9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (2022)

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Though warmbloods are often considered the best dressage horse breed and are traditionally used for high levels of competition, many other horse breeds can make wonderful dressage horses. Many breeds, including ponies, can successfully compete at different levels.

Lots of breeds can make great dressage horses, some breeds naturally excel at the sport. A good dressage horse will have excellent movement at all the gaits, good conformation, and the right attitude. In fact, a successful dressage horse will have a bit of a spark.

In general, here are the best dressage horse breeds:

BreedDressage Rank
Dutch Warmblood#1
Hanoverian#2
Westphalian#3
Oldenburg#4
Irish Sport HorseIntermediate

Since dressage requires lots of precision, horses must be highly trainable. Horses should be agile while moving with grace and power. Whether competing in Introductory or Grand Prix, these are some of the best breeds to consider.

Best Dressage Horse Breeds for a Beginner

When you are just getting into dressage, just about any breed can find success in the sport. However, there are some breeds that shine at the beginning levels of dressage and can even excel at some of the higher levels as well. They are ideal for riders that are new to the world of dressage.

Friesian

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (1)

Height: 15-17 hands
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Characteristics: Friesians are known for their strength, style, and friendly temperaments.

Friesian horses are known for their beautiful black coats with long flowing manes and tails. These elegant horses stand out for their animated way of moving, making them lovely dressage horses for those looking for a stylish mount.

Friesians are making a name in the dressage world and are rising up in the ranks. They are great horses to get a start in dressage and work your way up among the levels. Their good temperaments make them suitable for junior exhibitors and amateurs.

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Gypsy Vanner

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (2)

Height: 14-15 hands
Country of Origin: Ireland
Characteristics: Gypsy Vanners are known for their power, style, and friendly dispositions.

Though Gypsy Vanners may not be considered a traditional dressage breed, they are quickly becoming a popular mount for dressage riders. They are sturdy and reliable, making them a great choice for those new to dressage.

Gypsy Vanners make a statement in the show ring with their beautiful coloring and feathers. Thanks to their easy-going nature, they are ideal horses for novice riders. Their elegant way of moving and athletic ability is great for getting a start in the dressage world.

As you move up in the levels of dressage, the levels get more demanding. As the tests become challenging, certain breeds rise to the occasion with more success than others. These breeds tend to help intermediate riders excel and work their way to the top.

Westphalian

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (3)

Height: 15.2-17.2 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Westphalians are known for their athleticism, agility, and friendly personalities.

Agile and muscular, Westphalians have the build for a successful dressage horse. From junior exhibitors to Olympic riders, many have found success with this stunning breed.

They are beautiful movers with great dispositions, making them highly competitive. Their kind nature and willingness to please makes them easy to train. With size and athleticism, they stand out as sport horses.

Trakehner

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (4)
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Height: 16-17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany (was Prussia at the time)
Characteristics: Trakehners are known for their good temperaments, athleticism, and agility.

Tall, athletic, and refined, the Trakehner horse has made a name for itself in the dressage world. Over hundreds of years, they have gained attention for their floaty, springy way of moving.

Keen with a good temperament, they have the perfect attitude for competing. Their athletic builds and great attitudes have led them to be Olympic champions. Willing to please with a look at me attitude, they make great mounts for amateurs and professionals.

Danish Warmblood

Height: 15.3-17 hands
Country of Origin: Denmark
Characteristics: Danish Warmbloods are known for their athleticism, style, and good temperaments.

One of the newest warmblood registries, the Danish Warmblood has quickly made a name for itself. With strong legs, muscular backs, and wonderful athleticism, they have become a powerhouse in the dressage industry.

Due to their excellent temperaments and beautiful, flowy gaits, they have shown their worth at the Olympic level. Elegant and sociable, they make great partners for all levels of dressage riders. Their cooperative and easy-going personalities make them highly trainable, an element that is important for a high performing horse.

Best Top-Level Dressage Breeds

Warmbloods dominate the top levels of dressage, finding success all the way at the Olympic level. These tall, athletic horses have everything it takes to succeed at the highest levels of the sport. The following breeds are among the most successful horse breeds in the world.

Hanoverian

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (6)

Height: 15.3-17.2 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Hanoverians are known for their athleticism, stamina, and style.

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One of the oldest warmblood breeds, Hanoverians have dominated the dressage world. With their sturdiness, stamina and athletic ability, they make wonderful mounts for competitive riders.

