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Western Dressage - A Contradition in Terms?

  In the three years I have been involved in Western Dressage, I've heard that phrase quite a lot, but my answer is very simple; "Western Dressage is the melding of Classical Dressage training with the spirit and values of western horsemanship."

Western Dressage allows the western horse that is trained with lightness, subtle cues and true partnership between rider and horse to shine.  The horse will need to have some of the classical dressage principles such as cadence, balance, self-carriage and precise riding.


One of the best things about Western Dressage, is that horses from all breeds are able to train and compete successfully.   This has been quickly recognized by several breed associations, who have added Western Dressage to their normal show competitions..  Several classical dressage competitions are already adding Western Dressage classes.   


Also, there is a common misconception that Western Dressage is just a discipline for horses that cannot be successful in Classical Dressage.  In my barn alone I have several Classical dressage horses that are not suitable for Western Dressage because they cannot achieve the collection and cadence needed for a true western jog and lope.  I also have, several stock type horses that are excelling at Western Dressage, but do not have the large movement of a warmblood horse necessary in Classical Dressage.


On the flip side, horses that cannot compete on the Western Pleasure circuit may not be able to compete in Western Dressage.  The Western Dressage horse will need to have impulsion with active hock movement which is not always typical in Western Pleasure competitions.


If Georgia is a reflection at how fast and popular Western Dressage is growing across the country, it will not be long before additional higher level tests will be added.  Current show levels include: collection and lengthening at the walk, jog and lope, leg yielding, shoulder in, haunches in, half passes, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches.


Try it, I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.  Until next time- Enjoy the Journey!