A Baroque horse is a horse with a strong and very agile body type. Baroque horses tend to have a gentle temperament, and are famous for moving very expressively and smoothly. They are comfortable to ride at any gait and they are also very versatile horses, able to compete in a wide variety of events in addition to being pleasure horses. Some examples of Baroque horse breeds include Lipizzan, Andalusian, Lusitano, and Friesian horses.
Horses with a Baroque body type have been bred since at least the medieval period to serve in battle. Modern Baroque horses share a number of physical types with medieval horses like destriers. They have excellent bone structure, with a solid musculoskeletal system designed to provide them with a great deal of power, and rounded, sloping hindquarters with tails set low. Baroque horses tend to have arched necks, small ears, large nostrils, and broad faces. Unlike the destrier, however, most are very gentle breeds and can be ridden safely by everyone from children just learning to ride to highly experienced equestrians.
The distinctive movement of the Baroque horse is big, powerful, and very free. A horse in peak condition working under an experienced trainer can be very graceful, as well as dynamic and powerful. Baroque horses are popular for dressage, an equestrian sport that requires a high degree of athleticism and control. Lipizzan horses are perhaps most famous among the Baroque breeds for their elegant movements, thanks to the widely publicized Lipizzan stallions bred and trained by the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
Many Baroque horse breeds, in addition to being gentle and easy to train, are also known for their intelligence. They may be trained to engage in “intelligent refusal,” a horse training technique where animals are taught to refuse to do things they know to be unsafe. This requires a high level of cooperation between horse and rider.
Sales prices for horses in these breeds can be quite high, especially when a horse comes from highly reputable bloodlines and has been carefully trained. These horses can be used for driving as well as riding, and may be seen in a variety of types of equestrian competition. For people who cannot afford to purchase a Baroque horse, it is often possible to make a leasing or rental agreement with a stable. Many stables allow people to compete with horses they are leasing, providing opportunities for people who might otherwise be unable to maintain a horse for competition.