Category: Lynn Palm

Western Dressage: What’s It All About?

For me, western dressage is a dream come true. I was so fortunate to learn dressage training as a young rider. I rode with my mentor, Bobbie Steele, for more than 25 years.
What I learned in the dressage saddle, I went home and practiced with my ponies, my first horse, and my second horse, which was a yearling. Dressage applied to all aspects of training and all horses that I worked with, from the ground to the saddle. Even if a different saddle was used, whether western, hunt seat, saddle seat, or dressage, there was no reason to ride any differently.

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Similarities Between Western and “Regular” Dressage

You’ve probably already figured out that you can do the same dressage maneuvers in a Western saddle that you can do in a “regular” dressage saddle. This reminds me of our Western Dressage motto, “Why Not?!” I’ve been saying that since I learned of the vast interests in Western Dressage at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games.
For the first 30 years of riding, I rode consistently in the dressage saddle. I still find myself training the exact same way whether I am in a Western saddle or a dressage saddle. Dressage principles are the basis of my show ring success. By using these principles with the training of the horses, I find I ride the same when riding in a hunt seat or Western saddle.

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Western Dressage Benefits Any Horse

Dressage is the only way to naturally train Western horses of any breed. After all, a horse is a horse! You don’t have to train differently just because you use an English or Western saddle.
We must remember that “Dressage” is a French word that means “training of animals.” Dressage is a foundational way to teach a horse according to his natural instincts, behaviors, personality and temperament. Dressage utilizes successful methods that have been practiced for centuries.

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Beat Fear with Proper Form and Balance

It is only natural for a rider to feel fear at some point in her riding years. Usually that fear is based on the concern for being out of control of the horse and coming out of the saddle. If this has ever been an issue for you while pursuing Western Dressage, or at any time during your riding endeavors, you’ll be encouraged to know that one of the best ways to stay in control of the horse and stay in the saddle is through proper rider form and balance

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Western Dressage: Warm-up Routine

A good warm up routine is valuable, whether you are about to school your horse for your latest test in Western Dressage, or are just heading out for a trail ride. Your horse needs a pre-exercise warm-up routine to help loosen and limber up his muscles. A warm-up also prepares the horse’s mind for the work you will be asking him to do–whether it is schooling, trail riding, pleasure riding, or showing.

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Western Dressage: Practice Tips as You Prepare to Advance to the Next Level

Now that you’ve gotten into Western Dressage, you’re eager to do well. But what are the best ways to improve your horse at his current level and move on to advance to the next level?
As you ride each day, make a plan before you get in the saddle. You are teaching your horse every time you work with him, whether you are taking an actual lesson or not. Be sure he’s learning something positive!

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