In fact, many Olympic dressage riders have medaled while riding a Hanoverian. Their reliability, elegant builds and excellent physical fitness have allowed them to excel in the show ring. They have wonderful attitudes that make them stars in the spotlight.

Dutch Warmblood

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (7)

Height: 15-17 hands
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Characteristics: Dutch Warmbloods are known for their athleticism, grace, and stamina.

Athletic and stylish, Dutch Warmbloods have all the makings of a top dressage horse. With great stamina and movement, they can flawlessly perform even the most intricate moves.

As one of the largest warmblood registries, Dutch Warmbloods have found success, winning many Olympic medals. Their lovely temperaments allow them to be easy to work, as well as letting them stand out in the show ring. Powerful and graceful, it’s no wonder why they are rockstars in the dressage world.

Holsteiner

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (8)

Height: 16-17 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Holsteiners are known for their athleticism, willingness to please, and agility.

Expressive with a beautiful carriage, the Holsteiner has everything it takes to be a competitive Sporthorse. Their trainability and rideability have led them to success all the way to the Olympics.

They have great athletic ability and movement, making them a favorite among many dressage riders. Their willingness to work and loving dispositions make them great horses for people of all experience levels. As one of the first warmblood registries, the Holsteiner continues to find success as a competitive show horse.

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Oldenburg

9 Best Dressage Horse Breeds (9)

Height: 16.2-17.2 hands
Country of Origin: Germany
Characteristics: Oldenburgs are known for their grace, athleticism, and power.

Powerful yet graceful, the Oldenburg has proved to be a star in the dressage world. As one of the oldest warmbloods, they have gained popularity for their character as well as their strong bodies, height, and compact build.

They move with beautiful elasticity in their gaits, which has made them Olympic calabar dressage horses. Kind yet bold, they are eye-catching in the show ring. Though originally bred as workhorse, they are now known to be outstanding sport horses.

FRequently Asked Questions

What Does a Dressage Horse Cost?

Top-level dressage horses often cost between $60,000-$100,000 or upwards. However, there are many talented dressage horses you can get for anywhere from $10,000-$30,000.

Can Any Horse Do Dressage?

Yes, any horse breed can do dressage. However, there are several horse breeds that are best for high-level dressage competitions.

What Are the Levels in Dressage?

The levels of Dressage in America are Introductory, Training, First Level, Second Level, Third Level, Fourth Level, Prix Saint George, Intermediate I & II, and Grand Prix.

How Long Does It Take to Train a Dressage Horse?

Dressage training often takes several years, as it is important not to rush the horse. It often takes five years to train a horse to Grand Prix level.

What Age Do Horses Begin Dressage Training?

There are several factors that contribute to when a horse will begin training for dressage, including temperament and build. Most horses won’t start work under saddle until they are three or four years old.

FAQs

What breed makes the best dressage horse? ›

Dutch Warmblood

The Dutch Warmblood is considered the world's best dressage horse and the most common breed used for professional dressage. It's the newest European warmblood breed; less than 70 years old, according to the official studbook.

Who is the greatest dressage horse of all time? ›

Totilas, the dressage wonder horse, was widely regarded as the finest in the world at the height of his career. During this time he was ridden by Edward Gal prior to the arrival of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro on the international scene.

What breed are most Olympic dressage horses? ›

Most of the horses competing in dressage and show jumping today are warmbloods or warmblood types. These include the Selle Francais, Trakehner, Hanoverian, Irish sport horse, Wurttenburger, Oldenburg, Danish Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood, Belgian Warmblood and Australian Warmblood horses.

Do Holsteiners make good dressage horses? ›

One of the great German Sporting horses, the Holsteiner horse has a history of courage, agility, strength, and reliability making modern Holsteiners great for jumping, dressage, driving and eventing.

How tall are most dressage horses? ›

Best dressage breeds for beginners
  • Height: Some horses will reach 17hh (68 inches) but most horses will stand between 14.2hh (57 inches) and 16hh (64 inches). ...
  • Height: The average is 14.3hh (57 inches) but Arabians can reach 16hh (64 inches).

How do I choose a dressage horse? ›

When looking for a dressage horse, be realistic about your own ability. Look for a horse with good conformation and a pleasing, rideable attitude. The fewer problems you have to address from the beginning, the more quickly you will progress in your training and the more fun you will both have.

