Why? Because dressage tack is is boring, maintenance intensive, and unsympathetic to the male anatomy. I can't even say it'll be a cold day in Hades before I get into breeches, because I've seen how little fun it is to get horses in at -30 in those things!
My fiancé and I spent about the same on our saddles, mine a custom Wade with a little carving to class the joint up a bit, hers a Schlesse Wave. She has to be fanatical about cleaning, can't ride in jeans, and needs to get it refit every six months at astounding cost. I wipe the dust off mine occasionally, check the sweat patterns on my saddle pad each ride to make sure all is well (no adjustments needed in 2 yrs), and ride in whatever I happen to have worn that day.
We take similar lessons from the same instructor.
Snaffle bits are allowed in all ASHA stock horse classes, any age.
The first time I rode my horse in a dressage saddle it was like a fog had been lifted. I was able to feel so much MORE. I do still enjoy riding western, but usually reserve it for trail rides, since I don't show WP anymore.
I'd love to try sidesaddle, but not on my horse. :D I have enough trouble staying on astride sometimes.
I have ridden dressage for over twenty years. I own a lovely, comfortable, (expensive) semi-custom dressage saddle. Up until about 6 months ago, I used to take weekly dressage lessons in it - including longe-line lessons - with experienced and accomplished trainers. Like many AA, I school first level at home and show training level. I don't seem to get any better.
I work on my seat and position constantly, and I probably have better balance than I give myself credit for, but put me into a new situation (like at a show or on a trail) and all my training seems to go out the window. My mind knows what to do, but my body goes into self-preservation mode and I start riding defensively.
So, perhaps it is only a false sense of security, but I feel like I ride much better in my western saddle. I don't clench my legs or hang on the reins when I am in my western saddle. I am more relaxed and confident which reflects positively to my horse. I don't feel on the defense all the time (afraid of my horse spooking), but rather can use my aids more effectively. I enjoy riding again and actually make it a game to try to use the lightest seat/leg aids possible. I simply don't feel that way when riding in my dressage saddle. And guess what... I have improved. Imagine my surprise in a recent lesson when my trainer started me on counter-canter. I mean, come-on, really? Twenty years of riding and I am just starting counter canter now? Thbbt... what a loser! (PS - My horse is much more happier too!)
Now that my local GMO started offering western dressage classes, I am all on board! I finally get to see what it will feel like to be confident, perhaps still a bit anxious (but not scared) during my test. I still ride two-handed in a snaffle.
I am not sure how this western dressage movement will develop, but for the time being, I am going to enjoy the ride. :)
I teach both English and western lessons, on the same horses (tbs and paints, all more forward moving types, that go in snaffles). We're hoping that there are some western dressage classes offered around here, so that the kids that ride western and want to compete have more available to them than just gymkhanas and WP. And since what they do in their lessons is just lower level dressage work anyway, then why not? And, for what it's worth, my hunter kids do the same lower level dressage work too. Good, correct riding is good, correct riding, regardless of the tack. So who cares? If it offers dressage some more (hopefully positive) exposure, then does it really matter? Dressage is viewed so negatively by so many (snobby, stuck-up, pretentious are all words I've heard used to describe the sport), what is so wrong about western riders showing interest? JMHO
The Western Dressage Association of America has, under its State Affiliates, that there is a "pending" New York affiliation. I don't know what that means -I don't know if you can find a contact for the NY group through the WDAA.
just curious - if someone rode in a western dressage class and actually did real trots and canters as opposed to jogs and lopes - would they be penalized?
The gaits in Western are Walk, Jog and Lope. The gaits in English are Walk, Trot and Canter. The terminology difference is just that. Terminology.
So if you were riding at the basic levels of WD, you would be performing a Working Walk, Working Jog and Working Lope.
The Western type horse is not going to display the extravagancy of a Dressage horse. But, it is expected to move forward, ahead of the riders' leg with impulsion and connection.
I've been teaching Dressage to Western riders for 30 years. This is not new. But unfortunately a lot of wannabe's are jumping on the bandwagon claiming to know about dressage. Unfortunately they don't have a clue, and the rest of us are stuck here having to do damage control and educate people to what is right and what is wrong.
