Almost any kind of horse can perform well in dressage if they have natural ability, good training and a skilled rider. However, some kinds of horses will bring different challenges for dressage riders to overcome.
Can thoroughbreds do dressage?
Simple answer: Yes, look for a relaxed thoroughbred.
Long answer: OTTB (Of the track thoroughbred) horses are often considered unsuited to dressage. There are biases against them because of the experiences these horses have in racing.
Some of them can be too tense for dressage, but assuming that all OTTB horses aren’t appropriate can cause you to overlook some very, very excellent dressage horses for potentially very low prices comparatively.
Resale needs to be a consideration; people looking to buy eventing horses are sometimes put off knowing they are thoroughbred. However, if you dedicate yourself to the horse and perform well in your dressage career, your horse’s performance will speak for itself.
Can standardbreds do dressage?
Simple answer: Yes, their spring and energy can be a positive.
Long answer: Standardbreds are often used in harness racing and are taught to have long trots. This is the opposite of what we want in dressage; a nice, collected canter. So the biggest challenge with an off the track standardbred will be getting it to relax into a canter.
On the other hand, standardbreds have a lot of spring and energy, which results in excellent stepping.
It is uncommon to see standardbreds in dressage, so you’re likely to meet the same aversion when reselling as you would with a thoroughbred.
Can Clydesdales do dressage?
Simple answer: Clydesdales can do lower level dressage, but struggle to compete at top levels.
Long answer: Clydesdales are able to perform at lower level dressage and will benefit from it just like any other horse.
However, Clydesdales have been bred to be strong and thick, for their pulling power. This prevents them from the agility and detail that is required of horses competing in higher levels of dressage.
If you’re aiming to go to the top, you should avoid riding a Clydesdale, but if dressage is a passionate hobby, they will do fine. They may even outperform other horses in the earlier stages because of their steadiness, and may be more forgiving for less experienced riders.
What is the optimal dressage horse?
Simple answer: Andalusian, Warmblood, Hanoverian, Lusitano, Oldenburg, Westphalian.
Long answer: The breeds above were the most popular horses used in dressage at the 2008 Olympics.
They are chosen because of their naturally good conformation and their ability to learn and adapt to the tasks that dressage require of a horse.
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