Different Breeds Doing Dressage

No one called me on it, but I'm feeling guilty about writing in my Ingrid Klimke clinic post that I'd rather spend my time and money doing dressage with a warm blood because they are better suited to doing it. What a stunned as me arse thing for me to say. You guys should have roasted me :) First of all, I caught the dressage bug as a teenager riding my beloved 14.2, pretty palomino, grade horse Trigger and taught him to do two tempi's in my back yard riding to the Beatles 'Hey Jude' (I was already 5'9"). Second, I re-caught the bug after not riding for 30 years on very drafty draft cross Savanah and I adore doing dressage with her. She is sooo precise, supple and smart and there's a long and unruly line of people who would love to have her. Third, I showed my Appaloosa Dan in Training Level two years ago and we had a blast. Who do I think I am saying I prefer spending my time with warm bloods? Obviously I didn't think that statement through and it isn't true. Every horse and rider can benefit from dressage. That's what I love about it.
It was my writing about a gorgeous Friesian stallion that prompted my comment. Truth be told, I don't think I have the talent to ride these beautiful horses. That's much closer to the truth! The woman who rode him, Erin MacQuarrie, is such a beautiful rider. She's a professional from New Brunswick and has one of the best reputations in Atlantic Canada and beyond as a teacher and trainer. Doing soft and balanced walk-canter-walk on small circles with a five year old stallion doesn't happen without great riding and a talented horse.
The clinic organizer Joanne Dustan is amazing. She had a very fair selection process that ended up with a variety of breeds and many amateur riders. For example the following were represented: Quarter Horse, Morgan, Arab cross, a Clyde/Saddlebred cross, Andalusian, Dutch warmblood, Friesian, Thoroughbred, etc. This is how it should be in my opinion.
To top it off, Ingrid was just awarded the highest equestrian sport accolade in Germany - the only person under 50 and the only woman to be named a German Riding Master. And we just had her here last weekend coaching our local riders and horses of all breeds.
Our dressage club R.I.D.E.R.S. (I co-chair) had a special class at our Labour Day show to showcase different breeds doing dressage. Unfortunately there was only one entry in the class, but she was great. She was riding a Quarter Horse and did a reining demo, after doing very well in her dressage class (I think she was reserve champion at Training Level). She and this horse do just about any equine activity or discipline you can mention, Western and English. Our shows have many breeds, it was just this class that didn't have a lot of entries (I think people want to concentrate on their tests more so than showcasing a breed). Our shows have Fjords, Canadians, Thoroughbreds, draft crosses, Friesians, Arabians, Quarter horses, ponies, Appaloosas, Paints, different varieties of warm bloods, Andalusians, etc.
I find myself very intrigued (here's my 'prejudice'?) by blogs written by people riding off the track thoroughbreds. I follow several and these horses and their owners amaze me. The intelligence, heart and talent they display and that can end up being discarded after only one small part of it is explored (racing) is striking. But this is a whole post on it's own.
I'm drawn to blogs by people who are doing dressage with different breeds and follow many of them. You can probably find several on my sidebar - Quarter Horses, Paints and Thoroughbreds to name some. These horses and riders are inspirational and put many warm bloods to shame. Their size is much better suited to many riders and careful selection to find the horse suited to your need results in many successful horse / rider combinations in many breeds. This is what makes it all so fascinating!
Yes, at my height a bigger horse is desirable, but a draft cross or an OTTT, to name two, are definitely options I'd think about if I needed another horse. Do you have any favorite breeds, for dressage or otherwise? If so, what do you like about them? Does color sway you? Does your preference change as your age changes? Etc.
Hmmm, just realized I'm segueing into a new topic :)