How can anyone call what they do dressage when trainers/coaches are advocating martingales, training forks, curbs on Martingales, and totally incorrect dressage theory! That's what I have been seeing, and the people wanting to learn don't know the difference. And some twit saying that their version is "lighter" than anyone else. But has a head to tail tie down gizmo on their website to promote lightness and self carriage! Give me a break! There are 2 ways to ride dressage; the right way and the wrong way!
Well stated, Elatu. That's Eitan Beth-Something-or-Other who advocates the head to tail thingie. I really, REALLY hope when the dust settles on which of the three organizations becomes the governing body for all that it isn't that guy's outfit.
Thank you so much Timex and Elatu! I had decided not to read, much less post to, any more threads on the dressage forum. But these two posts reflect exactly what I thought about WD and how it should be viewed.
At little local shows around here, kids have basically three choices; WP, gaited, or timed events. And I think the kids that are taking lessons and are interested in becoming better riders need another alternative. An alternative that fits in with what they are being taught by good instructors. WD fits this perfectly. Who knows, some of them might become interested in real dressage, and I don't see how that could possibly be a bad thing for dressage. And if they don't, they will still be better riders which is good too.
Not every great dressage rider started out from day one learning classical dressage. Some of them rode horses for many years before starting dressage. Everyone has to start somewhere. I think we should try to help them however we can, with the same frame of mind that we use to help our horses.
YES- if you ride western and show locally, it's either WP, gaited, or barrels and poles. That's it. You don't even see trail courses or Western Riding b/c they are pattern classes that take too long to set up/run/break down and it's a facility with only one arena, usually. The kids and trainers both aren't ready to head toward reining, LOL, Lord no- so that's a nonstarter...so WD is a way to actually teach people to ride and not just teach them to snatch their faces off in pursuit of (most of what ) WP is now. And they are being welcomed by the schooling shows that offer it.
A real live trot, as seen at our Fall show:
Both horses also have good lopes but the photos are ill timed on that gait.
It can't hurt anything to do this.
Still, that does point out, as I have said, that reining is not truly the counter-part of dressage, in that a 3 year old futurity horse - in its snaffle or bosal - does the same moves as a finished open reining competitior. There's no progression. The horse may get "sharper" and the patterns may change, but the movements are the same.
AQHA requires that, Sandy, among other breed-based orgs.
My friend rides and shows her FEI horse in a snaffle!!!
Also, western is by far the most popular type of riding (or at least tack) in the US. To turn away folks from the opportunity to apply dressage principles due to their tack choice is foolish and elitist. But then again, many folks enjoy the exclusivicity (?sp?) of their $$$$$$ horses and $$$$ tack in the traditional dressage show world. The Dressage Today editor comments hiyt the nail on the head- its coming, western and gaited dressage.
(By the way, there is nothing special about a 'FEI' horse being ridden in a snaffle, they all go in snaffle. But in most FEI classes your horse must wear a doule bridle to compete.)
The most expensive saddle I've ever seen was a Western saddle. (and I own a Hennig so I know how expensive saddles can be), western horses aren't all cheap, on the contrary lot's are worth A LOT and can bring in loads of money from competing. Not so much in the dressage industry.
Would they let someone compete in a western event with a dressage/jumping saddle? They wouldn't even let someone ride in a dressage saddle in the Western Dressage show!
Who's elitist and foolish now!!!
I started doing it because I had physical issues that made it more comfortable for me to ride in a western saddle than an English one.
People I know who do western dressage do it because:
They enjoy learning new things with their horses;
They want their horses to move more correctly, more forward, with more collection than they have before.
I have found it very interesting that the big interest in western dressage came along at roughly the same time as the movement away from the exaggerated peanut-rolling, four-beating, artificial movements in western pleasure. Maybe it all has to do with wanting western horses to get back to a more natural way of moving, the way western pleasure horses moved when I was a kid. I don't know when or how the peanut-rolling four-beating fad started but it certainly is not natural to horses! If dressage is about training the horse to move as naturally under saddle as at liberty, then it is appropriate to any horse no matter what tack is used.