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Crossing over to Western Dressage

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  • Original Poster

    Thanks to everyone for posting.

    To answer a few questions (please forgive, I've only read a few of the posts)...I wanted to address the pain issue.

    No, she's not in pain. I've had saddle, chiro, vet, etc...all look at her. She goes great with my very good dressage instructor. She's shown her through 1st level with good scores, especially for an arabian.

    She's 14.1 and very narrow, which has made the combination for the two of us difficult, as I'm 5'7. I feel precarious on her in an English saddle and when I'm not balanced on her, I get tense, and she gets aggitated by it. When I have ridden her in a western saddle, I feel like I have more underneath my legs and feel that I can balance myself on her much more comfortably. I know the feel for her will not be the same as riding traditional dressage...but that might be a good thing, as she's very sensitive to pressure and changes in balance, etc.

    No, I'm not planning on riding her in a curb and I'm not planning on showing her in Western Dressage...I'm more curious about crossing between the two areas to bring the best of both to my talented mare to give her more of a job and a way I can ride her. I went to the Western Dressage Association website, and under their rules and guidelines, they state that a snaffle bit is just fine.

    I have a very lovely gelding that is great at "traditional" dressage.
    Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
    CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle


    • Original Poster

      Just to add...I've now read all the posts.

      Please keep this positive. I understand that there are many differences between the two disciplines, and I'm well aware of that.

      I know that my inbalances will cause issues no matter the saddle or the style of riding...I'm okay with that as well, and take full responsibility for the issues that my position and tension cause with this mare...trust me, it's been a long road for the two of us in that department...going on 8 years.

      My gelding gives me the confidence and the stability to go forward with learning to perfect my seat and aids in dressage...he is quite the steady-eddy...my mare is not...which is why I have the gelding.

      As far as "patterns" for Western Dressage...the Intro tests are nearly identical to the first tests for Western Dressage...the ridden goals are pretty close to the same.
      Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
      CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle


      • #23
        Originally posted by J-Lu View Post
        I believe "Western Dressage" is just a catchphrase, and that USDF needed something to write about.

        Western saddles just aren't designed for dressage, even the ones Pam Grace is now marketing. They aren't designed to transmit seatbone or thigh signaling, they're designed for ranch work.

        Dressage is also about contact in the mouth. Curb bits don't allow for good contact.

        I'm all for cross-training, and for Western riders to try dressage, and for dressage riders to try western. But "Western Dressage"? I'm sorry, no.


        • #24
          I prefer to think of it as dressage in a western saddle. I ride my PSG mare in western tack too, and she goes as well in my Reinsman saddle as she does in my Roosli. I think people are hung up on the whole "Western Dressage" label. I see WD as an opportunity to introduce western riders to dressage. They may not be exposed otherwise. I personally disagree with using a curb and always ride in a snaffle. I did not read the article in the USDF Magazine as I have not rejoined yet. I teach riders of all ages with all different types of horses that ride in dressage and western saddles. One horse has been ridden in western tack for most of his training since I started working with he and his rider 1 1/2 years ago. He is now ridden in a Huselbos dressage saddle and all the training he received in his western saddle transferred right over. IMHO, WD has it's place. Especially to introduce people to dressage who otherwise would not think of learning about dressage. I teach dressage to whoever wants to learn on whatever horse they have. Every horse and rider can benefit from correct dressage training. I don't change the way I teach just because someone rides in western tack. Blkarab, I say go for it. Especially if you have a solid dressage background. Tack doesn't make the horse or rider. And, I know alot of "dressage riders" who should be so lucky to be as soft and to sit a horse like Buck Brannaman.


          • #25
            I am interested in riding Western Dressage, although it is unheard of in my part of the world. I ride in a reining saddle and my horse is able to feel my seat aides fine. I have also ridden traditional dressage in the past. I think he prefers the western saddle to the dressage saddle because he feels like I am shouting the aides to him in the English saddle. We can work on that down the road, but since he is so sensitive, the western reining saddle is perfect for us both right now. I am riding in a D-ring with a lozenge ( how the heck do you spell that?).
            I think you are doing yourself a disservice to think there is so much difference between dressage and western riding...good western riding, that is. Both are developed from the Spanish school.
            Anyway, I think the finished bridle horse has alot more in common with a dressage horse than some of you give them credit for. I agree, if this trend brings about a resurgance of interest in the training of bridle horses in the vaquero tradition, it would be a great thing for alot of western horses.

            Blkarab, you may get a different point of view if you check out the new western forum.
            The greatest gift you can ever give is taking their pain away and making it your own. Wear that pain like a tribute to the love you shared. Laurierace


            • #26
              Originally posted by SillyHorse View Post
              Go ahead and do it, but really, it's not dressage. It's pattern riding, plain and simple.

