WDAA Train the Trainers™ a Big Hit in California!

WDAA TTT classroom-educationIt may be fall but Western Dressage is in full bloom in California! The California Western Dressage Association hosted the WDAA Train the Trainers™ clinic on October 5 and 6 at the McCoy Equestrian Center in Chino Hills, California. It was the largest and most successful TTT clinics to date filled with 53 very enthusiastic Western Dressage participants from California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Florida and New Zealand.

Cliff SwansonCliff-Swanson-TTT and Frances Carbonnel led the journey in the historic McCoy “Barn,” a remodeled community center on an equestrian estate donated to the City of Chino Hills. Attendees came from both Western and English backgrounds, showing much growing interest from both sides. Eleven amateurs were among the large group, some interested in forming WDAA affiliates in their own states.

CAWDA Train The Trainers Clinic 2014The mornings were filled with videos, PowerPoints and many questions about gaits, proper equitation and differences between Western and English dressage riding. Participants were particularly interested in the use of western equipment. At the lunch break, Cliff explained some of the equipment on two display tables of Western bits, bridles and hackamores, brought by CAWDA member Carole Perkins.

Best-selling author Jec Ballou, advisor to the WDAA and CAWDA member, presented an informative presentation on physical development of the western dressage horse. She discussed how a balance of proper conditioning and training will make a better equine athlete and cited studies from UC Davis and others.

One favorite classroom exercise was the “clinic” segment. Participant groups were asked to develop a teaching methodology for a specific movement, such as teaching a leg yield. Each group then explained and demonstrated (without horses) their approach to teaching the movement to a group of student riders.

Afternoons were spent under the hot California sun in the McCoy show arena. The heat wave, with temperatures around 100 degrees, did not discourage the participants. They were treated to live demonstrations of western dressage movements by CAWDA member trainers Ann Marie Avansino, Joelene Dunlop, Kathleen Elliott, Carole Perkins and amateur rider Elizabeth Buttkey. The demo horses comprised of three quarter horses, an Andalusian and a Shire cross, and were originally trained for reining, working cow, pleasure horse or classical dressage.

CAWDA TTT Demo Riders

On Sunday afternoon, participants “judged” two Western Dressage tests ridden by Ann Marie Avansino and Kathleen Elliott. Each movement of the test was then discussed in detail among the group – what they saw, what they scored and why.

At the end of the two day seminar, participants said they gained a better understanding of Western Dressage and many were very excited to start applying the newly learned skills.

By Jackie Hills
President, California WDA

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