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Choosing the event prospect: Fancy movement or jumping ability more important?

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  • Choosing the event prospect: Fancy movement or jumping ability more important?

    If you were looking for an event prospect for the lower levels (training / prelim) would you be more inclined to buy a horse that had fabulous gaits and so-so jumping ability? Or favor a horse that had a natural, fantastic jumping ability (and willingness) but just average gaits?

    All things being equal of course (temperament, bravery, willingness to work, soundness, etc.). I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    I am in this dilemna now. My current event mare is in her teens and I am looking for my next youngster to bring along. My mare is one that is super brave, fun to ride, and has the floaty nice gaits that can get good dressage scores. But her jumping technique does not match her willingness to jump. She has improved over the years, but is still sloppy with her front end and at more than one event, we have watched our placings drop as the stadium rails drop.

    I found this nice 3 yo that I have had a trial for a week now. She has been absolutely good as gold since I have had her. Today she went on her first trail ride (of her entire life) and she was brave and unflappable. She trudged through puddles in the outdoor too. She also has fabulous jumping form--great technique wherever she is put to the fence. And she is very willing--haven't jumped her much--but she hasn't been phased by fillers, bigger, wider jumps--just calculates how more she needs to pick up. But, she isn't a fancy mover. Just average. However she is willing to take contact and already has started reaching for the bit, very steady and obedient (especially for her age).

    Some would say that the dressage is more important to being competitive at the lower levels. At the same time, I have seen some very average movers clean up in the dressage because they did dead-on obedient tests. I also know that *I* want a safe jumper. I don't want to worry about my horse hanging it's legs over something solid. That's probably more important to an ammy adult rider than a dressage score in the 20's.

    Obviously, it would be nice to have both movement and jumping ability, but I only have so much moola to spend on a 2nd horse. So, what do you think is more important when choosing your event horse?

  • #2
    Jumping ability. Not even close.

    Don't get me wrong - I love a gorgeous, floaty mover as much as the next guy. But particularly as an amateur, I want a horse with enough scope to fix it if I miss, and I want it catty and clever enough to find a fifth leg if need be. You can fix (or tolerate) alot of dressage mistakes with a correct, obedient ride. But, at the end of the day, a 44 in the dressage isn't going to get anything hurt but your ego, unlike riding one that doesn't want to stay out of its own way.

    Comment


    • #3
      First is brain/attitude

      Then jumping ability

      Then dressage movement.

      If you were planning to spend the horse's entire career at BN and N, it might be different.

      But the heart of eventing is jumping.
      Janet

      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

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      • #4
        Jumping ability.

        For everything GotSpots said.

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        • #5
          I never failed to forgive my fabulous jumping horse for his lousy dressage score once XC was over!

          There is so much more to a good dressage score than fancy gaits. At least there should be...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by subk View Post
            I never failed to forgive my fabulous jumping horse for his lousy dressage score once XC was over!

            There is so much more to a good dressage score than fancy gaits. At least there should be...
            IF you are an eventer...and want an EVENT HORSE!
            ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

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            • #7
              I would go for the horse with better jumping ability. I don't care how fancy he is if he is going to be chicken jumping and either drop rails, refuse jumps, and/or get me eliminated (or hurt!).

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              • #8
                Jumping for sure. Her movement will improve some with training and riding. Safety for me is key as well.
                "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."

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                • #9
                  Duh! What PPs' said. 2/3 of the sport is jumping. Seen more heartbreak and injury over the purchase of the fancy mover than I could ever begin to retell.

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                  • #10
                    Can't put too much emphasis on temperament. With a good horse, anything is possible.
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

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                    • #11
                      what are your goals?

                      if you want ribbons, then get a dressage horse that can jump.

                      if you want to have to pick the bugs out of your teeth because you have been smiling all around the cross country course, then get the jumper!
                      A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton

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                      • #12
                        And don't forget, you can somewhat improve the gaits of a so-so mover with some good training A good judge will reward the dead-on test from the so-so mover over the not-so-accurate test from the super flashy mover. Big flashy movement = inefficient on XC.
                        Eventing-A-Gogo: Adventures of a Barefoot Event Horse and her Human
                        The Reeling: An Unexpected Mareventure

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Jumping ability, jumping ability, jumping ability. Hands down.

