Dressage Pony Breed/Breeders Recommendations

Hi all! New poster here, but am looking for pony input. My heart horse was a Connemara who was a wonderful all-arounder, but ultimately a bit conformationally limited for dressage (and whose breeder is long retired). In the next few years I’ll be shopping for a youngster and ultimately want something versatile and capable of mid-level dressage with a great brain. Forward-thinking: yes. Fire-breathing: no.

I’m on the short side, so anything that will end up 14-16hh is perfect. I’d love to get some suggestions on what breeds/crosses people think would be best suited for the task at hand before I reach out to breeders. Currently in consideration: GRP, Connemara (full or cross), Welsh.

Suggestions welcome and TIA!

Lisa Brezina of Castleberry Welsh Cobs and Amy Riley of Quillane Welsh Cobs are two that I would suggest. Welsh cobs in my opinion are an acquired taste; so, I would ride one or two if possible before making any decisions. The one I earned my silver on (purchased as a two-year old, backed and trained him on my own with regular lessons) is 24 and still going strong, having earned two more riders their silver medals. He has the one-tempis down and only the passage is what held him back; but he’s been a gem and a wonderful schoolmaster for so many. I have one now (unrelated) who is coming 8 and flying changes are proving to be very easy for him plus he has a great mind. Though I don’t compete him in any type of jumping he is also quite gifted in this area as well (I use cross training to keep him fit). This one is a homebred so backing and training have been quite easy with this one as well but then he is convinced I’m his mother as well as his human. They aren’t all like this; but the two breeders I listed have developed a strong record in putting those on the ground that are.

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Scratch the pedigree of the GRP and find Welsh and British Show Ponies with smaller sized WBs added more recently. All, of course, chosen and bred with German care and attention so an accessible performance history is generally available. That can make it easier to choose a future prospect. The WB is coming to dominate the pony blood.

Welsh sec D Cobs are common in the UK and so are popular for dressage and they do a fine job of it, even winning national titles. They are also usefully dual purpose as most can jump. They have good gaits, strong hocks, flashy looks and a lot of motivation. However, the thing with Welsh is that they have a brain and a strong sense of fairness. They really appreciate a sympathetic rider who is willing to work with them rather than a demanding rider who is bossy and dominant. This tends to mean people either love them or believe they are too hot. The smaller Welsh are less common in dressage competition because their riders are generally small children - but they do exist.

A rare breed in the USA is the New Forest Pony. It is the least “pony” type of all the British native breeds and a good one is more a “small horse” (max 14.2 in breed standard) with good paces, natural balance and a lot of scope. They have very good minds and, personally, I usually find them to be nice people. It might be worth looking to see if anyone is currently breeding in the US.

Connemara have become a fashionable pony breed in my life time. Once they were rare outside the west of Ireland, now they are world wide. Increasingly, the problem is finding a good one as breeders sell over-height mini-warmbloods at the expense of pony type and, perhaps, character and mind. That might not be an issue for dressage but it is a shame for the breed!

Any pony cross with TB will likely produce a useful horse, with blood for athleticism and pony for toughness and self preservation. It is noticeable how frugal and how little vet care Natives require compared to TB and WB so running costs are substantially lower.

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Sounds like you need a Connemara/GRP cross! (they are hard to find)

Connemara bloodlines vary, some are better suited to dressage than others, so if you like the breed you may be able to find one that suits.

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This is very useful, thank you so much! Yours all sound delightful, and it’s a great suggestion to try and ride a couple. Unfortunately I’m not aware of any (of the breeds listed) in my area, but it’s a worthwhile search. I don’t need anything with appreciable scope, as my gumption maxes out at about 1m these days and just jump for fun and cross training (no competitive goals), but hacking/trail riding sensibilities are a definite must. The brain, hardiness and carefulness of my Connemara is what really has me on the hunt for another pony type for my next partner.

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I put 10 to 15 miles of trail riding on all of mine each week. I really don’t have any who aren’t safe to trail ride. As for being able to ride one or two. I don’t know if it is still this way but every breeder I visited let me ride some of theirs whether they were for sale or not. I rode many stallions who some made it on my short list and others who did not. Many of the breeders I met and learned from are retired or no longer with us; but, those I gave you are very generous with their information. They might also be able to make suggestion of who or where you might be able to get a closer introduction to the breed. I am no longer breeding but still show/train welsh cobs. As I said, they are an acquired taste; but I can’t imagine my life in dressage without one.

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For Connemaras/crosses I would recommend Black Dog Connemaras. https://www.blackdogconnemaras.com/

Have you considered looking at PREs/Andalusians? Some are taller now but many are under 16 hands and they would fit the bill for forward thinking and suited to dressage.

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Thank you for the suggestion–looks like they have a really stunning New Forest Pony mare there too!

I definitely have considered the baroque breeds. Not to bore everyone with the details, but that’s a “later in life schoolmaster” bucket list item, hopefully in the cards after I bring along a pony youngster as my next horse (after my courage and/or body ages out of young horses and XC schooling :wink: )!

