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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Allright, don't crucify me if this has been beaten to death. I did a search a couple of different ways and didn't find anything on it.

Anyway, as a classical dressage enthusiast, I found the new western dressage discipline to be an interesting discipline for western riders. It looks like it can be used as a discipline in and of itself and as a crossover/training/development tool by riders who focus on other western disciplines.

Hell, I may try it with traditional dressage tack just to see how my Appendix QH (whose only ever been ridden to classical dressage and english aids/cues) would score. I would think the judges comments would be helpful no matter what.

Here is some more information
http://www.usef.org/documents/breeds/morgan/WesternDressage/JudgingGuidelines.pdf

Horsetrader.com News » Article » What’s ‘Western dressage’ all about?

Interested in what you all think
 

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I don't know. It just looks odd to me for a western horse to carry himself so elevated. I know they have to do it to get those more advanced manuvers, but still what's the point if it's going to be the exact same thing but with different tack?



Here's the saddle. I have to admit those knee blocks would make life a whole lot easier. No more chair seat with those suckers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·


I don't know. It just looks odd to me for a western horse to carry himself so elevated. I know they have to do it to get those more advanced manuvers, but still what's the point if it's going to be the exact same thing but with different tack?
I don't understand the mentality that english is THIS headset and western is THAT headset. The head goes where it goes depending on the horse's breed/conformation and level of fitness and training.

When horses work in true collection at the highest levels of dressage, the topline is already strong enough to hold the neck higher while still have the haunches lower and the back round. At lower levels of skill and fitness, the head carriage tends to be lower while allowing for breed and conformation differences.

In short, the head goes where it goes when the animal is working round, relaxed, and on the bit.

If you read the USEF western dressage judging criteria, I think the explanation is in there.

And the point is to provide western riders with a medium to have their horses judged on the classical training scale while respecting their choices of tack. Seems simple enough to me.
 

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I don't understand the mentality that english is THIS headset and western is THAT headset. The head goes where it goes depending on the horse's breed/conformation and level of fitness and training.
Well most western horses are bred to go with a naturally lower headset, at least when it comes to the traditional stock horse breeds. I'll give you that Morgans, which is where this idea originated if I remember right, do work their western classes with a more elevated frame.

Don't get me wrong, I've started to dabble in Dressage myself in the past year or so. My poor mare mare has to put up with me swapping back and forth between the two. It's definitely benefited her, but at the same time, she's much better suited for the western riding than dressage.

I have the utmost respect for dressage riders. I know you have to get into a more elevated, collected frame to be able to perform at the upper levels. That being said, I still don't get it lol. Dressage originated as a test for cavalry horses, because in a battle situation you would need to be able to control every part of your horses body at the slightest cue. This is a huge difference from the origins of the western cow horse who had to be able to think and react for himself to an extent to be able to work the cattle effectively.

OK so I know the origins of the western horse have little to nothing at all to do with a lot of the western classes out there today, but this it totally taking a 180 to the original intentions of the western horse.

I also say western already had it's own form of dressage. It's called reining; perhaps you've heard of it :lol:



Actually I think it's an interesting idea. I'm just playing devil's advocate a little bit. No fun having a discussion if everyone agrees right :twisted:

This kind of explains it I suppose. Skip ahead to about the 3:20 mark to see the western dressage demonstration:

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I understand where you are coming from.

I'm sure some will jump at the idea and some will wonder what can they get out of it.

It's just another option for western riders.
 

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I don't see the need for it, but there are lots of equine sports that don't do much for me. If someone enjoys it and wants to spend time training their horse to do it...at least they are riding and training their horse!

But it honestly seems a bit conflicted to me. Western riding, as Ink points out, has traditionally put more emphasis on the horse being a decision-making part of the team. Many of the jobs on a ranch need the horse to think and initiate action, rather than respond to rider cues.

Collected gaits, as opposed to momentary gathering or 'collection', work in an arena. I'm not saying it is wrong, but it isn't exactly rooted in western life. For my part, I'd rather keep dressage as dressage, and keep western riding oriented to life in the west (ranch & trail work).

This just does NOT make me think of ranch work:

 

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I don't understand the mentality that english is THIS headset and western is THAT headset. The head goes where it goes depending on the horse's breed/conformation and level of fitness and training.

When horses work in true collection at the highest levels of dressage, the topline is already strong enough to hold the neck higher while still have the haunches lower and the back round. At lower levels of skill and fitness, the head carriage tends to be lower while allowing for breed and conformation differences.

In short, the head goes where it goes when the animal is working round, relaxed, and on the bit.

If you read the USEF western dressage judging criteria, I think the explanation is in there.

And the point is to provide western riders with a medium to have their horses judged on the classical training scale while respecting their choices of tack. Seems simple enough to me.
Not a fan of western dressage, and we already have a class that is pretty much the same thing....Western Horsemanship. The only difference is the Horsemanship patterns are not as long as a dressage test, but ALL of the elements are there. Most people like to think that reining is like dressage but it isn't...not at all.

Horsemanship consists of a pattern with markers and/or cones (like dressage letters) and certain manuevers are to be performed PRECISELY at those markers, extension at all gaits are required if the pattern calls for it, straight lines, circles, across the diagonals, halts, turns, reinbacks etc. The judge is looking for preciseness, accuracy of he pattern, definition in changes of stride extensions, no overt cueing from the rider and seamless flow through the pattern. This is why I have no use for Western Dressage, and YES it IS to be ridden on a shorter rein and "headset" does not matter.
 

