With the 2023 European Dressage Championships just round the corner, we take a look at the best dressage horses in the world, as of August 2023, according to the latest FEI world rankings.
It’s been a year since the FEI changed its dressage world ranking format, splitting the leaderboards into separate horse and rider rankings rather than using combinations. There has been quite a shuffle in the top names over the course of 2023 so far, with British horse, Imhotep, entering the top 10, and the re-entry of TSF Dalera BB.
It’s also notable that the current top 10 line-up are now all European-ridden horses, with the USA’s Suppenkasper having slipped down from the top 10 spot he held in the new year, to lie 14th.
There has been quite the shake-up if you were to compare today’s top 10 to the horses that featured at the top of the list around the time of the last European Championships, in 2021. Just four of the names that made up the best dressage horses in the world two years ago still feature in the top 10 rankings.
So, who are the best dressage horses in the world right now?
1. TSF Dalera BB, GER
This brilliant mare, a 14-year-old Trakehner daughter of Easy Game, entranced viewers all over the world in 2021, when she was crowned both Olympic and European champion with her brilliant rider, Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. Their dominance extended into the winter season of that year and they won the 2022 World Cup Final, before taking an extended break as Jessica welcomed her second child, Ella Marie.
Dalera’s absence from the World Dressage Championships in 2022 saw her slip out of the top 10, but she has hurtled straight back into the top spot in 2023, winning the World Cup Final for the second year and dominating proceedings at CHIO Aachen. She is yet to face a showdown with the stallion who took her place at the top last year, however, the hotly-anticipated meeting of Dalera and Glamourdale at the Riesenbeck Europeans next month will reveal which one has the edge.
2. Glamourdale, GBR
The stunning stallion Glamourdale and his talented British rider Lottie Fry became worthy world champions last summer, moving temporarily into the world number one spot in the months that followed. They have slipped down to number two in 2023 since Dalera returned to the fray, but the Lord Leatherdale stallion has grown in strength and experience this year and looks even stronger in his grand prix work than he did in August 2022.
Both he and Dalera are unbeaten so far this season, and are, without a doubt, the two best dressage horses in the world at the moment. But they can’t both remain unbeaten when they come up against each other for the first time at the Europeans. It’s hard to predict who might come out on top, but we’re looking forward to finding out in Riesenbeck.
3. Blue Hors Zepter, DEN
This imposing chestnut gelding has had a number of riders in the past few years, most notably Daniel Bachmann Andersen, Patrik Kittel and Nanna Skodberg Merrald. It’s with Nanna that the Blue Hors Zack son has emerged as one of the best horses in the world this year, finishing as runners-up at the World Cup Final in April, and remaining hot on TSF Dalera’s heels at CHIO Aachen.
Somewhat surprisingly – though perhaps not given his rider-hopping – 15-year-old Zepter will be making his championship debut in Riesenbeck. Expect big things from this pair at the Europeans – they will definitely be fighting for individual medals.
4. Emilio 107, GER
The highest ranked of Isabell Werth’s current horses – it is by virtue of the fact that 17-year-old Emilio has had nine outings in the past 12 months, compared to DSP Quantaz’s six, that he ranks higher than his stablemate, who is bound for the Europeans.
You could say Emilio, by Ehrenpreis, is among the more underrated of Isabell’s rides in recent years; he has not made it to a major championship or World Cup Final, yet from 89 international grand prix starts since the start of his top-level career in 2015, he has achieved a whopping 54 wins. Definitely deserving of his place among the world’s best.
5. DSP Quantaz, GER
This eye-catching Quaterback stallion was slightly in the shadow of Isabell Werth’s famous mares, but over the past year he has stepped up into the position of her number one ride, and become a true medal contender in his own right.
The pair were just pipped to individual bronze at the World Championships in 2022 – although they did help Germany win team bronze – and they’ll be gunning for team gold on home soil next month. Quantaz has now exceeded 85% on no fewer than seven occasions, making him highly worthy of his place in the world rankings.
6. Imhotep, GBR
A new entry to the top 10 this year, Charlotte Dujardin’s current top horse Imhotep, a 10-year-old son of Everdale, has taken the grand prix circuit by storm during the past year. He was very much a rookie when helping Britain to team silver in Herning last summer, but some time out over the winter while Charlotte welcomed baby Isabella seems to have done him the world of good. He has come out in 2023 stronger, more mature, and looking every bit a potential individual medallist in Riesenbeck.
Unbeaten on British soil this year, he was also snapping at Dalera’s heels during CHIO Aachen with a trio of top-three finishes. We haven’t seen the best of him yet.
7. Everdale, GBR
The powerful 14-year-old Lord Leatherdale stallion may be playing second fiddle this year to his world champion stablemate, but he’s still the seventh best dressage horse in the world. Under Britain’s Lottie Fry, he strutted his stuff in Tokyo to take home the team bronze in 2021. 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.
In the years since, Everdale’s performances have grown more refined, without losing any of their power, and he scored a career best of 87.51% recently at Aachen. When a horse like this is your number two, as is the case for Lottie, you know you’re truly a rider to be reckoned with.
8. Heiline’s Danciera, DEN
This gorgeous mare and her rider, Denmark’s Carina Cassøe Krüth, captured hearts around the world at the Tokyo Olympics and they were key members of the gold medal-winning Danish team at the worlds in 2022. They have remained on consistently good form this year, sweeping the board at both the Gothenburg World Cup qualifier and the five-star Nations Cup leg in Compiegne.
The 12-year-old Fürstenball mare, who truly looks as though she is dancing when she takes to the arena, will be in line for individual medals at the European Championships.
9. Hermes NOP, NED
The double individual bronze medallist at last year’s World Championships with Dinja van Liere, Hermes would no doubt be higher up this list of the world’s best dressage horses if an injury hadn’t ruled him out of action since April. He was a dominant force on the 2022/23 World Cup circuit, winning the Mechelen and Amsterdam legs and finishing second to Glamourdale in ’s-Hertogenbosch.
Such is the talent the Easy Game son has displayed at the age of just 11, he could have been expected to give Dalera and Glamourdale a run for their money in Riesenbeck. If he can return on the same form, expect him to be a major player ahead of the Paris Olympics.
10. Touchdown, SWE
Touchdown brings a fourth nation inside the top 10, being the ride of Sweden’s number one Patrik Kittel. 2022 was a big year for this pair, as they brought the house down with their James Bond themed freestyle to finish seventh. Patrik adores this Quaterback son and they’ve maintained their super form since, recently posting their best ever score of 85.9%.
Whether or not Touchdown maintains his position within the top 10 may depend on whether Patrik opts to campaign him at the Europeans over his other talented grand prix horse Forever Young – unconfirmed at the time of writing – but there is no doubt Touchdown is among the best in the world.
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