I have seen some western riders who are quite skilled and quite aware of their horses - if you think reining and roping is point and shoot, you have never participated in it or watched a good trainer/rider in those disciplines. Those are skilled sports that require a good seat, understanding of seat and leg aids, and strong core strength, as well as a fine tuned understanding and awareness of the horse. You do realize many other disciplines think dressage is all "crank and spank"? Why is there this need to put down other disciplines and believe ours is the only "pure and difficult"?
I don't show WD, but have judged it (and have judged Cowboy Dressage) at several schooling shows. Right now, it is very much like judging lower level traditional (English) dressage. There is the good, the not-so-good, and an ocassional standout fabulous ride.
Right now, they don't have a progression of tests/levels because it is a brand new discipline. Actually, CD does have some progression - they've created tests that are the equivalent of Intro through lower/mid levels (aka 2nd level). I think it was a smart move to start with the entry level tests - draw in a wider base of participation, then slowly work toward higher level tests.
There are several clinics offered, many by traditional (English) dressage trainers. I suspect the riding will improve - it is very much like our lower levels of traditional dressage - education and training needed for improvement.
I do believe this movement will take off - they have a lot of work to do, especially on the merging of multiple groups - but I'm seeing more and more partiicpants at the schooling shows. This Fall I judged a schooling show that was 50% Cowboy Dressage - and I saw a few very good riders, and breeds ranging from Morgan to QH to Arab to Oldenburg.
I wonder if there was such a resistance when USEF first added lower level tests? Or when USDF created the Walk/Trot Intro tests?