in one division gaits are scored on nothing more than the basis of their purity (otherwise it stops being dressage imo). Obviously nothing would stop someone from entering their 6 mover in an "open" division, but the big mover shouldn't have an advantage if entered into a "production" division.

      Otherwise, I think the posters upthread who talked about making dressage more interesting are onto something. Really, is it much extra investment to bring back prix caprilli classes on a bigger scale? Similarly, create more variability for tests. Have tests change more often, or create a bank of tests from which one is selected at random before a competition (no idea how to implement that exactly though). I suspect this would prevent a certain type of person from getting bored with competition, and would also discourage drilling the test at home.

      On a more philosophical note, I think TPTB should really go over the rules with a fine-toothed comb at all levels and justify why the rules in place are in place. I wouldn't expect much to change, but there are aspects of attire, and some of tack, that really ought to be disrupted.

      Comment


        #63
        I'm a youngish aa rider, I completed as a Jr about 13 to 15 years ago and loved it. I currently have a goal of competing and trying to qualify for USDF Region Championships. However, it's extremely expensive, the amount of investment in not just time and lessons is a lot. I added up the cost just to attend one show and it was on the low end 500 dollars. I was shocked. Stabling was 150 dollars, then the fees, let alone the 400 dollars in annual membership fees. Luckily it'll be less next year since my horse will be a lifetimer. To prepare for this goal the amount of money is very high. I have high aspirations for my Quarter Horse, and I feel we can be somewhat competitive against the warmbloods. But, I have to decide if it's even worth it. Finding affordable instructors is rare. Heck, finding good instructors overall is hard. Sadly, there's minimal opportunities for AA riders; for example, clinics, grants, scholarships, etc.

        ​Horses are expensive, yes, equestrian sports overall are expensive but, I got the impression while I was determining my show season, that the regional level for dressage is for the people with deeper pockets and it's sad. I know many riders who want to learn how to ride and show dressage and it's not very doable for them because of price of shows and lessons.

        ​​​I understand there's so much to go into rated shows and that results in higher costs to the competitor. It's just sad and frustrating. We all want to succeed with our horses and it's sad that sometimes high costs hinders some people from getting the opportunity to experience the rated shows. Dressage isn't for everyone, but it would be nice if it was a bit more affordable so maybe more would consider joining and competing.


        Comment


          #64
          Originally posted by Dcummings89 View Post
          I'm a youngish aa rider, I completed as a Jr about 13 to 15 years ago and loved it. I currently have a goal of competing and trying to qualify for USDF Region Championships. However, it's extremely expensive, the amount of investment in not just time and lessons is a lot. I added up the cost just to attend one show and it was on the low end 500 dollars. I was shocked. Stabling was 150 dollars, then the fees, let alone the 400 dollars in annual membership fees. Luckily it'll be less next year since my horse will be a lifetimer. To prepare for this goal the amount of money is very high. I have high aspirations for my Quarter Horse, and I feel we can be somewhat competitive against the warmbloods. But, I have to decide if it's even worth it. Finding affordable instructors is rare. Heck, finding good instructors overall is hard. Sadly, there's minimal opportunities for AA riders; for example, clinics, grants, scholarships, etc.

          ​Horses are expensive, yes, equestrian sports overall are expensive but, I got the impression while I was determining my show season, that the regional level for dressage is for the people with deeper pockets and it's sad. I know many riders who want to learn how to ride and show dressage and it's not very doable for them because of price of shows and lessons.

          ​​​I understand there's so much to go into rated shows and that results in higher costs to the competitor. It's just sad and frustrating. We all want to succeed with our horses and it's sad that sometimes high costs hinders some people from getting the opportunity to experience the rated shows. Dressage isn't for everyone, but it would be nice if it was a bit more affordable so maybe more would consider joining and competing.

          Yes I very much agree with you... All these great ideas mentioned in this thread are worth close to nothing... In the end it’s about the Money...
          Other countries are more competitive because it’s simply cheaper to ride and to compete....

