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Best Breed for Amateurs in Dressage?

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  • Best Breed for Amateurs in Dressage?

    I am curious as to what you think is a good breed for the true amateur dressage rider; someone who only rides 4-5 days per week, and who would like to move up the levels, but mostly rides/trains for the sense of accomplishment, joy of the horse and fitness.

    I love warmbloods for myself, but I find they are quite often too physically demanding for the less fit riders. I see it both in my own students when they have lessons on my warmbloods, and at shows, where I watch many riders struggle on their big horses, and tend to clutch at the horse to make them more sittable.

    I know there is the potential for a decent dressage horse in many breeds, but is there a breed that stands out as above average for the lower level riders with modest goals?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    Whatever has the brain and soundness to do the job.

    My trainer loves something crossed with a QH for her ammy students... there's a lady with a DWB/QH cross who is spectacular and sensible all at the same time...
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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    • #3
      Appendix QH, next being TB's. I don't know where all the crazy TB's are, mine are always sane and lovely.
      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
      ---
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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      • #4
        I honestly don't think it's "a breed". I think it's "a mind" that is right for AAs. Something that is tolerant and kind and trainable, yet with enough energy to do what you need. I had on my list for "the next horse" potentially a QH with a decent dressage build. However, I have just been introduced to a TB/Lusitano who is completely ammy-friendly and I think he and I are going to do well together. I think that within many breeds, you will find what you need/want. You just have to be open to the possibilities and look for what you want, rather than looking for a breed, per se.

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        • #5
          Arabians or Arab crosses.
          We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!

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          • #6
            For the rider you describe, any balanced horse with three decent gaits could work. Could be anything the rider likes the look of--Morgan, Quarterhorse, Arabian, Grade, you name it.

            I love me some off the track TB's so of course I have to mention how lovely they can be in dressage and how amateur friendly they can also be--lots of them have the mature been-there-done-that attitude about showing/shipping from the track (yes, there are nutty OTTB's but many are quiet and great).

            I think you can't beat a nicely conformed, quiet TB or Appendix Quarterhorse for low level stuff. TB and Quarters can have smooth, balanced strides that are easy to ride...my TB was comfortable at all gaits, even his big extensions. That's why we always won Egg and Spoon! You can find one with enough talent to make dressage fun, but with the easy tolerant attitude that keeps learning stress free for both.
            2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
            Our training journal.
            1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
            I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Arizona DQ View Post
              Arabians or Arab crosses.
              Loooove mine!

              Smart, willing, fun, great "handy" size, generally very sound, long athletic life, generally less expensive than some of the other popular dressage breeds… I could go on and on.

              Although, I have to agree that it's mind and personality above all.

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              • #8
                I agree with snbess -- it's a mind you are looking for. Throw breed out the window and look at the brain. My Appendix is a great ammy horse, we dressage, event, jump, trail -- if I change my mind and want to try something else, he is quite amenable to any whim!
                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                We Are Flying Solo

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                • #9
                  Of course I'd say Knabstruppers

                  but in truth anything with the mind to take training and 3 decent but not too extravagant gaits.

                  Amateurs need forgiving, willing and kind horses above all. Not too huge in size and with gaits that they can sit.

                  You can find individuals like this is most breeds, but I think that they are more common in certain breeds such as Knabstruppers!
                  JMHO
                  MW
                  Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                  Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                  New edition of book is out:
                  Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                  www.knabstruppers4usa.com

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                  • #10
                    I disagree.. A warmblood that that has been trained correctly is as ridable as any horse/any breed.. Yes, they tend to be bigger but can be as light off the aids "if" you ask once, tell and then make.. I don't get the "breed" thing.. The warm bloods have great minds and are more than willing.. That said..gaits can be bigger but if you want to move up the levels and do well...riding dressage is about riding the movement..It is training at its highest.. even for the AA.. JMHO

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Ok, let me put the question another way; if you wanted to work with a breeder to develop, train and market horses that are well suited to the casual amateur to show and have fun on, what breeds would you focus on?

                      Arabs and Morgans seem like possible options. What about PRE horses? Not sure about the QH's up here. The ones I see tend to be sickle hocked and short, or super tall with hooves that would fall through drainage grate... I do love thoroughbreds, and they are certainly easy to find...but I think years of having bad quality footing at the tracks has lead to OTTBs having a bad reputation soundness wise.

