Looking for a low level dressage horse and prices are insane

Anybody else? I am switching from western to dressage and I have been looking for a low-level dressage horse as I continue to learn and I see either green TBs or really expensive crosses but nothing in between. Any ideas?

What’s your budget? How much of a project are you willing to consider? Do you have height/age/breed/gender restrictions?

More information would help curate some advice on additional places to look or alternative approaches that may yield more results.


Budget $7500
Height 16 - 16.1 hands
Breed TB, QH, Friesian cross or Draft horse, WB crosses
Prefer Geldings but ok with a good mare

I’m not surprised you’re struggling to find something. A FriesianX or WBx is going to be twice that going under saddle. Of course you may find some well under budget but it’s rare.

A QH or TB seems more realistic. There are tons of unregistered/who knows breedings that may move just as well as either or better. Excluding mares or even being skeptical about mares cuts your pool in half. Just something to keep in mind.

If you’ll extend your size range to 15.2-16.3 you may find a 15.2 tank that rides the same as a slab sided 16.3.

How much formal dressage training do you want? Would you be satisfied with safely going WTC and has a good mouth or do you want something that has been out and shown?


Don’t know about your location, but around here safe, sound and going WTC well under saddle is going to be double your budget, unless you are willing to look at OTTBs. “Off breeds” with a good record at Second are in the $20k and up range.


What do you consider low-level dressage? Intro-to-Training? Second? Anything below FEI? Where I come from, low-level dressage would be the first two. Other places consider anything below Fourth to be low-level. :slight_smile:

If you want a truly low-level horse, one who can do WTC, just about any WTC breed will do, or a crossbreed, and it certainly wouldn’t have to be 16 hands or up unless you’re too tall to really get your leg on something smaller to be effective.


Where are you located? I tend to window shop when bored and I recently found a 13 year old 17hh WB cross gelding near me for that price.


You might expand your search to include event horses besides the smaller prospects as GaceLikeRain suggested. Especially ones that have not much experience, as 2020 has done to many.


Agreed, there are some great appendix QH that fit the bill and can be had relatively cheap. The question is how capable are you at retraining?


Yes, I am also looking and also find the prices insane. I’ve compromised to the point that I will settle for started w/t/c in any discipline, reasonable gaits, and a good brain. I struggle to accept paying 5 figures for a green broke trail horse prospect that I can dabble in dressage with. It feels like not so long ago that type of horse was low-mid 4 figures.

I have found some cute QHs lightly started western if I am willing to buy off video a few states over. But they tend to be in rural areas where it’s very hard to find an equine vet for a basic PPE. Even then, looking at high 4s by the time I add in shipping and getting them utd with shots/teeth etc. And for stock horse breeds I would much prefer a clean 5 panel, which also seems to be hit or miss.

Otherwise there seem to be some options of older horses with limitations due to physical issues.

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I swear. Put the word Friesian in front anything & the price quadruples. Something I always feel bad saying but will throw out there because I believe my background gives me a perspective few others have: I love draft horses. I’ve owned several. I actively avoid riding them! It’s fine in the context of me harnessing a pair & hopping up on the near horse to “drive” them down the the vehicle we’re hitching to. That’s just walking along, steering off the lines & voice, though. For anything that requires more refinement – seat & leg aids, etc – I don’t enjoy riding a draft or even just a chunky cross. They get strung out onto the forehand, it is a lot of work for both of you to get them onto the bit, and they have trouble bending without bulging or bending at all.

I’m not saying don’t. But if you haven’t tried anything more than a relaxed Western trail ride on one I’d recommend trying a more l active ride on a few with that body type to make sure you like it before buying.


Besides natural talent and aptitude, you are paying for training. Even the early stages of “rhythm and relaxation” are not cheap to install, nor easy. What you save on the horse up front may come to hamper your progress as you learn - incorrect training is hard to undo in human as well as horse!
A good rider/trainer can hop on a horse and make it look like a million $, but will that horse do the same for a bumbling learner rider and for how long? Depends on the animals nature and solidness of training, ime.
Considering that ave wb foals are upper 4/low 5 figures, it is not surprising not many well trained, sound, sane horses are available for lower price then a foal. Best in your shopping.


First level or intro. I am only looking to do some local shows. I only care about WTC and some lateral movements. The only reason why I am looking for a horse that is 16 hands or tall is because I am tall and have long legs.

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Have you thought about a grade? How about an Appy, Paint, or just any solid citizen? For those levels you can ride anything, and you will thank yourself later if you get something with a great temperament and rideability over some flash.

For those saying look at QH/TBs… the QHs start at 5k off the track and are priced way more than TBs.

And a started TB will be going in the $7-10k range.

My little TB is ready for 2nd and I wouldn’t be selling her for less than $25k lol


I think Hollywood did a great job of romanticizing Friesian horses. I rode one and they are super bouncy. I have seen Friesian QH crosses that are really nice.


I have seen some really nice TBs at my price range. The only issue is finding the right one. Some are a bit crazy and others have injuries from the track. Finding one that is sound and sane has proven to be a task in itself.

I have a Friesian/QH. He’s a good boy. Super cute too. I’ve seen some similar crosses that didn’t turn out so well.

This might be a long shot, but a hunter that has some soundness issues that needs a non jumping job? I think such a horse could be relatively easy to “retrain” for lower level dressage. Practice cantering in a full seat and voila can cruise through training level.


Yes, that may work. I have no interest in jumping at all.


The other option, if you just want to enjoy the lower levels, is a much older horse stepping down from higher levels. If you’re willing to do some regular maintenance many of these horses age 17+ are priced low and still have years of low level miles in them.


I took dressage lessons a while back on a 19 Year Old TB lesson horse. Best horse ever!