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I am not sure about the sport of Western Dressage but...I grew up riding both English and Western (and with Morgans). I have successfully used dressage as a training tool for both my barrel horses and more recently with my penning horses. I have worked with dressage coaches, sometimes in proper dressage tack sometimes in my western tack. On a dare at a small open show I did do a dressage test with my barrel horse in full western tack. That was years ago though, long before they ever came out with Western Dressage.
To me dressage is training and something that I enjoy doing with my so called western horses. I like what it teaches them. I like the strength it develops in both my horses and myself. But I don't think I would ever compete in it, I am too addicted to speed.
 

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Most people like to think that reining is like dressage but it isn't...not at all.
I disagree with that. In the sense that the horse has to perform a prescribed series of movements with subtle cues from the rider with each movement being scored individually, I'd say that's pretty close to a dressage test in theory. Sure the reining horse isn't performing at all three gaits, but they still have to do specialized maneuvers (i.e. spins, lead changes, roll backs). Plus reining does have collection and extention with the big fast small slow canter circles, and uses cones as markers as well.

Not to mention both reining and dressage have freestyle classes where you can make up your own pattern set to music (don't see too much of that with horsemanship :wink:). I'm not trying to down play horsemanship. Like you said it is similar to dressage in its own ways too. But to say reining isn't like dressage at all just isn't fair. In terms of length of the patter and making use of the entire arena, I'd even argue that it's more similar than horsemanship in many ways.
 

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I disagree with that. In the sense that the horse has to perform a prescribed series of movements with subtle cues from the rider with each movement being scored individually, I'd say that's pretty close to a dressage test in theory. Sure the reining horse isn't performing at all three gaits, but they still have to do specialized maneuvers (i.e. spins, lead changes, roll backs). Plus reining does have collection and extention with the big fast small slow canter circles, and uses cones as markers as well.

Not to mention both reining and dressage have freestyle classes where you can make up your own pattern set to music (don't see too much of that with horsemanship :wink:). I'm not trying to down play horsemanship. Like you said it is similar to dressage in its own ways too. But to say reining isn't like dressage at all just isn't fair. In terms of length of the patter and making use of the entire arena, I'd even argue that it's more similar than horsemanship in many ways.
Yea, but the difference IS...dressage pays alot of attention to the trot....there is no trot in reining. Reining is all about the 3rd gait, whereas both Horsemanship and Dressage utilizes all 3 gaits.

SO in that aspect, I disagree wholeheartedly....but that's cool.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Horsemanship consists of a pattern with markers and/or cones (like dressage letters) and certain manuevers are to be performed PRECISELY at those markers, extension at all gaits are required if the pattern calls for it, straight lines, circles, across the diagonals, halts, turns, reinbacks etc. The judge is looking for preciseness, accuracy of he pattern, definition in changes of stride extensions, no overt cueing from the rider and seamless flow through the pattern.
Learned something new today.

One question, does horsemanship have levels of increasing difficulty?
 

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Hmmm. If you can't train strength in a western horse without teaching it dressage, you are doing something wrong. Dressage has a somewhat different philosophy than normally used in western riding, and a very different end goal.

That is why I prefer to keep them separate. It makes about as much sense to me as adding roping or cutting to a dressage test, and calling that 'western dressage'. Heck, I'd prefer it that way...

But if folks have fun & spend time riding, let 'em at it.:?
 

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Learned something new today.

One question, does horsemanship have levels of increasing difficulty?
The patterns vary between the show divisions. Like Novice Amateur and Novice youth patterns won't be as complicated as the Amateur, Amateur Select and Youth patterns. The patterns at the Congress and World Shows are usually pretty tough and detailed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
The patterns vary between the show divisions. Like Novice Amateur and Novice youth patterns won't be as complicated as the Amateur, Amateur Select and Youth patterns. The patterns at the Congress and World Shows are usually pretty tough and detailed.
OK, I understand that part.

Now, what about the difficulty of the horse's movements? Does that increase as well?

For example in dressage the patterns get more complex as you move up (there are more movements to remember and perform), but also the difficulty of the movements increases.

OK, I think I found my answer.....http://gohorseshow.com/article/AQHA/AQHA/Breaking_Down_the_Congress_Patterns_Horsemanship/32544

All I will say is that AQHA horsemanship seems different enough from western dressage (particularly in the judging) that a rider will get some benefit from both.
 

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If you want to do Dressage then do dressage and do it as it was intended. If you want to ride wester then pick a discipline that fits western. Do not mix the 2. TO me it looks like people who can not do either have made a new event that they can do. If it ever gains popularity and gets more people and other trainers doing it they will need to find something new b/c they will not be top dog any more.

Do not even get me started on the death grip they have on the horses face.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Do not even get me started on the death grip they have on the horses face.
Look, you don't have to like this new discipline. I don't care one way or the other.

But there is no way you can tell what a death grip looks like from the photos in this thread.

I have no idea what your riding background is or how long you've ridden horses with rein contact. But your statement is the kind I often see made by people who have never ridden in anything other than some shank bit with draped reins and have no idea how to ride with contact with a soft hand. All they see is a direct line from elbow to bit and freak out.

Death grip....yeah whatever.

As to why this exists....maybe some people simply want to ride a dressage test without having to buy yet another saddle. I don't know and I don't care why someone came up with this.
 

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If you want to do Dressage then do dressage and do it as it was intended. If you want to ride wester then pick a discipline that fits western. Do not mix the 2. TO me it looks like people who can not do either have made a new event that they can do. If it ever gains popularity and gets more people and other trainers doing it they will need to find something new b/c they will not be top dog any more.

Do not even get me started on the death grip they have on the horses face.
Agreed. The horse in the pictures in this thread is not doing correct Dressage OR western. A good coach also won't care what kind of tack you are in in a Dressage lesson, as long as you are in a snaffle.
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