Who is ranked No 1 in dressage? ›

World rankings – Top 50 – Dressage – Apr 2021
RankAthletePoints
1WERTH, Isabell2888
2WERTH, Isabell2841
3VON BREDOW-WERNDL, Jessica2816
4SCHNEIDER, Dorothee2757
46 more rows
1 Apr 2021

Who is the #1 dressage rider in the world? ›

As the most decorated dressage rider, Isabell Werth has dominated the dressage scene since the 1990s. Werth was born on July 21, 1969, in Issum, Germany, and began riding when she was just five years old.

Who is the number one dressage rider in the world? ›

Rankings and Standings Page
RankPreviousAthlete
11VON BREDOW-WERNDL, Jessica
22LAUDRUP-DUFOUR, Cathrine
36LAUDRUP-DUFOUR, Cathrine
45KRÜTH, Carina Cassøe
24 more rows

How much is a Olympic dressage horse cost? ›

The star dressage horse and rider Charlotte Dujardin are looking to defend their 2012 Olympic gold in Rio, and will compete against a range of other horses from around the globe worth between $400,000 and $15 million. Top-range show jumping horses at the Olympics range between $700,000 and $15 million.

What makes a good dressage rider? ›

A dressage rider has to be able to think creatively around problems they encounter in training. They have to be compassionate and kind to their horses so they can understand why they are struggling with flying changes or shoulder-in. A good dressage rider has to constantly look for learning and improvement.

Is dressage hard on a horse? ›

Dressage is the ultimate competition for many horses and their riders and its popularity continues to escalate. It is considered by some observers to be the most demanding of all athletic equestrian sports. The horse is required to compete in all the paces as well as perform exacting movements.

Are Andalusians good for dressage? ›

This athletic breed is fast and can extend and collect, making the Andalusian suitable for showjumping and dressage events. The Andalusians are an excellent all-around breed. They're exceptional at a particular form of dressage known as the Haute Ecole, advanced classical dressage movements.

How long does it take to train a horse for dressage? ›

You can plan these sessions 4 to 5 times a week. This phase of training can take anywhere between four to twelve weeks.

Can Arabians do dressage? ›

Data from the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) supports the trend. In the last 15 years, the number of horses competing in USEF-recognized dressage classes at Arabian regional and national championships has more than doubled.

Is dressage hard for the rider? ›

Dressage is incredibly hard, and in the beginning, it's difficult to really understand what it is you're supposed to be doing in the first place. Beyond that, it's even harder to get your brain to make your body do what it is that you want, even once you know what that is.

What does a dressage horse cost? ›

According to Gorenstein, a dressage-trained horse can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000, but that's just the beginning.

Are Friesians good for dressage? ›

Friesian horses are used for dressage, trail riding, and pulling carriages. Because of their elegant looks and even temperament, they are also frequently used in movies and television. Friesian horses aren't just pretty; they are useful as well.

Can any horse do dressage? ›

First of all, it's important to understand that any breed of horse can develop the suppleness, stamina, and athleticism that's required to succeed in the dressage arena. However, if you want to compete successfully at the top levels of dressage, a warmblood could be your best bet.

What do you look for in dressage? ›

In all paces, you want to see a clear and correct rhythm and the tendency to travel uphill. In the walk, you want to see a good overtrack in the walk and a clear four beat rhythm. While you want good activity in the hind end, you don't want a horse which 'walks for a 10' but rather one which walks for a 7 or 8!

What should I look for in a dressage foal? ›

Conformation
  • Long legs. At this point I want the weanling's legs to look very long in proportion to his body, because he'll grow into them, and legginess is a plus for a dressage horse. ...
  • Uphill build. ...
  • Roomy throatlatch. ...
  • Forward-sloping femur. ...
  • Good muscling over his loin, back and haunches.
13 Dec 2006

Which country is best at dressage? ›

Of course, gems of horses and riders can be found in every country, but Germany really stands out as a hotbed of activity that, time and time again, produces some of the best dressage horses and riders in the world.

Where is dressage most popular? ›

The United States had more international dressage riders and shows than any other nation last year but Germany had the greatest number of dressage horses, according to the annual report of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Was totilas the horse abused? ›

team, individual and freestyle gold with Edward Gal before being sold to Schockemöhle and Linsenhoff, was abused since he was kept in isolation from other horses and submitted to rollkur during training. A group of six experts and animal welfare officer Dr.

What is a dressage rider called? ›

An equestrian is an expert horseback rider.

