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Please share your opinion on these horses -Thanks

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  • Please share your opinion on these horses -Thanks

    I would very much appreciate opinions on these individual horses presented in the rough and not under saddle…as possible prospects/projects for performance dressage (meaning enough talent for upper levels).
    It is difficult to get pics and vids of stock presented au natural, but I think there is a lot here to like.

    Specifics on why you might agree or disagree are welcome.

    I am thinking of the following quotes from elsewhere on this board (forgive me, I didn’t keep posters names with their excellent words.)

    “I tell all people buying dressage horses: buy the canter and the brain.”

    “If it's a nice horse but it never gets … where it will be seen…it won't be, no matter how talented it is.”
    “I am seeing this from the American point of view, where the market is dramatically inefficient at getting the nicest horses to the best riders.”

    “The cream rises to the top because the top is where all the money is, but you do have to have an "in"... you have to make it happen…”











    Thank you for your candid response.

  • #2
    Just because one saddlebred happened to do ok at GP doesn't mean that breed is a good choice for an FEI prospect.

    I watched a couple of your links, and couldn't bear to watch anymore. I don't agree with you that it is good to assess talent by watching a horse get chased around the ring at a tense trot.


    • #3
      I have to agree that Saddlebreds probably aren't the best choice for an upper level dressage prospect. Not saying that they aren't out there..but not my first choice


      • #4
        oooh boy.....

        Have you gotten permission from the owners of these horses to post their videos for internet critiques? Quite a few people really don't like their horses posted for all to pick at, especially when the horses are for sale, but not limited to that situation. These horse videos are posted by a number of different people - did they have permission to post them on youtube from the owners, or are they the owners?

        I love Saddlebreds. Just as I love all horse breeds. Every horse I've ever ridden has some good about them, and they all have something to learn from.

        But to suggest that a breed as a whole- that ANY breed, even the purpose bred warmbloods, in any sort of sizeable percentage are automatically 'upper level candidates'...because of their breed, is absolute poppy cock.

        I would very much appreciate opinions on these individual horses presented in the rough and not under saddle…as possible prospects/projects for performance dressage (meaning enough talent for upper levels).
        It is difficult to get pics and vids of stock presented au natural, but I think there is a lot here to like.

        I have to say it is an 'eclectic' bunch. There are two breeding stallions who aren't advertised for sale, some weanlings, several aged mares, and a gelding. So I don't think you are looking for a prospect for yourself or a client. If I had to guess, I would guess you are here to try to promote saddlebreds at the upper levels of dressage.

        Specifics on why you might agree or disagree are welcome.

        I am thinking of the following quotes from elsewhere on this board (forgive me, I didn’t keep posters names with their excellent words.)

        “I tell all people buying dressage horses: buy the canter and the brain.”

        The canter and the brain are a part of the equation. To succeed at the top levels, and hold up long enough for the horse to reach the top levels, it needs much, much more. The brain can't just be 'quick' or 'smart'. It needs to be tough. Energetic, a fighter who wants to succeed, an immense amount of energy, lack of distractibility, and resilience. The canter is important but so are the other gaits. Brain, gaits, but very important, conformation. Conformation is crucial with dressage horses, the more so as they go up the levels. And the back. A long, weak coupling in a horse, a long weak back, the horse will not make it. Hocks that naturally work out behind the body - will not make it. Gaits that get short and mincing easily...no. ALL the gaits have to be exceptional. Sure, for a little upper level showing at a local show with 1 other person in the class, a lot of very unsuitable horses are used. I would still go out of my way to select a more ideal candidate.

        “If it's a nice horse but it never gets … where it will be seen…it won't be, no matter how talented it is.”

        Well, the fact is, most really suitable, talented horses ARE 'seen' and they are found and people get them where they need to be. I DO occasionally hear gripes about this from small-time professionals who want to be given a horse that will make their career, but they need to earn that through show success, it isn't just handed to them - they generally get the horses they have earned through hard work and success.

        Horses don't hide much these days. If it's sitting in a backyard 'unrecognized', there's usually a reason, usually, because it isn't really as good as the owner thinks it is, or because part of that 'whole package' just isn't there. There are lots of pretty moving horses that don't stay sound, don't have any brains, or are not trainable.

        “I am seeing this from the American point of view, where the market is dramatically inefficient at getting the nicest horses to the best riders.”

