Harkening back to the previous tread we had on WD.
It seems that the pivotal differentiating factor asides from the clothing, tack, and unique capabilities inherent to specific breeds of horses, is the difference in the achievement of "throughness"....
"In dressage we use the term with the same meaning as the german word "durchgelassenheit", which in the best interpretation means: "A throughness throughout the horses body without any restrictions so the rider has full access at any moment to any and all body parts" http://www.donnell-dressage.com/horsetalearticles.html
The western approach in developing this level of communication for the purpose of creating Dressage type movements, appears to my perceptions to differ from the methods used in classical dressage.
I consider the western approach to be more of a concept of developing self carriage in the horse, and communicating movements through the used of a precise system of "cues", that in essence elicit a response in the horse to repeat some previously trained movement which was ingrained into the horses memory using an adaptive approach of training that I do think include many of the same principles of classical dressage.
But in my personal opinion, I see WD falling short of the level of "durchgelassenheit" that may be achieved using the westurn methods, as compared the methods used in the classical dressage principles.
So in my view, if the intent of WD is to achieve a similarity to classical dressage, but is unable to achieve an identical quality of movement as that which may be achieved by classical riding principles, than WD becomes a distinctively separate discipline by virtue of those differences.
So although I consider WD to be based upon a solid foundation of familiar principles of horsemanship, I also consider every other refined and effective form of horsemanship to also be based upon similar foundations.
Well, for openers, I suspect Buck would have a chuckle if you labeled what he does as "western dressage".
Both classical dressage and the vaquero tradition have a similar goal--to obtain the most efficient, athletic, and cooperative use of a horse's body in a way that honors the nature of the horse. The ultimate purpose is a little different--dressage aims to maximize that athletic development for its own, and art's sake. The vaquero tradition is trying to develop a horse that is useful in a ranching situation. If you believe the idea that dressage originated in the battlefield, then this distinction becomes even smaller; both want the horse that can do its job the best. It's just that we still work cattle on horseback, but have other tools today for fighting wars .
Therefore, it should be little surprise that Buck's description of how the horse uses its body in a movement (moving laterally, lead change, whatever) is not dramatically different than how a classical dressage person describes it.
I know a lot of people make the observation that the vaquero tradition does not develop the horse as far as dressage does. Well, yes--piaffe and passage are the ultimate expressions of that athletic development of the horse, but they are of little use in working cattle. Dressage riders are appalled that western riders will start a young horse on working cattle after only a few rides. Where a dressage rider would spend a long time on basic gymnastic development before asking the horse to "do anything", the mental adaptation of the horse to a job is of such a value to the vaquero that this aspect of the horse's education starts early, and the work--in the sense of the job itself--provides some of the gymnastic development.
But the goal--to have the most efficient and most complete use of the horse's body, and to have the horse's cooperation and partnership in whatever the "job"--is the same. It should be no surprise that descriptions of the development of the horse should be similar.
"One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine