A couple of years ago I started assembling some thoughts for a blog, but, oops, it became DRESSAGE Unscrambled. Other than The Godfather, Part II, I can’t name very many sequels that measured up to the original. So, now it’s back to Plan A. I ended D.U. for the same reason that you stop eating potato chips—at the time I was full and, presumably, so were you. But like an old dictator haranguing the crowd, I’ve got my second wind now. You probably join me in observing that many, many riders get in their own way—by over-analysis, by under-analysis, or sometimes because they just ought to be in analysis. Dressage is full of Truths. You are bombarded by them in books and articles, during lessons and lectures and even over a glass of chardonnay at your dressage club meeting. Unfortunately, those truths are not all equally applicable across the board in all circumstances. Some obfuscate; others downright confuse. Navigating the whole shell shocking world of dressage is as fraught with pitfalls and booby traps as the task of Buying Your First Horse is to an unwary and unaccompanied novice. I certainly don’t claim to have a monopoly on dressage wisdom, but the same rules that apply to the human condition are equally valid as applied to our sport—exercise some common sense and avoid the mistakes that everyone before you has made. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t take it all so seriously. It won’t make you ride any better. As before, the tales which follow are not arranged chronologically but in studied disorder. Some are meant to illuminate. Others to distract. Some just can’t stand to hide in the dark any longer. Light and Truth R Us. And, oh, by the way, feedback is GOOD! I’m afraid that within me there’s an element of Alexander Haig after the Reagan shooting or Riff in Rocky Horror–“I’VE GOT TO KEEP CONTROL!” Consequently, this isn’t an open contribution blog. Tell me what you think. If it fits in, I’ll post it. If not, at least I’ll have learned something. CLICK to comment on anything below.
Think of various group activities that require demonstration riders and horses – the so-called guinea pigs of the world. Judges forums and various seminars/symposiums come to mind. What they all have in common is that for the most part no one’s happy about who is chosen or how they are treated.
In a symposium scenario the clinician most hopes for horses and riders which will let him demonstrate principles he wants to get across to his audience. The riders must be knowledgeable enough and the horses talented enough to be primarily correct and at the same time able to show some improvement. When the organizer is providing the demos and presents them to the clinician on the morning of the event, he’s thinking “Please, God, let them already know what I’m talking about! Or at the very least, don’t let them argue with me!” Some demo horse/riders would make good long-term projects, but the chance of making meaningful, visible changes in 45 minutes is nil. Not a big audience pleaser!
It’s less of an issue at a judges forum. We judge what we see. We have less responsibility to fix it. At the same time we hope for some demos who can show the movements correctly and be worthy of good scores. Spending the day parsing 5.5’s versus sixes is not all that illuminating.
Auditors are almost never happy with the demos. Back in the day at the old national symposia or more recently at the trainers conferences in Wellington, talented pairs are usually selected to participate, the premise being that you can’t really understand the range of scoring if you’ve never seen any really good ones. Historically this has evoked grumbles from the auditors who observe “Of course these horses go well but they are not like anything we work with at home.” One year to try to meet that criticism, we recruited demos from a more general riding population, only to be met with the refrain, “Why would we come all this way to see horses like the ones at home?” (please refer to Rick Nelson at his MSG concert)
And then there is how the demos themselves react. At one extreme if you lavish them with only praise, they complain they haven’t learned anything. On the other hand, speak the truth and risk none of them ever coming back. “All this abuse for a damn T-shirt!” they mutter. “I coulda stood in bed!” Somewhere there’s a middle ground. The trick is finding it.
How Far Does a Dollar Go?
From the website of Graemont,Inc. A fairly realistic, in my experience, rundown of what dressage horses cost in the real world. There are exceptions, but be grateful when you come across one!
“In order to have a successful buying experience, you will be well served to understand what your options are in your price range. Graemont, Inc. has prepared this list using comparable sales within our realm of industry exposure. We welcome ongoing statistical data from people like you who come to this site.
Note: Horse prices are not clearly defined as are car prices. This is not a “blue book” of what horses cost – as this would be impossible. Rather, this chart may be helpful as a guide for how much money you should typically budget when shopping for a particular horse.