        I don't know that that really is true. It's a very small world in dressage, and people find out about horses...and quite frankly, I don't see that many 'stars' languishing unrecognized in people's back yards.

        “The cream rises to the top because the top is where all the money is, but you do have to have an "in"... you have to make it happen…”

        This is where I start going...'bullpuckey'. What you need in dressage is a good trainer and to ride well. Not an 'in'. If the horse really is so great and the training really is so good, the world will beat a path to your door. Too many people are convinced they have some fabulous undiscovered star in their barn. Generally, they don't.

        Saddlebred horses were not originally bred for dressage. In fact, many of the conformation points and ways of moving and gaiting so desirable in the Saddlebred ring, are the exact and complete opposite of what is wanted in dressage, and the horse has been selected and bred over a very long time to excell in saddle seat type riding, not dressage.

        Finding upper level candidates among American Saddlebreds is about selecting individuals. These are, in fact, individuals that are fairly atypical for the breed. They are not, as an entire breed, ideal candidates for upper level dressage.

        I am not going to critique the individual videos presented here because I do not believe the owners have given their permission for this to be done.

        For some general comments.

        The saddlebred was designed to be the 'ultimate cadillac ride', with a back that is very comfortable for the rider (no swing) and yet a very high lifting of the neck and legs for style.

        Many horses have a great deal of bend and lift to their hocks - they may in fact raise their knees and hocks very high, and look very very 'fancy' and 'stylish', but they do not have drive from the hind quarters. Instead, the croup is very flat and the hocks angulated and placed so that they 'work out behind' the horse. The long back and very long loin is very comfortable for a rider, but this makes it extremely difficult to get the horse's hindquarters and hocks positioned where they need to be for dressage.

        As a result, they have no 'suspension' in their gaits at all. Despite lifting their knees and hocks, sometimes very dramatically, they have no lift or spring of the body, working through the back. The back does not naturally swing - instead it drops downward as the head and neck raise and the hind quarters work out behind the body.

        With this so called 'inverted conformation', it is not always possible to 'turn over' these horses so they are stretching over the topline, swinging their backs and bringing their hocks forward, under their bodies.

        While the 'swanny' neck is very beautiful it is not always possible to form the kind of 'connection' through the reins for dressage, where the impulsion can be developed and the energy transmitted through the neck and back to the hind quarter and forward again.

        Some thoughts on selecting a saddlebred partner for upper level dressage could be, to select horses that naturally round their backs and put their hocks under, rather than behind them. A less extreme neck, and a shorter back and coupling can help a great deal with this. A long back and coupling leads to the inverted posture, and a lateral canter, and a lack of being able to transmit that power forward.

        Too, I've had quite a few saddlebred folks tell me they very much dislike a walk that tracks up and actively do not select breeding stock that has that kind of walk. So with the walk, we'd be looking for a very unusual animal, especially if most breeders follow that same philosophy. A loose, long, swinging walk, a rounded topline, a back that lifts and swings, hocks naturally under the body, a less exaggeratedly swanny neck, a trot with some swing and lift, rather than 'kneesy-hocksy', and a very non lateral canter, are all great things to look for.
        Last edited by slc2; May. 1, 2009, 01:27 PM.


        • #5
          One needs to look at more than trot trot trot trot trot, slow motion trot trot trot.



          • #6
            “I tell all people buying dressage horses: buy the canter and the brain.”

            All these videos show saddlebreds. Which aren't known for their canter nor brain. I personally wouldn't touch one for dressage.


            • #7
              I completely agree with SLC2....

              Being the mother of a daughter who took her ASB to 4th level before it was even nearly fashionable to think about it, I have to agree that ASB's are not the first choice for success at upper level dressage. Their backs are too long for great collection, they are not naturally built uphill, and their neckset is normally too high to allow great use of their backs. That said, I've never seen an ASB that doesn't have the heart to do whatever is asked of it. Amazing animals, particularly if they trust you.

              In my opinion if you are dead set on an ASB, you should look for one with a conformation as much like a warmblood as you can find - built a bit uphill, shorter back, lower set neck and shorter neck. Being honest, none of the horses I saw in your links would be suitable for dressage in my opinion. Sorry.


              • #8
                I have nothing against ASB for dressage (trained and showed one to 3rd level but no one could even guess what his breed was http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/m...ndDressage.jpg ), but there are very few that actually will make TRUE upper level horses. The last one listed, honestly I didn't think very much of him. Was not coming up underneath himself at the trot, very unsteady in the bridle, yes I do know it said that it was his first time in a full bridle, but honestly if your horse is ready to go in a full bridle then he should have ALL the basics done. Have correct rythem, steady contact, move off the leg and seat when asked etc.

