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Mary Liz 04-06-2012 12:28 AM

Dressage horse?
I have always wondered why certain breeds like the Oldenburg, the Hanoverian and other warm bloods are always considered a good horse for dressage. I understand that a dressage horse has to have good movement in their gaits but does this mean that some breeds are favored over other breeds? If so what breed do you think is best suited for dressage? Or do you think every breed of horse can benefit from dressage? :-)

soenjer55 04-06-2012 01:08 AM

I think there are definitely breeds more suited for dressage, but it's mostly about the horse. Warmbloods are bred for the discipline, but that doesn't mean every warmblood will be able to do it- just like not every quarter horse can barrel race, or be a reiner. Breed, to me, has a lot to do with it, but the individual horse should be taken into account, as well. I really hope this isn't gibberish, I'm about to fall asleep, lol.

Kayty 04-06-2012 01:28 AM

Many of the warmblood breeds have been specifically bred for dressage.
In a dressage horse destined for the FEI levels, we want to see a horse that will swing it's back, and be able to 'sit' behind. Therefore the angles in the hind limbs need to be quite great, with a fairly low set tail, fairly short cannons and a strong croup. A horse built uphill is looked upon favourably, as generally it will find the collected work easier than a horse built downhill.
The shoulder should be well sloped, which allows for greater knee action and swinging paces. The neck should come up out of the shoulder, set quite high from the wither.

Iberian breeds, such as the andalusian, are generally built as described above. They tend to find the collected work very easy, however, they are not generally bred to extend their paces as well as collect, which is their downfall in competitive dressage, vs the purpose bred warmblood that has been bred to show quality in both the collected and extended gaits.

Here is one of the current top international grand prix combinations warming up before a competition

These are two warmblood, dressage 'supersires', Donnerhall and Gribaldi

And here we have two quarterhorse stallions (I know nothing of QH lines and breeding so have selected the first two that came up in google)

Can you see the difference in how these breeds are built, to suit their different purposes? Some quarters horses or standardbreds may have nice enough paces, their legs might like pretty enough when they're moving, but because of how they are built, it is very difficult for them to reach the higher levels of dressage. This is not breed prejudice, it is just fact.
Just like a hanoverian bred for dressage is not going to excel in reining when pitted against a reining bred QH.

Basic dressage training, is not necessarily dressage. It is good, basic riding. Having the horse go forward, off the aids, softly into the bridle and being able to move laterally off the leg. This is very very very basic training that forms the foundation of many disciplines, so I do not claim this as 'dressage'. This basic riding is great for any horse.
It is when you begin to demand collection, that the horse's build and talent comes into play and where most candidates will get knocked off their ledge.

Mary Liz 04-06-2012 03:16 AM

Thanks! It makes sense that some breeds would be mors suited for dressage then other breeds. I have noticed how riders do not chose horses like the American Saddle-bred or the American Quarter for dressage. Although I must say I have seen some Arabian horses excel in upper level dressage like this one.

Compared to Steffen Peters and Ravel.

(hope the videos came through) Is it still the body build of the horse or what makes the warm blood still a more preferred choose of horse by Olympic dressage riders over the hot blooded horses if they can both compete at the same level?

Kayty 04-06-2012 03:22 AM

Put simply - how many thoroughbreds/arabs/quarter horses/saddle breds do you see competing at International Grand Prix level, scoring over 75%.... now how many warmbloods?
A very very very big difference. It is unusual to see another breed at those levels, so when one does happen to reach it, you hear about it everywhere. But there are hundreds and hundreds of warmbloods doing better at that level.
Because they are bred for it. Like arabs are bred for endurance so as a whole, they will do better as a breed than for example a morgan. And a Quarters Horse will do better in barrel racing than a standardbred.
Horses for courses!

Of course, you can do the lower levels of just about any discipline on most horses. As with anything, it is only the best of the best that reach the higher levels.
Sure, you could force an arab or QH to do the 'tricks', you can teach anything to 'piaffe' if you yank and crank enough, eventually it's do a funky looking shuffle on the spot that many trade off as a piaffe. But to do execute these movements correctly requires a great deal of talent and strenuous activity from the horse. A Quarterhorse built downhill, is not only going to struggle in the collected work, but will also break down and burn out faster than a horse like an andalusian, because it has to work that much harder, against its conformation to perform.

Mary Liz 04-06-2012 04:25 AM

Just like you would not enter a Quarter Horse in a Country Pleasure or Saddle Seat class because they do not have the gaits nor the build for it. I must admit I am very biased toward the Arabian breed having been around them my whole life and having one myself. I agree any horse at any level can be trained wrong.

mildot 04-06-2012 05:14 AM

I suppose the answer depends on what you want to use dressage for.

thesilverspear 04-07-2012 08:03 AM

Those videos speak for themselves. The Arabian looks like he's struggling, especially in his piaffe, passage, and trot extensions, whereas Ravel and Valegro make those movements look easy.

Good for the Arab's rider/trainer getting him to that level, as I doubt he's built for it, and he must be a willing soul indeed. But he makes some of it look like hard work.

I don't understand why people get upset and defensive over the alleged "bias" towards warmbloods in dressage. If I said that I wanted to run my Shire/TBx on barrels, you'd probably laugh at me and tell me to buy a barrel-bred QH.

Kayty 04-07-2012 08:09 AM


Originally Posted by thesilverspear (Post 1442245)

I don't understand why people get upset and defensive over the alleged "bias" towards warmbloods in dressage. If I said that I wanted to run my Shire/TBx on barrels, you'd probably laugh at me and tell me to buy a barrel-bred QH.

Exactly. If an breed is bred specifically for dressage, of course it will be more suited than a breed bred for another discipline. There's so much 'anti-warmblood' that goes on, if you can't afford a warmblood that does not mean you need to try and burn those that can.

thesilverspear 04-07-2012 08:15 AM

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Aye. I don't even own a warmblood and I'm probably not likely to ever do so, but I certainly understand why you would.

I also still think a well put-together draft X is a nice, slightly cheaper alternative for those wanting something with a bit of power but don't want an international FEI horse. ;-) You have to be picky and look hard for the right one, though; a lot of them are conformational disasters.

By the way, I want to seriously get into reining. Would this horse be suitable?

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