Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association

Western Dressage Overview | Annual Meeting 2024

02/27/2024 7:06 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

Saturday morning Mseda members, Laura Muller and Karen Winn joined us to share their experiences and also educate a little on Western Dressage.  As a competitor in WD myself, I was overjoyed to hear what these two ladies had to share.

Karen started us out with a little bit of an overview of the diversity in this growing sport.  Last year at the World Championships alone there were 54 breeds represented including gaited horses.  “Judges are looking for balance within the horse's own conformation, not the typical warmblood,” Karen shared with us.  “You can take a not so great moving horse and be successful unlike traditional dressage.  Judges are really looking for a harmonious relationship above all.”  

This fast growing sport has a lot of online showing options as well.  Opening it up to a vast number of people who may otherwise not be able to get to a show with these classes.  As you work through the levels (Intro - 5th offered) gaits should progress with more uphill balance and collection.  There tends to be more emphasis on halts and reinbacks and contact should get to be more steady as you work up through the levels.  2nd Level and above requires pivots but a rider can turn on the haunches or the pivot at lower levels.  Both Karen and Laura shared video examples of their own tests and walked us through what was expected.  A handy tip, you can find tests without things your horse may be weak at!  

“Green horse?” Laura asked.  “You have more leather around you for spooks and new experiences!”  She graciously took the audience through all the needed tack and equipment including some excellent examples of what is seen in the show ring.  A simple collared shirt, jeans and boots get many started!

What I continually love when hearing from other folks in this sport, is to see where they come from and why they gave it a try.  Laura found WD because of a need to ride bitless with her gelding and fell in love.  Karen, a known judge in our area, shared the successes her gelding has had at the National level (including fun trophy prizes and jackets).  Success she would not have found with her willing but average mover in the traditional arena.    

Interested in giving it a try?  Check out the shows offered locally by MSEDA and KDA with Western Dressage classes or check out the Western Dressage Association of America’s site at https://www.westerndressageassociation.org/.   There you can find the tests, rules (did you know you can talk during your test?), equipment and more! 

-Nikki Wahl Seto

Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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