          Doing only schooling shows is ok, but it will not give you a true picture where you are... Doing dressage without showing at all is ok but will remove you totally away from dressage...
          Dressage always had a purpose... Always in history.... in the past it supplied the army with usable horses... I think there was this one guy in Europe somewhere who was very hip at that time and some King trusted him to train his mounted soldiers...
          Everything looked good and they trained hard, but when they were supposed to show their skills in an actual war setup, all the horses took off and the riders fell down from the horses...
          Thats about the same with dressage without shows....
          Same with creating a protected section for AAs... Maybe it feels nice for them to pay a lot of money if they can afford it and feel good, But really that is not what dressage is about....
          https://www.facebook.com/Luckyacresfarm
          https://www.facebook.com/Ulrike-Bsch...4373849955364/

          Comment


            #65
            Originally posted by Manni01 View Post

            Yes I very much agree with you... All these great ideas mentioned in this thread are worth close to nothing... In the end it’s about the Money...
            Other countries are more competitive because it’s simply cheaper to ride and to compete....

            Doing only schooling shows is ok, but it will not give you a true picture where you are... Doing dressage without showing at all is ok but will remove you totally away from dressage...
            Dressage always had a purpose... Always in history.... in the past it supplied the army with usable horses... I think there was this one guy in Europe somewhere who was very hip at that time and some King trusted him to train his mounted soldiers...
            Everything looked good and they trained hard, but when they were supposed to show their skills in an actual war setup, all the horses took off and the riders fell down from the horses...
            Thats about the same with dressage without shows....
            Same with creating a protected section for AAs... Maybe it feels nice for them to pay a lot of money if they can afford it and feel good, But really that is not what dressage is about....
            Now that kings no longer fund cavalries, and in the same century or so, dressage has become increasingly specialized in terms of the kind of performance it rewards, perhaps it makes sense to look for a different animating force. Again, I look to the AQHA to discover why any horse showing industry is working well in America where we are both urbanizing and running out of money.

            I think competitive dressage in particular has become the Performance Testing arm of Europe's well-organized selective breeding industry. The AQHA succeeds because their horse shows (unlike those run under the USEF umbrella) function the same way: They are the part of an organization run by and for horse breeders that create the standards and market for the horses those breeders are producing. The buying, showing amateur pays for this very important and expensive element of the breeding industry.

            Competitive dressage, then, forward a long-established performance testing and market-making part of the European breeding industry. The established momentum of that sport-- its form of competition; its criteria baked into the the divisions, tests and judging; the nice fit between competition and particular horses breeders are producing makes this all hard to change. Furthermore, European suppliers have no reason to change any of dressage's standards or raison-d'etra-giving philosophy even if no one will ever ride into battle on a horse, let alone one that trots a bit like an American saddlebred. And lots of this is because we have failed to appreciate how little the needs and poverty of the American amateur matter in all this. We are of use only if we pay fabulous prices for top horses; happily, we will also buy Europe's culls. The AQHA functions the same way: It's great for a breeder to produce a real star who commands and great price. But he needs to stay in business by selling his many, many misses that are part and parcel of any selective breeding program.

            Looking at the judging criteria in dressage as that fits into a much larger, older and well-organized breeding industry, you can see why this kind of discussion might not amount to much. Europeans don't need to change their breeding industry because a bunch of Americans can't afford to horse show. We are so, so far down stream from the way and reasons for which Competitive Dressage was structured that we don't comprise a compelling consumer whose needs matter to the market.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

            Comment


              #66
              All such great, thoughtful replies! In my rural area, with an active horse scene, I tried like the dickens to get dressage more accepted and active up here. My GF and I staged really fun, well-attended schooling shows for at least five years. My impression? The local 4Hers and Saddle Club folks think dressage is just too hard; takes to long (done right), is too fussy (back to the done right issue), and would rather not care about their horses being counter-bent as they trot around a ring, and a "trope" is easier to ride than a canter.

