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  1. #1
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    Default Spin-off: Western dressage

    Only recently I have heard of Western dressage. Reading some of the feedback out there I have heard the diehard dressage riders stick the nose up in the air of the thought of “western dressage”. They will quickly dismiss you if you are riding something that is not a warm blood, fancy saddles, or anything like that. Seeing something different and not mainstream scares them.

    When I started riding dressage a few years ago I rode an older quarter horse. He was not built for dressage but he tried his heart out. We stuck to Intro A & B because of soundness and my fear of cantering. We had fair scores but one of the saddest things I heard once at a show is that the Intro A & B is not real dressage and shouldn’t be allowed. I was so very angry because how do you expect to get new participants in the sport if you are dismissing someone just starting out or doesn’t fit into the dressage square hole.

    Dressage is not just for the very rich and Olympic bond riders. Proper dressage training gets the rider using the correct aids. Not just hanging on the horse’s mouth. The rider’s learn to use their seat, legs and other moveable body parts. So many horses in other disciplines canter on the forehand and evade the bit. The western dressage horses will learn to use their hind end and be off the forehand. The horse will learn to lift the back and use new muscles that are not traditionally used in western.

    I am hoping that my GMO decides to add Western Dressage classes to the schooling shows and recognized shows. It will open up the to a new market sector to the shows. This is income that is coming into the shows. More riders and more tests = more income. I will welcome any western dressage rider to a show that I am at.

    On the tests, give them time. They will evolve into tests that are more difficult and advanced. Just like the existing USEF tests they changed. Think about the latest change that the lower levels they added a stretchy trot circle.
    OTTB - Hurricane Denton - Kane AKA Bubble boy
    Boxer - Tugger's - outlasted my marriage



  2. #2
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    Default

    How is this a spin-off? There are already soo many posts on the other WD thread - why not just add your opinion to that thread. Lumping the "die-hard dressage riders" together is nothing new nor does it bring anything to the table besides potential backlash (eg my post).


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  3. #3
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    WD feels so much more accesible while still remaining challenging. IMO don't wait for your GMO to add it -introduce it yourself! The Western Dressage Assoociation of America http://westerndressageassociation.org/ has great material and advice for advocating WD. Also, your state may already have a chapter!

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  4. #4
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    really OP? really?

    you might want to take a look around you next time you are at a show.... you will see a DIVERSE bunch of riders on a DIVERSE bunch of horses and ponies. you will also see DQs on fancy horses.

    The great thing about dressage is that it is all about personal progression - not progression against someone else. By comparing yourself to others (and feeling inferior in the process) you only hurt yourself and your horse.

    in other words: the problem is you.

    work on becoming the best rider you can be and dont worry about what other people are doing - life will be much better - i promise

    oh and fwiw, real dressage doesn't start until 2nd level.... so you are in good company with all the others who ride below 2nd level...... but really who cares? why let stuff like this bother you?


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  5. #5
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    Default

    Because I read the other post and built it off that. I can't get on here as much with my day job.

    I have some friends who ride western and I can't wait to see them tomorrow at the show.
    OTTB - Hurricane Denton - Kane AKA Bubble boy
    Boxer - Tugger's - outlasted my marriage



  6. #6
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    Nov. 18, 2010
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    Default

