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Draft X and dressage...WWYD? **UPDATE**

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  • Draft X and dressage...WWYD? **UPDATE**

    Well I'm back again after a bit of a hiatus, it seems like the horses just keep following me wherever I go, despite me trying to ignore them!

    After MANY failed visits, trials and pre purchase exams, I gave up on finding a new horse. Took some down time and was enjoying a bit of freedom from it all. I received an email about a horse that I had inquired about quite some time ago and decided to go and have a look.

    Well that was a mistake. As soon as I swung a leg over I knew that she was pretty special. Very sweet, straightforward (for a 3 year old) and willing to try even when she was uncertain of what I wanted. She is exactly what I was looking for, but not necessarily in the right package.

    She is a draftXTB, and although not terribly drafty in build, she definitely has the markings. I'm no expert on movement but she seems to be pretty average - not a sewing machine, but nothing jaw dropping. She just looks like a sweet, safe draftX.

    My concern is that she just isn't going to be fancy enough, or have the movement to be competitive. She absolutely has the attitude to be successful, and even at 3 shows a good work ethic - she was tired at the end of my trial ride but kept going and trying until I asked her to stop. She is well started, whoever broke her did a lovely job of teaching her forward off the leg and she is butter soft in the contact, no rooting or pulling and she is very responsive to the rider's body which I like.

    I don't have the budget for fancy, nor have I found a worthwhile part board or lease... everyone wants 300+ and lessons on top to ride their green broke horse, which I'd rather just pay on board and train my own. I don't have the budget for this one either, but she pulled my heart strings a bit and now I've lost my ability to make an objective decision. I'm also a university student so I need to be very clear about the choices I'm making now that will affect me long term. So in the spirit of making a life altering decision with the help of total internet strangers, what would you do?
    Last edited by JustABay; Jul. 1, 2013, 09:39 AM.

  • #2
    It depends.

    How "competitive" do you want to be? Having had a fabulous moving, gorgeous draft cross, and doing dressage with him (among other things) I'll weigh in. He was big, liver chestnut with gaits to die for. Everyone who saw him thought he was an import. He was. From Canada.

    He could float and had tremendous suspension.

    He. Had. No. Work. Ethic. At. All. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

    He was, in terms of a competition horse, a complete and utter disappointment. He played only when he felt like it. One day, he'd float you across the arena with power and grace, the next day, he would refuse to trot a 20m circle to the left.

    I loved him dearly, and forgave him his sins because of it.

    Your life is uncertain at this point. You could get a fabulous horse that doesn't stay sound. You could get a fabulous horse that stays sound, but you don't have money to compete.

    Get the horse that speaks to your heart, because, no matter how it turns out, if she's doing her best, and you love her, that will be good enough, it won't matter what anyone else sees when they look at her. You'll know.

    Average with a good "try" trumps above average slacker any day. Trust me.


    • #3
      What is your goal?
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • #4
        I think it really depends on the DraftX. There are so many variations when it comes to "DraftX".... all kinds of mixes, types, shapes, build.... just look at her as an individual.

        I've known a lot of DraftXs that I just did not care for at all. But there are some really nice, sensible, lovely ones out there. My trainer has one that she paid $900-- he is worth his weight in gold. A COTHer sent me a lead on a really lovely DraftX gelding for sale. He was solid at 4th and looked surprisingly light and soft. If my circumstances were a bit different I would have jumped on him.

        What exactly are your goals? Frankly, for most adult ammies, soundness, a good brain and trainability will far outweigh "fancy".....
        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


        • #5
          Originally posted by 2ndyrgal View Post
          He. Had. No. Work. Ethic. At. All. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

          He was, in terms of a competition horse, a complete and utter disappointment. He played only when he felt like it. One day, he'd float you across the arena with power and grace, the next day, he would refuse to trot a 20m circle to the left.
          This touches on a good point. If they don't want to play the game, they can muscle their way out of it. I've seen quite a few like that.... we used to get a bunch at the camp where I worked, and after a month of being ridden by kids a couple hours a day, a lot of them were like Hell to the No.

          And some of them are just not built to be exceptionally athletic and thus, when things get hard, they say No Thanks and then stick their fingers in their ears and drag you across the arena.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


          • #6
            On a budget, you get to pick 2 between brains, soundness, training, and fanciness. You can't have it all on a budget. Unless you have plans to go FEI soon, pick brains and soundness. An average mover that is pleasant, smart, and sweet will get you a LOT further and be a lot more fun than a fancy horse with an unpleasant/nasty/overreactive/lazy attitude or soundness issues.

