Western Horse Dressage
Western Horse Dressage has sprung up in recent years, there are several versions of it out there, from Cowboy Dressage to the official Western Dressage of the USEF. The one we will be using for this competition is from the Western Horse Dressage in Germany. The tests there were offered by Hardy Oleke, the founder.
What is WHD? It is horsemanship and dressage on a 40 x 20 meter (130 x 65 ft) arena using traditional English dressage letters. The patterns are designed for Western horses and include typical maneuvers found in western riding.
The key point in WHD is to use "feel“ when riding, trying to make your maneuvers as effortless as possible, elegant, and correct. That means, if the test requires starting your canter at the position X, it needs to be pretty much on the X.
This is a new sport for western riders, and we want to make it fun. So, judging will take into consideration the newness of the sport, and the effort riders are making.WHD can be addictive and fun, the point is to work together with your horse to build confidence as a team.
Important things to keep in mind:
• the horse's balance should be either equally distributed, or on the hindquarters as much as possible
• the position of the horse's head should be at or above the stirrup
• the horse's head should be at or in front of the vertical
• movement should be lively, a jog should move forward as if you were on the prairie
• a forward trot can be ridden as a posting trot, the horse should move quickly, animated
• canters should be collected as much as possible
• Stops should be clean
• Backing should be straight
• A hindquarter turn, or turn on the haunches is not a spin, it should be done step by step, showing control and quietness
• clothing should be your best and tack should be clean, horses washed and brushed, put on your best smile, western clothing for pleasure or halter that is overly fancy should be avoided, this is a conservative competition, think of going to Church on Sunday.
• Avoid pulling on the reins, or kicking the horse. If something goes wrong, start again and take your time.
Judges will be looking at overall presentation, harmony, correctness of the executed maneuvers, "feel“ and try.