Skip to main content

Dressage and Crossbred Horses - Drafts, Andalusians, Lusitanos and Warmbloods

I was recently talking to a group of students who asked about preference in breed of horse for a successful dressage horse and why Paul and I didn't breed registered warmbloods much anymore.

While we bred, imported, trained and loved our 20+ years as a Hanoverian dressage breeder (with a few Oldenburgs thrown in), we came full circle in our breeding program and came back to the beauty of the cross bred horses. Why?

The soundness and great temperaments that crossbreds can produce I believe comes from their genetic variety. After so many visits to Verden to purchase horses, the 65% statistic for OCD that was given me by their own vet, Dr. Gerd Bruncken was validated at every turn. Our operation in the U.K. where we also bred many Donnerhall, Lord Sinclair and other warmblood lines and imported them as part of the Willowview Hill International Collection every Spring, also taught us that OCD was a sincere issue across the German lines.

We moved into Dutch Warmblood breeding as a result, and several of our horses have Dutch breeding in their parentage but we did not go purebred this time.

We also effected the change to purchase draft crosses too. And today we have both Percheron and Belgian lines in our breeding herd and trained FEI GP horses. 

Here is Paul's Tiberio Lafite WVH, dam is a Percheron and sire Andalusian. He stands at 16.2hh. Lafite aka Tigger is now 22 years old and Paul has made this horse from start to finish at Grand Prix. Every horse has a different conformation and temperament and as experienced trainers we know how to work a horse to ensure his longevity and soundness with the right gymnastic exercises. For example, a larger shouldered horse may work in the double bridle a tad earlier than a lighter bred horse. Just for brief periods once they have their lateral work complete, to encourage them to lift their shoulders in the half halt. 

The montage, black and white of Lafite and my horse Charrington WVH make a great pas de deux. We will be demo riding this again at our May Clinic in Bedford, NY. It's a lot of fun. Charrington WVH aka Charlie is out of a Percheron mare with a Dutch Warmblood topline and stands at 16.3hh. We have also trained him from start to finish and he is also Grand Prix level and at 18 years old he is still going strong. Charlie has an amazing temperament. A 'Policeman Peter' approach to life. Nothing bothers him, except apparently Alapacas freak him out. But aside from that. When training Charlie his stoic and sometimes lazy nature required riding him strictly on the 1/2/3 rule to keep him forward of the leg. His back is extremely comfortable to sit, and he can elevate himself in the piaffe to show great movement. He has a little dish action, but not severe. He loves to work!

As clinicians Paul and I are always happy to work with any breed of horse that is presented. The conformation and temperament of the horse has much more to do with the ease of the horse to complete dressage training from start to Grand Prix than the breed on the registration papers. The provenance of a horse in regard to having successful dressage horses in its background is very helpful naturally, so when we selected for breeding we did incorporate the tried and tested.

Here's a few examples of the recent breedings we have done:

Gambol's Middernacht aka Midi ~ now a 7 year old mare is a sired by Gambol who is a Dutch Warmblood ( although he was registered in the USA as a GOV Oldenburg), that worked at Grand Prix on the Canadian Dressage Team under Ashley Holzer. His bloodlines all showcase large (17hh) black horses, while Gambol himself was just 16hh, and had a flawless conformation and a high level of energy. 

Her dam, Amore WVH is a Belgian cross mare with the soft, intense Belgian temperament that comes with that. A great nature and a lofty trot, big shoulder and tremendous soundness and bone fit our idea of a good mare. She was a fantastic Mom, and instilled good manners in her progeny. 

Midi has beautiful Tina Turner hair color and has inherited the big free moving shoulder, great feet and big trot. Her chestnut color, dark points and flaxen mane are a real head turner.

Gambol's Genevieve aka Jen

As we liked Midi so much we re-bred the same cross and this produced a horse of a different color entirely. Jen began life as a blue roan, shed out with four white socks which we knew wouldn't last as she had only one white hoof. She shed out in her yearling year to silver black. I had to look up the color as I wasn't familiar with it. Apparently it shows up in the pedigree of Gambol once. 

She has the same free shoulder as her full sister, is a little smaller at 15.3hh, and is currently six years old.

In keeping with our crossbred program, we bred her in 2016 to a black 16hh Lusitano stallion that belonged to a friend in Jerez ( Bailerin Briosio). Bai has some Andalusian in his pedigree and is very correctly put together. Sadly, after taking she resorbed this foal later in the pregnancy. 