              As an aside, after attending the 2005 WC in Vegas, I found video of Debbie's ride to share with my SO. He watched quietly for a few minutes then almost exploded at the "skipping" of the one tempis. "How do you get a horse to do that?!"
              Reminds me also of my dear departed father (who was always interested in my riding from afar) after I'd left a Dressage Today magazine at their house to let him read a couple articles, asked me one day - very conspiratorally - how my horse was doing on her "halt halves". He was SO proud of himself!

              edited to add: the "well-attended" was due to folks from my GMO trailering in from 80 miles away.

              Comment


                #67
                I can remember watching the compulsory portions of ice skating at the Olympics when I was young. They were dropped in 1990 or thereabout - I wonder if and how much it affected the sport overall. Does anyone know if ice skaters are judged on compulsory figures in the lower levels?

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNJ88dpH_L4

                This is worth watching.

                Anyway, it is hard to convince young riders how getting a good grounding in dressage can help them in other areas of their riding.

                Comment


                  #68
                  Originally posted by MorganSercu View Post
                  I can remember watching the compulsory portions of ice skating at the Olympics when I was young. They were dropped in 1990 or thereabout - I wonder if and how much it affected the sport overall. Does anyone know if ice skaters are judged on compulsory figures in the lower levels?

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNJ88dpH_L4

                  This is worth watching.

                  Anyway, it is hard to convince young riders how getting a good grounding in dressage can help them in other areas of their riding.
                  Anecdotal, but a friend of mine who skated at the very lower levels as a kid was at least taught how in order to build skills, but I don't think she ever did them in competition.

                  That said, they're still a big deal in roller figure skating.

                  Comment


                    #69
                    Like most of my fellow California dressage riders, I got an email from our state organization last year, announcing the new "patron" program to raise funds for the future of dressage. The email asked we dues-paying members to consider donating additional money to support the organization's programs in order to help grow our sport.

                    That didn't sit well with me. Despite Stephen Colbert's assertion that dressage is the sport of Joe Six Pack, here's what everyone here knows: it's not easy for we true six-packers of the sport. Most folks know horse ownership is not cheap. If you want to train and compete in dressage, it gets exponentially more spendy. Like any sport, the structure of American dressage is a pyramid, with the base made up of adult amateurs who carefully budget their limited funds so they can train and compete. Undermine or neglect the base and the top becomes unstable.

                    So with those seditious thoughts of the proletariat running through my head, I sent a response to the email:

                    Oh dear. There is already my yearly membership fee, fees at both the state and local level for nominations for year-end and championship awards, plus fees for USDF and USEF memberships if I want to ride in recognized shows to acquire points for those aforementioned awards and championships. Once those fees are paid, then I have the horseshow fees. For me, it is a minimum of $500 per show.

                    Dressage Today magazine last year said "the adult amateur is the backbone of American dressage." That should be amended to "the well-to-do adult amateur is the backbone of American dressage."

                    Please accept my apologies for not being well-off enough to participate in the patron program. Hopefully I can continue to participate on some level before the sport becomes too exclusionary for me, the average adult amateur dressage rider.


                    The response? Crickets. No, scratch that -- at least crickets make noise. -_-

                    Comment


                      #70
                      So many wonderful posts so far. Some of the ideas that really stand out and speak to me as an adult amateur on a non- warmblood (although financially secure with regular training) are the following:

                      -more spotlighting of non-warmblood success, I actually think COTH has put out some really lovely articles on this and they are popular based on the FB comments. Success is relative- it could be OTTB going FEI or killpen auction horse making it at 1st level, we need to speak to multiple levels of goals.

                      - more emphasis on the process. Everyone loves before and after pictures. I think if a monthly article was put out featuring a different AA pair (mix of breeds, including WBs) with photos from training through FEI like the Lendon Gray article mentioned that would be super inspiring. This should me more mainstream media because most people are not reading dressage letters or whatever its called. Think Noelle Floyd/COTH/is there a dressage version of eventing nation?

