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Is there a market for Quarter Horses in the dressage (or hunter/jumper) world?

Western rider here! I dabble in English myself very lightly and only at the few local shows where it is offered. English just doesn’t have a strong presence in my state (North Dakota)

I have a horse, whom I have primarily barrel raced, who I am seriously thinking about selling for a career change. (I’ve already been fighting in my own head for a good month on this …) I just don’t know if barrels is what she needs to do for the rest of her life (she is 7) as we have been trying to overcome some breathing issues. I feel like an event where she isn’t running as hard as she can, she would do just fine. It’s just that full exertion that is getting her.

She’s very “feely” and has lovely movement (I think… but what do I know) and she’s certainly the most graceful easy-moving horse I’ve ever ridden. But I’d have no idea where to even advertise her, or if anyone is even looking for a Quarter Horse (if everyone wants warmbloods). I think she would be absolutely stunning as a dressage horse, but I did have a judge tell me this summer what an amazing hunter she would be (local show).


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What has she done Western besides barrels?

There are people who happily do dressage on them, especially since AQHA has added classes to Congress and made it easier to get AQHA-approved USDF shows. The market is small though and it’s hard to market one without any time in the dressage ring. There is a facebook group for AQHA, APHA and ApHA Dressage


Depends on a lot. Is she constantly ramped up ready to go with barrels? Relaxation in dressage is crucial. When AQHA started doing dressage, I trained some reining stallions in dressage to broaden their education. They were all extremely capable, the transition was relatively easy since they could perform many movements, but the greatest challenge was getting them to relax. Other challenging aspects were contact since contact on a snaffle was actually a step back for them, and clarifying some seat aids. The aids for reining and dressage can clash a bit but still very doable.

If your horse can stay relaxed and accepts a snaffle then that’s a big plus. Hunter and dressage movement can vary quite a bit. Dressage horses tend to have more knee action, hunters tend to have flat knees movement. If you can post a video of her gaits, I think you’ll get solid feedback. Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just enough to see something. If you are marketing her as a hunter, she’ll need a decent jump. Have you ever jumped her?

With all of that said, solid citizens are always in demand. If you can market her as a safe, sound horse with versatility, I think she’d sell easily. Sometimes locking a horse in to a certain discipline when they are actually better family horses or all around prospects is a better idea.


If she’s safe then absolutely there is a market for that!
If she’s very hot, that would be a lot more tricky to market.

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I have been trying to sell an Appendix mare trained to 2nd level dressage that also jumps and would be a lovely 2’6" jumper. If I was coastal, I probably could have sold her several times already, but being in Idaho makes it pretty tough. I imagine you’d have the same issue in ND. TBH, as a buyer, I would steer clear of a barrel horse if I was looking for a dressage horse because it’s so different of a discipline; I’d just look to start with a clean slate like a green broke 4 year old.


Probably better as a hunter prospect if she jumps well, but difficult to have much of a valid opinion without seeing and knowing the horse. The low front end of most QH builds would be more limiting in the higher levels of dressage. Of course, basic dressage benefits all horses, and riders, in all sport disciplines.


I would think that her best market would be with QH people. Which discipline in that world would depend upon her movement and temperament, but there are many options. Do you have a QH trainer nearby where you could go for a lesson that is really more to see where her talents may lie?

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Western dressage as well as ranch horse classes have exploded in popularity here, especially for the forward, free-moving QH’s. She could be a really good candidate for resale in my area, if specifically advertised to those interested in western dressage or ranch horse classes, but I think it’d help her if she had some experience in either.


Lots! She’s been my main horse this year for everything, and we go to local shows and she gets entered in Hunter under Saddle, Hunt Seat Equi, Hunter Hack, showmanship, Halter, western pleasure, horsemanship, Reining, Ranch Riding, and Trail. Along with the speed events. So she gets the whole day!

(I like my barrel horses to be able to go in the show pen too. It’s good for their minds.)