                For the prices of those ASBs listed you can get a horse that actually has dressage breeding to back up the price tag. I think the first horse was listed at around $13,000 correct? Go a little bit higher or if you don't mind young or a bit out of shape stay at the $15,000 and under range and you can find something that will have more potential to be really competative.


                • #9
                  If you are serious about having an ASB in dressage you should contact ASB Stars on this board. She has two at this time that are undersaddle and *quite* nice. Dressaged only, never saddleseat.
                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                  • #10
                    The first horse is such a beautiful color, love love love the two colored tail! That said all of them have their hocks far out behind them. That makes training for collection so much harder. There have been a few long backed, hocks out horses get to the upper levels, but if you watch the tests, they are not really collected, the hind ends do not sit.

                    A good brain counts for a lot, but if you really want to do FEI work, you have to have the body and gaits and the MECHANICS within the gaits be excellent.


                    • #11
                      seems like you're picking them for their color. which is not a performance criteria.


                      • #12
                        Well, I think you CAN find Saddlebreds that can do mid and even upper level dressage, but most of those you linked to are not what you are looking for, or there isn't ENOUGH to assess. The first link doesn't work, but the 2nd to the buckskin tobi - she is STUNNING to look at, like a Breyer horse, boy, adorable, flashy, but step back from that. Her walk is lateral even at liberty, and NO canter is shown even when being chased around, which indicates perhaps the canter is not an easy gait for her. She sure is fun to watch though

                        I skipped all the slo-mo videos - saw a few seconds of tails flipped over backs, trailing hocks, and lousy footing - which never shows a horse right anyway. Some things to realize about slo-mo - ALL horses have suspension and air-time in slo-mo - you can't really tell what is going on. I don't mind video with mostly real time, but a bit of slo-mo - you can tell easily if the horse overtracks, if they trail their hocks, etc, but in reality, without seeing real time, you can't really assess the trot.

                        The chestnut filly trails her hocks quite a bit - in a baby, you have to give some lee-way, they could be in a funky growth stage, but she is so far out behind, that isn't going to change. She is probably an incredible candidate for some of the Saddlebred disciplines, such as pleasure classes - pretty, lots of action, uses herself athletically, just not really in a dressage way (dressage is not the only discipline in the world!).

                        The bay under saddle was probably one of the best of the lot for dressage - quick behind (a good thing), not trailing the hocks, although I'd like to see a more scopy canter (with more jump) at this point in training. The canter seemed to kind of roll back and forth, rather than jump and sit (coil and spring), if that makes any sense. I didn't watch the entire thing, didn't see walk work in the first part. I thought the rider was doing a nice job too, really nice to see that!

                        The palomino is probably going to be quite nice, but is doing WAY TOO MUCH for a 3 year old, ugh. Again, didn't watch the whole thing, didn't see the walk. Hope he stays sound and sane

                        I think, if you go to a Saddlebred breeder who is breeding for SPORT, you'll find some nice prospects. And, if you are looking for a lower level prospect, there are some flashy front ends in the group. Just realize, as you move up the levels, the canter becomes more and more important, and the ability to sit down and collect becomes more and more important. Ignore the front end in the big trot and re-assess those videos and see what you think
                        www.MysticOakRanch.com Friesian/Warmblood Crosses, the Ultimate Sporthorse
                        Director, WTF Registry


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you all for the input so far.

                          I find your comments interesting and informative. Mods, if I have overstepped bounds by posting the youtube links, I certainly apologize, it is not my intent to encourage disparagement of any horse that may be for sale, and yet youtube is open to public viewing and comment, so I thought discussion for this specific discipline in raw horses might be possible. Lock, or otherwise let me know, thank you.

                          Saddlebred is my breed of choice, I certainly don't deny that. Others have their preferences, too.
                          I was hoping that posts would not be directed at Saddleseat, which is different from Saddlebred; time will tell. I also was hoping that the individuals would be considered so I could be informed as to what Dressage folks are looking for, more this, less that, heavier, lighter, etc. - I was hoping it was not just a set of papers from Europe. If it is, that will be good to know, too.
                          For those who have posted informatively, I appreciate it.