                      - more emphasis on milestone awards like medals- you don't need an individual USDF membership for these, your GMO membership still qualifies you which can cut some cost

                      - could people apply for some sort of subsidy to cover lifetime horse memberships for non-WBs? I would donate to this type of cause for my own breed (Morgan). It cheapens the cost for all future owners and encourages that horse to stay active and on the show scene.


                      I am lucky enough to have a wonderful trainer with good basics who works with many different types of horses. That said when I was shopping she definitely encouraged me to look at warmbloods even on the small budget I had set for myself. I think all levels of pros have bought into the warmbloods are best mentality and it takes a dedicated (or very budget minded) AA to stick to their guns on looking for and picking a non-WB. People are shocked when they find out how cheap my horse was, but he was very fairly priced for his breed/age/training- you'd just never get a sound, sane WB of that age/training for that price.

                      How can we get people to be inspired to bring their breed of choice into the dressage world?


                      Comment


                        #71
                        I have sponsored classes because I wanted to do so and because the dues I pay are so little, it wouldn't hurt me financially to toss a little money to make participation a little more interesting to someone who may be sitting on the fence. But those sponsorships weren't for a lot of money and the entry fees are low anyway. It might be different if they had asked if there were people who could volunteer to keep some portion of the costs down (and in theory increase participation).

                        It is a bit like WalMart or Amazon celebrating their underpaid staff for donating food or leave to other underpaid staff. Reach into your huge profits instead. Never should happen.

                        I realize that your state organization is not likely to have a great big profit margin, but it sounds as though their programs may need to be scrutinized more closely if they aren't increasing participation.

                        Amazon solicited donations from the public to pay sick leave to contractors and seasonal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. -- TRUE

                        https://www.businessinsider.com/walm...-drive-2014-11

                        Comment


                          #72
                          Originally posted by Dcummings89 View Post
                          I'm a youngish aa rider, I completed as a Jr about 13 to 15 years ago and loved it. I currently have a goal of competing and trying to qualify for USDF Region Championships. However, it's extremely expensive, the amount of investment in not just time and lessons is a lot. I added up the cost just to attend one show and it was on the low end 500 dollars. I was shocked. Stabling was 150 dollars, then the fees, let alone the 400 dollars in annual membership fees. Luckily it'll be less next year since my horse will be a lifetimer. To prepare for this goal the amount of money is very high. I have high aspirations for my Quarter Horse, and I feel we can be somewhat competitive against the warmbloods. But, I have to decide if it's even worth it. Finding affordable instructors is rare. Heck, finding good instructors overall is hard. Sadly, there's minimal opportunities for AA riders; for example, clinics, grants, scholarships, etc.

                          ​Horses are expensive, yes, equestrian sports overall are expensive but, I got the impression while I was determining my show season, that the regional level for dressage is for the people with deeper pockets and it's sad. I know many riders who want to learn how to ride and show dressage and it's not very doable for them because of price of shows and lessons.

                          ​​​I understand there's so much to go into rated shows and that results in higher costs to the competitor. It's just sad and frustrating. We all want to succeed with our horses and it's sad that sometimes high costs hinders some people from getting the opportunity to experience the rated shows. Dressage isn't for everyone, but it would be nice if it was a bit more affordable so maybe more would consider joining and competing.

                          Thank you for posting. You are the AA that the PTB needs to hear from.

                          As it stands, the USDF does not concern itself with woes of underfunded AAs. They pay the same fees, but are woefully underserved.






                          Certified Guacophobe

                          Comment


                            #73
                            Originally posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen View Post

                            Thank you for posting. You are the AA that the PTB needs to hear from.

                            As it stands, the USDF does not concern itself with woes of underfunded AAs. They pay the same fees, but are woefully underserved.


                            We all are the Powers That Be (emphasis mine)

                            I only know a handful of people here IRL, and each of us is active volunteering and organizing events for amateurs.

                            Apologies and kudos to any others who are doing the same.