Anonymous said…
I think it's wonderful when people with horses of all shapes, sizes and breeds do dressage at any level - it's good for horse and rider both mentally and physically. My horses (well, maybe not Pie) and I enjoy the challenge of even the "baby" dressage we do.
Oak Creek Ranch said…
Stop beating yourself up already! We all love different breeds, and that's okay. How boring would it be if we all rode the same kind of horse? When I was younger, I had a definite preference for Arabians. But then I got tall (5'9" like you) and the dangling leg thing wasn't good. I rode a wonderful schoolmaster TB when I started doing dressage and fell in love with that breed. Later, we mortgaged the farm so to speak and bought a Friesian. He was awesomely gorgeous with presence and flair -- and he was far too difficult for an amateur like me to ride. Now I have a Paint and he is my favorite horse of all time - he has TB conformation poking through and sensitivity - but also QH common sense. ...they're all great in my books. (sorry to go on and on).
Carol said…
Kate, you made me laugh with "maybe not Pie" :) SOme horses just don't like it. My Appaloosa would much rather be on the trail.
Annette - wow. You had a Friesian. I remember you saying that. I wonder if you've ever done a post about him and I missed it? I love the Paint you ride now. His thoroughbred genes (he probably has them wouldn't you say?) show. Having that and a sound mind is perfect.
Sand. said…
: ) I dabbled in the OTTBs but fell in love with a little 14.3 hh reg. Quarter horse (who's a third TB anyway). He's PERFECT for me and while we're hoping to start showing in dressage this summer and he's TWELVE, I have a strong belief that we'll someday make first level, just because we've both got so much heart when together. : )
I don't mind you saying you'd rather do dressage on Warmbloods. That just leaves more "off-breeds" for me! ;)
Lori Skoog said…
One thing is for sure...dressage can help riders of all disciplines, weather you ride Western, jumpers or whatever. We all have preferences for particular breeds, but at the same time can appreciate others. One of the most beautiful musical freestyles I have ever seen was done by a Shire stallion. To have a good relationship with any horse there has to be communication and respect (and the respect part has been missing in some very high level riders who regard their horses as machines).
Jeni said…
You know, I was going to email you with some fun ribbing about that comment but haven't had time.

It was going to be opened with "My Percheron can do anything your Warmblood can do - but bigger!" hahaha!

I LOVE my Rosie (Percheron x Belgian) and we are currently schooling Training level - canter is our hang up - but having "learned" what I know about dressage on a big ole Dutch Warmblood called Karaat, who is really up hill I can definitely see why they are favorites aside from the TB guys.

I love seeing the diveristy of Dressage. Any horse can do it, all horses benefit from it.
Ha - you busted yourself! ;)

I thought about giving you some ribbing - coming from the "ottb's are way under-appreciated as dressage horses" camp...

My understanding is that the prejudice for warmbloods as dressage mounts is shoulder / movement related... but often I see (famous) warmbloods who have big gait capability but lack purity in their gaits... ie - opposing legs in the extended (expensive) trot out way of synch - front leg extended very far out, not matching the reach of the hind leg - flashy but not correct.

All breeds benefit from dressage schooling. And if a thoroughbred jumps a clean grand prix round, no one takes away his prize :)
Oh - meant to say that even with all the physical capabilities wb's have, their training is still super important ;)
TBDancer said…
I had to laugh at your apology for saying you prefeded warmbloods. When I got back into horses in 1998, I didn't know what a warmblood was and when someone explained the concept to me--Holsteiner, Hanoverian, KWPN, etc.--all I could think of "grade horse," which meant "no papers" (unless you made up your OWN society, which apparently these folks have done. And Some of these "grade horses" were going for BIG bucks.

After all these years, I've seen too many people "cash in their 401ks" and buy a warmblood (usually) that they cannot ride (sometimes on the advice of the trainer who sees him/herself riding the horse instead).

I've watched too many of these over-horsed amateurs get injured, become afraid to ride anywhere without a fence to keep the horse contained *when* they get bucked off, and THEN complain because their horse, bored unto tears, becomes sour and even MORE unmanageable.

I LOVE OTTBs, would love to have a barn FULL of them. I also love QHs, the old style from back in the 1970s when they didn't travel like their necks hurt. I love ANY horse that will turn itself inside out to please its rider.

Any horse that is well trained and ridden by someone who is also well trained is beautiful. Breed notwithstanding.
Carol said…
Thanks for the feedback everyone, and for not giving me a sound trouncing :). Jeni your work with Rosie is facinating - I love reading about it! Lore, I'd love to see dressage on a Shire. I've watched youtube videos of it and it's amazing.
One thing we all agree on - dressage is for every horse.
juliette said…
You are so kind Carol with such a big heart - everyone got what you were saying and no one was offended! Kind personalities shine through on these blogs!

