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Western Dressage

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  • Western Dressage

    A show I was in on Sunday had a western dressage division. I watched several tests and noticed quite the variety in the canter part of the test. The gamut ran from a clear 3 beat canter with period of suspension all the way down to much more grounded versions with very little ground cover to the stride. I have no experience with western trained horses and have no opinion one way or the other. I was just curious of what is actually being scored well for that gait where western dressage is concerned? What are the judges looking for when the test calls for canter?

    "Do what you can't do"

  • #2
    Western tests NEVER call for a canter it’s a lope

    Here in Canada this is what the rule book calls for


    Lope
    1) The lope is a three-beat gait with a moment of lift before the next stride begins.
    2) The quality of the lope is judged by the regularity and lightness of the steps. Cadence originates from the acceptance of the contact with a supple poll and the engagement of the hindquarters.
    3) Excessive speed or slowness must be penalized.


    Speaking to judges here they seem to allow more fir a horse’s way of going, we had for a while a big flamboyant big moving Freudian doing Western here, the judge explained that they expected a different quality of movement from him, rather than a slow legged QH. The big thing is that the movement is forward, and flowing.
    "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

    "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks for the info. So the judges do take the breed and build of horse into account? I did see one horse that I would have described as the happy medium between a spring board and one that had planted roots. I wished I had remembered the number so I could have seen how they did.

      How does acceptance of the bit translate into "acceptance of the bit"? Clearly there will be a looser rein involved in that situation? I would think that is actually harder to demonstrate consistent contact in western dressage since catching your horse in the mouth is going to be much more noticeable.
      "Do what you can't do"

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      • #4
        @KBC You might want to fix your autocorrect, at least I hope it was, I suspect you were trying to say Friesian.

        Although I imgine that Sigmund Freud would be kept quite busy with the lot of us.

        OP-A four beat canter is never correct, supposedly not even in WP. There must be a period of suspension.

        The judges should not take breed into account but would expect to see a Friesian move like one. And today's QH has so much TB in them, that there is no reason for many of them to do the stiffnecked QH shuffle.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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        • #5
          Western Dressage has its own chapter in the usef rulebook, although the breed restricted shows that have western dressage division may have additional rules. https://www.usef.org/forms-pubs/NpmA...stern-dressage

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          • #6
            Are there examples of what a good quality WD lope looks like? Other moves? I wonder also about rein contact and does the horse take more weight on his hindquarters as he goes up the levels?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
              @KBC You might want to fix your autocorrect, at least I hope it was, I suspect you were trying to say Friesian.

              Although I imgine that Sigmund Freud would be kept quite busy with the lot of us.
              .
              My autocorrect hates me! And I am really bad at proof reading before hitting send!



              "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

              "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

              Comment


              • #8
                What a judge looks for in the lope and in the contact depends on the level. At the lower levels, a "working lope" looks a lot like a working canter, and the contact is similar. As you go up the levels, there is a higher weight on self carriage. This doesn't mean a loopy rein, it just means a lack of backwards pull. The collected lope will have more "sit" while maintaining cadence, but it won't have the same degree of power/tension you see in a collected canter in English dressage.
                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                • #9
                  I don't know anything about WD, but here is Lynn Palm doing a demo at WC 2017. I'm guessing that's about the right "amount" of lope for WD; less impulsion than a good working canter, but also not crawling along western pleasure style.
                   

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                  • #10
                    I think we need to clarify "contact".

                    If I have a soft loop in my reins because my horse is in some degree of self carriage, I still have "contact". You bet I can still feel exactly what is happening with my horse's tongue and jaw.

                    "Contact" is NOT - and I don't care what discipline you ride - defined by how much literal weight you feel in your hands when you hold the reins. A horse moving correctly and managing his own balance properly should feel relatively weightless in your hands, regardless of whether the horse is just learning how to soften in the bridle or whether they are being ridden highly collected.

                    I think we also need to clarify "impulsion". The video linked of Lynn Palm doesn't show a horse with less impulsion in the lope. "Impulsion" is controlled power - you can have a tremendous amount of impulsion and have the horse's relative speed and/or tempo be quite slow. For the level of education that particular horse seems to be demonstrating I'd like to see him a little more upright in the bridle, but that's just me. But he certainly doesn't lack impulsion.
                    Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
                      I think we need to clarify "contact".

                      If I have a soft loop in my reins because my horse is in some degree of self carriage, I still have "contact". You bet I can still feel exactly what is happening with my horse's tongue and jaw.

                      "Contact" is NOT - and I don't care what discipline you ride - defined by how much literal weight you feel in your hands when you hold the reins. A horse moving correctly and managing his own balance properly should feel relatively weightless in your hands, regardless of whether the horse is just learning how to soften in the bridle or whether they are being ridden highly collected.

                      I think we also need to clarify "impulsion". The video linked of Lynn Palm doesn't show a horse with less impulsion in the lope. "Impulsion" is controlled power - you can have a tremendous amount of impulsion and have the horse's relative speed and/or tempo be quite slow. For the level of education that particular horse seems to be demonstrating I'd like to see him a little more upright in the bridle, but that's just me. But he certainly doesn't lack impulsion.
                      THANK YOU! This is the best (simple) explanation of contact I've seen.

                      People confuse contact with holding. I have a very nice WB pony who, while not dressage trained (he's supposed to be a pony hunter) who has excellent flatwork and would make a lovely dressage mount. I recently had a dressage rider get on him and really take a hold. He objected. She said "Oh, he doesn't know how to accept the contact yet." I told her "He accepts contact, he just doesn't like how heavy it is." I'm used to riding mares, so I guess I'm just used to a less-is-more approach.

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