                          My young horse is a great example of this. When we tried him as a 3 yr. old, he had zero trot (but he DID have a great canter), but he was willing and nice over the little fences he was pointed out. Now, two years later he is a jumping freak (though, don't look at his sj scores right now...we're sorting stuff out), and his trot gets better on a weekly basis. You can always make the movement better, and my horse is a great example of that.
                          Amanda

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                          • #14
                            Jumping any day of the week for me. You can improve a horse on the flat and oftentimes the really steady and relaxed test will win over a fancy horse who may be a bit tense. If they have taken so nicely to the things you introduced it really sounds like a really nice horse worth putting time into.
                            http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Janet View Post
                              First is brain/attitude

                              Then jumping ability

                              Then dressage movement.

                              If you were planning to spend the horse's entire career at BN and N, it might be different.

                              But the heart of eventing is jumping.
                              Definitely agree with this. Unfortunately, with a young one, you don't know whether the brain/attitude is there. They can have all the talent in the world, but if they don't have that "Go get 'em" mindset, it can be tough.
                              Ask me how I know. However, choosing between dressage and jumping, definitely jumping.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
                                Jumping ability. Not even close.

                                Don't get me wrong - I love a gorgeous, floaty mover as much as the next guy. But particularly as an amateur, I want a horse with enough scope to fix it if I miss, and I want it catty and clever enough to find a fifth leg if need be. You can fix (or tolerate) alot of dressage mistakes with a correct, obedient ride. But, at the end of the day, a 44 in the dressage isn't going to get anything hurt but your ego, unlike riding one that doesn't want to stay out of its own way.
                                Agree. By the time you get past Novice, your day is not won on your dressage test anyway. My Training superhorse that I upgraded to Prelim this year, he is an average mover, but a wicked jumper. At Training, we almost always finished in the top 3 after dressage, movement is just not that important to most judges in the mid levels if the horse is correct and the test is accurate. Even at Prelim, a mediocre test for us would put us in the top 5.

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                                • #17
                                  So you just know what you'll be spending your money on...

                                  Like everyone else said...

                                  You really can do an awful lot with training to improve horses' gaits for dressage. That's what you'll spend your time and bucks on, and then you get to go have some fun... (and KNOW you'll have fun jumping rather than hope!) All that dressage work will give you better adjustability for the jumping, so that's a good deal.

                                  Trots are relatively easy to improve. Since so much of the lower level tests are trot-based, you can be assured of improving whatever score you think your horses is capable of now with more strength and swing in your baby's back. The canter is harder to improve, especially if it isn't pure (tending to be lateral or four beat), but you can and will need to work to improve it to move up in stadium, so that's an investment with dual payoffs as well.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
                                    Jumping ability. Not even close.

                                    Don't get me wrong - I love a gorgeous, floaty mover as much as the next guy. But particularly as an amateur, I want a horse with enough scope to fix it if I miss, and I want it catty and clever enough to find a fifth leg if need be. You can fix (or tolerate) alot of dressage mistakes with a correct, obedient ride. But, at the end of the day, a 44 in the dressage isn't going to get anything hurt but your ego, unlike riding one that doesn't want to stay out of its own way.



                                    100% This!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                      First is brain/attitude

                                      Then jumping ability

                                      Then dressage movement.

                                      If you were planning to spend the horse's entire career at BN and N, it might be different.

                                      But the heart of eventing is jumping.
                                      Janet is wise. The only thing I'd add for ME is experience!
                                      --Becky in TX
                                      Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                                      She who throws dirt is losing ground.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Thanks for your input. I should clarify that my current mare isn't going anywhere. I am looking for my 2nd horse so that my girl can eventually get her well deserved retirement. I'm just trying to decide whether I should "pass" on the current 3 yo prospect because she doesn't have the gaits I am used to.

                                        I used my current horse as an example because she is the "nice mover that likes to jump but doesn't really do it that well" style of event horse. It's nice when you go up to check your dressage score, but not as nice when the rails come down in stadium (or you get your x-c photos and you see the dangling knees).

                                        The 3 yo seems to have a great mind so far, her jumping is lovely, but I am hoping that we can improve the gaits. One thing we identified in her PPE is that she is quite footsore and needs shoes (she has never had shoes before). I think that may help her be much more comfortable--plus 2 more years of growing along with progressive dressage work. But I'm just wondering if I should I keep looking for something that has the "full package" that is within my price range (if I can find one).

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