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  1. #1
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    Question Wondering about Western Dressage?

    There sure is a lot of buzz out there about western dressage lately. . I'm excited to hear first hand from Frances Carbonnel when she comes to East Coast in May. She is one of the founders of Western Dressage Association of America.

    Has anyone attended a clinic with her? I think its fantastic that the traditional dressage principles are crossing over.



  2. #2
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    The more, the merrier.

    There have been some thread in this forum about western dressage, but you may want to check the Dressage forum for opinions of all kinds on it.
    There has been a more in depth discussion there.



  3. #3
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    It sounds like a fun but evolving sport...



  4. #4
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    I attended a WD demo on Friday evening. Jackie Ross presented and was very thorough. Although her name is practically synonymous with Morgans these days, she has a strong background in dressage and eventing.

    Based on discussions here on COTH, I was very interested to hear that WD is NOT supposed to be identical to regular/classical dressage - it's supposed to show the softness, flexibility, suppleness, obedience of a horse that would have been doing WESTERN work. This requires moving out, stretching, striding up, being relaxed in an active sort of way, having the engine in the back and using the hindquarters. Just (in some ways) DIFFERENTLY than an English dressage horse.

    She also talked about bits. While the expectation is that snaffles will be required in the near future (next year, perhaps), the western horse is trained to be light in a curb. Again, the use of a curb on a western horse is DIFFERENT than using a curb bit on an English horse. The contact is VERY different.

    She also mentioned that WDAA, which is under the auspices of USEF (or whatever the correct phraseology is) is only two years old. It's maturing. It's learning. It hasn't yet reached its goals.

    Jackie, I hope I interpreted what you said correctly. Or that my 'take' on what you said is in line. If I didn't, I will delete this immediately!

    Thanks for a SUPERB lesson in western dressage.
    www.ayliprod.com
    Equine Photography in the Northeast



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccoronios View Post
    Based on discussions here on COTH, I was very interested to hear that WD is NOT supposed to be identical to regular/classical dressage - it's supposed to show the softness, flexibility, suppleness, obedience of a horse that would have been doing WESTERN work. This requires moving out, stretching, striding up, being relaxed in an active sort of way, having the engine in the back and using the hindquarters. Just (in some ways) DIFFERENTLY than an English dressage horse.
    I am thrilled to hear this. As I think I have said here at least once or twice, I feel strongly that western dressage should not simply be English dressage with western tack. It's nice to know that some of the folks involved in developing this new discipline share that belief.



  6. #6
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    Curious as to why a snaffle would be required.
    Ride like you mean it.



  7. #7
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    Based on discussions here on COTH, I was very interested to hear that WD is NOT supposed to be identical to regular/classical dressage - it's supposed to show the softness, flexibility, suppleness, obedience of a horse that would have been doing WESTERN work. This requires moving out, stretching, striding up, being relaxed in an active sort of way, having the engine in the back and using the hindquarters. Just (in some ways) DIFFERENTLY than an English dressage horse.
    I'm not thrilled to hear this.

    Now, I think there are a lot of 'English Dressage' riders and trainers who are not doing dressage very well. Pull on the reins, and push him into a 'frame', is not dressage, in my opinion, much less classical dressage. Seeing someone ride an 'upper level' horse in a double bridle, who never lets loose of the curb rein, does not make it some sort of different 'english dressage', to be distinguished from 'western dressage' where the curb rein is not ever held tight...where's the head banging against the brick wall icon?


    But my understanding of dressage is that it is basic training, strengthening and suppling to create an athletic horse for ANY kind of riding at all. There should be no 'what kind of dressage' distinction for what kind of career the horse goes into...eventing, bullfighting, jumpers, ranch horse. If a horse is mediocre at its sport, you can bet there are some dressage basics missing.
    And the said missing basics probably aren't "We need to train this horse to have a big huge reaching trot where the horse is running along on his forehand with the rider pulling hard on both reins and using spurs, whip and lots of leg to keep him going."

    In my opinion, dressage done right is not english or western. It is the essence of developing the athleticism in the horse and rider, and the communication between them.

