lynn palmWestern Dressage can benefit any Western horse, no matter what discipline you ride. Riders who compete in breed shows will find that adding Western Dressage to their repertoire improves their horse’s performance in those other disciplines.

Let’s say you’ve been showing in Western pleasure or trail classes. Introductory Level dressage skills are for horses and riders that are proficient in the walk and trot. You would then progress to Basic Level, which is walk, trot, and canter. The skills learned in the four tests should allow a horse to be confident and controlled at a working gait. This is great for pleasure classes and the basic flat work for trail.

First and Second Level would work toward developing your horse for collection with lateral training, harder transitions and lengthening of the gaits. These levels are great basics for reining and Western riding. Level Three is the highest level to date, as of 2014. This level would be the finishing touch to training in all of the Western disciplines I have mentioned. Plus, it is a great foundation for horses competing in disciplines with cattle such as, cutting, working cow horse, and roping.

As a professional trainer for 44 years, and growing up in the dressage saddle, I’ve found the Western Dressage discipline is for any breed of horse and any riding discipline. I have used dressage principles with all my training for a variety of horses. It is a beautiful and successful progression for both horse and rider to learn. It is also a perfect progression for taking the time to develop your horse to be strong enough to perform and collect.

The best part about using Western Dressage levels and tests is that it gives you a lesson plan of figures and transitions for your horse. It also gives you a training progression so you can work on easier things with your horse when you have trouble with something more advanced. Lastly, it gives you the incentive to advance when you are doing the requirements in the tests very well.

I find one of the best things about competing in dressage is knowing in advance what time you are competing. This is helpful in that you can plan your warm up at home and time it for the day of the show. Once you have finished the test, you will get the test back from the judge with scores and comments of every component of the test. I also love the “collective marks.” These collective marks are a score for the overall performance of horse and rider. I always look at the rider scores first. The test then gives you something to work on at home before the next show. Most all judges are very kind and love to help or give tips to help horses and riders improve.

No doubt you will find Western Dressage at your breed shows in the future as it is the newest and best Western discipline. I love that it not only promotes good horsemanship in the rider, but also encourages riders to take their time developing in their performance horse so that he happily competes as your partner.

We love to share our dressage backgrounds and knowledge with you and would love to have you come ride with us. You can join us at our farm in Ocala, Florida, or at one of our RideWellClinics on our USA Tour at a location near you.

If you would like to train with Lynn & Cyril at home with Western Dressage, take advantage of the following supportive training materials:

Books: Head To Toe Horsemanship Western Dressage—A Guide to Take You to Your First Show A Rider Guide to Real Collection

DVDs: “Dressage Principles for the Western Horse & Rider” Volume 1 Parts 1-5 “Dressage Principles for the Western & English Horse & Rider” Volume 2,Parts 1-3 “Let Your Horse Be Your Teacher”Parts 1&2

If you’d like to have a very detailed outline when practicing, please ask about the Dressage Illustrated Test Books, helpful booklet that I use all the time. For more information on these training materials and more, as well as clinics, please visit or call us at 800-503-2824.