                      (I could go with Knabstruppers if you can get some to Canada for me )
                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                      • #12
                        I am of course a fan of Morgans. Broad generalizations: they are smart (not everyone likes this!), tough, and personable. Many go barefoot. Temperament ranges from quiet to very hot depending on breeding and handling. They can get pretty bored with arena only work. Gaits are not HUGE but they can have a surprising amount of overstride. They tend to be smallish (many are large pony sized) and easy keepers. For dressage you'd want one that prefers to canter rather than trot, and has a nice (not too high stepping) trot when it does trot.

                        I have seen some nice Saddlebreds out there, too. And Appendix QHs, cobs, Connemara ponies, you name it. If you like the WB "look" but not the size, there are German Riding Ponies and British Riding Ponies. Expensive, but really like little WBs.

                        But I agree with everyone who says look for a good mind! Any breed can have that. And good general sporthorse conformation -- again, any breed can have it, though in some cases a "sporthorse" type might be less typey than usual.
                        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CHT View Post
                          I am curious as to what you think is a good breed for the true amateur dressage rider; someone who only rides 4-5 days per week, and who would like to move up the levels, but mostly rides/trains for the sense of accomplishment, joy of the horse and fitness.

                          I love warmbloods for myself, but I find they are quite often too physically demanding for the less fit riders. I see it both in my own students when they have lessons on my warmbloods, and at shows, where I watch many riders struggle on their big horses, and tend to clutch at the horse to make them more suittable....
                          I think the key here is what you stated above "on their big horses" - it NOT the breed but people thinking they need a 17 hand horse when they're a 5'3" rider.

                          I'm an older AA, fat and ride & train my Dutch WB mare 5 days a week for about an hour each day. My mare is under 15.2 hands but moves like a big (17+) horse. So either they need smaller horses , smaller moving horses, or a horse who will "dummy down" their gaits to fit the rider. Not a specific breed.
                          Now in Kentucky

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CHT View Post
                            Ok, let me put the question another way; if you wanted to work with a breeder to develop, train and market horses that are well suited to the casual amateur to show and have fun on, what breeds would you focus on?
                            Ooh, in this case it depends who your target casual ammie is.

                            Truth is, I would love to see us develop some excellent WB breeding on this side of the globe. There already is, but I'd like to see more. It would be great if we could continue to import those truly gorgeous, naturally gifted horses from Europe and develop some really incredible breeding programs here. That would involve a big investment and then the employment of the right people for your training, campaigning, etc. that goes along with it.

                            There are some ammies at my barn who have imported multiple amazing horses from Holland and Germany who I'm sure would love to give their money to the right breeder stateside, and honestly I'd consider them casual ammies. Just casual ammies with the money and gumption to buy fantastic horses to enjoy, show, etc.

                            If you look at my post above, about my lovely Arab, you'd see that I'm a different casual ammie, though. I'm a casual ammie without the money to buy those horses, stateside or overseas, lol, and I have plenty of fun with my smart, spunky little Arabian.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Draft crosses are very popular in Ontario - I know so many that are showing dressage.

                              There are some great pics of our draft crosses showing up to Level 2 on this page.

                              www.hotelfun4kids.com/horses.htm

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I agree about Draft crosses--they can be so wonderful! Andalusians make good amatuer mounts too in my opinion. They are sensitive and sensible, people friendly and smart.
                                I LOVE my Chickens!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't know what it is about warmbloods that you've seen that gives you that impression?

                                  But if you're set on your perception..... which I personally don't agree with then how's about something like an Andalusian, Lusitano, Lipizzaner or Friesian

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Valentina_32926 View Post
                                    I think the key here is what you stated above "on their big horses" - it NOT the breed but people thinking they need a 17 hand horse when they're a 5'3" rider.

                                    I'm an older AA, fat and ride & train my Dutch WB mare 5 days a week for about an hour each day. My mare is under 15.2 hands but moves like a big (17+) horse. So either they need smaller horses , smaller moving horses, or a horse who will "dummy down" their gaits to fit the rider. Not a specific breed.
                                    Valentina, you are NOT fat - I've seen the photographic evidence...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Andalusian! Andalusian! Andalusian! The absolute, perfect amateur friendly breed. Even the stallions are amateur friendly and they are fun and extremely gratifying.
                                      Success is a journey not a destination.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                        Ok, let me put the question another way; if you wanted to work with a breeder to develop, train and market horses that are well suited to the casual amateur to show and have fun on, what breeds would you focus on?
                                        For the marketing aspect -- flame suit on -- I think you would not want to get into Arabs or TBs. Because of the perception(note I said perception) by many amateurs and/or their trainers, that Arabs/Tbs are hot. I'm guessing smaller WBs, WB/QH cross, appendix QH would fit the bill and be marketable (always assuming mind and soundness was there -- I've seen plenty of hot QHs).
                                        ...somewhere between the talent and the potato....

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