By: Bradie Chapman
Another milestone for the western dressage community happened on November 12, 2016 in the form of a Collegiate and Youth Invitational and Educational seminar. Ohio University Southern (OUS) hosted four colleges and one 4-h club with seven teams total for this event. Schools and clubs that were in attendance: Meredith Manor, Ohio State University/ATI, Ohio University Southern, College of Wooster, and Pegasus 4-h club. For some of the students showing, this was their first experience in the western dressage arena.
Ohio University Southern received the USEF Youth Sportsmanship grant to help make this an educational opportunity for those involved. This event was advertised in the Ohio Equine 4-h program and through the Buckeye Western Dressage club. We encouraged youth to come and see what western dressage is all about. Binders were also made up and handed out that included the USEF/Western Dressage rulebook, glossary terms, what judges look for, arena diagrams, and western dressage test. Questions were encouraged throughout to help those that were new to the discipline. Lunch was also catered for the event through the grant.
The event had 28 youth and collegiate participants, some showing for the first time in western dressage. The invitational was set up for teams of three to four riders with one rider competing in each division: Intro 1, Intro 3, Basic 1, and Basic 3. Riders competed individually in their classes and then the teams were placed with their highest three percentages being averaged together. Each team of riders drew a team of four horses, which were divided by divisions and classes they could be ridden in and the riders got to observe the horses being ridden. The teams then turned in which rider would ride which horse for the show. Riders were allowed ten minutes of warm-up with their coach before their ride time. Our judge for the day was Betty Ortlieb, who has completed the judges training through the WDAA and is a USDF L judge. After all test had been ridden and the scores were tallied all participants and supporters got together for lunch and the awards ceremony.
“It is my hope that this will become an event for many other youth and collegiate riders,” Bradie Chapman, OUS equestrian team coach and show organizer. “I am also the chair of the WDAA Youth and Collegiate committee for the WDAA and we are always discussing how to get more youth involved in western dressage. This show concept is one way to do so, by having this options the riders do not have to own their own horses or tack. They can gain show experience and demonstrate their ability to ride many different horses successfully in the arena. It takes “ride”ability and horse sense to be able to get on a strange horse and compete after only team minutes in an effort to demonstrate a partnership between horse and rider.”
Ohio University Southern has had great success since adding western dressage to the curriculum. The program horses are a natural fit for the discipline because they are to move in their natural gait and are not having to fit a very specific “mold” for the discipline. Our horses are also happy in what is being asked for the in their rides. One of the big draws to our equine program is the instructor certifications offered through PATH, Intl and CHA to our students upon completion of coursework. For both certifications, the students have to ride a designated pattern which is similar to a dressage test. A couple of years ago our students decided to take our equestrian teams in the direction of dressage and western dressage. They compete locally and regionally on program horses. The students raise all the money to cover the travel and entries. Our equestrian team has competed the past three years in the World Championship show on program horses.
Ohio University Southern will continue to promote western dressage in youth programs and plan to host another invitational in the spring. We are planning to have an educational seminar over the winter starting out in the classroom and finishing in the arena with the horses. There are several 4-h clubs excited to learn more about this discipline and we are happy to share with them our successful journey.
The United States Equestrian Foundation provided a generous $1500 grant to support this clinic. This grant was made through the Western Dressage Association of America which is the USEF recognized affiliate for the discipline of Western Dressage. WDAA is an educational charity dedicated to providing information about this wonderful new discipline.