    And, rant over.
    Any time you can find help from a good horseman, who can really help you and your horse, I don't care what the discipline is called. Go enjoy it!


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  8. #8
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    And another thing!

    Western horses are taught to be flexible and light. If you watch them trained, even "the bad ones"--- horses you DQs would never write home about--- are remarkably broke to the leg. They do lateral work like nobody's business. Babies, POS 4-H things, WP horses.... all of them can be moved where the rider wants. They are like riding helicopters.

    I think DressageWorld does better at emphasizing longer and shorter strides within gaits than does WesternWorld. Add that to WesternWorld's emphasis on lateral movement..... and ride in whatever bridle/bit you want (so long as it's not the Germanic many, many pounds of pressure in your hand), and you'd have a hell of a horse.
    The armchair saddler
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  9. #9
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    "......it's supposed to show the softness, flexibility, suppleness, obedience of a horse that would have been doing WESTERN work. This requires moving out, stretching, striding up, being relaxed in an active sort of way, having the engine in the back and using the hindquarters. Just (in some ways) DIFFERENTLY than an English dressage horse."

    We use to call that reining.


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  10. #10
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    No. A reining horse has to have those qualities, but the moves required are very limited and very stylized. Circles, straight lines, spins and roll backs. No trot work, no lateral work with all the tests of balance that they demonstrate, even though good lateral work is essential in a good cow horse. And reining emphasizes speed work, whereas working cattle also requires slow, soft and quiet. Western Dressage addresses all gaits, all movements, and the full range of motion - the gymnastic work behind the speed work.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezduzit View Post
    Curious as to why a snaffle would be required.
    Because in western, as in 'regular' dressage, the snaffle is the precursor to the curb/double bridle. Western horses may 'move up' more quickly than English horses, but in the best of western training, the progression is there. Actually begins with a bosal (hackamore). So in requiring a snaffle at the lower levels, WD is encouraging its followers to recognize the progression.
    www.ayliprod.com
    Equine Photography in the Northeast



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsehand View Post
    "......it's supposed to show the softness, flexibility, suppleness, obedience of a horse that would have been doing WESTERN work. This requires moving out, stretching, striding up, being relaxed in an active sort of way, having the engine in the back and using the hindquarters. Just (in some ways) DIFFERENTLY than an English dressage horse."

    We use to call that reining.
    Reining was the most obvious "similarity", and many of us tried to describe reining to our English riding friends as "western dressage," because is involves an intricate pattern and is one horse at a time. But Western Dressage seeks to extend that to, as longride indicates, ALL western work. Dressage is, indeed, simply TRAINING - the same training that should given to any horse/breed/ discipline - WITH VARIATIONS. No training method is 'one size fits all'.
    www.ayliprod.com
    Equine Photography in the Northeast



  13. #13
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    The reason I ask is because my horse moved up to the curb as a 4 year old. He is now 10. I tried him in a snaffle last year and he was beside himself with angst...where's my bit???? Should I assume this is because he balances himself off the bit? I can drop the reins and aside from falling apart, he doesn't go slower or faster so his curb bit is not used to control his speed. It's how he came to me. Having to go back to a snaffle could be a bad thing for us or it could be a much-needed education. I just wondered at the REQUIRED part of the statement.


    Quote Originally Posted by ccoronios View Post
    Because in western, as in 'regular' dressage, the snaffle is the precursor to the curb/double bridle. Western horses may 'move up' more quickly than English horses, but in the best of western training, the progression is there. Actually begins with a bosal (hackamore). So in requiring a snaffle at the lower levels, WD is encouraging its followers to recognize the progression.
    Ride like you mean it.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by longride1 View Post
    No. A reining horse has to have those qualities, but the moves required are very limited and very stylized. Circles, straight lines, spins and roll backs. No trot work, no lateral work with all the tests of balance that they demonstrate, even though good lateral work is essential in a good cow horse. And reining emphasizes speed work, whereas working cattle also requires slow, soft and quiet. Western Dressage addresses all gaits, all movements, and the full range of motion - the gymnastic work behind the speed work.
    That's my impression of "what happened to reining," too.

