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Hi guys,
So I've finally reached the point where I have the time, money and access to facilities so that I can step up my riding game.

I want to buy a smart, elegant looking horse to learn and pursue dressage with. I've never competed before because I've never had a horse to compete on, but I've got a local barn nearby I can board at that has some really great coaches so I'm hoping to find a horse I can learn with.

I'm just not sure which breeds to start looking at, so I was hoping you guys might be able to give me some feedback on the warmblood breeds you have ridden and loved, or what strengths and weaknesses you have noticed in your own rides.

I'm an intermediate rider, but I've never completed outside pony-club style meets when I was younger. I grew up riding an Australian Stock horse with a great attitude but fairly unimpressive gates and confirmation. The farm I grew up on also provided spelling for OTTTBs, so I rode lots of green thoroughbreds fresh out of racing. I probably wouldn't choose to buy a thoroughbred as a dressage horse because I've found them to be extremely hot and hard to get focused - however like I said, these were very very green ott horses so if you've experienced differently I'd love to hear it. I've only ever ridden one warmblood - an 11 year old hanovarian who was an amazing horse, but he was trained by a really exceptional trainer - a woman who could probably turn any horse into a dream to ride so it probably colours my judgement.

What has everyone ridden and loved? Or ridden and not been impressed by? Does anyone have any suggestions outside the warmblood sector? Baroque breeds or something else unusual? I'm willing to invest a decent amount in a great horse, willing to put the hard training work in and I've got plenty more research to do before I start looking for a horse to bring home, I just need some help on where to start!
 

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any horse with the right conformation and training can be a dressage horse. Your horse could turn out to be a QH, Morgan etc. Good luck in your search : ).

My cousin rides his old type Morgans in dressage and does fairly well.
 

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My little Thoroughbred is wonderful <3

She DOES get hot on occasion but I have found that if I stay calm, so does she. She's 3 years old and recently went to her first ever outing [see my avatar!] and behaved impeccably. Yes she was looky but it was her first show! She was wonderful and carried me to third in a fairly large rider class, and while we didn't place in any of the show hack classes her behaviour was perfect. She's just too green to be pinned over the older, more educated horses.

I, too, have ridden a warmblood trained by an exceptionally good rider. He was AMAZING, incredibly lazy though! I like more responsive horses. But I've also seen some incredibly difficult warmbloods. A lot of the top dressage bloodlines also have a reputation for being "professional only" mounts.
 

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OK, I admit I am newly warmblood focused, but, some observations in my recent search. As Marching indicated, just about any breed can be a dressage horse with the right conformation, movement and mind. Part of your search is going to be the goal of where you want to go. Are you looking for just lower level, Intro through say First Level, or do you want a horse, now, that can go higher.

OOTB are not necessarily all hot and hard to handle..it depends upon how long they have been off track and their retraining efforts. My last horse was an OTTB who was a silly boy..not a mean bone in his body; easy to handle, tried his heart out. He was a little higher on the spook meter than I would have liked but most of his spooks were just stop and sidepass around the object..he rarely pulled the hard step across the arena leave you on the other side still in midair type spooks. What he DID have, however, was typical TB feet with the long toe and underslung heel that later caused him to navicular in both fronts. PPEs with full radiographs are absolutely imperative with an OTTB, with any purchase really, but these TBs especially.

We have a 6 YO QH at the barn who is at First Level dressage and does well; he is also shown as an all-around doing Western and Hunter. He has a lighter looking frame then what I would generally think of in a QH but he IS full QH. He has good movement and will probably go to at least 2nd level but with what some dressage knowledge I have and am gaining, I don't think he'll be competitive any higher than 2nd.

I tried out several different breeds, admittedly most of them were WB or WB crosses. I like Morgans for their attitudes and sane minds...they do have the ability to be good dressage horses and I see a lot of them in the shows in this area. Draft mixes...hard to say. Again, gentle giants most of them..good thing too :) but as I was told before, it is very difficult to get a large horse all together..there is so much of them, size wise, to get under, let's call it, horizontal control.

Warmbloods in general have been bred and have the conformation for dressage. Of the four I tried (with two failed PPEs), all were easy to handle, settled, registered nearly 0 on the spook meter and were all willing to work and attempt to understand what I was asking. The one I finally brought home has been an absolute gift and a level of horse I never would have thought I would ever have the opportunity to own. He has the lower level training and show experience that I lack with the ability to go as high as he can go. For now he is teaching me...in another year, hopefully we will be learning together.

