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Crossing over to Western Dressage

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  • #41
    Redmond Dressage- "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... "

    Originally posted by SillyHorse View Post
    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!

    But i understand what you are saying too. I DO agree that i think WD will be abused, that people will use it to get ribbons because they arent competitive enough for "real" dressage, that it's not "real" dressage because horses are going to be allowed to do "upper level" movements before taking the "real" steps to get there as defined by "real" dressage...

    Do you realize how many people skip the steps to push their 5yr olds into 4th level or above, and still win because they have flashy flamboyant movers with a pro with a big name sitting on their backs?

    All disciplines have people abusing it to win the ribbons.
    Your Horse's Home On The Road!
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    • #42
      Originally posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
      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...

      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.

      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.
      Agreed with this. My Morgan mare hates any kind of snaffle but loves her Glory Butterfly for carriage driving, pelham for when I ride her huntseat and the curb when I ride her western. So quiet and soft in all three. As long as a bit is not misused I don't see anything wrong with using what the horse likes.

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      • #43
        Originally posted by paulosey View Post
        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.
        I second this. Also, think about how fun it will be to buy tack..

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        • #44
          Butlerfamilyzoo hits the nail on the head!

          Great post(s) Butlerfamilyzoo!

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          • Original Poster

            #45
            Thanks everyone for the discussion.

            I spoke with my dressage instructor and my mare's trainer. She's on board with this if we decide to do it. She doesn't feel that it would be a bad road to take. I'm thinking about it. The local GMO is offering a couple of seminars to look at WD more in-depth.

            Great post butlerfamilyzoo. That is essentially my goal...to just be able to get back on my mare and give her a job. She enjoys working too much.
            Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
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            • #46
              Originally posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
              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?
              Originally posted by RedmondDressage View Post
              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...
              Yes, RedmondDressage gets it.

              Originally posted by butlerfamilyzoo
              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.
              This is where I have the problem.
              Riding dressage does not equal showing. If people want to pursue dressage because they love it, because they understand how good it is for their horses when done correctly, then I applaud them and encourage them to do so in whatever tack they want. There are untold numbers of people pursuing dressage at all levels - up to GP - who do not show. So why must the dressage community alter the rules for some people because they want to show horses that they don't think will be competitive?

              I can (and have) put a western saddle on my horse and get serious, good instruction in Western disciplines, and I can enjoy the heck out of it, and do it to the best of my ability. But I do not expect that community to alter their show rules to accommodate me because I want to show my horse, a horse whose gaits render him pretty darned non-competitive in that milieu.
              Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

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              • #47
                Originally posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
                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)



                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.
                FWIW, I disagree about the trees. THey are very different.

                Reining tests of course require a full compliment of aids from the rider, and invisible aids. But dressage tests require VERY refined use of seat aids. Reining does large pattern and requires alot of room. Reining horses don't change what their doing every few strides. Dressage tests might have 2-4 movements along one 60 m line of travel, and frequently call for changes within the gaits. All dressage riders know that the seat is critical to dressage riding, hence the saddles are *designed* for this. Western saddles are not. Sorry.

                Dressage doesn't require flamboyant movement, it requires a correctly trained horse (i.e. one that is developing the topline). Anyone can score well on any kind of horse if they train/ride the horse correctly. To say that "Western Dressage" is for dressage -leaning riders who can't compete in the dressage ring suggests to me that they aren't really riding dressage in the first place.

                Similarly, I can place a dressage saddle on a cutting horse or barrel horse. Is this really the best saddle for the sport? No. I would be riding barrels in a dressage saddle, not doing "Barrel Dressage".

                Dressage 20 years ago still had different aids than western riding, even when people competed in forward-seat saddles. The training is very different.

                I don't think anyone here is saying to the OP "don't ride in a western saddle" or "if you can't ride in a dressage saddle, don't bring your mare back into work". The problem is with the concept of "Western Dressage" as a discipline. To me, it's like watching the "hunter under saddle" classes at the quarter horse shows. These horses are ridden like western pleasure but in English tack. it's not the same as "hunter under saddle" in the english world.
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                • #48
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ycY1...e_gdata_player

                  I just thought I would add this to the thread, hopefully the link works.... I personally ride as many 'styles' as I can get my seat into. I started out bareback and have ridden everything from western pleasure to three day eventing. I'm a huge fan of cross training and I feel it ALL has a place. Often my horse is the one dictating what we ride! Aside from all that, I am currently trying to encourage my husband to ride more- but I can't get him in tight pants and my 'girly' saddles... So I am VERY intrigued by this western dressage. I have noticed the similarities in a working 'western' horses training with sensitivity to seat and legs (even in that bulky saddle) and that of a horse in dressage training. Additionally my AQHA reining trained mare is leaving next week to be a lesson horse at a dressage barn... I can let you all know how that goes- maybe ill even take video....

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                  • #49
                    Anybody remember the reiner Roy Yates?

                    He talked about collection on a loose rein and quoted James Filis.

                    While I personally had difficulties with some (a lot) of his methods, he was bridging the gap in those days between dressage and Western and the sight of a very light horse, moving so easily and willingly without a lot of 'muscle' from the rider is appealing.