    I am insulted by your post OP. I am a diehard dressage fanatic, who believes WD has a long way to go before it resembles dressage. I'm sorry, OP, if you feel that is not inclusive enough for you. I also don't believe Intro is anything more than a way for green bean horses and riders to get a bit of exposure to a show, and build some confidence. Again, I'm sorry if that makes you feel excluded. That's not why I'm saying that. In fact, I'd be happy to sit and talk with you about dressage and what you've gained from it, or have learned from it. What I do know is that the more I learn about dressage, the more I realize how utterly little we understand about dressage when we're at the lower levels. But now you want dressage as a whole to accept WD with jog trots and lopes, when the purpose of even our Introductory level is "freely forward". How can I accept a new discipline that wishes to carry our name when it hasn't even acknowledged our purpose at our Intro level? What exactly is the goal of WD then? For Dressage, the regular definition of the word, the goal is ultimate freedom of the gaits, lightness and ease of movement, with lively impulsion, and the horse gives the impression of doing on its own what is required. I'm not saying that always happens, but that's the goal. What is the goal of WD? Better balance, and less on the forehand? i thought that was every disciplines goal? How do you get "lively suspension" from a jog trot? I get that western riders woud enjoy some concepts from dressage, but why subjugate it for your own? You guys already get all the cool clothes, as much bling as you want, and enough show venues to cater to any corner of the US. What do we get? Impossible to keep clean white breeches, a stock tie that chokes you, and knee high boots.

    Also... Out of the hundreds of people I have met, ONE person was mean. Yet you're saying that all dressage people are this way? I'm sorry you feel ostracized from a discipline, but I have never experienced this. In fact, I just spent the weekend with a well known international judge that I was told was not very nice. That lady was awesome. She even showed me pic's of her dogs and family. Then I got to meet a lady the USDF talks about sometimes, who I was told was mean too.. Very pleasant person, helpful, patient, and pleasant. Her main fault is that she's introverted.

    Dressage is a highly critical discipline. We put ourselves solo in a ring to have every footfall, every aid, every nuance of movement scrutinized and critiqued. We pay big money for a stranger to tell us about every single little thing we did that sucked. A couple of weekends ago, we had 18 people volunteer to be demo riders so that 20 other people could shred them (judge training). We volunteered for that! Yes it hurts to be told you suck at something, but you either use it to improve, or toss it out. To me, WD is like creating my own discipline, calling it dressage, then only doing what I want so that I can feel like I won... That's not for me. Besides, that's why we have freestyle. Ha. jk.

    The argument that other breeds can't compete is utterly false. A majority of riders will never reach higher than Second level regardless of the quality of horse you own. It's not the horse, it's the rider that has the most issues. The third most popular breed of horse in dressage is the quarter horse, which means when you compete a lot of your competitors are also on quarter horses.

    So, I don't get it OP... Why should we accept WD? I don't get any money from it. The shows I go to are already packed full to capacity. The warm up rings are over crowded. It makes no difference to me what anyone else does with their own time and money, but if you want me to tell you that I whole heartedly accept WD "just cause it exists" is a crappy argument for something. Do what makes you happy. I'm not stopping you. But you posted your opinion so I'm posting mine too.


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  7. #7
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    Sep. 13, 2012
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    Default

    I am basically a western oriented trainer, but I have to agree with core 6430.
    Western dressage is a confused mess, in my opinion. Why not just buy the tack and show dressage? I have. I once loaned out a bunch of reining prospects for a dressage clinic that was short on horses. Those horses did fine. But if I am going to show dressage, I'll show in a dressage saddle and attire. No one has to know that I am really a cowboy!



  8. #8
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    Oct. 29, 2007
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    Default

    OP, I am a long time dressage cometitor and instructor, and some of the posts above sound to me like the people you are talking about. We are not all that way. I started out as a kid in 4H as a Western rider. I had no instruction, but instinctively was always seeking a way to become one with my horse. I switched to English riding when I first saw a horse jump while training for the national finals in 4H horse judging competition and knew I had to learn to jump. Eventually I found my way to dressage through Lowell Boomer who founded the USDF. After my first lesson I knew this is what I'd been looking for. Lowell instilled in me the idea that dressage was the way to make a horse and rider the best they can be, no matter the breed or discipline. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship no matter what the tack. He worked with all kinds of riders to help them improve using dressage techniques. I do the same. I work with people who compete in dressage, but also those competing in breed shows who want to do better. I teach them how to make their horses move in an athletic way and try to eradicate the notion that Western Pleasure is remotely natural or athletic. It has nothing to do with being Western or English, it has to do with being athletic or not. Those people go back to the breed shows and win. I even had one rider take her halter bred Paint to a recognized dressage show and do very well, beating some of the warmbloods. The judge said that the horse was in no way built for dressage (he wasn't) but the training was so correct that he earned the good scores. I was very proud of them!

