Potential Dressage Horse?

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Potential Dressage Horse?

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  • Steep hock angle dressage
  • Critique potential dressage horse

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  • 1 Post By GotaDunQH

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    12-29-2012, 10:36 AM
Potential Dressage Horse?

I plan on getting some dressage lessons to improve my skill, but eventually I would like to use one of my own horses. Moe is a 7 almost 8 year old Pony of the Americas gelding. He went over size so he only has tentative papers for the POAC; he is about 15 hands high. He is a very extroverted horse, and bores easily but loves to do new things. I haven't really honed into any certain discipline quite yet, but I think dressage would be a step in the right direction. We had a few setbacks in training otherwise he would be farther by now, as he was started [under saddle] as a 3 year old. But I think now our 'problem horse' is ready to move forward.

So what do you think of his overall conformation? Can his body hold up to do lower-level dressage? He has wonderful gaits and I've begun working on cantering him. (He is very surefooted, and has a comfortable walk and trot, but come canter time he runs like a bat out of hell. He has lots of fun and has a nice canter, just haven't cantered him enough to work on slowing down.) Also, can horses with 'lots of personality' do well in dressage? I find if you don't think faster than him, he will start thinking evil thoughts. He also has lots of stamina, and can trot for days.

A few disclaimers for the pictures; the first one he has his winter fuzzies, and he also gets pretty fat in winter. (His back-cinch just barely fits in winter.) The third picture was the first [and only] horse show I've participated in. And a note on the bit, I only rode him in that before the show and during the show, I put him back in a snaffle afterwards. All the pictures aside from the first one are just for fun, I don't expect any to find them helpful, he's just pretty so I like to post pictures of him.

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    12-29-2012, 12:56 PM
Green Broke
He will likely stay sound for lower levels of dressage. Most any horse will.. and, IMO, be better able to stay soound because dressage teaches a horse how to use his body.

Your horse has a nice topline and a very short back but he is built downhill and that will make it difficult for him to lighten his forehand and shift his weight to the rear. He CAN do it, but it will take more effort on his part. He is also quite sickle hocked.

I suspect the reason he runs thru the bridle when he canters is due to lack of balance and an inability to shift his weight to the rear easily with a rider on top. Remember.. you sit on a horse and basic physics changes everything for him.

In the photo of your riding him at the walk with his head low he is clearly being ridden front to back. He needs to be driven forward and asked to shift his weight to the rear. This is riding back to front and opposite of that photo.

Being broken to saddle as a three year old is not any sort of set back. In fact, a lot of warmbloods are not ridden until 3 or 4. The age should make no difference. OTOH, HOW he is broken to saddle is where the issues can begin.

I suggest you read this site. What does 'on the bit' really mean?

Your horse is a good one and can be trained and should be trained but he will need to learn to use his ring of muscles and you will need to learn to ride him so he does.

Good luck. He is a decent little horse.
    12-29-2012, 12:57 PM
Green Broke
PS: If he gets fat in winter.. feed him less... ;)
    12-29-2012, 04:09 PM
Wow, short back on this guy! Sometimes that's good....especially if they have a nice low set hock, and sometimes it's bad due to finding a saddle that fits. I like that his wither is set further back because it gives him a really nice shoulder angle. (If you think of the shoulder angle as an open ended triangle, with only two sides...you want a more closed triangle than an open one. A closed angle means there is a nice slope to the shoulder, a more open angle means a steep shoulder.) He has a very high set to his hock, and being slightly downhill...he will perform downhill IF he's not worked correctly, with his hocks trailing out behind him. His front cannons are much shorter than his back cannons, and this presents problems with getting those hocks underneath himself deep. He needs to get his underline muscles fit as well as his topline muscles, so he can raise his back and get better drive with the hock.
    12-29-2012, 04:41 PM
Green Broke
Actually, the shoulder construction should (in a perfect world) lay the scapula back at a 45 degree angle. The point of shoulder to elbow should also lay at a 45 degree angle and the angle at the point of shoulder (between the humerus and the scapula) should be 90 degrees. In a perfect world.

Most good Quarterhorses seem to have enough lay back of the scapula but the point of shoulder is set low and the humerus is often laying at a much lower angle then 45 degrees. For working cattle (what the breed was designed for) this is not much trouble. However, there are people who want to make this same horse into a hunter or jumper.. and that low set point of shoulder usually limits the ability of the horse to get his knees up over a fence. Most have trouble getting the knees to level because of the shoulder build (and yes.. sometimes the tie in of the neck is limiting this as well as limiting scope). The same can be seen in a lot of Appaloosa and Paint horses (the QH influence).

Now.. if you go to an AQHA show or judge they won't see this as clearly as someone who has worked with Thoroughbreds and warm bloods doing stuff like Grand Prix jumping or higher level eventing or even higher level dressage.

Going back to the OP's horse.. he will do what she needs him to do. He may have difficulty doing some of it, but training him to do it anyway will make him a lot nicer ride and he looks like he is a good horse.

I have never owned a horse that did not benefit from Dressage training. No.. they don't all go on to be Olympic Dressage horses.. and most never get past 2nd level (mostly because of the years to train and the focus on competition).

I believe in training every horse in dressage and taking that horse as far as I can. He may never win a Prix St. Georges or even compete at 3rd level.. in fact most may never compete at all. But with the training they make a wonderful ride be in on the trails, behind a cow. Foxhunting or anywhere else.

This is not meant to knock Quarterhorses BTW. I really like the breed and have owned some good ones and at one time wanted to breed them. There is nothing prettier than a good QH working cattle and knowing the job.. or a good Barrel Racer. I also enjoy the racing Quarterhorses but the ones I like the most tend toward the Thoroughbred.

This Oversize POA is a nice little horse. I would love to train him some based on his conformation. :)
    12-29-2012, 08:26 PM
Thank you both for the responses!

Moe generally keeps himself in good shape over summer, and pudges out during winter. He is out in a herd and has free-choice hay, so I don't have much control over him. He definitely is not the chubbiest one out in the herd so I figure it'll give him some happy weight. (Him being my first horse I always thought an 'easy keeper' was a horse like him; one that stays the perfect weight without much work. My other horses have taught me otherwise. )

I'm glad to here that we won't have much of a problem. Moe likes a challenge and learning new things for him is easy. I would like to show him a little bit, but nothing extensive so he will be perfect for what I need him to be. Also, when I started cantering him again I only cantered when I rode him. (He couldn't even canter one lap on the lunge.) I've got him cantering so much better on the lunge line so I have faith this will improve his ability to support himself.
    12-30-2012, 07:34 AM
Green Broke
Read the link I shared with you. He needs to learn and part of that is building strength in the right muscles. Just like us.. if we want to be weight lifters we need to gradually build the muscles that do the work best for the job.
    12-30-2012, 03:15 PM
^and to add to that, even in the winter, there are some things you can do to keep a topline fit. Everytime I groom my horse, I curry vigorously under his belly to get him to lift his back and hold it for 30 seconds. It may sound silly, but it does work!
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