                    I do not know to what level he rode - but I do not have a prejudice as to either type, or think that one is treading in another's turf.
                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                    • #50
                      I think they are allowing the curb at all levels to help encourage people to cross over from WP or other western events with their "finished" horses that are ridden in a curb.

                      My guess would be that this will eventually change as WD becomed more a "thing".

                      My experience with breed show/circuit showing is limited, but from what I have seen based on three trainers, is their idea of teaching the horse to "collect" on a loose rein involved teaching the horse to fear the bit. They corrected by snatching up contact (jerking and dropping) so that the horse fears moving its head out of place so that it doesn't get the snatch. Perhaps WD will allow how the horse holds its head to be more a reflection of its body and balance vs a predetermined ideal.
                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                      • #51
                        Originally posted by SillyHorse View Post
                        Go ahead and do it, but really, it's not dressage. It's pattern riding, plain and simple.

                        "As for all this silliness about bit contact.... well I guess some folks have never seen the 'one handed' classical haute-ecole on the curb.....

                        And this silliness about this or that saddle isn't suitable... "

                        What you so smugly call "silliness" is what the USEF calls the rules. Again, go ahead and do what you want, but don't call it dressage, because it isn't.

                        It IS dressage, what it isn't is Dressage. If you are going to be a snotty biznatch at least get it right.

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                        • #52
                          My replies in red.

                          Originally posted by J-Lu View Post

                          Reining tests of course require a full compliment of aids from the rider, and invisible aids. But dressage tests require VERY refined use of seat aids. Reining does large pattern and requires alot of room. Reining horses don't change what their doing every few strides. Dressage tests might have 2-4 movements along one 60 m line of travel, and frequently call for changes within the gaits. All dressage riders know that the seat is critical to dressage riding, hence the saddles are *designed* for this. Western saddles are not. Sorry.

                          Have you trained a reining horse? Because i can assure you that they make smaller circles and change things up every few strides while training, the reining patterns dont show it, but i'll equate that to people who train 2nd level at home and show at training level. We all do a multitude of exercises to soften and supple at home that we dont ride in a test. We cross trained our reiners on cattle as a kid, and i can darn sure tell you that saddle did not inhibit me asking for a side pass to a halt to a spin to a full gallop, and all without swinging my legs up and down to get lead changes or doing much more than simply shift my weight, all while maintaining a collected supple animal on a loose rein.

                          Dressage doesn't require flamboyant movement, it requires a correctly trained horse (i.e. one that is developing the topline). Anyone can score well on any kind of horse if they train/ride the horse correctly. To say that "Western Dressage" is for dressage -leaning riders who can't compete in the dressage ring suggests to me that they aren't really riding dressage in the first place.

                          It DOESNT require flamboyant, but it's what's winning in the ring, and if you dont agree with that, then it's a rare show that a judge isnt placing flamboyant over correct and better ridden. This is discussed in multiple threads here of late. I HATE that dressage has become this, sure, i love a big flashy freak of nature... But i miss when you really could bring in an "off breed" and do well because you were correct. It's been a turn off to the discipline for me the past couple years. And no, i dont see this too much in lower levels, but it starts somewhere around 2nd-3rd is what i see.

                          Similarly, I can place a dressage saddle on a cutting horse or barrel horse. Is this really the best saddle for the sport? No. I would be riding barrels in a dressage saddle, not doing "Barrel Dressage".

                          No argument. And no one is saying that western dressage will be doing grand prix movements exactly as we know them either. The upper WD tests at present read a bit like training level...

                          Dressage 20 years ago still had different aids than western riding, even when people competed in forward-seat saddles. The training is very different.

                          I disagree. The training USED TO BE so similar. Now western pleasure has turned into crank and spank. But my cross trained welsh ponies (and used to be arabs) are/were trained exactly the same in all disciplines i rode, from dressage to western to hunters. What has changed in dressage in 20yrs is the horse itself. Breeders have gotten very good at breeding for the sport, and thus creating large flamboyant moving animals. 20yrs ago, the horses were not so athletic. Which is also discussed in multiple threads here.
                          The current rules, regulations, and tests for Western Dressage are here:
                          http://westerndressageassociation.or...e-rules-tests/

                          So for everyone terrified of western ponies cranked and spanked into a canter pirouette... These tests are so easy all of us DQs could ride them in our sleep.
                          Your Horse's Home On The Road!
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                          • #53
                            Who here has SEEN western dressage....clinic, show...anything?

                            I went to an introduction to western dressage clinic that was put on in my area, and let me assure you that what I saw was quite interesting.

                            Horses were not slow, lazy, and not tracking up. They were forward and quite expressive. They had a nice uphill carriage and you could see minimal effort from the rider. It was not completely like normal dressage, but not far off.

                            I taped the clinic...I will have to put it on youtube and share so you can take a looksie.
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                            • #54
                              the reining patterns dont show it, but i'll equate that to people who train 2nd level at home and show at training level. We all do a multitude of exercises to soften and supple at home that we dont ride in a test.
                              Well ... that's the point. You may be using 2nd level movements to train, but reiners don't do 2nd level or even first level movements in competition. Most people riding and showing dressage have plans (realistic or not ) to move up the levels. There are no levels in reining. Levels of competence in execution that show up in the scores, but not of required movements.