    Which leads to another theoretical question (or rant):

    I think we-- reiners or dressers-- place too much emphasis on getting particular movements or "tricks" to look the way they should.

    Really, and truly, I don't care if a horse I'm making to cut cattle or ride into battle can half-pass (or spin, or trot in place). All of those exercises were A Means To An End. I want the horse to be a car--- waiting on his hind end, with power brakes, steering and fuel injection. Whatever I have to practice with his body and mind to get there is fine with me.

    Yes, yes: For contests, we have to pick a pattern and compare competitors' attempts to do that. But I'd be quite happy if the WD BigWigs went back to the drawing board and rewrote tests that took the best from dressage, reining and even the lateral-movement stuff that trail classes do.
    The armchair saddler
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezduzit View Post
    The reason I ask is because my horse moved up to the curb as a 4 year old. He is now 10. I tried him in a snaffle last year and he was beside himself with angst...where's my bit???? Should I assume this is because he balances himself off the bit? I can drop the reins and aside from falling apart, he doesn't go slower or faster so his curb bit is not used to control his speed. It's how he came to me. Having to go back to a snaffle could be a bad thing for us or it could be a much-needed education. I just wondered at the REQUIRED part of the statement.
    Well, you can wait a year for the WD folks to figure out what rules they want to make about the curb, or teach your horse to go in a snaffle.

    If I may get inside his little head, the problem is that your nice horse was taught that bits give *signals*. He knows the vocabulary of a curb bit, maybe even just a single bit that he has been ridden in. The angst comes from not being fluent in the other language, the one that the snaffle speaks. You can slowly teach him how to translate between the curb- and snaffle languages. It would be most kind if you let him go in the snaffle with the reins loose most of the time. The "push up into the contact" thing that most dressage people want is probably something he was explicitly taught *not* to do when he was a baby snaffle horse. That doesn't mean he's behind your leg, however.
    The armchair saddler
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Yes, yes: For contests, we have to pick a pattern and compare competitors' attempts to do that. But I'd be quite happy if the WD BigWigs went back to the drawing board and rewrote tests that took the best from dressage, reining and even the lateral-movement stuff that trail classes do.
    Yes. That's exactly what I mean when I say I don't want WD to just be English dressage with western tack.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
    Yes. That's exactly what I mean when I say I don't want WD to just be English dressage with western tack.

    Ooh! The basis for a fun discussion.

    If you were writing tests for a horse in his first year of training, second, third and so on, what would you want to see?
    The armchair saddler
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Ooh! The basis for a fun discussion.

    If you were writing tests for a horse in his first year of training, second, third and so on, what would you want to see?
    LOL. Sneaking in a few quick posts at work is one thing, but for this, I think I'll have to wait until I'm at home. Good question.



  19. #19
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    WDAA website - under Education Center, has rules, tests, & guidelines. http://www.westerndressageassociation.org/ There seems to be a fair amount of lateral work in these tests, as you move through the levels.

    ezduzit, I can't answer your concern about 'requiring' snaffle. And Jackie mentioned that it was under discussion, not set in concrete.
    www.ayliprod.com
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  20. #20
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    Keep this in mind when you're thinking of what should be in a 'dressage' test. Each movement chosen should be an exercise that strengthens the horse and prepares it for further work. A dressage test doesn't test accuracy - the picture. It test the muscles development and strength required. We know the training has been correct because the horse doesn't lose balance in a movement or going from one movement to the next. We know this because the feet land where we expect them to land while the horse maintains a balanced carriage and consistent contact. So if a horse is balanced, and a half pass is performed in a way that correctly builds muscle and balance, it will be done "correctly" or if you like accurately. To do it any other way shows a lose of balance. So should a spin be in the tests? Does doing a spin prepare the horse to do other work or is it a skill, like jumping, that is unique to itself. Should we ask the horse to maintain the canter in a pirouette, which is done to increase the flexibility and carrying power of the hind legs, or should we ask for a spin or a roll back which is very fast and very practical but does little to gymnasticize the horse? If a roll back is a gymnastic exercise, how is it improving the horse's overall carriage and balance?


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