17 Best Horse Breeds for Dressage

Best Horse Breeds for Dressage
Photo by markusspiske

Choosing the best horse breed for dressage can be challenging. Dressage takes more than talent; it takes the right temperament and builds to dance in time with the music.

Here are some top options for the best horse breeds for dressage!

1. Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmbloods are among the best horse breeds for dressage because they’re smart and learn quickly. This is a large, muscular horse with a fine bone structure, which means it has a natural grace and power.

But while they are a pleasure to ride, there’s no denying that Dutch Warmbloods require some work to care for. 

They need regular grooming, shoeing, and an occasional bath or shower (depending on how sweaty they get). If you’re looking for something smaller that doesn’t need much upkeep, check out one of these best horse breeds for dressage.

2. Holsteiner

They are powerful and athletic but also docile and refined. Holsteiners are prized for their intelligence and trainability, as well as the impeccable gaits they produce.

They will work all day in the arena with their trainer, then go out on the trails with them on weekends. 

This breed is excellent for aspiring dressage riders because of their natural athleticism and movement abilities. No matter what discipline you choose to compete in, there is a Holsteiner suited perfectly to your needs. 

They can be used professionally and recreationally; they excel at dressage competitions and have an excellent ground-covering trot.

They are undoubtedly one of the best horse breeds for dressage. It’s easy to keep this horse interested in learning new skills, which makes training enjoyable for both horse and rider.

3. Oldenburg

A popular choice for dressage is the Oldenburg horse. They are best known for their calm temperament and jumping ability. They are most often seen in the west European style of riding. 

In dressage competitions, they are judged by their precision and delicacy in performing a test. This test involves walking, trotting, cantering, turning on the forehand, depending on the haunches, extended trot, and changes of rein length.

The Oldenburg is an intelligent breed which makes them easy to train. That same intelligence also makes them stubborn, making them challenging to deal with if they do not get what they want. The Oldenburg is undoubtedly one of the best horse breeds for dressage.

4. Thoroughbred

Thoroughbreds are one of the best horse breeds for dressage; they are known to be athletic and fluid in their movements. They’re also very agile, meaning it’s easy to keep up with the changes in motion and direction. 

However, if you own a Thoroughbred, you’ll need plenty of room to accommodate their large stride size. This is a fantastic breed with an unbelievable talent for performing complicated dressage routines while mastering precise movements. 

5. Hanoverian

Originally bred in Hanover, Germany, the Hanoverian horse breed is known for its athletic ability and elegant carriage. Originating from Dutch bloodstock, this breed traces its lineage back to the 16th century.

A rarity due to WWII and German War Horses, this once robust population can only be found in Germany and Netherlands. 

These horses excel at dressage competitions with an unmistakable character that projects good temperament and sense.

If you want a horse with great stamina combined with intelligence and elegance, then the Hanoverian might be right for you!

6. Andalusian

They are known for their excellent conformation and flashy style. They are elegant and hard-working but not as tough as the other warmbloods. The Andalusian is well known to be a graceful horse, giving clear responses. 

It is excellent at dressing, jumping, cross country, eventing and driving. Some breeds make better-riding horses than others, like the Arabian; others work best in one area, such as the Thoroughbred.

No species can beat the Andalusian horse in versatility and usefulness; they’re one of the best horse breeds for dressage.

7. Friesian

Many horse breeds excel in dressage, but the Friesian is one of the best horse breeds for dressage. These horses originated in Holland and were bred to exhibit graceful movement.

While they have a reputation for being too sensitive, they have steel nerves that an experienced rider can harness. 

This horse also has excellent jumping skills and is often used as an elite racehorse. They typically have long manes and tails, which make them look almost like unicorns. 

However, these creatures require extra care so their fur doesn’t tangle or get dirty. The Friesian is considered to be a working breed because of its versatility.

8. Trakehner

The Trakehner horse is a stunning, elegant warmblood known for its athleticism and strength. It was initially bred in East Prussia, and many horses still come from that region today. 

The Trakehner is one of the most attractive and best horse breeds for dressage. It is intelligent and has the excellent jumping ability, form-to-the-bride neck carriage, strong hindquarters, and a unique profile. 

