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When it comes to buying a dressage horse, riders want to find the best partner they can afford. Professional horseman Steven Wolgemuth of Graemont Farm in Manheim, Pennsylvania, shares some of the most frequently asked questions he receives from clients, particularly amateur riders, who are searching for horse buying insights.
buy dressage horse
Where is the best place to find a young 3- or 4-year-old dressage prospect? Calling breeders can sometimes prove to be productive in finding young horses. This is best done by finding magazines with stallion issues of years past and calling these farms. At Graemont, we have had success shopping in Europe and picking up outstanding young horses that have been rejected in the stallion inspection process. Since the best riding horses may not be otherwise qualified to become approved breeding stallions, many fine young horses come on the market each year in Europe. This may be an excellent way to afford a fantastic horse within a low budget.
Where is the best place to find unbroken horses? Again, calling breeders in the USA can be productive. Since buying unbroken horses is highly speculative, you may be well served to buy something out of a mare that was a good riding horse. Rideability is difficult to predict by watching and handling a young horse from the ground. You have a much greater chance of getting a horse that you like if its parents were horses that you could ride and be happy with.
In the early 2000s it was common to run into other American buyers when shopping, particularly in Holland and northern Germany. At any given time, there were several buyers being escorted by European agents eager to build a lucrative business selling dressage horses to foreigners, especially Americans.
Over those difficult years, many auctions saw lower average sale prices, but interestingly, the high-end market remained strong. As lower-quality mares were generally not being used, it may be fair to say that more of an elitist young-horse population evolved. Even through tough markets, the best-of-the-best horses continued to bring good prices.
Among high-end dressage horses, technology played a role in evolving the European buying landscape. It became more common for modern European breeders to use embryo transfer for their world-class 3-, 4- and 5-year-old mares. Meanwhile, the breeder could keep the talented donor mare in dressage training. By the time the mare was ready to come out at Prix St. Georges, she might already have a number of offspring, some already competing as young horses under saddle. Breeding prepotency and dressage-competition talent were being identified much earlier in mares.
In my experience, owners and breeders of very special dressage horses are reluctant to democratize their special animals by making a video and posting it online. These horses are special to their owners and are typically found through private networks and relationships.
However, if you are looking for that top 2 percent of the dressage-horse population, you still probably have a greater chance of finding it in Europe. (To read more about the advantages and disadvantages of horse shopping in Europe, click here.) With greater efficiency in gathering foal data, Europe is using the best sons of the best sons of stallions that Americans are just starting to admire. The best-of-the-best breeding mares still exist in concentration in western Europe. Recent challenges to the equestrian economy have served to strengthen and refine that significant advantage.
As surely as a horse owner wants to find a (clean, straight) leg at each corner on a horse, when it comes to looking at dressage horses for sale they will talk about four key attributes: good movement, temperament, breeding and conformation.
"Samsung Electronics CEO Park [Sang-jin] is president of the Korean Equestrian Foundation (KEF), whose headquarters was also raided Tuesday morning. Prosecutors suspect some of 3.5 billion won [$3 million] sent by the company was spent on purchasing a horse and arranging a training session for Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra, a dressage athlete."
Du Vin, a three-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Desperado x Don Romantic), was bought by Chloe Gasiorowski of Toronto, Canada. Chloe, named Dressage Owner of the Year in 2019, for her support of the Canadian dressage team, owned Floratina that Lindsay Kellock competed on the Pan American Games gold medal team.
The dressage horse is an equine athlete. Being an athlete means there are extraordinary demands on body, mind, and spirit of the horse. In human athletics, it is well accepted that extraordinary demands on the body should be met with special efforts to keep the body healthy. The same should hold true for our horses.