              "And this silliness about this or that saddle isn't suitable... "
              Great! I guess I'll show up for a Western Pleasure class at the next county horse show, with my dressage saddle. After all, if it's just silliness, that should be just fine, right?
              Originally posted by silvia View Post
              Yes, because dressage doesn't use patterns at all. In any tests. Really.
              Ok then, by your reasoning, I should expect to see "Dressage Western Pleasure" classes offered at "western" shows. I should be permitted to ride in my dressage attire with my dressage saddle and snaffle bit, ride with contact and connection, display the gaits that we strive for in dressage, and expect them to modify the rules for me to allow all of this. Right? After all, it's all the same silliness and pattern riding. Right?
              Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


              • #27
                Man, those of you folks that say western saddles dont transmit the aids like a dressage saddle... Really? Go watch reining. Stay with me for a minute. lol. I did reining as a kid. Your aids for a finished reining horse should be INVISIBLE. Just like upper level dressage, yet upper level dressage fankly, you can still see a LOT of aids in most riders. I will agree that a reining horse rides "flatter" compared to an upper level dressage horse, sitting the two is like comparing apples and oranges. So i'm not arguing there, but your horse can feel ALL of your very LIGHT aids in a western saddle, i will argue that point till the day i die.

                Both trees are still wood or fiberglass in there... Both trees if looked at sitting next to each other are not all that different. It's just the leather on top that's designed different and one has flocking in leather pockets, the other has fleece direct on the horse. (in simple terms)

                Now, for western dressage... I'm all for it. I would totally do it if i had a horse that would enjoy it, and i think i likely do right now. He's a lovely collected boy, but he does not LIKE to be forward and expressive. Is he just being lazy? Maybe. Or maybe he's just telling me it's not the job he wants in life.

                I also have no problems with a young horse going in a curb. We are learning more and more about how bits fit in the mouth and how they really work. I can tell you that right now, i have a mare that is so incredibly fussy in every snaffle i've tried on her, yet her driving bit which is a Glory liverpool (essentially a 45 degree angled arch mouth curb), she is so happy and easy. WHY? It FITS her mouth. Not all horses are meant for snaffles or even a mullen mouth as that offers no tongue relief. Will this curb option in WD be abused? I'm positive it will. But so are double bridles in dressage before a horse is really ready for it or even needs it...

                WD is trying to use a very similar training scale as dressage, so those calling it pattern riding, it shouldnt be. It should show the training and the transitions and the balance and everything else it should show in dressage, with maybe a little less flamboyant movers... So we could sorta call this the same as dressage 20yrs ago in different tack! Before we started breeding such sport specific, ginormous, flamboyant movers. (not knocking them, i drool over them, and own one in pony form)

                Dressage is TRAINING. This has been discussed here before. ANY horse should be able to do dressage, even if it's not built for it, it will benefit from dressage training, because it's TRAINING on a scale in the way a horse should be developed.

                Western Dressage has said they do not want it to turn into a bunch of western pleasure horses 4 beating around a dressage lest in a lope or doing the slowest jog that looks half lame. The horses should still be forward. So what a great outlet for all those people that love dressage because they are perfectionists, but do not have the expressive movers of today to stand out at a show. Cause we all know show politics tends to place expressive huge movers over well ridden and precise but not so flamboyant.

                I also hope this brings back the old vaquero tradition, which to me, is something truly beautiful to watch. But i started out a western girl, doing the reining thing, then went to hunters, then to dressage, and now to driving, so maybe i appreciate multiple disciplines and what they have to offer more than the DQ only types.

                At the end of the day, whatever gets people on their horses, whatever the breed or ability of the animal, enjoying them, and using proper training (which WD is wanting to promote), makes me a happy person.
                Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                • #28
                  OK, as long as there's a place for me to be competitive in a Western Pleasure class with my horse who has fairly expressive gaits, because *boo hoo* he's not competitive in real Western Pleasure and that's Not Fair! I want to win! With my dressage horse! In Western Pleasure!
                  Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


                  • #29
                    I have no idea if it will help this horse and rider combination, but I am happy to see all of the western riders at our local dressage shows. Glad to see people out competing and enjoying their horses and trying to learn better ways to train.


                    • #30
                      I have never had a problem with people from any and all disciplines participating in dressage shows; in fact I love seeing them coming to play in our sandbox and I'm thrilled for them when they do well. There is room for all. However, I do have a problem with changing the rules and requirements to accommodate them. (In case you hadn't noticed )
                      Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


                      • #31
                        SillyHorse... There are many in the western world that DESPISE western pleasure because it's DESTROYING the gaits of the horse. Especially in the stock horse world where it's gone so off the deep end it doesnt even resemble the original western ranch style horse.