This beautifully proportioned breed ranges from 15 to 16 hands high with a long back and sloping croup. These features allow it to move with incredible grace and balance.

These characteristics make it well suited for show jumping competitions and elegant dressage performances on an international stage.

9. Westphalian

Westphalian horses, often referred to as Westphalians, are a German breed of warmblood horse. They are most commonly used in dressage and show jumping events.

Known for their athleticism and strength, they usually have brown or chestnut coats with black manes and tails. 

The Westphalian is an intelligent and steady horse with what it takes to win over any competition. Not only do they excel at dressage, but also in jumping competitions. 

These horses have what it takes to be your next champion on the show circuit. Over time, they have been selected as one of the best horse breeds for dressage.

10. Danish Warmblood

Danish Warmbloods are a crossbreed of various warmblood lines in the country and make great mounts. These horses were developed to be agile and energetic; they have excellent jumping ability and are suitable for dressage. 

They are one of the most popular and best horse breeds for dressage in their native Denmark. They excel at any discipline a rider might want to try with them. Danish Warmbloods also have a kind temperament, so you can feel safe riding this horse.

11. Morgan

Originating in North America, the Morgan horse is a popular breed. It is versatile, easy-going, and one of the best horse breeds for dressage.

Its muscular build means it does well in various riding disciplines, including dressage, eventing, polo, and Western pleasure. This breed is credited with being the dominant force in establishing all modern American light horse breeds.

Its small stature is an excellent choice for those with limited acreage or who prefer not to deal with a larger animal. A versatile little horse that needs minimal upkeep and stands at around 14 hands high.

12. Irish Draught

Irish Draught Horses are known for their fluid gaits and are naturally adept at dressage. They have a light, but muscular build and, as a result, can maneuver well in tight spaces.

Irish Draught Horses require less maintenance than many breeds because they are hardy and not prone to illness or injury. 

Easy-to-train horses are also the best horse breeds for dressage when paired with an experienced rider. Like all horses, the Irish Draught requires daily grooming and hoof care.

These intelligent creatures are also great companions for novice riders and experienced enthusiasts alike.

13. Lipizzan

Lipizzans were once one of the world’s most prized and best breeds for dressage. They were used extensively in the Spanish Riding School, which is still an elite riding school today.

These powerful horses are known to be fearless and have impressive handling skills. They have a distinctive pinkish color with a black mane and tail and can stand up to 1.7 meters tall.

The Lipizzan’s strength and elegance make them perfect for dressage competitions; they don’t shy away from high jumps or rapid movements.

14. Selle Francais

Historically the Selle Francais horse has been bred to perform in dressage and is still the preferred horse of many riders.

Generally, these horses are easy to train, maintain and handle. They’re popular and one of the best horse breeds for dressage.

A Selle Francais typically stands 14-16 hands high and weighs approximately 1,400 lbs. Horses of this breed have well-developed chests.

Their well-built chest gives them a relatively upright stature which helps provide them with an appearance of nobility and elegance.

15. Belgian Warmblood

Belgian Warmbloods are active, intelligent, and agile. They require little to no training; they love to go and do what you want them to do.

They may be flighty at times due to the nerves of inexperience but once trained will stay in place when required.

This breed is best for riders who can commit time and energy to keep their horses mentally challenged. This breed is best suited as an endurance horse that competes in races of long distances between 25-40 miles with obstacles.

16. Mustang

The American Mustang, also called the wild horse, is one of the best breeds of horses in the world. Known as living symbols of America’s frontier days, Mustangs now represent spirit and freedom.

This can be seen in the propensity to flee stable and their unwillingness to break a run when urged. In the old days, herds ranged over the country with no fences blocking them out of vast sections or areas.

Horses born on these plains are not afraid of water and always seem to find a relaxed way. They thrive on space and usually will not get restless unless confined too long in a small place.


Finding the best horse breed for dressage competition can be tricky, but fortunately, many great breeds of horses can choose.

Remember that the essential qualities to look for in a dressage horse are a calm temperament and intelligence. 

The species mentioned above make excellent dressage horses because they’re versatile enough to compete quickly and learn new skills. If you’re looking for a new partner, keep an eye out for these 16 best horse breeds for dressage!

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