                          Regarding the color, as I said, au naturel vids are difficult to find in this breed, many receive extensive training even as very young horses to become Saddleseat prospects. Color breeders may opt away from that discipline and so their horses are presented more 'as they grew'. Saddlebreds come in just about every color, I guess I didn't post Sabino, Overo, Champagne, Silver Dapple or Roan, I'm not even sure there is a bay in the vids; in other words the color selection just wasn't intentional.

                          Obviously my 'eye' finds different priorities and I am often basing what I like off a few steps noted or an agile turn, etc. Again, these horses are not being presented in keurings or for the most part as prospects by their owners, but as raw goods.

                          As such, and as horses, I would ask again for your input and appreciate the opportunity to learn how and why from those 'in the trenches and actually doing'.
                          Thank you


                          • #14
                            Didn't really like any of them. The palo under saddle was probably the nicest but needs to be taken down a notch at the moment. The bay undersaddle was nice but I'm willing to bet the scores are not very competitve at the level he is at. I wonder if you are really looking to buy because some of these videos are over a year old I really am confused about this post. Posting when you were so I now understand you are trying to understand.
                            Last edited by rabicon; May. 1, 2009, 03:34 PM.
                            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                            • #15
                              Oh man, this is going to be a wreck...

                              D Baldstockings - I think I've seen you on the trot.org board? I'd recommend spending a bit more time browsing around here and then posting more, haha, just to get the feel... Things can get a little heated, as you can tell = )

                              I'm a saddle seat rider who's now doing mostly dressage with some jumping as well. I grew up with saddlebreds, and I adore them. This board has a few ASB enthusiasts, but most aren't and most also don't seem to be all that informed about the breed except for a few run ins here and there...

                              I'm not sure why people immediately had to knock the breed, especially since you didn't say "I'm looking for a GP dressage prospect, and I'd like a saddlebred because I think they're the best dressage horses out there..." Perhaps we can all try to be a bit more constructive = ) She clearly likes the breed (as do I) and would like some advice on how to get an ASB that is suitable for dressage. Rather than saying ALL ASBs have long backs and trailing hocks, how about advising her to avoid horses with long backs and trailing hocks. So much more pleasant and useful = )

                              I am very interested at taking some saddlebred dressage prospects to the upper levels at some point. However, it is often a bit difficult to find a good sport horse type. People don't market for that, so you really have to do some digging. Plus, too many people are breeding for extreme qualities these days at the cost of other good conformation points (like not worrying about long weak backs... NOT a breed trait we want!) So it can be challenging to find a great ASB dressage prospect unless you have some time and a good eye.

                              That being said, I think the breed has a lot of great points that would make it an excellent sport horse. We just need more breeders and buyers to get on the sport horse train. I don't think it would be hard at all to channel the breed into a sport horse type - the bloodlines are there. I think they can be great for crosses too. I've owned several less extreme type saddlebreds that excelled at saddle seat but that could also have been very competitive dressage horses (and not just at the lower levels...)

                              Anyway, this argument has been rehashed over and over again, and I'm waiting for some of the ASB breeders and enthusiasts to pop on here = )

                              Also, @ Slc - I've never talked to ASB breeders (good ones) that prefer a horse that doesn't track up. It may often seem that way because some breeders are doing the breed a disservice and breeding for extreme motion, head set, etc while forgetting about a good strong back (NO, we don't want them long for saddle seat..., and NO we don't want a walk that doesn't track up - it won't knock you out of the ribbons like it will in dressage, but it's HARDLY a desired trait...) Also, we do like our ASBs to be uphill. The breeding just isn't as regulated as it is for warmbloods, and I think it's a shame. I love ASBs, and I'm displeased with some of the saddle seat "types" of ASBs that are being produced these days. Responsible breeders should ALWAYS be looking for good conformation, grr.

                              Anyway, I think the ASB is a great option for dressage if you spend some time to look/carefully breed. Most of the horses you picked in your videos do lack suspension (not actually something I prefer in a saddle seat saddlebred either...) and are a little too quick and choppy in their gaits. The best way to get a nice dressage ASB is to find one that looks like a well built horse. Not too extreme in anyway. A nicely set on neck that's not overly thin or long. A nice back and shoulder (I've also heard people on here say that ASBs are bred for straight shoulders, absolutely NOT a breed standard - they should be sloping...) and a nice temperment (despite what many think, MOST saddlebreds look hot, but have great minds).

