If you want to ride in the discipline of Dressage you must have a Warmblood horse. That is the conventional wisdom. Why? Well, the breeders of Warmblood horses have specifically bred them to be suitable for the discipline they will be working in. So there are horses that have bloodlines that are specific to dressage. These bloodlines produce horses with the right conformation, body type, movement and temperament for this discipline.
But do you have to have a Warmblood? Well ,if you are a professional rider and aiming for the Olympics, World Equestrian Games , Pan American Games or other big championships at the international level then, yes, you probably do need a Warmblood Because you will need a horse that is purpose built for the rigors of the advanced movements and the judges will be looking for the very expressive gaits that these horses have. But what about an amateur rider who wants to learn dressage and maybe go to some shows but not the advanced levels?
Those riders do not need a Warmblood. Everybody does not need a Warmblood horse. I have seen, time and again, that people go out and buy a big , bold, beautiful Warmblood and they find they cannot ride that much horse. They loose confidence and they loose the enjoyment of riding. Here’s what an amateur who is starting out in dressage needs. They need a Clementine.
Isn’t she beautiful? Clementine is a Shire horse. She is currently being trained in basic dressage. Once her training is finished her owner will have a wonderful horse to ride and to compete with at the lower levels.
Clementine has a lovely temperament and good basic gaits. Her owner will find she is reliable, trustworthy and a lot of fun. Clementine may not advance to the international levels of the Prix St. George or Grand Prix and be competitive at those levels but in the real world not every rider needs an internationally competitive horse. Those horses can be tricky to ride and highly strung.
What every rider needs is a horse that they can trust. A horse that will look after them. A horse that is suitable for their level of riding. So the “conventional wisdom’ that you can’t do dressage without a Warmblood is just not correct.
The barn that I am in here in Florida has Lusitano stallions, Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds. But who is the best loved horse? That would be Clementine. She gets the most love, attention and compliments of any horse in the barn. And so she should!