                              It's not a matter of whether you cross-train or not. Or whether a western saddle is more restrictive than a dressage saddle (IMO, depends on what kind of saddle you have -- some dressage saddles have such big thigh blocks they lock you in position more than some western saddles).

                              It's that the two traditions don't even speak the same language, -- the concept of contact is not the same and "collection" in western parlance is not the same thing as "collection" in dressage.

                              And, yes, I've seen people who ride in the California vaqueros tradition. They are about .001% of western riders. When the other 99.999% of western riders/reiners/reined cowhorse folks talk about "collecting up their horses" the horses do not, in any way shape or form, resemble a dressage horse in collection. Horse may be light and responsive and moving off the seat, etc etc, and wonderful in all aspects. But the horse is not in collection as it is scored in a dressage test.

                              As far as flamboyance winning in dressage, I don't see that at shows. Granted, most of the rides are at 2nd level and below, but still I see the correct horses and riders winning the classes, even at PSG. I've never attended an international competition and have only seen recordings of the rides, so I can't speak to that.

                              To answer the OP's question, I have no plans to move to western dressage, even though I am a lowly TL/1st rider and could probably score much better than in "regular" dressage. I'm afraid I'd fall asleep doing the pattern.

                              Just kidding. Sort of.

                              PS -- yes, I've seen western dressage classes. If watching "regular" dressage is like watching paint dry, then western dressage is like watching the paint dry and then sl-o-o-o-o-owly peel off over time.
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                              • #55
                                Western Dressage is getting a lot of attention in Morgan shows. There were many very nice entries last year at the Grand National/World show. I was watching because I was very curious.

                                As a "normal" dressage person, it's kind of sad for me to say this, but many of them are moving more correctly than many of the "English" dressage I see in regular Dressage competitions. Quite a few of them I can see were from Western Pleasure world (which is quite different from the AQHA WP by the way) and were testing the water. Those competitors were serious in this and were not fooling around. Many of them needed to have more forward, pushing powers, but most of them were happy little horses doing their jobs.

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                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by HorseKrazy View Post
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ycY1...e_gdata_player

                                  I just thought I would add this to the thread, hopefully the link works.... I personally ride as many 'styles' as I can get my seat into. I started out bareback and have ridden everything from western pleasure to three day eventing. I'm a huge fan of cross training and I feel it ALL has a place. Often my horse is the one dictating what we ride! Aside from all that, I am currently trying to encourage my husband to ride more- but I can't get him in tight pants and my 'girly' saddles... So I am VERY intrigued by this western dressage. I have noticed the similarities in a working 'western' horses training with sensitivity to seat and legs (even in that bulky saddle) and that of a horse in dressage training. Additionally my AQHA reining trained mare is leaving next week to be a lesson horse at a dressage barn... I can let you all know how that goes- maybe ill even take video....
                                  '

                                  So looking at that video again, I can't find much I think Dressage purists really ought to get worked up over.

                                  Surprisingly, no one threw rotten tomatoes or rocks at the western rider???

                                  The most entertaining part was when they switched horses. Fun to see cowboy try to sit big warmblood extended trot. Fun to see dressage rider really, err, um, not, quite, getting the 'loop in the reins' concept.

                                  I'll start a fight Who do you think rode the other's horse better...../
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                                  • #57
                                    ^^^^^ that was my point exactly!

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                                    • #58
                                      The western rider was better, but since this was in Europe, he probably rode dressage before switching to western.

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                                      • #59
                                        Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                                        '

                                        So looking at that video again, I can't find much I think Dressage purists really ought to get worked up over.

                                        Surprisingly, no one threw rotten tomatoes or rocks at the western rider???

                                        The most entertaining part was when they switched horses. Fun to see cowboy try to sit big warmblood extended trot. Fun to see dressage rider really, err, um, not, quite, getting the 'loop in the reins' concept.

                                        I'll start a fight Who do you think rode the other's horse better...../
                                        What I thought was fun was to see the western horse rocked back and not on the forehand by the end of the ride with dressage rider. His head was up, he was balanced and engaged, and even threw a few changes in at the canter at the end because his forehand was light,and he was collected and round. With his western rider, his head was low and he was heavy on his forehand. The western rider rode a pattern, but it didn't look like dressage to me, on his own horse. He was mincing, heavy and although he could spin, he wasn't cantering a pirouette. I hope that's not an example of western dressage. It was a fun performance by the two, though.
                                        My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

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                                        • #60
                                          When did 'dressage' become "so good for the horse?"

                                          Yeah, they all adore having every ear flick and eye blink analyzed, tweaked, controlled and nitpicked. And changing the way they evolved to move.
                                          Dressage shows off the training...the training is difficult because *nobody* can agree what's correct.
                                          You jump in the saddle,
                                          Hold onto the bridle!
                                          Jump in the line!
                                          ...Belefonte

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