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Best 7 Horse Breeds For Dressage

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With over 60 million horses in the world, only a few are uniquely suited to be successful at dressage. A dressage horse and rider are so connected that the rider’s imperceptible commands result in beautifully precise movements from the horse.

Originally, dressage was a skill developed for the battlefield when horses needed to be able to move in tight, confined spaces and respond immediately to the soldier’s command. Now, the discipline remains as an equestrian art to be mastered. But what horse breeds are known for dressage? Let’s have a look at some of the more common ones.

Horse Schooling Dressage

Westphalian Horse

This is a warmblood horse breed of German origin. They are high horses with a beautiful body and long limbs. The stud book for the Westphalian horse has strict requirements to ensure that only the highest quality stallions are used as sires.

Because of consistently good breeding, Westphalian horses have constantly shown exceptional performance at international and Olympic competitions. Rembrandt is one of the most famous Westphalian dressage horses having earned a gold medal at both the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and even had a Breyer made after him!

Holsteiner Horse

Holsteiner Horse

With it’s origins dating back to 13th century Germany, the Holsteiner is one of the oldest of the warmblood horse breeds. Commonly seen in the jumping ring, the Holsteiner also makes an excellent dressage mount. In America, Holsteiner horses are registered by the American Holsteiner Horse Association who maintains a list of all active North American stallions.

Hanoverian Horses

This is a warmblood horse breed whose origin is Germany. They are meant for dressage, events, driving and jumping. They are found in all the continents and are globally famous for riding.

They are also perfect for sporting activities due to their long strides and extraordinary jumping ability. Hanoverian Horses are brave, brilliant and reasonable.

Horse Doing Dressage

Dutch Warmblood

This is a unique horse breed of Netherlands origins. In the ancient days, they were bred for carriage purposes. The types of Dutch Warmbloods are Gelderlanders, Dutch Harness (Tuigpaard) and Groningen.

They are a valuable horse breed with long legs, smooth topline and expressive heads. They also have a well-proportioned figure and a rectangular, long-lined body which are their most admirable characteristics.

The Dutch Warmblood is famous for possessing deep, full chests, muscular necks as well as powerful legs and hindquarters. Their coats may be black, chestnut, grey or bay. The Dutch Warmbloods are all-around since they excel not only in dressage but also in jumping and carriage driving.

Andalusian Horse

Gorgeous long manes and flowing tails are one of the hallmark characteristics of the Andalusian horse. Their beauty is well known, and, because of it, they are often used in the movies as the chosen mounts of kings and knights.

Aside from their noticeably good looks, Andalusian horses actually have several qualities that make them excellent dressage horses. First, is their brilliance and quick learning capacity which is easily seen in their eyes. They are also known as Pure Spanish Horses and have medium-sized heads and necks.

The Andalusian horses have a very strong and muscular back as well as powerful hindquarters giving them a harmonic and rhythmic swiftness. They also have a very strong, gracious and easygoing temperament. They are generally balanced and stiff making them good for dressage.

lusitano horse in traditional attire

Lusitano Horse

Their origin is the Iberian Peninsula and they usually have outstanding performances at equestrian competitions. Their heads have a resemblance with those of Andalusian horses but have shorter necks and generally have a more solid look. They are friendly, generous, intelligent and noble. They were in the past used for wars and are therefore brave in nature.

There are so many other great features of the Lusitano horse they are hard to list here. If you want to learn more about them, check out our Lustitano Breed Profile.

Mustang Horse

This is a free-roaming horse breed of the Western part of America. They are referred to as feral horses since they originated from domesticated horses.

This horse breed consists of horses with diverse body types. They include; the Spanish horses which have well-proportioned bodies, clean, refined heads, wide foreheads and straight or slightly convex facial profiles.

Next, the Kiger Mustangs which have deep chests, short backs, are compact, well-muscled and most of them are dun in color.

Finally, the Colonial Spanish Horses which are generally small, have fine muzzles, narrow but deep chests, sharp withers, and sloped croups.

Even though they are wild, Mustangs can be surprisingly excellent in dressage when adopted and given proper training. A good example is one named Cobra which has won a number of world championships and was named US Equestrians 2018 Horse of the Year!

blm mustang horse
A BLM Mustang

Final Thoughts

Dressage is such a thrilling experience and the most interesting part of it all is seeing the horse you trained standing out in a competition. These 7 horse breeds excel at dressage and if you are looking forward to having one that will excel in dressage then they are the best options.

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April Lee

I've owned horses for 25 years and have a particular love for gentling wild horses. I write these articles to help others learn more about horses. If you enjoyed the article please take a moment to pin it to Pinterest or share on social media. It really does help! Check out my about page for more detailed information.