And Here Comes The Working Jog

I have been listening to some of the questions and controversy surrounding Western Dressage.

One common concern is that the Working Jog isn’t a true jog, it is a trot that isn’t a western gait. I think that the nay-sayers are worrying needlessly.

Cheryl Brooks on Eddie, practicing their working jog. In this photo Eddie is relaxed and happy while being active. His hind foot is reaching up into the track of his front foot and his tail is swinging. He could be a touch more engaged with his jaw more relaxed and more of a bend at his poll.

In fact Cheryl is addressing that issue at this moment by tickling the reins while at the same time pushing forward to maintain his energy/impulsion.

Western Dressage is used to train and condition your horse, it doesn’t have to be an end in itself. Certainly many riders are finding the whole idea of “dancing with your horse” while climbing steadily up the levels of competition extremely compelling, but you don’t have to compete. It can be used as a guide or a path that you can follow to prepare your horse physically and mentally for ANY specialty.

For many, many years I have used basic dressage techniques to train my students, equine and human, to perform in the Hunter/Jumper world. If you want a horse to jump well he has to have the mental training to allow him to be soft, obedient and calm while having the physical conditioning to be strong, flexible and balanced. The best way to achieve this combination is to use basic dressage techniques combined with good step by step conditioning.

Successful western trainers have been using dressage principles to train their horses for ever, they may not have been calling it “dressage” but its the same thing! Good training is good training no matter what tack you use or what your end goal is.

Now, referring specifically to the Working Jog… It is definitely not the same as a pleasure jog or a slow jog. It is a jog that asks the horse to really use his hind end and back muscles so that he can shift his balance to carry a rider over his center rather than over his shoulders. It asks for full range of motion from the hind end, the horse must  really use himself, thrusting forward from back to front. The reason it is important that your horse be asked to execute it on a regular basis is that, along with other exercises, it will strengthen the muscles that he should use to perform any activity.

If horses are not specifically asked to develop their hind end and back muscles, they don’t. They are quite happy to lug a rider around using their front legs and shoulders to carry the weight. It seems like less work to them and they are right in some ways. In the beginning it is less work but if they are allowed to continue carrying a rider this way they will suffer both performance- and soundness-wise.   They won’t be strong enough to stay balanced in a turn or a transition, their backs will be come sore from trying to carry a rider that they are not properly developed to carry and they will suffer from soundness problems in their front legs due to the unbalanced weight over their shoulders.

The key idea here is that the working jog doesn’t have to replace the slow jog. It can be used as an addition to your training and conditioning program that will make your horse stronger, better balanced and more able to perform your chosen specialty. Western Dressage doesn’t ask that you stop participating in your favorite traditionally western activities, it adds a whole box of tools for you to use while preparing for those activities.

Written by Cathy Drumm of

6 Responses to “And Here Comes The Working Jog

  • Pat Moir
    4 years ago

    I heard a TV trainer say that the extended jog was NOT a trot as it had no moment of suspension. Now that would defeat the purpose of training all those horses which can only trot in a forward diagonal gait. What is correct for showing in this new sport?

  • Cathy
    4 years ago

    My horse thanks you for including the working jog! She lives in a 90% Morgan barn and she and I sometimes take our lesson alongside hunt seat riders; Cheyenne the little Western Paint has a blast trying to keep up with them. (She can do a decent extended trot, if only briefly, and really does seem to enjoy it.) I feel the same little “0h boy!” pleasure from her during the working jog exercises. I can really feel her muscles extending and working when we open up the throttle a bit and she stretches out. I just want to add that this past week she truly collected at the canter, starting a 20-metre circle, for the first time. This is a horse who was ALL front-end, especially at the canter, two years ago. And, since she foundered many years ago in one of her front feet, that could have turned into a problem. Western Dressage is really helping her become a sound and balanced little horse.

  • Julie Moore
    4 years ago

    This is a relatively new discipline so I can understand why it will take some time for everyone, trainers, riders and judges to get up to speed on the specific requirements of the gaits. I am just grateful to the WDAA for their efforts to bring Dressage competitions to Western and Gaited horse riders. I was very impressed with the quality of training at the WDAA Judges Seminar held in January and very pleased to see so many judges from the conventional Dressage world. I have been involved with showing in conventional Dressage, Driven Dressage and now Western Dressage and although we may not always agree with the Judges’ evaluation of our horses, it is the education and training of our horses and riders that is of utmost importance. I think we can all agree that Dressage training, regardless of the specific discipline, is extremely valuable to both horse and rider. Dressage competitions give us an opportunity to showcase and test our training efforts. Thank you WDAA for giving us a venue to show off our horses and their training.

    • DMD-Admin
      4 years ago

      Well said and very much appreciated!

  • Donna
    4 years ago

    I’m an English dressage rider that is now riding and showing in western dressage. I am very frustrated with the wording jog. My horse is forward and balanced but in one test my comments where not forward enough. Then in another test my I was too forward and a horse doing a literal western jog scored higher than me. What are the judges looking for?? If I had thrown and English saddle on my horse and did the same test he would have had great scores. I’m starting to get discouraged with how these judges are getting the trained for the western test.

    • DMD-Admin
      4 years ago

      The issue resides with the fact that not all judges are seeking out the education as to how to judge Western Dressage. We had a Judges Seminar in January and there were many judges who participated, however there are lots more that did not but still out there judging at shows. We hope to fill this gap by holding more educational seminars and providing more documentation on our website for them to seek out. There is some inconsistency and hopefully with education this can be corrected.