An Afternoon of Ride-A-Test with Western Dressage

bobtarrphotodollyheadshotI am a USEF “S” Dressage Judge from Arvada, Colorado and judge dressage competitions all over the country. I was asked to do a Ride-A-Test clinic at Anne Wegners last weekend in Bennet Colorado and it was a fun afternoon.

We had 8 riders of different experience levels and all were open to learning and very excited to get a USEF “S” (senior) judge’s perspective on their performance. For me, the main thing that needed improvement was the engagement of the hind legs and the need for more impulsion. A working jog is not slow because of a lack of activity; it is slow because of improved balance and collection. This is a common misconception even in the classical dressage world. I also wanted to see inside flexion and bend and often the horses were counter-flexed regardless if the riders rode with a curb or a snaffle bit.

I have judged horses in western tack doing USEF dressage tests many times before but this was my first experience judging the actual Western Dressage tests developed by the WDAA. I have to say I love the concept of Western Dressage as the word dressage only means “training” and I hope that the tests become more “judging friendly” in the future. I hope that competitors will read the WDAA definitions to better understand the expectations of a trained USEF dressage judge or “L” graduate. The definitions are quite clear and if the judge is familiar with them the judging of these tests will be much easier.

It is important to know that most USEF dressage judges are very open to judging western dressage as long as the definitions of important dressage terms are the same as well as the arena and letters, and the definitions of the different paces are clear to them. Thank you to Ann for organizing the clinic as I now have a much better understanding of the tests than I had before.

Submitted by Janet (Dolly) Hannon, WDAA Member
June 3, 2013

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