    Our local club is now including Western dressage I have been dismayed at some of the riding, but then I am also dismayed at some of the riding in the regular dressage classes. We are all trying to learn and get better, and my hope is that as the Western dressage evolves everyone will become better and more athletic. I believe that if you are using dressage technicques and principles to try to better yourself and your horse you are doing dressage - Western or English, Intro or higher, mule or warmblood. Keep studying classical, time tested prunciples and go for it - doesn't matter the kind tack you use. Many of us are open minded and welcome anyone who wants to learn. Good luck!



  9. #9
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    Default

    I am currently having a treeless EZ fit saddle (endurance style) made (I'm riding in a borrowed one at the moment) and will call the maker and have him make a second set of stirrup leathers -Western fenders. I plan on adding WD to my repertoire so I'll need them to compete. My current trainer -herself an eventer, dressage rider, and barrel racer among other things -is completely sold. We're going to plan some WD clinics to spread the word.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  10. #10
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    Default

    um. "western Dressage" should be more than a tack change folks...... while i think being inclusive will bring in more $$ for dressage - i still think you all need to learn how to ride dressage to be able to complete.... yes?



  11. #11
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    The tack change is that WD requires Western fenders. I already ride in an endurance saddle. And I do ride dressage.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  12. #12
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    Aug. 3, 2006
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    I am a dressage rider and seeing something different and not mainstream does not scare me - but it does make me wonder what are you doing?

    If you want to be a dressage rider - then get a dressage horse - and learn how to ride. Like the Germans and the Dutch and the British and every other country that competes in International Dressage .- most of which kicked our butt in the London Olympics Taking a non standard breed, or a completely different discipline like western riding and trying to make dressage adapt to your limitations, makes no more sense to me than searching the world for the perfect Holsteiner reining horse, or the perfect Hanoverian endurance horse. Why waste your time?

    Competition dressage - the tests are written for warmbloods. They dominate dressage - it has nothing to do with social status, or wealth or anything other than the riders that are sucessfull are riding horses that do what they were bred to do, and the riders have taken the time to work past their limitations as a rider and learned how to be a real dressage rider.

    In my opinion we are doing the sport and the sucess of the US in international dressage a huge diservice by promoting the idea that dressage is for any horse and any style riding can be adapted. For us to move forward we need to stop messing around - and concentrate on teaching people to ride and train appropriate horses. The US is not going to become sucessfull as a dressage competitior until and unless we start at the bottom, teaching mainstream dressage to our riders and horses and demanding nothing less than adherence to the classic principals of dressage in competion dressage.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC5098 View Post
    If you want to be a dressage rider - then get a dressage horse - and learn how to ride. ... Taking a non standard breed, or a completely different discipline like western riding and trying to make dressage adapt to your limitations, makes no more sense to me than searching the world for the perfect Holsteiner reining horse, or the perfect Hanoverian endurance horse. Why waste your time?

    Competition dressage - the tests are written for warmbloods. They dominate dressage - it has nothing to do with social status, or wealth or anything other than the riders that are sucessfull are riding horses that do what they were bred to do, and the riders have taken the time to work past their limitations as a rider and learned how to be a real dressage rider.

    In my opinion we are doing the sport and the sucess of the US in international dressage a huge diservice by promoting the idea that dressage is for any horse and any style riding can be adapted. For us to move forward we need to stop messing around - and concentrate on teaching people to ride and train appropriate horses. The US is not going to become sucessfull as a dressage competitior until and unless we start at the bottom, teaching mainstream dressage to our riders and horses and demanding nothing less than adherence to the classic principals of dressage in competion dressage.
    This is so counter to the true concept of dressage that I'm gobsmacked to see it in print. Dressage is 'correct training' meant to improve the movement and athleticism of any horse. The true dressage lover promotes this concept. The above post is about 'competition' not 'dressage'.