                            Be the change you want to see!! It's not enough to offer suggestions on the internet, or even via email to USDF. If you want real change, think globally act locally.

                            People who want less expensive shows; put one on. Find the sponsors, facility and judge and do it.

                            People who want better instruction: Organize a clinic

                            People who feel underserved by USDF: Don't join or renew your membership

                            Comment


                              #74
                              I truly understand everyone’s intentions when talking about removing the gait component from scoring to favor correct training, but there’s a pretty glaring flaw in that logic: correct training improves the gaits. My horse has correct gaits, but certainly nothing fancy. However, if he’s ridden correctly (read bouncing his forehand off the ground for loft, compressing the hind legs for power and carrying; and up all the way through his entire back), his gaits improve immensely. That is not easy to do, and I have absolutely earned any score increase that comes from it.

                              In my experience there are very few, if any, horses that just give their best gaits away for free. There’s a lovely WB mare in my barn who can look like a pokey school horse or make people’s jaw drop. But you have to ride her.

                              It’s also worth sharing again, I demo rode in an L judge training years ago with Axel Steiner. When he asked the group of mainly experienced local trainers about the gait score for my horse, it was like a race to the bottom. General consensus was 5.5 iirc. Axel’s response was that a horse with correct gaits should always score a 7, no exceptions.

                              Comment


                                #75
                                Originally posted by SAB View Post
                                I truly understand everyone’s intentions when talking about removing the gait component from scoring to favor correct training, but there’s a pretty glaring flaw in that logic: correct training improves the gaits. My horse has correct gaits, but certainly nothing fancy. However, if he’s ridden correctly (read bouncing his forehand off the ground for loft, compressing the hind legs for power and carrying; and up all the way through his entire back), his gaits improve immensely. That is not easy to do, and I have absolutely earned any score increase that comes from it.

                                In my experience there are very few, if any, horses that just give their best gaits away for free. There’s a lovely WB mare in my barn who can look like a pokey school horse or make people’s jaw drop. But you have to ride her.

                                It’s also worth sharing again, I demo rode in an L judge training years ago with Axel Steiner. When he asked the group of mainly experienced local trainers about the gait score for my horse, it was like a race to the bottom. General consensus was 5.5 iirc. Axel’s response was that a horse with correct gaits should always score a 7, no exceptions.
                                Part of the problem is that judging in dressage IS so subjective, and there is breed bias in judges.

                                I was watching a competition where a Spanish rider was riding a spanish horse not sure if I was an Iberian but it was Spanish bred. He rode a beautiful test but he got no love from any of the European judges. The highest score he got was from , surprise, a judge from a South American country. You better believe there's bias.

                                You see toe flipping horses in extended trot with their hind legs trailing behind and that's what the judges apparently like because that's what they reward.

                                For instance, I am the first to admit to that I do not have the experience, education, and background of FEI judges.

                                But I never understood the admiration that Totilas excited in dressage circles. He was an extravagant mover but I dont know that i would call him correct.

                                There was one time i saw a video of him and i wanted to yell, "Rack On!" at the screen.

                                I'm sure many of you will roll your eyes and sigh and some will want to excoriate me for my ignorance That's okay. Dressage is subjective.
                                And my opinion means nothing.

                                I'm not sure that gaits even mean anything as far as dressage goes. But it means a whole hell of a lot to breeders of dressage horses. A breeder can add a couple of zeroes to the price of an 8 or 9 mover.

                                Dressage is supposed to be about the correct training of horse and rider. Any breed of horse and any rider.

                                There shouldn't be any reference to gaits. Or the so called quality of the gaits.

                                I know, I know, it's only my opinion and no body axed me. And no one is blowing up my phone axin for me to judge a dressage class.
                                Certified Guacophobe

                                Comment


                                  #76
                                  Originally posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen View Post

                                  Part of the problem is that judging in dressage IS so subjective, and there is breed bias in judges.