She usually always at least placed in the HUS classes, won Hunter Hack most of the time. She even won a Western Pleasure class once; placed other times. Placed/won reining and ranch riding. Won quite a few trail classes. Keep in mind, these are local open shows but there’s still decent competition that shows up. I’ve shown AQHA myself before but I just didn’t get her to any of the ranch horse shows this year like I had planned.

I do most of my conditioning on the trail, so she’s done plenty of trail riding. Doesn’t spook. Solid trail horse.

I’ll have to check that out on FB. Thank you. I know there are tons of groups but never know which one is a “good” one to join.

She is safe as they come. Does not spook. Does not buck. No funny business. She sat for 5-6 months last winter, and I had a hip replacement, and I had zero fear of throwing on her saddle in the spring and going out for a ride with no lunging. Safe indeed! She knows when it is time to run barrels and she knows when we are doing something else.

She is very, very feely. She is the type of horse that knows what seat bone your weight is on. Usually, for “leg pressure”, I don’t even need to physically have my calf on her. She feels me move my leg. So she’s really, really cool to ride that way.

I have jumped her only about 5-6 times? Once or twice at home. Three times at shows this year. Honestly, I’ve thrown her to the wolves on jumping. I just haven’t had the time to practice at home and they only time I have put her English gear on is when we have been at the show. Poor thing is a trooper … honestly.

So this video is from our first horse show this year. She was more nervous at this one so that’s why she was chomping on her bit. I suppose she was wondering where the barrels where, and why I had this weird saddle on her back. In her defense, this is the first time I have put her English saddle on, and the first time riding her in her English snaffle bit with the caveson. So I was honestly fine with how she did, considering. Her head wasn’t as relaxed as I would like, but I wasn’t about to pick on her knowing I am throwing her to the wolves! At least the video shows her movement.

This video is from the same day, with our Hunt Seat Equitation pattern. I was really, really happy with her on this. Just a bummer they were leaning rails on the fence at the exact time we were doing our pattern and it caught her attention (that’s the extend of a “spook” for her) and she broke gait. Even the judge commented to me later that day she was doing so nice and they should not have been moving those rails while people were doing their pattern. Oh well. It is what it is.

And then her Hunter Hack after that on the same day. I’ve never jumped her at a show before so this was her first time. I wasn’t real fond of her head placement and her fiddling with the bit and gaping her mouth, but I’m not about to nitpick on her when I’ve not done preparation at home. I was happy she didn’t care about the jumps one bit, and went over them without question.

This was the next show for our Hunt Seat Equitation. I royally screwed up our right lead, so put the blame on me for that (not her) and confusing her.

And the next show for our Hunter Hack. She has never jumped that high before and they do not normally set the jumps up that way, on the tall side. So she obviously took off too soon and clipped it, but I just love that she had no fear and went for it anyway, with zero practice at home and only the second time have English tack on for the year. I was proud of her.

Videos might not be the greatest but at least it kind of shows her movement, and maybe everyone can tell me I am nuts and she’s nothing special. Or if she does have nice movement.

She’s only hot when she knows it’s time to make a barrel run. And even so, she’s not the “insane” type of hot. I can “hold” her and put her wherever I want before I give her the okay to take off.

Safe and sane otherwise. We do lots of non-barrel things in the arena too.

And I agree that some people wouldn’t even look at the ad if they see she also runs barrels, so I can understand that. I suppose I’m not your typical barrel racer in that I expect my horses to be broke and to also be able to go do a reining pattern or a ranch riding pattern, for example. She’s extremely broke. Probably more broke than most barrel racers take the time to do on their horses.

I linked a few videos above in a reply.

I truly and honestly know very little about dressage myself, but she is BROKE. I feel like anyone could hop on her and go do something lower.


Is she registered AQHA?

Yes she is.

I’ve taken lessons and clinics over the years, and some with her. I always seem to get compliments on her wherever I go.

I forgot about Western Dressage. We don’t have a lot of that around here either, but that’s a good thought.

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I just watched a brief moment of the equitation video, but she’s gorgeous!!

I would personally say yes, for the lower levels, for a rider as interested in the journey as in the destination, she’d be great.

