Here are my issues with WD. Bad dressage training is rewarded in WD. If you want to train your western horse in dressage, with a western saddle. Go for it. I would be glad to support you 100% in your efforts. As long as you are honestly attempting to embrace the core concepts of dressage, and to create a happier, more supple horse that uses it's body more effectively, then I say go for it.
But that's not what is occurring. What's happening is that people who don't understand the concepts in dressage are attempting to emulate it. However, the very basics of real dressage are not being shown, or taught. So instead of broadening interest in the real benefits of dressage, you guys are ending up with ponies that have every bad habit that a piss poor dressage rider would instill in their horse. If you're going to emulate us, could you at least pick our good points? Its kind of silly to set about copying dressage and then ending up duplicating everything you hated about us in the first place.
Lets compare WD and real dressage:
This is an 80+% score in western dressage:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBY2_E9BiIY
It say's on the video description, "This video is meant to be an educational and inspirational video to show what the judges are looking for in a Western Dressage horse."
The test sheet for USEF Western Dressage Primary Level Test 2 - http://www.flatheadeventing.org/docu...maryLevel2.pdf
The Primary Level 2 is closest to our Training Level Test 2.
Training Level Test 2 sheet: http://www.bakersfielddressage.com/u...leveltest2.pdf
So here's a kid riding a Training Level Test 2 in 2010. She only got a 71%: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuW0u4pHBwI
I had a hard time finding anything in real dressage that was greater than a high 60% so I could accurately compare a great dressage ride to a "great" WD ride. We'll just have to use a good dressage test ridden by a kid and compare it to an professional adult rider instead.
On the WD video, at 4:54, they pick up the left lead canter. What happened there would've earned me a 5, tops. He got an 8. How can we possibly take WD seriously when judges think even piss poor execution is so awesome it deserves an 8? Horse isn't tracking up. It's tight through it's back. It has a curb bit and tight reins. It's forced into a high headset. The leg's are coming higher, but not reaching out. The horse is tight, stiff, and doesn't have a natural swing to it's back. It's back is hollow. It's closed through the throat latch and braced in the neck. Did I mention it's braced in the neck... That thing is going to have some massive muscles in the underside of it's neck if they keep training it like that. How can that be an 80+%???? (side note: my goodness that guy cannot sit a trot. I felt sorry for that horse).
Now watch the kid in the dressage video. The horse is swinging nicely through it's back. It's reaching out toward the contact of the bit, and has a nice open throat latch. It has a nice regular tempo and rhythm, with ground covering strides that reach forward and under the body. The rider isn't very consistent in the contact, but you can see her drop the inside rein at times to give the horse room to use it's neck. You can tell the kid has some problems with contact, but she's much kinder on the horse than the WD rider with his shanked bit and absolutely no release from pressure.
Out of those two tests, which was the better ridden test? Which horse seemed happier, more relaxed, more responsive? Which horse looked like it was using it's whole body?
In my eye's there's no comparison. The dressage horse was being trained in a way that allows the horse to develop it's whole body, and with that you can start on collection. The WD horse will never achieve collection while being ridden the way it is. It cannot use it's body effectively, and the best that horse will ever accomplish is exactly where it's at right now (a very basic pattern class). If that's all you ever want.. go for it, but you're going to miss out on something really amazing.