I’ve always had Hanos and KWPNs and am considering adding to the herd. I’m leaning toward the Iberian and Pre breeds and possibly Friesian. Any thoughts pro or con for an AA rider looking for sound mind and body, talent for lower level dressage, and fun to be around. All thoughts appreciated!
All the cool kids are going for Draft Crosses. I am shopping too. The $$$ is way high but thankfully I’m finally able to afford it.
Without sabotaging my own thread, PMU foals are often draft crosses and many have quite a bit of talent. They are worth looking at to save a life!
Of course the entire PMU issue is a different topic all together!
For dressage I would go with Iberian over Friesian any day of the week. We have several Lusitanos and PREs in our barn and they are the definition of amateur dream horse. Willing, talented, forward, expressive, balanced, and soooo comfortable to ride. Not spooky, not silly…just the ideal horse really.
I have a friend with an Azteca (Andalusian x QH) who is athletic and pretty to look at with such a solid brain. I’d look at those if I were in the market.
I’m interested to see what others say because I have the same questions!
Wow! What a great testimony. What are the negatives in your mind of the Friesian over Iberian?
The same problems you always get when you try to use a fancy trotting carriage horse for dressage.
True…the neck set is usually an issue (too high) too. This is a helpful comment!
Go PRE. Excellent minds, trainable, tractable, many are quite comfortable. Good workers, intelligent, lots of personality and versatile. Not all PREs are made equal, just like all other horses. Some of them can be quite spicy.
Friesians are cart horses, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Good luck riding that neck.
Another vote for Iberian guys, a friend has a lovely Lusitano, beautiful horse, willing and talended and so sweet. He rides him on trails and amatour level dressage
Exactly what is on my want list! Thank you!
Iberians or cross. QH TB or warmblood are all very nice crosses on Andusian or Lusitano and the iberian type predominates.
The Iberian is crazy athletic and handy, better than the best QH, because they too originated as working cow or bull ring horses. The trot may not be as long and open as you want but they can be taught extended trot over time. The TB and WB crosses may have better trots than the Iberian sire.
The friesian on the other hand looks like a dressage horse standing still. May have high knee action or longer stride at trot so looks promising in the field. But by and large they are built to trot in a straight line. They can have long backs and narrow bodies . They do not collect or do lateral work like an Iberian and some have trouble getting a nice balanced canter. Much like OTSTB.
Despite both having a baroque outline standing still, despite some Friesians looking more baroque than some Iberians standing still, they are totally different horses for different purposes. If you want to ride dressage get an Iberian.
My hesitation around Friesians is their difficulty with warm weather. I have known some lovely crosses, including my mom’s who babysat her as long as my mom wanted to keep riding.
I would not think of a purebred Friesian for myself because of the personalities. I like super sensitive horses who try their hearts out. I haven’t met a very sensitive Friesian yet, but the Iberians are the ultimate definition of it. As a rider, you have to be able to slow your own mind to provide peace for the horse to slow her settle its gaits, and have to be willing to gain enough body control to keep clear and small aids, or the horse will feel as if you are shouting and get tense because of it. Warmbloods are easier to find for me, so they are what I have… but I expect sometime I’ll go Iberian and not look back given how much I love that personality type.
PREs!! My trainer has a handful of them & they’re all wonderful horses.
Obviously, another vote for PRE and Lusitanos here. I’ve known a couple of Friesians that did well in dressage, but many others, not so much. They are generally quite laid back, so hard to get a motor going. Often built a little out behind, so hard to get to sit. And, as mentioned, that high neck set…
I’ve also had what I thought would be an ideal draft cross (3/4 TB x 1/4 shire) and she was a lovely horse, but, again, too laid back to really do well at dressage.
So, I am sticking with a PRE for now, and have had a Lusi in the past. LOVE them. Hot, but not stupid, very, very trainable, good for moving up the levels. And, my current guy has a stupendous extended trot…So, it, too exists.
Gonna go waaaaay out on a limb & suggest looking for a gaited breed w/o much gait. They have natural suspension - from the “sit” needed to gait.
I have had 3 TWH.
The 1st was DH’s, registered Racking Horse as he could not be bloodtyped back the required 4 generations.
He trotted w/o any issue, had a Rocking Horse canter eventually Evented @ lower level, but schooled to Training.
His 1st Dressage show:
(sorry for the blurry pic - photo from 1996)
My 2nd was hardwired to gait. Never trotted, even in pasture.
But my trainer (who has trained her own & clients’ to GP) was impressed with his way of going.
Sadly lost before I had a chance to show Dressage.
#3 is an alleged TWH (no papers) but has learned to trot & we are working on canter (former owner never used that gait)
As a breed, I have found all 3 In Your Pocket personalities. Smart & willing.
And the price point is gonna be a lot less than the recognized breeds.
Especially if you can find one without much gait.
I have had a super sensitive, kind, sweet Friesian. If she hadn’t been a Friesian she’d have made a wonderful A/A dressage horse, BUT…connecting a Friesian is really tough, sitting them is even harder, and the canter usually needs a lot of work. They are trainable, personable, eager, and sensible, but they don’t make great A/A horses because physically they’re just really hard to ride. That’s the “fancy trotting horse” issue. If all you want to do is to passage majestically into the sunset they are the right horses, but if you want to do other things, maybe not so much.
Personally I’m not a fan of the Friesian high neck set and the knee action. IME it makes for a rather uncomfortable trot, along with the difficulties of getting them supple over their backs. Of course not all Friesians have this, just as some PREs and Iberians are paddlers, or choppy movers. But in general these breeds are built for collection, and the Friesians are decidedly not. Iberians also tend to have great rideability. Maybe it’s just the Friesians I’ve known, but I’ve not found their temperaments to be the easiest.
I am a major fan of Iberians. My Lusitano is wonderfully talented, but hot, hot, hot. For the needs expressed by the OP, I’d lean toward a PRE, or a very carefully selected Luso.
This is a great summary and I will add what I think is the most prominent weakness of the friesian (having owned and competed one for many years) - they can be really difficult to get truly round, working over their backs, with true engagement of the hind legs. (Although I will say that mine, perhaps because of his long back, found the lateral work quite easy.) As Scribbler said, because they are carriage horses, they can trot on flat ground for days with a fancy, eye-catching trot. But ask them to truly engage, lift through their backs and push like a dressage horse, and some of them can really struggle. Many struggle with simply cantering, which is a big chunk of dressage!
Needless to say I got a warmblood as my next horse. Why not get an animal bred for the purpose at hand? If warmbloods aren’t your cup of tea, then an iberian or iberian cross is the next best thing, imo.