A relatively new discipline, western dressage combines traditional western horsemanship, classical dressage training methods, and natural horsemanship principles. It shares pthe same principles as classical dressage – balance, self-carriage, the proper progressive development of the horse, but the movements are different. The goal is to develop a better western horse, and the requirements of each level reflect the types of duties a traditional western horse might be asked to perform.
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.
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 well-being 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 well-being of the horse.