How much do professional dressage riders make? ›

The salaries of Professional Eventing And Dressage Horse Trainers in the US range from $33,280 to $49,920 , with a median salary of $41,600 . The middle 67% of Professional Eventing And Dressage Horse Trainers makes $41,600, with the top 67% making $49,920.

Which horses does Charlotte Dujardin own? ›

Dujardin's owned-horse is Fernandez. In 2011, Dujardin was asked by Hester and co-owner Roly Luard to develop the novice Dutch Warmblood gelding Valegro, with the intention of that horse being ridden by Hester.

How rich is Charlotte Dujardin? ›

According to multiple celebrity sites, the Olympian's net worth could be anything from $16million to $39million. That's equivalent to £11.5million and £28million. It's an eye-watering sum accumulated over the years thanks to Charlotte's career as a talented equestrian.

What breed of horse is used in the Olympics? ›

The Trakehner horse is suited for all Olympic disciplines. It is distinguished by its high intelli- gence, willingness to work, and exemplary floating trot. It has been bred for these purposes since 1732, when King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia established a stud farm in Trakehner, East Prussia.

Is Charlotte Fry Charlotte Dujardin? ›

Charlotte Fry (born 11 February 1996) is an Olympic, European Championships and World Championships medal-winning British dressage rider.
...
Charlotte Fry.
Equestrian
Representing Great Britain
2020 TokyoTeam Dressage
World Championships
2022 HerningIndividual special dressage
11 more rows

What is the most expensive dressage horse? ›

Most expensive dressage horse

That's right, the stunning black Dutch Warmblood stallion Totilas sold for an estimated whopping €11m to German trainer Paul Schokemohle.

What horse sells the most money? ›

A thoroughbred named Fusaichi Pegasus was sold for $70 million in an auction, making him the most expensive horse ever to be sold.

Can you make money from dressage? ›

In dressage, riders are not competing for anything as louche as money. The largest purse is the European Championships at a little over €50,000. If you're looking for a return on investment it's going to come from your horse, rather than huge prize winnings.

What is a respectable dressage score? ›

What is a good dressage score? On average overall scores of 70% or over for a dressage test are considered very good, scores of 60-70% are considered good and if a horse and rider are consistently scoring 60%+ at a level of dressage competition this indicates they may be ready to move onto the next level.

What is a decent dressage score? ›

What is considered a good dressage score? A score of 65% or over is usually classed as a decent score. If you scored 65% then this would mean that your average score per movement was 6.5, which, when looking at the scale of marking above, is between “satisfactory” and “fairly good”.

Why do dressage riders lean back? ›

It is a wonderful step in your development as a dressage rider. The simple answer to your question is, yes, leaning back makes it easier to sit the trot.

Are dressage horses happy? ›

The Object Of Dressage is the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education resulting in a horse that is calm, loose, supple and flexible, but also confident, attentive, and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding.

What is harder dressage or jumping? ›

Which Discipline is More Difficult? Most riders find it easier to switch from dressage to jumping than the other way around, since beginning dressage is taught in a manner that is more technically intensive, and most find it far more challenging.

What is the difference between Lusitano and Andalusian? ›

In 1966, the Portuguese and Spanish stud books were split. Thus, the Andalusian and Lusitano were identified as two separate breeds. The Lusitano is primarily bred in Portugal and Brazil, while the Andalusian in Spain. You can find them across the world though.

Can you use a quarter horse for dressage? ›

For her, Quarter Horses are good for dressage not only because of their temperament, but for their conformation as well. “Even though their compact body is well suited for the intricate and speedy maneuvers required in the western disciplines, this body style pays dividends in the dressage arena.”

Why are warmbloods used for dressage? ›

Warmbloods are well-suited for dressage because of their athleticism, high-quality gait, elasticity, and temperament, although there are exceptions. Many of these horses are bred to be "uphill," and their conformation naturally allows for collection, a quality evaluated on the judge's scorecard.

How much does a top level dressage horse cost? ›

The general census is that if you are in the market for a dressage horse it will cost you anywhere between $1,500's to $200,000's. This range varies for a number of reasons but there are explanations for each.

How often do dressage riders train? ›

In general, most horses, regardless of level, progress quite well with three or four days of training per week. Other activities, such as hacking on the trail, cavalletti or quadrille work, add spice to the program and improve fitness.

Do dressage riders own their horses? ›

Riders typically do not own their horses which sell for 5 to 7 figure prices depending on their level of training. Many riders teach horse riding and train other people's animals and rely on prize money to help with the thousands of dollars for horse and equipment transport and accommodation.