    ETA: IMHO, if we only rode 'dressage' horses, US dressage would wind up even worse off than it is now, with a whole lot of riders who were only capable of posing on a made horse with even less understanding of how to improve them. Take a stroll over to the H/J forum and see the future of dressage through their eyes. Like lemming following each other over the cliff.
    Last edited by Trevelyan96; Oct. 28, 2012 at 10:43 PM.
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  14. #14
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    gotta agree Trevelyan96 -

    especially the part of the tests being written for WBs - no, they aren't..... they are written to help "show off" correct training - of any breed.

    and no, you do NOT need a WB to do well in dressage - not even the Olympics!

    and, honestly, as someone who has done the majority of my riding on WBs and who has a Connemara who I am bringing along - i think I am learning MORE on him that any other horse i have ridden *and* a lot of this is easy for him...

    each horse in unique and unless someone can actually ride and train - it doesn't matter what breed you have... WBs might let you get further without knowing what you are doing but in the end you have to know how to ride and train if you want to progress......

    my main concern with western dressage is that it will muddy the already muddy waters of dressage in the US. i have no problem with folks doing it, i just wish it was called something else.....



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC5098 View Post

    In my opinion we are doing the sport and the sucess of the US in international dressage a huge diservice by promoting the idea that dressage is for any horse and any style riding can be adapted. For us to move forward we need to stop messing around - and concentrate on teaching people to ride and train appropriate horses. The US is not going to become sucessfull as a dressage competitior until and unless we start at the bottom, teaching mainstream dressage to our riders and horses and demanding nothing less than adherence to the classic principals of dressage in competion dressage.
    This assumes that the only reason to do dressage is for competition, and assumes that competition is the be-all, end-all of correct riding. Dressage is for improvement of the horse's gaits, obedience, willingness, suppleness, harmony with the rider. It is an art. Some people are artists and like to show off their work. Some people are artists for the sake of enjoying their craft. To suppose that one is more important than the other is arrogant and not what the art is about.

    Certainly that is no reason to not teach correct dressage.

    But, dressage IS for every horse - competing may not be, but the art is.
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC5098 View Post
    If you want to be a dressage rider - then get a dressage horse - and learn how to ride.
    <snipped>

    ...the riders that are sucessfull are riding horses that do what they were bred to do, and the riders have taken the time to work past their limitations as a rider and learned how to be a real dressage rider.
    I agree with this. The main argument I hear for WD is that they can't compete successfully against a warmblood that was bred to do dressage. If that is the argument, then the flip side of that is that you have to play the game by the rules, or you won't win. I've never heard anyone get upset about a western rider taking dressage lessons in a western saddle (not on this forum). The issue was that WD wants different testing criteria at shows in order to "win" at dressage. I think BC5098 is spot in. If you want to compete in dressage, then do so... But if you want to be successful then get the training and get a horse capable of doing the work.

    ...The US is not going to become sucessfull as a dressage competitior until and unless we start at the bottom, teaching mainstream dressage to our riders and horses and demanding nothing less than adherence to the classic principals of dressage in competion dressage.
    Agreed. If you look at the big picture of what dressage is supposed to be, then you have to see the goal as Grand Prix. If its acceptable to jog/lope our way through an Intro test as a beginner, what are we learning? The end goal should not be to have a Training level horse. If that is people's idea of what dressage is all about, then we (as a dressage community) have failed in communicating our purpose.

    Self carriage should not be defined as training level balance.

    We are breeding contempt of our sport by showcasing it as basic training. Which is what every other discipline see's us as now... an elitist, snobby bunch of people that cant walk/trot/canter on cue. Because frankly, even 2 year old QH can do that.

    One of my big gripes about dressage is that if you're not on the right path, then it can take two/three years to realize you screwed up. You can coast through Intro and Training even with bad training. It won't be until you hit second and can't score more than a 4 or 5 on any movement that you realize you were on the wrong path. This could be avoided if we had better education for the whole community. Educate riders on what correctly ridden dressage is supposed to look like. Make clinics and training opportunities more widely available. Promote the heck out of the new "Dressage Rider Tests"! That is where the people with the QH's, Paints, Morgans, etc. can truly shine when ridden by knowledgable dressage riders. Not in some ill planned, poorly defined, off shoot of western riding.

    The majority of dressage riders aren't closed minded, egotistical pricks that want to be elitists. They are regular human beings that love the sport and want to preserve the knowledge and beauty of it.



  17. #17
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    RE: The majority of dressage riders aren't closed minded, egotistical pricks that want to be elitists. They are regular human beings that love the sport and want to preserve the knowledge and beauty of it.


    I believe this. I am active in dressage and know riders and trainers in the real world. The thing is though, those few, like the one who told me –regarding my draft cross –on the very board that it was a good thing I felt grounded riding drafts because my draft would never get me of the round, are quite loud in their contempt. They are the ones who continue to encourage non-dressage people that indeed, dressage riders are close-minded elitists.

    Of course you then say this,

    “Not in some ill planned, poorly defined, off shoot of Western riding”.

    How am I to read that as anything other than contempt? After all, this is a nascent sport so how are you able to draw such a conclusion about it? Have you been part of its planning? Have you judged a number of the competitions? What do you know that Anita Owen, FEI Olympic Dressage judge apparently doesn’t know as she was active in formulating the rules and tests?

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC5098 View Post
    For us to move forward we need to stop messing around - and concentrate on teaching people to ride and train appropriate horses. The US is not going to become sucessfull as a dressage competitior until and unless we start at the bottom, teaching mainstream dressage to our riders and horses and demanding nothing less than adherence to the classic principals of dressage in competion dressage.
    Noble sentiments, but very undemocratic. Medals go to those who make extraordinary commitments, have super work ethics and listen to their superiors. In the U.S, it's all about what's quick, easy, and fun, isn't it? I'd sooner see our kids winning international math contests than learning how to ride. Heck, let's leave that sort of thing to the countries that are good at it and we can have fun doing ... whatever.



  19. #19
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    In the US it's all about freedom as corny as that sounds. We have the freedom to choose to go all intense and make those extraordinary commitments or to choose to play and have fun. I value that a great deal especially being a new immigrant myself. There are consequences of course -we don't always shine globally. Fine. There are consequences the other way too -taking some young kid with real talent and training the crap out of him so he shines on the world stage whether he's having fun or not.

    Everything has a cost. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a Chinese colleague one day after one of our person-runs-amok-with-gun situations. We were discussing why that wouldn't have happened in China. I agreed, but also observed (as appropriate to the period we were having this conversation) that at the same time Animal Control couldn't come to my yard and kill my dogs in a national program to stop the spread of rabies. Every position/philosophy has a cost.

    To that end, the idea that we should only pursue serious dressage so that the US can excel globally in dressage competition doesn't sit well with me at all.


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    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  20. #20
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    yes we do have a choice - but why should a body of knowledge/sport be dumbed down so that anyone can win a blue ribbon?

    i do absolutely agree with CORE6430 and on re-read - a lot of BC5098's post too... we are losing day by day the body of knowedge available to the masses of folks by allowing everyone to feel special and win.....

    back in the day - 2nd level was the 1st dressage test - and in other countries it still is.....

    all these dilutions are just ways for the governing bodies and under employed professionals to make money.

    there is nothing wrong with not showing, but to me there is a lot wrong with doing something badly yet wanting to be rewarded for trying.....

    riding correctly is hard work - training correctly is even harder - until you do it long enough that it becomes second nature.....

    the reward is the horse - who is happy to work, eager to show off , who over time blooms and becomes the best athlete he can become

    well that is what drives me anyway - not ribbons

    i will say tho that there is a dire lack of good trainers available - and i have no idea how to resolve that - especially when day by day we water down and muddy the body of knowledge more.....



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