This webpage is courtesy of the Western Dressage Association® of America
The idea of Western Dressage had been brewing in the mind of Eitan Beth-Halachmy for some time. When he and Jack Brainard met in 2007 and began to discuss the many horses they had trained, the successes and the failures of different techniques, as well as the conversations they had had with both trainers and horse owners, they realized that there were some core concerns shared by everyone involved in today’s horse industry. In late 2010 a meeting was held in Dallas, Texas to discuss these issues. The WDAA founding directors met with Jack Brainard, David Brown, Larry Mahan, and Darrell Dodds of Western Horseman Magazine. Eitan, who had been so instrumental in the early conception of Western Dressage, was recovering from his collapse at the World Equestrian Games and followed the meeting’s progress by phone. The discussion was inspiring and gave impetus to the importance of moving forward with a plan. An organization and rallying point was needed, one that would provide information which would benefit all western horses and riders. That organization would honor the horse in its rightful place as the living symbol of the American West, value the partnership between the horse and rider, and also celebrate the American West as the beautiful and legendary place where it all began and continues today. This would require the building of a Western Dressage Community dedicated to all these concerns. Fulfilling that mission required agreement on the following:
Love of the Horse
The horse itself is important to everyone. Far too many horses fail to become suitable mounts due to mistakes made along the training path. That path is a significant journey for both horse and rider, and it is one that benefits from the practice of Classical Dressage. Although Classical Dressage techniques have been used by top western horsemen and horsewomen for many years, until now there has never been an organized effort to give that combination a name and recognize it as its own discipline. The Western Dressage Association® has now done that in the hopes that many more horses and their owners/riders will benefit as a result. Read About Western Dressage to learn more about this.
In an economy when horse owners are looking for affordable ways to train, Western Dressage clinics by master horsemen and women and videos produced by them provide helpful demonstrations and examples to help with rising training expenses. The Western Dressage Association® and its website give location and direction to these efforts, enabling people in many different locations around the world to learn from these aids.
Inclusiveness is important. A discipline which invites all breeds to participate gives incentive to every horse owner for their horses to benefit from the teaching of good training techniques. Any breed that can walk, trot, and canter can participate in Western Dressage. From top competition horses to recreational trail horses, training methods which utilize Classical Dressage on western horses improve that horse and not only help the green colt with a great start but benefit the older horse that has become bored or soured after years of arena work.
Multi-Level Entry and Involvement
Western Dressage offers many entry levels. The beginning rider can participate in an atmosphere which is both inviting and non-intimidating. The rider who comes in at a more advanced level can learn to perfect her or his horsemanship and training method. The precision of Classical Dressage encourages more advanced riders to perfect their techniques, turning their horses and themselves into improved performers. This multi-level entry and advancement opportunity provides a place for every rider and every horse to become a success story.
Celebration and Stewardship of the American West
Where would western riders be without the place which gave birth to their passion for riding? The Western Dressage Association® believes that we must acknowledge and preserve the many places which permit continued use of the horse. From the high mountain trails of the Sierra Nevada to the ancient migratory paths of the Navajo winding through the deserts of Arizona; from the scenic splendor of a Rocky Mountain vista to the seemingly limitless Great Basin of Nevada; from the rodeo and arena grounds of our State-owned facilities to the zoning controls put upon the facilities of those who board and train horses, the Western Dressage Association® believes we must all work to preserve this legendary place we know as the American West, a place unequaled anywhere in the world.
A Central Communication Point — The Website
Finally, the WDAA website brings all these concerns to one central place and offers an online location to keep up to date with this new and exciting discipline as it grows and develops. Constantly updated, it provides a home base of information to give its members the latest news and developments as well as special benefits and savings to those who join the WDAA. From its Event Calendar to its Training Arena to its Social Network, exploration of its many features offers members a multi-faceted way to connect with each other, to learn, and to grow.