Why Arabian horse is so special? ›

Arabian horse, earliest improved breed of horse, valued for its speed, stamina, beauty, intelligence, and gentleness. The breed's long history has been obscured by legend, but it had been developed in Arabia by the 7th century ce.

Can Arabian horses jump? ›

Arabian horses are arguably the most versatile breed out there, doing everything from reining to saddleseat to endurance to jumping. They are the oldest horse breed and have been seen in just about every show ring out there. Due to their agility, stamina, and athleticism, they can make great jumpers.

What are Arabians good at? ›

Arabians perform many equestrian activities well because they are smart and learn new skills quickly. They are excellent trail riding horses and compete in many equine events, both Western and English, like cutting, reining, jumping, and dressage. What is this?

Do thoroughbreds make good dressage horses? ›

Thoroughbreds are good dressage horses.

These horses have a willingness to learn and desire to please, which makes them perfect horses for dressage competition. They have reached the highest levels of competitive dressage. Sea Lord, an ex-racehorse, became a Grand Prix dressage horse.

Why are warmbloods used for dressage? ›

Warmbloods are well-suited for dressage because of their athleticism, high-quality gait, elasticity, and temperament, although there are exceptions. Many of these horses are bred to be "uphill," and their conformation naturally allows for collection, a quality evaluated on the judge's scorecard.

How much does a grand prix dressage horse cost? ›

The general census is that if you are in the market for a dressage horse it will cost you anywhere between $1,500's to $200,000's. This range varies for a number of reasons but there are explanations for each.

How much does an Olympic dressage horse cost? ›

NPR's Dan Gorenstein has ccalculated the price tag to compete in dressage, the Olympic sport made famous this year by Ann Romney, whose horse is competing in the London Games. According to Gorenstein, a dressage-trained horse can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000, but that's just the beginning.

Are Friesians good for dressage? ›

Friesian horses are used for dressage, trail riding, and pulling carriages. Because of their elegant looks and even temperament, they are also frequently used in movies and television. Friesian horses aren't just pretty; they are useful as well.

Can Gypsy Vanners do dressage? ›

The Gypsy Vanner also makes for a great riding horse, thanks to its laid-back temperament. Gypsies are ridden both English and Western, and they're suitable for many different disciplines, from dressage to trail riding and more.

How high can a TB jump? ›

However it may surprise many to know that Thoroughbred horses hold all the records for both long jump and high jump. The official Fédération Equestre Internationale record for the high jump is 2.47 m (8 ft 1.25 in) by the Thoroughbred stallion Huaso xx ex-Faithful xx, ridden by Capt.

Are Andalusian horses good for dressage? ›

The Andalusians are an excellent all-around breed. They're exceptional at a particular form of dressage known as the Haute Ecole, advanced classical dressage movements.

What makes a good dressage rider? ›

A dressage rider has to be able to think creatively around problems they encounter in training. They have to be compassionate and kind to their horses so they can understand why they are struggling with flying changes or shoulder-in. A good dressage rider has to constantly look for learning and improvement.

How long does it take to train a horse for dressage? ›

You can plan these sessions 4 to 5 times a week. This phase of training can take anywhere between four to twelve weeks.

Do dressage riders own their horses? ›

Riders typically do not own their horses which sell for 5 to 7 figure prices depending on their level of training. Many riders teach horse riding and train other people's animals and rely on prize money to help with the thousands of dollars for horse and equipment transport and accommodation.

How much do Olympic equestrians make? ›

In 2021, the salary for a showjumper varied, but ZipRecruiter reported it averaged ​$32,249​ annually. Showjumpers earn most of their money by winning prizes at competitions. Prizes can be worth thousands of dollars.

Why have horse prices gone so high? ›

There is a huge imbalance with supply and demand in the world right now. This has a big factor in why horse prices have went up. There is a high demand for horses, but there are only so many horses out there. People are buying horses left and right, even those who have never owned them before.

What is the most expensive dressage horse? ›

Most expensive dressage horse

That's right, the stunning black Dutch Warmblood stallion Totilas sold for an estimated whopping €11m to German trainer Paul Schokemohle.

What horse sells the most money? ›

A thoroughbred named Fusaichi Pegasus was sold for $70 million in an auction, making him the most expensive horse ever to be sold.

Why is dressage so expensive? ›

Dressage requires a level of personal investment and dedication to learn. There are only so many hours in the day and the time spent improving your understanding of dressage in and out of the saddle may come at a personal cost.

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