                        So is this creating a new discipline for horses that cant cut it in western pleasure? I dont see it like that... I see it as more of trying to bring back the traditional western horse. And dressage is nothing if not traditional right?

                        If we go back to the military style horse of the US cavalry, these were stock horse breeds brought along in dressage training methods with curb bits and more "western" than english tack, or a hybrid of sorts when looking at the mclellan saddle and breast collar.

                        The vaquero style horse is much the same, and is not restricted to just the US, very similar style in spain for the bull fighting horses.

                        SO to "me" western dressage has been around a long long time. It's just given a name and tests to ride to show it off. I dont see it as making up new rules for a certain type of horse, it's just creating an outlet for a style that is already out there and that's almost vanished in the US.
                        Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                        • #32
                          Thank you Kayla. That is what I was trying to say earlier.


                          • #33
                            Amen to Butlerfamilyzoo. I think the OP should go ahead and have some fun and explore WD with her horse. From what I have read over the years the good western saddles are made to put the rider in a balanced position, so don't think that this should be an issue.

                            As far as Buck and his horse, we should all be so lucky to be able to ride even a small fraction as well. I saw the movie, I got the DVD, and those shots of him riding in the fields--well, if WD evolves to something approaching that sort of riding, it is something to strive for.

                            Also agree that this might be perfect for the vaquero type of riding, romal and all. I was in Westernland (E. Oregon) for years and saw a lot of nice, balanced WP horses (way before they changed for the worse) that could probably have excelled in western dressage.

                            Good luck, OP. It's all about the fun, anyway.


                            • #34
                              Come on folks. Some people hate tight pants; some people despise English saddles. I don't, but some really do. Won't it be great if Western Dressage bring those people closer to dressage, who otherwise are completely separated from this wonderful displine called dressage? - maybe we will see more men riding in dressage, or even English displine in general? Once those folks are hooked in dressage (Western or not), it won't be that big a stretch for some of them to cross the line to try it in English dressage (my hope anyway...).

                              To me, if we can get one more rider and horse to stay away from that miserable Western Pleasure, the goal has been reached.


                              • #35
                                I hate tight pants!

                                There are some who consider dressage a pursuit of excellence... Western dressage is training level riding that is allowed to do upper level movements without the work involved.

                                Having done breed showing I know what its like to see the talented horse at 3 years beat out the senior horses because the new "trend" leaned that way movement wise.

                                Wd allows for more trend in the dressage world. I have played that game so its not skin off my nose but in comparison to the blood sweat and tears put into my dressage it gives a bad taste in my mouth to associate something cue based and trendy to the sport.

                                There are people even IN dressage who hate their own sport and I feel this will give them a foothold for their jealousy over the "elite" portions of it. Hands down the toughest riding sport in the world (based on length of time to develope them) linked up with a sport that trains horses to finish in months?

                                It has its ugly side.
                                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                                • #36
                                  If people supposedly can't ride dressage in a western saddle because it deadens all those seat aids, then how the heck does one manage in a side saddle? You ever see the padding on those babies?


                                  • #37
                                    So is this creating a new discipline for horses that cant cut it in western pleasure? I dont see it like that... I see it as more of trying to bring back the traditional western horse. And dressage is nothing if not traditional right?
                                    Not reeeaaally wanting to jump into the debate but I think you may have misinterpreted what SillyHorse wrote... I don't think s/he was saying that this is creating a new discipline for horses that cant cut it in western pleasure... S/he was saying that this is an attempt to change the rules in Dressage so that people can win ribbons without having to compete against actual Dressage horses...


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Dutch Lovin' Dressage Rider View Post
                                      Like I said, I have not seen Buck ride. No passing of judgement there. And then I asked if he/she who made the Buck comment was being silly. No passing of judgement there either.

                                      NO sarcasm there anywhere. Simply a simple statement and simply a simple question of clarification.
                                      Well here's your opportunity to get caught up! The documentary is called Buck, and you can get it on Netflix, Walmart, or wherever.

                                      The trailer at the website has just the briefest seconds of him riding. You might be able to find more snippets on youtube.

                                      "Friend" me !



                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                                        If people supposedly can't ride dressage in a western saddle because it deadens all those seat aids, then how the heck does one manage in a side saddle? You ever see the padding on those babies?
                                        Well heck yeah, that's a good point !
                                        "Friend" me !



                                        • #40
                                          OP: If you want to try it then go for it! I am in a very english-centered area so I don't know of anyone who is giving western dressage a shot but I wish I did. I don't see any harm in trying. Who cares if it is "real" dressage, or riding patterns, or whatever. If it is something you think you'll enjoy, I wouldn't let all of these naysayers stop you.

                                          What is the absolute worst thing that could happen?