            I have a decent budget so I got to be a bit more picky. I chose brains, soundness, and a horse with some first level work and a decent mover for an OTTB. I have NEVER regretted sacrificing 'fancy' for fun. I love my horse, he is sane and safe and fun. Maybe not the easiest ride ever, but he doesn't have a speck of nastiness in him, I always feel safe. I see so many people struggling with or scared of their fancy horse (and been there, although not necessarily on a fancy horse), it's NOT worth it unless you can afford everything in a horse


            • #7
              In addition to what the others are saying:

              Know that, at three, she is not nearly done growing and could bulk out quite a bit in the next few years. Could, not will, necessarily, but if you Google images of "three year old (insert Draft breed here)" you'll see that, on the whole, they still look pretty light.

              Heck, my THOROUGHBRED bulked out tremendously from age 3 to her current just-turned-five, and I suspect she has a bit more to go, even, although she will always be on the delicate side.

              Just thought I'd mention it, since you are already expressing your concerns about her appearance/heritage.

              That being said...at least in my area, there is always a market for a good, solid, draft-x type that can "jack of all trades" it a bit. So even if she doesn't work out for you, she may be a great mount for someone else and easy to sell on.


              • #8
                And yes, she will grow and fill out

                I got my big guy when he was 3, just at 16h, looked like an old style irish TB type, big bones. He didn't stop growing and filling out until he was almost 6, he topped out at 17.3 and probably 1600 lbs. He wasn't "drafty" he was just big. While I wouldn't expect a mare to fill out quite as much, she will change.


                • Original Poster

                  I have consumed much wine while pondering the ins and outs of this decision

                  My goal is to make it as far as I can in dressage. Being a converting hunter rider I don't expect to hit GP in my lifetime, however the goal for this horse would be competitive at 3rd level. I don't mind if it takes years, as long as we can get there. I'm not a fan of short term partnerships, or the torture of horse shopping, so I want to buy something I can live with and love long term.

                  She is not a heavy or thick draft - she has a sturdy build but is leggy and tall at 16.3 already. She definitely has the breedy color and markings, and is pretty loudly coloured....I can hear my childhood coach echoing in my head "don't buy loud coloured horses, everyone will notice you, good or bad!"

                  I also am not great at recognizing good conformation so I'm a little lost....My coach is away right now so I don't have any input from him either, and my wine bottle doesn't say much other than "glug glug glug"


                  • #10
                    Pics! Pics! We need pics!
                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                    • #11
                      Since your trainer is out of town, is there someone else knowledgeable that you trust that could look at the horse's conformation for you? The problem with draft crosses is what pieces/parts they got from the draft and this can be a limiting factor. At third level, she's going to need a good quality canter to start. Did you watch her in the field? Was she prone to cross cantering or was she hesitant to canter at all? You'll also want her to be able to push from behind, so a slopey, draft style croup will be a hindrance.

                      Like everyone else, I have seen really amazing and really fugly draft crosses. It really depends on the individual and what parts they got out of the deal. If she is sweet and you like her and she seems that you can accomplish your goals with her, then go for it!


                      • #12
                        Remember that dressage is about the long hard journey you take with your horse, and then show the judges for 5 minutes what you learned along the way Buy a horse you ENJOY riding and being with every day!

                        I have NEVER bought a "dressage" horse, yet I've somehow managed to ride successfully at GP Draft crosses can be awesome! Any horse can be awesome, and most riders are not limited by their horseflesh Buy what you can ride and enjoy.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JustABay View Post
                          don't have the budget for this one either, but she pulled my heart strings a bit and now I've lost my ability to make an objective decision. I'm also a university student so I need to be very clear about the choices I'm making now that will affect me long term. So in the spirit of making a life altering decision with the help of total internet strangers, what would you do?
                          Putting her in training is not in your budget or ownership in general? I think you can work around the former but not the latter.


                          • #14
                            Wow-what great advice here!

                            Totally in love with my import...from Canada also . Draft x TB. All the try, sweet, sane, sound, lovely to ride, heart of gold.

                            Listen to those with more experience regarding his build, etc., but my inexperienced advice is similar to those above-ride a horse you want to ride every day. And can't nearly any horse make it, truly, to the level to which you aspire? Especially a leggy already 16.3 one?

                            Just make sure you have the finances worked out to your satisfaction, then leap and the net will appear.
                            LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                            • #15
                              Great advice already given here. I'll just add a few points that I don't think have been mentioned yet:

                              1) Remember that conformation isn't just about movement, it's also about soundness... so have your trainer or someone else evaluate her for her ability to take weight on her hindquarters and stay sound (look for good angles in the hock and stifle).