A few things very important...look at a LOT and if you have any question, grab a knowledgeable friend or even better, your trainer, to go with you. In my case I hit a horse hunt time where basically none of that support was available but I took untold amounts of video and sent things that way. Fortunately, in one of my posts here I lucked into a lady who helped tremendously, gave me that support I didn't have from my own barn and helped me find the horse I have now...she only saw my prospects through video.

I called on 38 horses and looked at, I believe, 14..the full number escapes me now :). It doesn't happen overnight, nor should it. Take your time to find the right horse for you. Granted my primary requirement was the dressage level but I passed on a very high level prospect because I knew I wouldn't be able to handle him without putting a lot of extra money into a professional trainer. He wasn't a nasty sort, quite cute actually, but given his video and the owner's explanation when I went to see him, he was very powerful under saddle and given that I know he would have intimidated me from the start.
 

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look at a LOT and if you have any question, grab a knowledgeable friend or even better, your trainer, to go with you.
This.

While you always hear the one-in-a-million stories of people finding the diamond in the rough themselves and "learning together," it's much more realistic to have the assistance of your trainer or other knowledgeable person helping you as you start.

For every breed/type of horse around, there is going to be someone who loves it and someone who thinks its the worst choice ever. Even within a breed, horses are individuals and there can be a lot of variation. Personally, I would want someone experienced and successful in the discipline I am wanting to get into with me to help make choices when horse shopping.

Good luck!
 

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I'm currently riding a whole mix of different breeds of horses.
I'm training a 4yr old Oldenburg and he is just amazing. Super sweet and smart. A little bit lazier then I would like though.
Then a 4yr old Holstiner. She has more get up and go and I adore her to death. She has been a dream to train, just finds everything super easy.
Then I get into the Baroque breeds. My horse is an Andalusian cross and she is fantastic. She is so athletic everything is just super simple. The only challenge there is that some have a harder time with the extended movements, and they do try to out smart the rider. If you can find a nice one though, that would be my choice.
It all really depends on the horse and it's breeding. All I can say is make sure you bring a trainer with you and good luck!
 

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It is not a breed you want to look for but the stamp of horse.

TBs can be hot headed but they can also be calm and sensible, ditto with every breed.
One of the hottest horses I never had to school was a Trakehner. One of the most stubborn and dense, a Hanoverian. I know enough not to expect a certain breed to be all stamped the same.

I fully agree with phantom13 about taking someone who really knows what to look for and what would be best for you.

Look for the paces, straight and open through the shoulder, at the canter you want the quarters to naturally lower showing active hocks.

First thing I ask a vendor to do is to first walk the horse in hand, away from me, then two or three times at the trot. I want to see how the horse moves both coming straight towards me and then away from me so I can examine the natural action.

I will then see it ridden and depending on the horse's experience, want to notice the paces and how it carries itself. If ridden for a while then I will want to see all paces on a long rein.

For dressage it is the action that counts and also the temperament.
 

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Yes just about any horse can 'do' Dressage. But do you want to be competitive at an official competition level? If so, a WB, WBx or a decent TB will be your best bet.
I'm assuming you're Australian, if so, young wb's are currently going for fairly low prices. If you want something flashy that is established under saddle, you will be looking at a pretty decent chunk of cash depending on how nice a horse you want.
I paid $10k for a Hanoverian weanling and that was haggled down from $15k.

Its certainly worth asking around at some studs to see what they have, and don't be afraid to look interstate.
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ALso when looking at WB's you can save yourself a lot of time by looking at the breeding, certain bloodlines are NOT amature friendly
 

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You know, I was afraid to get an OTTB for the reasons you listed, but my new guy is very laid back. He isn't too spooky or hot. I know the breed has a reputation for a reason, but you can find laid back TBs. I'm really glad I went to look at him even though I didn't think I wanted to get an OTTB. Now I have a decent English horse even though I could not afford a warmblood.

I think a trainer or experienced friend can help when you look at a horse. Sometimes they see things you won't, and it's nice to have someone to talk things over with. Good luck!
 
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