                                  I was watching a competition where a Spanish rider was riding a spanish horse not sure if I was an Iberian but it was Spanish bred. He rode a beautiful test but he got no love from any of the European judges. The highest score he got was from , surprise, a judge from a South American country. You better believe there's bias.

                                  You see toe flipping horses in extended trot with their hind legs trailing behind and that's what the judges apparently like because that's what they reward.

                                  For instance, I am the first to admit to that I do not have the experience, education, and background of FEI judges.

                                  But I never understood the admiration that Totilas excited in dressage circles. He was an extravagant mover but I dont know that i would call him correct.

                                  There was one time i saw a video of him and i wanted to yell, "Rack On!" at the screen.

                                  I'm sure many of you will roll your eyes and sigh and some will want to excoriate me for my ignorance That's okay. Dressage is subjective.
                                  And my opinion means nothing.

                                  I'm not sure that gaits even mean anything as far as dressage goes. But it means a whole hell of a lot to breeders of dressage horses. A breeder can add a couple of zeroes to the price of an 8 or 9 mover.

                                  Dressage is supposed to be about the correct training of horse and rider. Any breed of horse and any rider.

                                  There shouldn't be any reference to gaits. Or the so called quality of the gaits.

                                  I know, I know, it's only my opinion and no body axed me. And no one is blowing up my phone axin for me to judge a dressage class.
                                  Only my humble opinion... yes dressage is about training of rider and horse... training improves the gaits... so taking out the gait part eliminates part of the purpose of dressage... It’s a bit like showing dogs.... Some breeds eliminated the purpose what they were bred for.. the result was not good...
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                                    #77
                                    Gaits do not always reflect training.
                                    If a horse was bred to reproduce the conformation that allows the gaits that judges perceive as correct or desirable, that is not a result of training.

                                    A horse that is not specifically bred for the sport but has the correct conformation can produce the desired gaits with correct work . That is a product of training.

                                    A horse that does not have the correct conformation will not be able to produce the desired gaits no matter how much effort you put into it.



                                    BTW I looked up the FEI level tests and there is no coefficient for the gaits in the collective marks.

                                    I could not find British or German dressage tests below FEI online so I couldnt compare them to the USDF tests.



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                                      #78
                                      Originally posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen View Post
                                      Gaits do not always reflect training.
                                      If a horse was bred to reproduce the conformation that allows the gaits that judges perceive as correct or desirable, that is not a result of training.

                                      A horse that is not specifically bred for the sport but has the correct conformation can produce the desired gaits with correct work . That is a product of training.

                                      A horse that does not have the correct conformation will not be able to produce the desired gaits no matter how much effort you put into it.



                                      BTW I looked up the FEI level tests and there is no coefficient for the gaits in the collective marks.

                                      I could not find British or German dressage tests below FEI online so I couldnt compare them to the USDF tests.


                                      why would you ride a horse which is not able to produce the desired gaits because of its conformation in dressage tests?

                                      Most horses have a conformation which will enable them to do walk trot and canter....

                                      For example if somebody wants to compete a gaited horse or a trotter in Dressagetests, I think that is totally fine and I admire them... But why would they expect to beat warmbloods bred for this specific purpose??
                                      I would not expect to beat with my warmblood gaited horses in their competitions...
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                                        #79
                                        Originally posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen View Post


                                        BTW I looked up the FEI level tests and there is no coefficient for the gaits in the collective marks.


                                        There is only 1 collective mark at all in FEI tests, that for rider position. This was a change in the not too distant past.

                                        The rationale is that the gaits are part of each and every movement criteria. This is where people have a legit complaint about double counting in USDF tests, gaits are part of every movement too and there are the bonus collective points.

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                                          #80
                                          Originally posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen View Post


                                          A horse that does not have the correct conformation will not be able to produce the desired gaits no matter how much effort you put into it.

                                          And a warmblood isn't going to be able to cut a cow as well as a purpose bred Quarter Horse.

                                          I'm not getting your point.

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