The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of illness and lameness at different anatomical sites in registered United Kingdom dressage horses and to identify risk factors for lameness. A questionnaire was sent to all 11,363 registered members of British Dressage in 2005, with one questionnaire assigned per horse. Four multivariable logistic regression models were developed for each section of the questionnaire. A final mixed effects logistic regression model was developed which combined the results from all prior models. Owners reported that 33% of horses had been lame at some time during their career, with 24% of these within the previous 2 years. A number of factors were associated with the occurrence of lameness in the last 2 years, including age, height, indoor arenas, horse-walkers, lunging (as protective), back problems, arenas that become deeper in wet conditions and sand-based arenas. These factors were included as variables in a final model to provide information for selection of horses, development of safer arenas and more effective training regimens to minimise the onset of lameness.
High Plains Dressage, a member chapter of Rocky Mountain Dressage Society, recently hosted a zoom educational event presented by Jessica Greenstein and Joseph Newcomb, of Exclusive Dressage Imports (EDI) to discuss what to consider when buying a horse. EDI specializes in the import and training of elite quality dressage horses. Joe and Jess have gained considerable expertise in buying and importing horses, which includes evaluating, finding good temperaments, and going through vet checks. They shared some great insights.
Joseph explained that the difficulty in finding your heart horse is that in the US, the dressage community is small and spread out across the country. You can waste a lot of your budget and valuable time crisscrossing America. Once you get to your destination to try a horse, you may not like it, or its not rideable, or it fails the vet check. So, you are out of luck and back on the plane to see the next horse that looked perfect in the Dream Horse video.
The essence of dressage is available to everyone. Focus on what you can control, invest in your education and work with what you have. Research the market in Colorado. Know your goals and your budget and try horses!
If you are interested in dressage, you will likely want to know which horse breeds excel in this sport. Any horse can be a dressage horse, but some breeds have characteristics that make them more successful in the dressage arena than others.
What are the best horse breeds for dressage? Any horse can excel at dressage provided they have proper carriage, good conformation, and are willing and eager to learn. There are breeds that have been bred for these qualities and excel in the sport. Ten of the best horse breeds for dressage are the:
There is no more successful a sport horse in the world than the Dutch Warmblood. The two greatest dressage horses of all time, Totilas and Valegro, were Dutch Warmbloods. This breed is consistently highly ranked in both dressage and jumping. In fact, out of the 18 horses to reach the individual dressage finals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, 9 of them were Dutch Warmbloods.
Hanoverians have a long history of international success in dressage competitions. Hanoverians have placed gold in multiple Olympic individual and team dressage over the years, and 3 of the 18 horses to reach individual dressage finals at the 2021 Olympics were Hanoverians.
Like all successful dressage horses, Hanoverians are known for their calm and trainable temperaments. Hanoverians have strong, muscular limbs and strong backs. They are agile and athletic, and have the graceful and bold movements that are desirable when competing in dressage. While you can buy a young, unstarted Hanoverian for as little as $7,000, expect to pay $25,000 or more on a started show prospect.
The only other breed with more than one horse in the top 18 of the 2021 Olympics was the Westphalian. This German warmblood has consistently been among the top dressage competitors across the globe.
Westphalians have a lighter build than most warmbloods, but have well-muscled hindquarters and long lines. This breed is known for its bold, expansive gaits and extra flair that is desirable in top-level dressage.
Like most Warmbloods, Westphalians also have the easy-going disposition and trainability that is required for dressage. You will likely spend at least $15,000 for a Westphalian, and much more for a started competitor.
The Oldenburg was the result of an extensive breeding program which included bloodlines from Friesians, Trakehners, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Holsteiners, Westphalians, and more. Oldenburgs have consistently been highly ranked in the WBFSH standings for dressage.
This Irish Sport Horse was developed by crossing the powerful Thoroughbred with the gentle Irish Draft Horse. The resulting athletic and friendly Irish Sport Horse has been bred over the years to excel at top-level sports, including eventing, jumping, and dressage.
The Irish Sport Horse has a long neck, balanced proportions, and well-defined bones. This breed gets its good nature from the easy-going Irish Draft, and is highly trainable and eager to learn. Irish Sport Horses are both gentle enough to make excellent family horses, and athletic enough for high-level dressage. Irish Sport Horses are not very common in the United States; expect to pay at least $20,000 for a show prospect. 041b061a72