Anebel - Is the lack of balance, lack of rhythm, etc. mainly a product of her training though? Personally, the toe flicking, head carriage, lack of movement in the back, balance, etc is mostly due to training. I wouldn't call that horse relaxed in that video. It looked ready to bolt in a couple of places. I've helped train a couple of Arabs that started out that way, and after a few months of correct dressage training actually had some seriously good movement. It's so easy to hype up an Arab to the point that they become braced, tense, and resort to moving like ticky-tacky horses. To me it looks like training issues are the biggest issues. I see the shallow croup, but the loin ties in well, the hocks articulate well, the sacroiliac joint articulates in the few points of the video where the horse seems to relax some. I think with the right rider, correct training, that the horse's gaits would improve dramatically.
Rest of this is not directed specifically at Anebel:
My horse definitely does not have the conformation for dressage at all... I bought the mare as an 8 year old that couldn't canter at all, no balance. It was a train wreck. I've had two trainers that were short listed for the Olympics tell me this year that she'd have no problems going to 4th, possibly PSG. Dressage is not all about having the perfect conformation. Good conformation would make it a lot easier training wise, but I think we sell our horses short way too soon. Long before the horse has even suggested can't do what we want, we've already determined that it isn't built like the 20+k warmblood and we either quit trying, or we go buy that two year old warmblood that we can put all our hopes and dreams into.
Heck, most of us will never make it out of Second and it'll never have a darn thing to do with our horse's conformation. Most of us could go buy a Totalis and we'll still be dinking around doing poorly ridden Second level tests... I know it's a big jump from Second to Third, and it's easier when the horse is built for collection... but does it really have to be that great of conformation in order to train through Third. Once you have clean changes, what's after that in Third? Half-pass? And from Third to Fourth what's the biggest hurdle? Even if you don't have a brilliant moving horse you could still train the horse to develop gymnastically, collect, and perform at Third level accurately even without the best conformation, couldn't you? I guess it depends on the goal... Competing at International shows successfully would be out of the question, but maybe rated shows/local shows wouldn't be.
I'm just railing against the injustice of the economic disparity of dressage. Those that have the money can progress. Those that do not, cannot. Even to get a quality TB with good confo is going to cost you an arm and a leg. Well, from my perspective it's an arm and a leg. I guess when 20k isn't a big deal, then those TBs would be considered cheap.
In all honesty no. The mare has had nothing taught to her w.r.t. way of going. That is all her and the nervousness comes every time pressure is put on her - which is not an attribute of a good dressage horse.
It's not about articulation of the hocks. The mare over articulates, and out behind her. Try to get her to sit on those hocks - at the very least you will get resistance and worst case scenario you blow her hocks before she is 12. Her croup is not designed for carrying either, putting further stress on the hocks.
Like I say, basketball player and 6' ceilings. The mare was not put on this earth to do 4th level dressage.
On one hand, yeah you could probably whack and smack her underneath herself and condition the crap out of her to build the muscles needed to do a 4th level. But why? There are lots of horses put on this earth that are a lot more gifted for dressage than this horse. And not all are $20,000. Although having that as a minimum budget makes horse shopping a lot easier, but that is dressage. We don't have the horses over here. In Europe, a decent 4th level prospect that is broke, going, and 5 might cost you 5000 Euro. Just like a nice QH over there is a pile of $$, but in NA they are dime a dozen.
In all honesty there is not a large jump from first to second, or second to third, or third to fourth, if you have a decent enough horse and are training it correctly. If something is really difficult and it's beyond your first, or second horse, then something's got to give. For most people the most realistic situation is to buy a nicer horse because it becomes a lot easier, and yes, most people wont know how to train a horse to second level and beyond. But to buy one doing upper level stuff and ride the training off of it is easy. To learn to train is difficult to do, difficult to teach, and in itself costs a lot more than a horse, and also requires a good horse or 4.
But I digress.
IMO from what I see is there a lot of riders out there who have horses who are not fit for their goals and they see their horses through rose colored glasses. Then they get the trainer to whack and smack the horse to whatever level and ride around for their 55% and still want more. In the end, it is the horse that suffers. With lameness issues, or they get sour, or at some point they just stop and don't move again. It's not worth it to push horses past what they are capable of and with this mare I just don't see the "I can" in her. Yes there are horses who are less than ideally conformed who do well in dressage, I ride one, but they make up for it in other things. Attitude, personality, movement, rhythm, schwung, etc..
But at some point we have to be realistic about the horse and draw the line in the sand. Maybe the horse could do a decent second level, but then why do we have to push the horse on to fourth? It is human nature and ultimately breaks down these horses for what - selfishness? To dominate an animal? To prove that we can take a square peg and put it in a round hole? It's not worth it to me.