$5,000 to $10,000
-Sound and attractive warmblood foal – fairly good quality, purchased domestically.
-An unsound broodmare with interesting bloodlines, purchased domestically.
-Thoroughbred off the track with some dressage training, purchased domestically
-Locally competitive non-warmblood, training – first level.
$10,000 to $15,000
-Better than average warmblood foal or yearling. Purchased in the USA or Europe.
-2 or 3 year old warmblood, unbroken, out of the field, domestically purchased.
-Unsound broodmare with very good bloodlines, not to old, proven producer purchased domestically.
-Locally competitive non-warmblood, or warmblood cross; training or 1st level.
$15,000 to $20,000
– An excellent quality foal or yearling that should receive very good placing at breed shows.
-A fun schoolmaster (teenager) that will not pass a pre-purchase exam.
-A locally competitive quality 3 or 4 year old warmblood.
-A two year old with nationally competitive quality
-A non-warmblood or warmblood cross that’s locally (and maybe) regionally competitive at training or first level.
$20,000 to $25,000
-A world class foal, probably found in Europe.
-A very superior yearling or two year old, probably found in Europe.
-A serviceably sound FEI schoolmaster 14+ years, may have some small soundness issues.
-A very nicely started regionally competitive young warmblood 3 to 5 years old found domestically.
-A nationally competitive 3 year old in Europe, very green.
-A very nice 4 year old or green 5 year old; regional champion quality, found in USA or Europe.
$25,000 to $30,000
-A top selling foal in Europe. Best of the best.
-An older 4th level horse – probably 12 plus years found in Europe, regionally competitive at best.
-A fantastic yearling or two year old – found in Europe.
-A national quality three or four year old found in the USA or Europe.
-A regionally competitive five to six year old doing training, first or second level.
-A small horse (15.3) doing 2nd level. Regionally competitive. five to twelve years old.
$30,000 to $35,000
-A world class yearling or two year old – normally found in Europe.
-An extremely nice three or four year old – normally found in Europe.
-A regionally competitive five or six year old.
-A seven to nine year old warmblood that is behind in his training – 1st level to 3rd.
-A 10 – 13 year old schooling 3rd or 4th level regionally competitive.
$35,000 to $40,000
-A world class yearling to two year old
-A nationally competitive three to four year old
-A very nice amateur horse with some training – over 10 years old, a 4th level regionally competitive horse.
$40,000 to $55,000
– A nationally competitive 5 to 6 year old competing at 2nd level, schooling 3rd.
– A world class 3 or 4 year old – normally found in Europe
– A good quality, regionally competitive 6 to 10 year old working at 3rd/ 4th level – normally found in Europe.
– A regionally competitive 4th level / PSG schoolmaster, 10 to 14 years old – normally found in Europe.
$50,000 to $75,000
– A “team quality” 3 or 4 year old young horse – normally found in Europe.
– An international caliber 4 or 5 year old well started in dressage basics.
– A nationally competitive 3rd level prospect – with FEI potential, 5 – 7 years old.
– A regionally/nationally competitive 4th level/ PSG horse 9 – 14 years old
– An older FEI schoolmaster, reasonably sound
– A middle aged approved breeding stallion
$75,000 to $125,000
– A world class 5-6 year old
– An very nice quality approved breeding stallion, 3/4 years old and just approved or at 10 – 12 years old and past his prime breeding years.
– A 6 – 7 year old 4th level horse started in piaffe and passage – national quality
– A nationally competitive PSG horse.
– A 55% – 60% Grand Prix horse
$125,000 to $250,000
– A lovely PSG horse that could try out for the Pan Am Games –
A world class 5 – 8 year old with International potential
– A nice 60% to 65% Grand Prix horse, 9 – 13 years old.
– An excellent quality approved breeding stallion
$250,000 to if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it…
– A top selling young horse – winner of Pavo Cup, Bundeschampionate or top auction horse
– A world class breeding stallion – currently breeding 150+ mares in Europe
– A Grand Prix horse scoring over 65% at International competitions
– Nearly any horse you want!”
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