Finding a suitable dressage horse is a difficult task that
requires planning and a thorough understanding of your horse
needs. Before you start, you need to compile a list of what
you want in your dressage horse along with a list of the characteristics
that are not acceptable. In this article we'll cover how to
build those lists, narrow your dressage horse selections,
good dressage horse breeds and how to find the right horse
The first step is determining your price and budget. This
is going to be your guiding factor; from there you can work
on eliminating horses with unacceptable characteristics. Here's
a list of undesirable traits in a prospective dressage horse:
1. Poor movement.
Avoid a horse that isn't straight in its movement, both
in front and behind.
2. Faulty conformation.
Any horse with a faulty conformation should also be avoided.
Watch out for a horse that stands higher at his croup, has
a low-set neck, or a poorly set-on head. Poor head conformation
means the horse will have trouble opening up his neck and
jaw, a detriment in dressage.
3. Wide frame.
Any horse that is too wide through the chest, shoulders
and rib-cage will prevent you from riding with a good depth
of seat and length of leg - both critical in dressage.
4. Narrow frame.
If the frame is too narrow, the horse's action may be too
"close" in front or behind. Also, a weak horse won't perform
5. Difficult temperament.
Ideally, you want a horse with a pliable temperament and
a willingness to learn and work with you, rather than against
Now that we've covered some of the unwanted characteristics
in a dressage horse, what are the more desirable traits?
1. Good conformation.
Look at the horse's conformation when it's standing naturally,
and when he's moving. As you watch the horse, imagine the
frame and appearance of a Grand Prix champion dressage horse,
with the lowered coup and the horse rising up through the
back and withers. You should see that potential in your prospective,
2. A horse to match your lifestyle.
Do you need a horse that thrives on work and daily activity,
or one who can be content staying sedentary for a day or two?
Does the height and size match your proportions?
A calm and consistent temperament that is compatible with
your own will make training and competition much easier and
all the more rewarding. Look for a horse that is full of character,
but still manageable and trainable.
4. Good pace and movement.
The walk is so important, even on a loose rein. The horse's
steps should be long and even in length. There should be no
indication of tension, nor any inclination to hurry out of
its steady, pacing rhythm.
What are some good dressage horse breeds?
Swedish Warmblood horses make popular dressage horses because
they are compact, yet very strong. Even larger horses like
the Irish draught do well due to their strong conformation
and typical middle weight status. Finally, the Irish Trill
is another popular dressage horse because it is strong enough
to easily bear the rider's weight, but not heavy in stature
or in the way it caries itself.
That said, the ideal dressage horse has a strong frame without
any serious weakness, a generous temperament, and the will to
work and train as a partner. The shape and size of a dressage
horse is surprisingly varied, and therefore so are your breed
About the Author
CS Swarens is the president of Find a Pet Online. 800 998-7065
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