Are Quarter Horses Good For Eventing

Ellen Grant
• Thursday, 26 November, 2020
• 9 min read

You may be drawn to evening at least in part because its upper-level horses are among the world's most beautiful and accomplished equine athletes. However, remind yourself that the horses who compete at Rolex and Badminton are not the type you should be riding now, even if you can afford one.

horse breeds quarter eventing breed american horses bay characteristics levels
(Source: horseyhooves.com)


Your first evening horse doesn't need an extended trot that will score a 10 in dressage; he doesn't need to be able to gallop forever. He crossties, stands politely for the vet and farrier, loads easily, and tacks up without problems.

Any horse that is unpredictable to work around in his stall, or that kicks or rears, is totally unacceptable for you. Under saddle, your horse needs to have reasonable aptitude for the three different sports that make evening such a unique challenge.

I want him to track up?that is, his hind foot should step ahead of the footprint of the forefoot on the same side?and I want to hear a steady, rhythmic 1-2-3-4 with no obvious irregularities. When you watch the horse being ridden, his knee action shouldn't bring a sewing machine to mind.

When you ride him, he should be willing to maintain the trot (that is, without breaking back to walk) in response to a minimal amount of pressure from your lower leg and heel. In addition to three good gaits, if your horse takes both leads, steers well (turning easily in both directions), accepts the bit well, and maintains a consistent head and neck position with the front of his face just ahead of the vertical, he has the basic ingredients you need for the entry-level dressage tests.

If you're trying out an event prospect for purchase, be sure to arrange to take him out for a trot and canter along trails through the woods, around open fields, across rolling terrain, and (if possible) through shallow water. In a perfect world, you will also be able to jump him over a miniature ditch and up and down a little bank?or to ask a more experienced rider to do it for you.

horse quarter roan bay gelding english safe jumping
(Source: www.equinenow.com)

As an athlete, the horse doesn't need to be able to achieve racehorse fitness; he does need to be able (with proper conditioning) to slow-canter twice the distance he'll cover cross-country with a short rest in the middle. A horse that jumps with his knees lower than his elbows is not a good prospect because this form is unsafe.

Another grave fault: If he jumps with one leg up and one hanging, it's a sign that he loses his balance off the ground, making him unsafe for anyone to ride over fences. A young racetrack reject is not a suitable candidate; if you're just learning the sport, don't take on a green horse as a project.

A better prospect is the experienced older evening horse who's out of a job because his rider has gone off to college. I don't steer entry-level riders away from this wonderful breed, but I do suggest you look for a Thoroughbred who no longer wants to be first out of the starting gate.

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horse bay quarter cross eventing mare horsestockphotos deviantart
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Evening is one of the most demanding sports for a horse to compete in; requiring fitness and versatility like no other. Sweating is a natural response to help the horse cool down but this process also removes vital electrolytes (calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium and sodium) which can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness, so you may want to consider adding electrolytes to the water.

The addition of a probiotic also helps restore natural intestinal flora, leading to more rapid recovery and better nutrient absorption. Fat (in the form of vegetable oil) is an excellent energy source for eventinghorses.

The Anglo-Arabian combines attractive traits from both the Arabian (refinement and stamina) and Thoroughbreds (size and speed) bloodlines. The Belgian Warm blood is a rather new breed whose bloodlines have been carefully orchestrated to produce a superior evening and show horse which is both intelligent and fearless.

The sport originated as a cavalry test and comprises three phases: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. Most horses that compete today are Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbred-crosses (including the Irish Horse), and lightly built Warm bloods, or Warm bloods with a high degree of Thoroughbred blood, such as the Takeover.

This can mean that Thoroughbreds jump a bit more flat and quick, which may make them a little less careful. A good jumper must be able to collect itself together then explode in a big jumping effort.

horse quarter bay mix cross eventing country horsestockphotos deviantart
(Source: horsestockphotos.deviantart.com)

The four-star level is the highest level of evening and is offered at six competitions around the world: the Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA), Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), Burgher Horse Trials (GBR), Australian International Three-Day Event (AUS), Luhmühlen Horse Trials (GER), and Les Étoiles de Pau (FRA). Solidly built and generally sturdy, the Quarter Horse is perfect for the beginning jumper.

Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded” horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit. Thoroughbreds are used mainly for racing, but are also bred for other riding disciplines such as show jumping, combined training, dressage, polo, and fox hunting.

White Sox manager agrees to guilty plea in DUI arrest QuarterHorses & Paints are pretty much my favorite breeds, since I like to do both English and Western for fun.

Update:I'll probably just stick with doing 3' for fun and showing western then, haha. While I personally love NHS, I wouldn't recommend one for 3 day evening.

They don't have the height for the jumpers, they don't have the proper frame for dressage, and they don't have the stamina for x-country. Most NHS have straighter legs, making them less springy over fences.

horse quarter cross bay country eventing horsestockphotos deviantart
(Source: www.deviantart.com)

For the common HQ, tap them our at just under 3 ft. Paints on the other hand, have a little more spunk in them (just a generalization, not looking for that “one in a million” comment) so you could probably reach 3 ft, but that's about it. NHS also have a lower frame, and don't carry themselves the way a proper dressage horse should.

Also, NHS and paints don't have the animated and expressive leg action that a dressage judge will be looking for. In the cross-country, NHS and paints won't have the stamina to keep it strong throughout and will falter near the end.

A lot of people choose Arabs or thoroughbreds, the hot breeds, for these. If you want to dabble into it, a HQ or paint will be fine and give you the needed courage.

An Arab or TB, however, are the most common breeds for evening as they are typically good in all 3 days, and can excel with some steady work. He's a bit of an odd ball and does not really fit the breed type, but he's living proof that there are stock-bred horses out there that do have jumping capabilities.

Just do a thorough search when you're ready to buy, and make sure to find a horse that is suited for your needs, regardless of breed. Some quarter horses are fussy while some Arabians are near babysitters.

horse gelding quarter aj
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Yet too many people tell first time horse owners to avoid BHS or Arabs because they are “hot”. Avoiding these breeds might mean not finding a good match of a horse for you.

I recently bought a “roping” horse at an auction for $400, listed as a breeding stock paint. The next morning when the others were being hand walked to paddocks, he got nervous and jumped 45" from a standstill to go out with the others.

I have a friend who owns a PB HQ who if you didn't know better, you'd guess was a warm blood. I also have another friend who has a foundation style HQ who has free jumped 4ft.

Me and my wonderful Quarter Horse do Training level eventing, and we have jumped up to 4'3” at home. An Appendix HQ or Paint x TB would also be a good choice.

It depends on the horse itself, here's a video of a HQ doing pretty high jumps: Stocky, halter, reining, horses won't be as good as Appendix.

horse quarter american equestrian horses equestrianbitch
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Most Paints and NHS should have no problem jumping up to 3', and may be able to go higher, depending on the individual.

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