The rise of Western Dressage
When you mention dressage to someone, most people picture the dancing horses of the Olympics seen every four years. The traditional dressage saddles, the piaffes, the passages, the black dress coats with the white saddle pads. Classic and sophisticated come to mind.
Up until a few years ago that was all you had of dressage. It was an English-type discipline with many talented horse and rider pairs taking part. The very meaning of dressage – training – means the discipline serves as a backbone to other riding. Typically it’s part of a 3-day event.
But in comes western dressage. The Western Dressage Association of America was founded in 2010 and served as a way to broaden the dressage world to western riders. Based in the classical dressage training methods, western dressage opened up the world of dressage to all horses and riders. It’s known as a way to help start colts and help older horses even who are a bit sour. It holds true the meaning of training and any horse that can walk/trot/canter can participate.
The WDAA, in order to help the discipline spread throughout the country, began video shows. Riders from all over send in their videos of their tests to participate in virtual shows. Judges score the tests like they would any live event and placings are awarded.
Since then, the discipline has grown immensely. It’s now offered at many schooling level or open shows. Breed shows have begun recognizing it and the American Quarter Horse Association may even recognize it as a full discipline in 2019 in their rule books. It’s taken off in the past few years since the original founders of the WDAA met to establish it.
I started western dressage with Jack since it’s a perfect way to help the green horse grow. It takes quite a partnership to accurately complete a dressage test. Up until now, I’ve needed the security of the western saddle and although my goal is to eventually switch over to traditional dressage, I have really enjoyed western dressage. It’s given us a set goal and something to succeed in. I’m so happy it’s taken off and that the world has really began embracing the discipline since it can offer so much to all horses and riders. I can’t wait to see what the future brings for western dressage!