I say this as someone who has only ever ridden QH’s, in all the classes you described (when I was young) and am now attempting to make my way up the dressage ladder (with the tippity top being 1st at this point, lol) with my AQHA gelding. He’s not as keen as I am but we scored low 60’s in our first ever show together, just me and him fumbling along together. His big problem is relaxation and contact, which I know are rather large problems in the dressage ring, but we’ll get there.

I can’t speak to your location though, maybe that is a hugely limiting factor. It wouldn’t be around here.


She certainly has the tail of a show horse! I have trimmed it three times this year already, to prevent her from stepping on it. Good hair genetics I guess.

Yes, and I would never expect her to be super high levels dressage just since she wasn’t started that way, but she is also still young and very, very smart and eager to do whatever you ask. Her favorite thing to do is lope circles. That’s kind of her “happy place”.



We have a QH mare that absolutely rocks in the lower level jumpers. She’s only 15.3 but she is a pocket rocket. She is an absolute packer and will get you over anything from anywhere. She does have a spook though at home in the corners, and can drop her shoulder and spin you off in a second. Wouldn’t trade her for the world!


In our area this is the kind of horse that people want for a low level junior first horse or Pony Club horse.

I would market her with her hunter show pictures and not mention barrel racing in the ad.

The breathing problems could be an issue. Do you know what they are? No one wants a progressively deteriorating COPD horse.

As far as how she goes English, she’s sweet safe and willing, but very green. It’s clear she doesn’t understand contact and her hind end development tells me she isn’t carrying herself correctly. But she looks like she has a great mind and correct English skills can be taught

No one would want her for an actual English dressage horse. She doesn’t have the inherent quality of gaits and the length of stride. She might be ok in Western dressage.

She could probably do Eventing but her lung issues might limit that.

I would market her as an all around junior horse that can trail ride, jump a bit, and is safe and kind. Lots of juniors and many adults want this!

Do her lung issues impact her trail riding in the mountains? Can she go up steep trails?


She’s a pretty and willing girl with a nice reaching quality in her hind leg. She carries a fair amount of tension, though, and that doesn’t incline me to think dressage. Going down that path is going to require starting at the very bottom and establishing relaxation. It can be done, but she shows a lot of tension in her mouth and that’s not something many are going to want to tackle.


Lovely horse! Thank you for sharing.

I would say mine is also around that height, 15.3 hands.

The lung issues have only been an issue for the speed events, and it’s only been this year. She has been fine for all other riding. Can I predict the future? Of course not. But it would be something that I would list in the ad because it’s an important part of her health. We have had awful wildfire smoke all year with awful air quality so I do not know if that is causing the bulk of the issues. I’ve dumped a ton of money at the vet this year trying to figure things out. One of the things we determined is that she is a “bleeder” which is common in race horses and common in barrel horses. This past weekend was my first experience with giving a horse LASIX, which I know that barrel racers give left and right without a second thought, but I just do not know if I can keep doing that myself. I don’t like it. So that’s one of the things that’s putting the “sell her” thoughts in my mind. There are plenty of other careers she could do where she would not need the LASIX. Part of me says to wait until spring to decide what to do with the wildfire smoke gone, but the other part of me knows she is now a “one run and done” type of horse with the LASIX, and I can no longer do 3 or 4 speed events in a day with her, which I do enjoy doing. So I’ve been going back and forth in my mind for a good month already, and what I should do, and what is the best thing for her. She’s one of the best horses I’ve ever swung a leg over, so that makes the decision so very hard. I like her so much.

I cannot speak for mountains because we don’t exactly have mountains in North Dakota. I haven’t a clue how the thinner air would affect her.

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Thank you for your input. These are things I do not know.

I agree that she would make an excellent Pony Club mount. That is where I would market her. I watched the issues with the contact in some of your videos. All I could think is “easy fix.” But then I’m a trainer and have assisted in many change-of-career horses over the years.

Def try some Facebook groups and also look for a local Pony Club chapter in your area. She’s flashy, she’ll find a new home quickly, I’m sure. Good luck.