Frequently Asked Questions
- Why Western Dressage?
- Is Western Dressage for any breed of horse?
- What is the difference between Western Dressage and traditional Dressage?
- Do I need special tack, equipment, or clothing to show in Western Dressage?
- Where do I find the rules for Western Dressage?
- What are the Western Dressage tests?
- Who teaches Western Dressage?
- How can I learn Western Dressage if there are no instructors in my area?
- How do I join the Western Dressage Association® and what does my membership to WDAA include?
- Does membership cost the same if I live outside the United States?
- Who judges Western Dressage?
- Are there Western Dressage shows or classes in my area?
- Do I have to join any organizations to participate in Western Dressage?
- What is the best way to get Western Dressage started in my area?
The Western Dressage Association® of America (WDAA) was organized to provide western riders and horses with an educational program which incorporates the principles of lightness into a whole new way of thinking about riding western. Western Dressage helps a rider to improve the horse’s balance, cadence and carriage. Whether your horse competes in reining, roping, cutting, western pleasure, or enjoys the trail with you, using dressage will improve your partnership and keep your horse happier and more sound far longer than it would otherwise be.
Absolutely! Any breed of horse can participate in Western Dressage. In order to participate in the Western Dressage tests, horses should be able to walk, jog and lope, or in the case of gaited horses, walk, gait or jog and lope. The WDAA encourages all breeds to become involved in this discipline which causes the horse to become more balanced and athletic and the rider to become more skilled and light.
The goals of Western Dressage and Dressage are similar. They both wish to create a better horse and rider with the use of structure and levels. The Western Dressage horse is encouraged to work and school on lighter contact than the typical dressage horses. While both want to see balance, cadence and carriage, the Western Dressage horse will be evaluated with the conformation and movement of today’s western horses in mind. The Western Dressage horse will have a shorter stride than a Dressage horse and the Western Dressage horse will be asked to walk, jog and lope as opposed to walk, trot and canter. In keeping with the tradition of the Western horse and rider they will be shown in Western tack and clothing. These are just a few examples of the differences.
It is not the goal of Western Dressage to create western horses that compete in open dressage but to create better western horses and riders through the use and principles of dressage.
No! The current USEF rule book permits riders to perform the tests in either a standard western snaffle bit, which is defined in the rule book, or in a standard western bit which is also defined there. You may use your western saddle and your western headstall and reins.
The WDAA will request a change in the USEF rules regarding bits. The WDAA will request changes which will require, at the lowest test levels, the use of a snaffle bit only, along with a caveson which is loose enough to permit two fingers comfortably between the caveson and the horse’s nose. Please review the Western Dressage rules for details.
You can find the Western Dressage rules written by the WDAA and adopted by the USEF Morgan Breed division on our website: CLICK HERE!
Western Dressage tests are very similar to the traditional dressage USEF authorized tests. The names of the gaits are different and the 2013 WDAA Tests were adopted by the USEF Morgan Breed division. You can find the Rules, Tests & Judging Guidelines under our Western Dressage Education Resource Center.
Download the tests and start learning!
Any dressage instructor can teach Western Dressage as long as they are receptive to the idea of using western horses in western tack. The WDAA has developed a suggested curriculum for the instruction of Western Dressage. This curriculum will soon be available on the WDAA website. We have a discussion forum on the WDAA Corral for instructors to share their experiences and ideas.
Getting Western Dressage instructors throughout the US will take time. In the mean time, you can take lessons from any dressage instructor who has become familiar with the Western Dressage rules and is willing to work with western horses. The principles of classical dressage apply to any rider and horse and are not dependent upon the tack or equipment being used.
To become a member of the Western Dressage Association® of America simply go to the Member Registration page on this website. Benefits of Membership are listed on our Registration Page.
Yes. Just complete the membership application form on the website.
Any licensed dressage judge can judge Western Dressage. The WDAA has a list of judges who have judged Western Dressage classes. Please contact us at email@example.com.
Currently, Western Dressage classes are being offered at USEF licensed Morgan Horse Shows. These classes are open to all breeds. We hope that other breeds within USEF will adopt the discipline and add classes as well. There are some dressage shows that offer western dressage classes and the WDAA is working to encourage more shows to offer Western Dressage classes. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions. Check out the WDAA calendar for a list of current shows and classes.
The WDAA is in the process of developing a Tool Box with information to help local horse shows hold Western Dressage classes and to assist other breeds to begin the process of getting Western Dressage included into their rules.
No! You don’t have to be a member of a breed organization, the US Dressage Federation or any other group to participate in Western Dressage.
Click on the Get Involved button and refer to the guidelines we have made available. To assist you in getting Western Dressage started in your area. Check out the How to Organize a Western Dressage Clinic for ideas.
The easiest way for you to begin your process is to put on a clinic using a recognized horseman or horsewoman specializing in Western Dressage. Once you have a group of people who have been introduced to the fundamentals of Western Dressage, you can continue to have local clinics conducted by local accredited instructors.
There is a group in Colorado who started their education with a clinic from Eitan Beth-Halachmy in July 2010. They have been meeting every two weeks ever since. Their process is a good model for starting Western Dressage on a local level.
For more information on the Colorado Western Dressage group, click on the How to Organize a Western Dressage Clinic under Get Involved or contact Neide Cooley at email@example.com.