                              I'd suggest looking at a LOT of upper level dressage videos and going to some dressage shows to see what's out there. Coming over from ASB saddle seat land is a bit of a transition at first. You really have to retrain your eye = ) What you see doing "dressage" and "hunter pleasure" at breed shows is nothing like what a real dressage horse or hunter should usually look like.


                              • #16
                                My last post was a bit rambling, but I wanted to add - to look at some great dressage videos go to topdressage.tv. It's got a lot of top international horses. When I first transitioned into dressage, it really did take awhile to separate my saddle seat eye from my dressage eye.

                                Also, I still love saddle seat though I'm currently doing more dressage (and I love it so much for different reasons), so I have my feet in both worlds = )


                                • #17
                                  Wow that buckskin is *FLASHY*! As I'm quite new to the sport, I have no comment here on the suitability of these horses for Dressage, but just wanted to say that I hope there are some ASB sporthorse breeders who will join the discussion. My Saddlebred (who's been discussed on the ORS thread) is wonderful!! I don't think he's "perfect" for Dressage, or that we'll ever make UL, but I'm going to have a lot of fun with him just enjoying the process Just have to get him un-cowboyed now... and I think he will be a lovely Dressage horse. That said, he does not look or move like the Saddlebreds that I've seen in the show ring. Those horses are extreme. I think this is an interesting topic, and I hope it doesn't turn into a wreck.


                                  • #18
                                    from a possible dressage point of view,the only one that had perhaps a glimmer of hope was the grey stallion, and then his feet were questionable, as I couldn't really see them because of the quality of the filming.

                                    The buckskin mare was striking as an ASB.
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                    • #19
                                      Saddlebreds are wonderful mounts. And imo make great dressage horses. Albert Ostermeyer loved them and trained at least one to Grand Prix. He felt they were unfairly over looked as far as dressage goes. And what beautiful piaffes one can get!
                                      Also the OP did not post the videos. The OP posted the links to the videos which is perfectly net legal. Besides, there's plenty of critiques on the YouTube videos from viewers anyway.


                                      • #20
                                        I will not comment on the horses shown simply because I think there are a couple who might be possibilities but there isn't enough to see in these clips (especially canter sequences) that make me feel comfortable suggesting or negating specific critters. Though I agree as others have said that those who move completely with their hocks out behind and are never seen stretching down are likely not your best candidates.

                                        That said I am one of those who loves a specific breed first and dressage is a close, close second. When you fall in "that" category you definitely have to develop thick skin and be able to read for content all the while being able to filter out some of the stingers and zingers some on here and elsewhere like to lob just 'cause you ain't ridin' what they think is fittin'.

                                        Take the advice others have given, which just by your post is evidence that you're trying to do exactly that, and focus on finding ASBs who are more sport horse in type. I too have a breed who is bred to trot all day long with flash and fire. I had to look (and kissed many a toad) long and hard focusing on those individuals who first WOULD canter and then narrowing it down to those who obviously like to canter and finally trying to find the occasional one who demonstrated an excellent canter with the carrying power being more prominent than the pushing power

                                        I really didn't/don't worry about the trot per se. Breeds who are bred to trot are likely going to have a good one there and as many say, the trot is the easiest gait to improve (or at least the one that you will have the most positive influence over). So again, given some of the similarities between our breeds, I look for scope and elasticity of the trot more so than flash - ie, use of shoulder, hind foot placement, bend of hock UNDERNEATH THE HORSE, and use of back - if you've got a critter, regardless of breed who demonstrates a range (the greater the better) then you know the trot, medium trot and extended will be there with proper training.

                                        Now the other key, the walk, look for a good over stride that doesn't show any and I really mean this with the "trotting" breeds (and by that I mean any who can do a hell of a CEP or park horse class), any pacing, lateral tendencies or tension. It's that part that is tougher than the rest 'cause sometimes these tendencies don't show themselves until their under saddle but if it's there at liberty it's a battle you will have. Not saying all hope is lost but your challenges will be greater.

                                        It is possible to find a suitable candidate in your breed of choice. And one of the most important things as someone here has mentioned, is that heart and devotion factor. I have been able to go much farther than many thought due in large part because my horse has that huge heart and devotion factor. We'll never be on the olympic squad but I have accomplished far more than some of my contemporaries who acquired horses around the same time after a trip to Europe

                                        Good luck and please realize that some of us don't all see dressage through warmblood colored glasses.
                                        Ranch of Last Resort