                              2) How much you care about her movement (which can be developed quite a lot - at 3 she's still developing the strength the carry herself, never mind a rider) - really depends on what you mean by "competitive". If that means you want to win much of the time, then you're probably needing something with natural uphill movement and some ability to cover ground. If you mean you want to get solid scores and possibly earn your bronze medal, then there's no reason an average mover can't get you there.

                              3) Your life is completely open to change at this point, and you absolutely cannot predict what will happen down the line... whatever you end up purchasing may need to be sold later, so if you can ADD value by developing its versatility and athleticism, then it's actually a reasonable buying choice (as opposed to a more expensive "prospect" that might actually lose value as its real level of ability is revealed).
                              Proud COTH lurker since 2001.


                              • #16
                                Good advice so far.

                                My experience - I bought a 4yo draft cross that was nothing special, but basically moved decently. Had every intention of putting a year on him and selling him as a lower level horse. Fast forward 5 years - We have two placings at regional championships in a fairly competitive region, and hope to make a PSG debut in the fall. He is NOT a loudly colored one, so essentially looks like every other bay dressage horse out there, so I can't help you there, but he is a very un-complicated ride, helped by the fact that I did all the work on him, so any mistakes are mine, nothing to undo from someone else.

                                Draft crosses can certainly be competitve, but not all draft crosses are created equal. And since they often have unknown bloodlines, it can be very dificult to predict what you may end up with in the future, down to how big or bulky they may get.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by JustABay View Post
                                  My goal is to make it as far as I can in dressage. Being a converting hunter rider I don't expect to hit GP in my lifetime, however the goal for this horse would be competitive at 3rd level.
                                  Why on earth not?

                                  Debbie McDonald was a converted H/J rider.
                                  As long as you take lessons regularly from a good trainer (once per week or more) there is no reason to preemptively limit yourself to Third, even if you are bringing a horse up the levels with you.

                                  People who say it is impossible are usually the same people who only take lessons once in a blue moon or are unfortunately paying a poor instructor.

                                  That said, it is hugely important to ride a horse that tries and makes you smile. That is the only way to progress. *IF* you eventually progress past the horse's ability (and if a connemara can take Lendon to the Olympics you never know when a horse will be maxed out, so the "IF" there refers to the fact that 'hey, the horse just might do it,' not 'maybe the rider can't') you can cross that bridge when you come to it. One of my best teachers was a green 14.3h Quarter Horse that I learned under careful supervision to correctly install Training Level and the basics of First in. After a year life changed and I leased him out to an eventual sale, but what he taught me stays with me (and I still know where he lives and can go visit!)

                                  So if the horse makes you smile and you can imagine forging a partnership with it for the next few years and seeing what places you go, get that one. Too many people have fancy horses they don't really like riding and that just throw training roadblocks in the way.
                                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                                  • #18
                                    My favorite Jimmy Wofford quote
                                    "But probably, if I had to pick one thing that I had to hang my hat on, I would want the horse that I was going to buy to have a face that I would enjoy seeing poked over the stall webbing every morning, waiting for breakfast."

                                    I take that to mean not a gorgeous individual but a horse that made me happy
                                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                                    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                                    • #19
                                      I'm an eventer, but we do do dressage (is that grammatically correct?). I had a draft cross (Perch x Morgan) who did VERY well in competitions. He was always in the top three after dressage, with scores in the low 30's (that's high 60's for you pure dressage people) and would always, always jump clean. I struggled with keeping him fit enough to gallop xc, but you don't have to worry about that. The judges loved him because he was so steady. No, he didn't have a lengthening to speak of. His trot didn't float. However, he never wavered in rhythm and was very easy to ride in a test because he was so steady.

                                      Another person locally has a draft cross mare that is even heavier than mine was, and she scores in the high 20's-low 30's because her mare is so darn consistent.

                                      If you aren't looking to go Grand Prix, and this horse has everything you want between the ears and you love riding it, why not go for it? Being a college student, you want a horse that can sit around for a few days while you study for exams and not be a lunatic when you swing your leg over it. Draft crosses are also an easy sell as they tend to be big and placid - something that a lot of ammys want for themselves or for their husbands. Good luck, and please post pictures!
                                      "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                                      So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                                      • #20
                                        Dressage is about making the most of the horse you have. It is not always necessary to have a fancy warmblood that has huge movement. Have a look at this article about shire crosses:

                                        "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths