Western Dressage Questions Answered
Western Dressage Association® of America

The goal of Western Dressage is not to create Western horses that compete in open Dressage, rather using the principles and use of Dressage as a means to create better Western horses and riders.

 What is Western Dressage about ? 
Western Dressage was created to provide western riders and horses with an educational program which incorporates the principles of lightness into a whole new way of thinking about riding Western.

Western Dressage helps a rider to improve the horse’s balance, cadence and carriage.  Whether your horse competes in Horsemanship, Western Riding, Trail or Reining, using Dressage will improve your partnership and help keep your horse happier and sound far longer than it might otherwise be.

 How does Western differ from Traditional ? 
The goals of Traditional and Western Dressage are similar in that they both aim to create a better horse and rider.  The Western Dressage horse is encouraged to work and school on lighter contact than the typical Dressage horse.

While both want to see balance, cadence and carriage, the Western Dressage horse will be evaluated mindful of the conformation and movement of today’s Western horses, will have a shorter stride than a Dressage horse and will be asked to walk, jog and lope as opposed to walk, trot and canter.

 Can any breed of horse compete ? 
Any breed of horse can participate in Western Dressage as long as it can walk, jog and in some tests lope.  The WDAA encourages all breeds to become involved in this discipline which helps the horse to become more balanced and athletic and the rider to become more skilled and light.

 Do I need special tack to compete ? 
You should use your Western saddle and your Western headstall and reins.  The Rules permit riders to perform the tests in a standard Western snaffle (two-handed with reins not bridged) or curb bit (either one- or two-handed but must not change hold during the test) both of which are defined in the Rules, but a snaffle is recommended for horses 5 years and under.

 Do I need Dressage attire to compete ? 
The principles of Classical Dressage apply to any rider and horse, and are not dependent upon the tack or equipment being used.  In keeping with Western tradition they will be shown in Western attire, ie. decent jeans, shirt (preferably Western-style), suitable footwear and either a Stetson or riding hat/helmet (mandatory for youth riders).

 How can I learn Western Dressage ? 
You can take lessons from any Dressage instructor who is familiar with the Western Dressage Rules and is willing to work with Western schooled horses.

 Who can teach Western Dressage ? 
Any Dressage instructor can teach Western Dressage as long as they are receptive to the idea of using Western horses at Western paces in Western tack.

 What are the Western Dressage Rules ? 
The full Western Dressage Rules are available here.

 What are the Western Dressage tests ? 
Western Dressage tests are very similar to traditional Dressage tests except that the names of the gaits are different - you can find the tests here.

 Who can judge Western Dressage ? 
Any judge can judge Western Dressage by conforming to the WDAA Judging Guidelines.

 Do I have to join any organization ? 
You don’t need to be a member of a Breed organization or any other group to compete in Western Dressage.  All are welcome and everyone will benefit, and you may be assured of an atmosphere that is inviting and non-intimidating.

 What if I cannot compete locally ? 
We are currently piloting video submissions so you can send your test on CD or by email subject to certain criteria here.

Why are completion bonus points awarded only at a show ?
This is to encourage entries and make shows viable as competing is more difficult owing to several factors: Your horse is with others at an unfamiliar place rather than alone on home ground; If you make a mistake you can re-do the test and send a 'clean' attempt; If your horse has an off-day you can do the test again another day; You are not hampered by the weather.

 Question not answered ? 
Visit the ADVICE page for details on how to improve your dressage score, or Email us at Info@WesternDressage.org.uk or phone 01564 792782 to ask or just for a general chat about Western Dressage.

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