Who are the best dressage horses in the world right now? We take a look…

  • As 2021 draws to a close and we reflect on a year quite unlike any other in equestrian sport, we take a look at who are the best dressage horses in the world, according to the FEI world rankings in December.

    The current rankings have altered quite dramatically compared to earlier in the year, with a British rider ranked higher than has ever been the case since the retirement of Valegro, and Isabell Werth’s horses no longer dominating the very top positions. That’s not to say they do not feature strongly, though – rides of Isabell Werth appear three times among the top 10, with other placings shared among German, Danish, British and Dutch combinations. Let’s take a look…

    1, TSF Dalera BB (pictured above), GER

    The undisputed equine darling of 2021, this brilliant mare, a 14-year-old Trakehner daughter of Easy Game, entranced viewers all over the world this year. Dalera and her brilliant rider, Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl led Germany to Olympic team gold, before becoming Olympic champions, and then went on to achieve triple gold at the European Championships in September. Their dominance extended into the winter season, with a plus-90% victory at Stockholm CDI5* in late November. Certainly based on results and scores, Dalera is without a doubt the best dressage horse in the world right now.

    2, Bohemian, DEN

    European Dressage Championships - Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian

    Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian in action for Denmark at the European Dressage Championships 2021

    This hot young gelding has had his ups and downs this year, with mixed performances at the Tokyo Olympics that left his rider, Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour suffering the agony of double fourth place – both as part of the Danish team and individually. But he made up for it in Hagen at the Europeans, banking team bronze, individual bronze in the special, and individual silver in the freestyle. The Bordeaux son is only 11 – be prepared to see his name near the top of the world rankings for plenty of time to come.

    3, Gio, GBR

    European Dressage Championships freestyle Charlotte Dujardin riding Gio

    Charlotte Dujardin and Gio in action at the 2021 European Dressage Championships

    Britain’s dressage hero of 2021, the diminutive Apache gelding known as Pumpkin surprised everybody this year – bar his rider Charlotte Dujardin, who has long thought him a future championship medallist – by being first selected for the Olympic team in his first season of international grand prix and then not only helping the team to bronze, but securing Olympic individual bronze himself. He went on to win team silver and another individual bronze at the Europeans to round off a dream summer for British dressage and thrust himself among the best dressage horses in the world.

    4, Weihegold OLD, GER

    European Dressage championships - Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD

    Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD in action for Germany at the European Dressage Championships in Hagen

    A former world number one, this lovely mare by Don Schufro is Isabell Werth’s highest ranked horse as 2021 closes out, and she is still holding her own at the age of 16. Among her 2021 highlights have been winning the grand prix freestyle at the Rotterdam CHIO5* in June, and of course taking team gold for Germany and individual silver in the grand prix special at the Europeans in September, although Charlotte Dujardin and Gio upset the formbook by beating Isabell and Weihe to the podium in the freestyle. Isabell has indicated that Weihe will be retired from competition over the winter, although this was not the case after their double win at Lyon in October. Expect to see Weihe bow out in front of a home crowd in early 2022.

    5, Glock’s Total US, NED

    Edward Gal riding Total US at the Tokyo Olympics dressage

    Edward Gal and Total US in action for the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics

    Edward Gal’s latest star has rocketed into the top echelons of the world rankings thanks to his sixth place individual finish at the Tokyo Olympics, aged just nine. He also finished fifth and sixth respectively in the grand prix special and grand prix at the Games. Prior to that, the hugely extravagant Totilas son had only competed a handful of times, with this being his first year at top level, but among those outings was a second place finish behind Weihegold OLD and Isabell Werth at Rotterdam CHIO5*.

    6, Heiline’s Danciera, DEN

    Carina Cassoe Kruth and Heiline's Danciera tokyo olympic grand prix dressage

    Carina Cassøe Krüth and Heiline’s Danciera

    This gorgeous mare and her rider, Denmark’s Carina Cassøe Krüth have enjoyed a brilliant 2021, with an 83.34% freestyle among their impressive performances in Tokyo. They have upped their game yet further since, with freestyle scores of 85% and 96% in Herning and Stockholm this autumn. The Furstenball mare, who truly looks as though she is dancing when she takes to the arena, is another who is only 10, so expect to see much more of her in 2022 and beyond.

    7, DSP Quantaz, GER

    Isabell Werth on DSP Quantaz at Aachen CDIO5* 2021

    This eye-catching Quaterback stallion has previously been slightly in the shadow of Isabell Werth’s famous mares, but he has made quite an impact this year. The 11-year-old showed what he is all about at Aachen CDIO5* in September, winning the freestyle with a huge 88.33% – by far the highest score of his career so far – and helped the Germans to the Nations Cup win on home soil. He has proved a successful campaigner for Isabell throughout the year on the international circuit and would certainly be a championship prospect for 2022.

    8, Bella Rose 2, GER

    Bella Rose

    Bella Rose and Isabell Werth at the Tokyo Olympics. By Peter Nixon

    One of the best dressage horses of all time, Isabell Werth’s reigning world champion has previously spent two years as world number one, taking over from Weihegold in August 2019 and remaining atop the rankings until September 2021. Bella Rose’s story is the stuff of fairytales, and while it didn’t quite end in an individual Olympic title, with Isabell and 17-year-old Bella Rose winning the silver medal out in Tokyo (plus team gold), there’s no doubt that the Belissimo M mare has marked out her place in history. She has since been retired from the sport, surviving colic surgery in September.

    9, Everdale, GBR

    Olympic dressage lottie fry

    Britain’s Lottie Fry in action with Everdale during the Tokyo Olympics.

    The powerful 12-year-old Lord Leatherdale stallion has truly proved himself to be one of the best dressage horses in the world this year. Under Britain’s Lottie Fry, he strutted his stuff in Tokyo to take home the team bronze, and finished 13th in the freestyle. But their star was only just rising, and less than two months later they brought home team silver from the Europeans, and secured a fifth place finish in both the freestyle and the special. Most exciting of all, there is everything to suggest they will improve further in 2022.

    10, Glock’s Dream Boy NOP, NED

    Hans Peter Minderhoud riding Glock’s Dream Boy NOP at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

    Rounding out the top 10 dressage horses in the world is this striking black stallion who has been a stalwart of the Dutch team since he burst onto the grand prix scene in early 2018. Under Hans Peter Minderhoud, “Dreamy” finished 12th individually at the Tokyo Olympics, but was denied the chance to go better in the freestyle at the Europeans, as he was withdrawn following the grand prix special. He has since bounced back to his best however, finishing fifth at the Stockholm CDI5* in November with over 82%.

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