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The “Why” The Five “Ws” of Western Dressage.

The “Why?”

"The Five W's of Western Dressage": “What? Why? Who? Where? When?”

donidajune3In the last year, there have been lots of people asking, “What is Western Dressage?” You may have seen an article or two labeled, “What is Western Dressage?” Simply put, Western Dressage is a method of training that brings together the bravery of the western horse and adds the balance and elegance of Dressage. Now let’s talk about the “Why?”

“Because I love my Western horse. I am a Western rider. It is part of who I am. I don’t want to change, but I do want to be a better rider. Dressage can help, but it will not change who I am or what my horse is. If I want a Grand Prix horse, I would make the switch, but I don’t. I just want to help my horse be better within the hooves he was born in ~ Debbie Beth-Halachmy.” 

Well said Debbie, I totally agree. I would like to add, I do not want to wear breeches and ride in English tack. I just feel more secure in a western saddle.

The “why” can be boiled down to two words, “higher expectations”. About 15 years ago I started down the path that led me to Western Dressage. I got back into horses in my 40's after raising a family. I was like a human sponge, reading books, watching RFDTV, and watching all the horse training videos I could find, I still had questions about training like, “Am I doing it right?”. I want my horse to love and respect me, so it is important that his training is right, the first time. As I learned how to train my western horse, there were no checks and balances of what is correct or incorrect training, I started to lose confidence. When I was younger and in school, the teacher needed to be confident that I understood the material like, how to solve for (X & Y). I wanted the same confidence for my horse. In western training there was no testing. I needed to find a way to check my work for holes and flaws. 

I was told that Dressage was the correct way to train horses. It was brought to my attention that Dressage had a step-by-step method that had checks and balances with testing, but I felt like a fish out of water. Sometimes I felt that the Dressage instructors made learning too difficult and time consuming to be effective. I wanted a practical method to learn before I was too old to enjoy my horse. So the question was how was I going to test my progress in Western tack with a Western horse in an effective manner?IMG 1505 copy

The birth of Western Dressage! For me it was perfect timing because my horse was being schooled as a 4th level dressage horse in western tack, but some folks looked at me sideways because it was ridiculous to have a 4th level correctly trained Dressage horse in western tack. Now the doors were open to validate my training methods through schooling shows. 

Have you ever been the only guy at a baby shower? Probably not, but you can imagine what it was like for me to be the only guy at a Dressage show. To make it worse, I was the only rider wearing a cowboy hat and chaps. Yes, I was the odd man out. To say the least, I was scared to death because I did not know how my horse stacked up against English Dressage. I am happy to say that the majority of western horses competing at schooling shows are generally scoring better than their counter parts. Currently the only place you can have your horse tested is at your local Dressage schooling shows. So If you are like me and want to check your skills, look into Western Dressage.

In the next article I will talk about “What” is  the difference between Western Dressage and traditional Dressage and the things I have learned that will help you.   

For more info contact NAWD www.northamericanwesterndressage.com

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