What Is Western Dressage?
A relatively new discipline, western dressage combines traditional western horsemanship, classical dressage training methods, and natural horsemanship principles. Although the principles of classical dressage and western dressage are the same – balance, self-carriage, the proper progressive development of the horse, the movements are different. The goal of western dressage is to develop a better western horse, and the requirements of each level are reflective of the types of duties a traditional western horse might be asked to perform.
How does western dressage benefit the horse?
Just as with classical dressage, western dressage is focused on the systematic and gradual development of the horse. When we take the time to properly develop the horse’s joints and musculature, the horse is able to perform movements of incredible power with maximum grace. Although classical dressage can benefit horses in any discipline, western dressage is specifically focused on the types of movements often required of a western horse, helping to develop those skills using positive, sustainable methods.
How does western dressage benefit the rider?
Western dressage focuses on balance, lightness, subtlety, and true partnership between horse and rider. For western riders wanting to develop a stronger relationship with their horse, western dressage offers the technical precision of classical dressage, combined with the traditions of the American West and more modern horsemanship techniques focusing on the total wellbeing of both horse and rider. Western dressage can benefit trail and pleasure riders, but it can also open the door to new opportunities to compete. Though it’s a newer discipline, western riders all over the country are getting involved in western dressage shows as a way to enjoy the challenges of competition in an environment that focuses on correct riding and the wellbeing of the horse.