Originally Posted by SEAmom
I guess I just don't see the issue with Western Dressage. I'm not Pro or Anti Dressage. My trainer showed upper levels of Dressage for decades and is even a consultant for the whatever national Dressage group there is. Can you tell I'm not a Dressage rider? Lol. She's written articles for magazines and had a book covering biomechanics. She's ridiculously intelligent and understands from the inside out how horses and riders work together. Even she is encouraging me to try out Western Dressage (and I also have a Dressage saddle from my days of jumping/Dressage lessons). I figure if she's fine with it, then it can't be all that bad. I have looked over the rules and horses can be shown in snaffle or curb bits. There's no reason curb shanks would be parallel to the ground if someone knows how to ride/show Western in a curb. Why can't there be a loose rein light contact? I've seen it plenty in Western riding. Why is everyone assuming shanks pulled straight back? Why does everyone see Western and assume contesting, reining, etc?
Maybe because I didn't grow up around that stuff it isn't the first that comes to mind. I hear Western and I think Arabian Western pleasure or trail riding. That's what I was exposed to for a decade. I hear Dressage and I think classical because I wasn't familiar with modern ways. I didn't know how rough things have gotten until I started working with my trainer and she would tell me things.
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Loose rein light contact is fine. Every professional horseman/cowboy I know rides with it. Certainly none ride with the droopy reins I've seen in western pleasure classes.
My irritation comes from seeing curbs ridden on contact with two hands. That always indicates a lack of training. Why on earth would a western rider need both hands on the reins? Even when starting horses the use of a second hand on the reins is to reinforce the neck reining cue. Even both hands are going to be managing the reins, lose the saddle horn, because you sure aren't going to be tying on to anything! You also won't be needing the large tree of a western saddle, which is necessary to disperse the force when roping or dragging.
Western riding is a functional discipline. The rider needs a hand free to work. Horses that work are not ridden on collection for hours on end. They move more naturally than in a show ring frame. This is because the western horse covers ground. Real ground. And has to be able to use it's body in the way it was designed to move over country.
And, yes, a well-trained western horse will move into what appears to be dressage/show ring collection for certain movements when working cattle, they can be cued to move into that collection, but they will be asked to for only brief periods. Then they are encouraged to return to their more relaxed state.