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I breed Connemaras and have added in a WB/Connemara program recently as well. I have temperament at the top of my list for requirements and this has stood me in great stead for my clients.
Feel free to peek at my website and ask any questions you might have!
I’m taking bookings into 2023/24 now.

www.muskokalakesconnemaras.com

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Definitely recommend Purebred Connnemara for both Talent and Temperament as well as versatility. Or if you would like something bit more competitive then i would definitely recommend a Connemara x WB or Connemara x TB.

Please feel free to visit us on the web at Redbud Ranch. We produce both purebred and halfbred Connemaras. I actually have a Hanoverian x Connemara that we adore.

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We have a breeder of high quality GRPs here if I could only remember her name…

Thanks so much–your stock is lovely (already dying to see how the Lady’s Comet foal turns out)! It’s partially sentimental, but I am naturally very drawn to the Connemaras. I think a Connemara/TB or Connemara/WB could be exactly what I’m looking for.

Temperament wise, do you notice consistent/significant differences between the crosses and the purebreds?

Lady’s Comet (Comet Shine/Lady Coffe/Star Choice) and her 2 daughters both by Blue. Its really stellar cross with Blue. The older daughter heading for a career in eventing and the younger is going to a dressage home. This years foal out of ladys Comet is under Contract to go to a Show Jumping Home.

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Tina Sparkle! :laughing:

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These girls are just lovely!

Not just specific to you, but also other breeders out there–how important is it that the offspring go to a ‘show home’? I’m decidedly not that… I ride at least weekly with a dressage trainer and would have excellent guidance with a youngster (including a full training option to get him/her started), but don’t prioritize showing.

I definitely get my horse out and about–but mostly for lessons, clinics, off-site trail rides, and the occasional schooling show. I’d be sure to give the young one enough exposure that it could handle itself well at a show/new environment (I think that’s an important life skill to have), but don’t really enjoy competing that much myself.

I am mostly retired, but have a few breeding s left. Have a fabulous grp foal due April, by Belafonte d’Avalon. You can check out my ponies at twinlightsfarm.net
I breed for dressage, but my ponies are successfully competing in combined driving, hunter/jumper as well.

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Happy 2023! I’m bumping this because I’ve “reinvigorated” my search. I’m currently talking with a breeder who has a Conn/Welsh x KWPN foal for sale in utero. My trainer (also a breeder) is balking a bit at the idea of buying sight-unseen since this is a first time cross with an unproven stallion and would like to wait until it’s 3 months old.

The mare (KWPN) has had some lovely foals by ArdCeltic Art, but this is a first time cross to this particular (young) stallion. I really like both his and her conformation and temperaments, but obviously quite different phenotypes so the outcome is (extra) unknown. That said, this is a reputable and knowledgeable breeder who I believe made this pairing conscientiously and I think I understand the risks–ie: we don’t know if this stallion stamps his foals, which genes will really come through, etc. I’m not terribly picky on the outcome; I want a sane/sound all arounder, good/functional conformation, preferably sized somewhere between the parents.

The cost increases quite a bit once the foal is on the ground and who knows if it would still be available, so I’m a little torn–it feels like a gamble either way. Please feel free to tell me what I’m missing, what you would do, and pros/cons as you (more experienced buyers of babies) see them. TIA!

In addition to Welsh and GRPs, I would also look at a more sporty type Haflinger. Especially if you are also looking for a good brain. My (somewhat limited) experience riding Welsh and GRPs has been that they can have a bit of a spicy side. My experience with Haflingers is if you can find the right type, they are capable and have a good work ethic and calm temperament.

Adding that if temperament is a priority, I personally feel that you need to be able to sit on them to get a sense of what you’ve got. I sat on a mare by a stallion known for passing on a great temperament, and same mare had a full brother that was an upper level amateur dream. She most definitely was not for me as an amateur.

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Sport-type Morgans would be another option. Some are doing well in dressage.

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ArdCeltic Art has been around forever, so his progeny are easily viewable and you can get a good feel for what he tends to put up against a mare. I am with your trainer, I would balk at something unproven… I’m pretty generous in terms of what I will accept and/or look at, but I don’t want multiple unprovens – in this case you have a breed combo that isn’t really proven (KWPN x Conn/Welsh) and a stallion that isn’t really proven. WB infusion has been happening but KWPN is not the registry I usually see used.

I really don’t think it’s a bad thing to conscientiously create “new” crosses… but I want other people to do it first before I do.

I’d want more info about the mare - what kind of KWPN are we talking here?

Did you talk to Redbud Ranch (Goodpony)? They would be my first stop for COTH breeders of small ponies. Exvet is no longer in the game, but her suggestions are also spot on. I wouldn’t do this search without talking to the breeders Exvet mentioned in her first reply. I don’t have personal experience with either but have seen them recommended often on here and on FB.