Gambol's Georgy Girl

Again sired by Gambol, Gambol's Georgy Girl aka GG,is out of a registered Thoroughbred mare. She has very big movement especially in the trot and is 16.3hh bay mare. She was also bred to Bailerin Briosio in 2016 and for her first foal and delivered a beautiful colt Extravaganza WVH aka Snoopy, in 2017. She was a fantastic Mom and we are keeping this colt for Paul's next Grand Prix mount, as his present mount, Lafite is now 22 years old.
Though still going strong.

While we have decided to retire from breeding and all three mares are for sale, the experience has been fun. All three mares have a great attitude, good temperaments, strong limbs and good feet. They all work barefoot, are intelligent and willing to do whatever is asked of them.  

You can view videos of the mares at our You Tube channel WillowviewHillFarm and they each have their own facebook pages too. It's fun to watch their progress and I'm sure that they will each find success in the dressage show ring and offer great equine partners for their owners.

We love to work with all breeds of horses and while horses in training for us are typically Andalusian/Lusitanos ( our specialty), we do a fair amount of Warmblood training of all types for clients. In our clinics the breeds presented vary greatly, from Drum horses to OTTB's to Paints and Quarterhorses. It truly doesn't matter what breed you ride it is more about their heart, talent, soundness and your passion for the art of dressage.

Whether you compete or whether you don't doesn't matter to us. What matters is that you want to improve your riding and dressage knowledge and that you love your horse and put him/her first.


  1. Paul and Nikki are THE most generous, encouraging, AND least prejudiced instructors I have ever experienced. I have only ever ridden in a clinic of theirs once, but I audited also for the rest of the day. Their ability to readjust their teaching to so many different levels if students and horses is a joy to experience!
    I hope to continue on with them now that I have a saddle aged horse, and two more coming along!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Dressage Bit Contact: The Dreaded Break at the 3rd Vertebrae and How to Resolve it

Schooling challenges: Inheriting a horse that has been trained incorrectly and breaks at the 3rd vertebrae - It is much easier to work a horse correctly from the beginning than to have to 'fix' an issue later on as we all know. Our latest equine protegee, this lovely stallion - has received minimal training and but has shown at Training Level in Canada ~ however somewhere along the line he was ridden incorrectly and allowed to hide behind the vertical. Though he scored well the judges comments noted inconsistent contact. As he does not have an excessively long neck this is an interesting achievement. How to resolve it? We'll begin by working him a little in front or above the bit, sending him forward and setting a good rhythm from the get go. Then we'll encourage him to take the reins and stretch over his back and out down in front, without putting his head too low i.e. not below the knee - he must learn to take the contact and to take his part of it consistently. T

Flying Changes Problems Answered

The fun to do, fun to train, dressage flying change is truly like dancing with your horse. Unfortunately all too often issues arise during training that make them less than perfect. Major issues which are very common include swinging of the hindquarters ( which will cause lots of issues with tempi changes so be warned), changes that are late behind, swishing tails during the change, changes that are not forward, where the croup is high and the horse shows stiffness behind. In the latter event the horse will cover very little ground as he is not 'flying' through the change. Other issues that occur in training are running off after the change, bucking, coming above the bridle and the riders hand. Do not despair! There is some discussion as to which leg should push hardest during the change and to whether there should be a lightening of the seat during the movement. From my experience and training, lightening the seat is to be avoided. Stay straight, do not collapse a hip and

The Grand Prix Dressage Test ~ All Chopped Up With No Place To Show

The new shortened version of the Grand Prix dressage test will be showcased at Olympia, London, UK, this December. The new test has not been well received in the dressage community and there are many good reasons why.   Are You All In With The New Test? ( Photo: Brittany Fraser and All In) The FEI seems to have gone for a shorter test, thinking this means more spectator interest which is ridiculous as the reduction of the test by 2 minutes per test will not mean more viewers. What it will do is to reward the horses at the very top of the sport already, that have crowned their talents with excellent 3 'p's movements.  The new test offers lots of activity early in on the test which means no time to allow the horse and rider to settle into the test. While much of it feels more like an Intermediate test than a Grand Prix, the missing elements such as the zig zags would have Wolfgang Niggli turning in his grave. The rein back also missing will have many clas