Dressage is like ballet to humans. Everyone can benefit. Remember in the 70's when it was a big deal for football players (maybe you don't remember - it was here - I should say American football players) to study ballet to help them with the game. My mom had me study ballet when I was young (3-12 years old) so that I could do other sports. It helped me with tennis and riding. Dressage is like that - it helps all horse breeds and riders of all disciplines learn balance and mental patience, I think.
Your ottb comments made my heart burst with pride! (my own prejudice!)
Val said…
When I was immersed in dressage lessons, I rode Hanoverians and leased a Hanoverian/TB cross. I considered them the "Cadillac" of the horse world. It took a 14.1 hand Haflinger to show me how much more fun I could have on a smaller horse, since I am a smaller person. I believe that I truly appreciate the size and handiness of my Quarter Horse, because I rode those warmbloods and riding them also gave me a point of reference for beautiful, big movement. I believe that this has helped me with training my non-warmblood. Although, I will also say that I feel like I have to ride much better now, than I did on those warmbloods, because they were much more forgiving of mistakes and positional errors. Harley is my mirror and makes me a better rider, even if he if dressage is not in his blood. Good post.
Margaret said…
I am a new horse owner and have a 14.2 QH and a 3-1/2 year old Friesian cross. I am working with groundwork now and learning english as I am a western rider. But I have dreams of dressage and have MUCH to learn. Favorite horse? Friesian. But the WB's do take my breath away.
Kerri said…
I've got a friend who does dressage on her little Fjorde. It's amazing to watch. And they definitely get the judges' attention. Looks like we all agree that dressage training on any breed is great for both horse and rider. No harm done :)
J Spencer said…
I admit I've never really liked dressage. But last week my horse was having issues what his legs and after a call to the vet we found out he can't jump anymore. I love him way too much to sell him so now I'm looking into dressage. I should mention he's an off-track standardbred. Not exactly the common find in the dressage ring. lol. But after some research I found out there's a standy doing Grand Prix St. George!

I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes for us. He's a particularly lazy horse and not one to pick up his feet. I don't know how we're going to manage piaffes!
Equine Mum said…
Great equestrian blog! Why not come along and post this at Haynet an Equine Social Blogging Network -http://hay-net.co.uk/ Hope to see you there!
Carol said…
Great feedback everyone. I appreciate reading about all of your different breeds that you're doing dressage with.
All breeds can do dressage and should learn the basic movements. I think that the warmbloods just came into fashion and that's why most people buy and ride them. My best all around horse and love of my life was a Dutch Warmblood and we did mostly hunter jumper stuff. In his last two years we started dressage. He was awesome. That said. Blue is a very agile and supple quarter horse who will benefit from dressage training. Dusty just doesn't have the jump in her so she was training dressage before she injured herself. There isn't a horse who can't benefit from dressage training even if they don't wind up being fancy in the show ring.

Like Annette said, stop beating yourself up. We're all horse people and love our horses no matter what discipline we train them in. Some will excel and some...not so much.
Achieve1dream said…
I'm with everyone else. No reason to berate yourself. We knew what you meant by your comment and took no offense. Everyone has breed preferences. My favorite breed of horse is the Friesian because of their great personalities, gorgeous movement, black coloring (my fav color) and all of the hair, but I also adore warmbloods and Appaloosas lol. As far as riding dressage the warmbloods are definitely FUN! The horse we had lessons on the most though was a Quarter horse/Arabian lol. :) My only problem with her was that she was a mare and we did not get along at all. It's all preference and would be boring if we all liked the same thing.

I agree with all of the comments about basic dressage being good for all horses. :)
Well done! Keep riding!As you say this is your training journal. Shouldn't we all write and record how we feel?
smazourek said…
Sorry Carol, it appears I've fallen behind reading your blog (blushing in embarrassment).

I think in order to win internationally the horse needs to have a specific kind of movement that only warmbloods have. But since most of us have no intention of competing internationally any breed of horse that is trainable will do. My dressage trainer says it has more to do with the mind of the horse than the movement.
Donna said…
After a serious back injury and 20 years of not ridding. I am back to riding and learning the art of dressage on my Bashkir Curly and hope to go as far as we can together. Curly's are a rare breed and almost never seen in the dressage. And btw we beat a Frisian in the walk trot command in our first show. You can follow us at justacurly.blogspot.com

Love your blog