Standing on the outskirts of the warm-up ring at a top international dressage competition, there’s little chance that you’ll suddenly find yourself wondering whether or not you’ve stumbled into the local 4-H competition by mistake. True, the warmbloods may be Swedish, Belgian, Dutch, or German, and perhaps there will be a Lusitano or two, but you're unlikely to see many horses that haven’t been carefully bred for quality — some with pedigrees that stretch back through the centuries.
Yet according to top British dressage rider and five-time Olympian Carl Hester, breeding, surprisingly, isn’t everything. “Breeding is very important, and breeders have to have ethics and focus on [breeding for] paces and everything like that. But for me, I’m not that interested in breeding, at least not as a buying rule,” Carl says.