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Addressing concerns from participants at the 2023 World Show

FROM Dini Swanson WDAA Executive Director,

Addressing concerns from participants at the 2023 World Show.

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September 2023 Newsletter

View the September 2023 WDAA Newsletter as a PDF!

In Memory of Ellen DiBella, WDAA Founder

View the Memorial Email for Ellen DiBella as a PDF.

July 2023 Newsletter

View the July 2023 WDAA Newsletter as a PDF!

Western Dressage News from New Mexico

Well, no surprise to you the Ellie Stine-Masek clinic was great! There were traditional dressage riders (up to Prix St. George) as well as several western dressage levels being ridden. Folks came down from Colorado and then continued on to the New Mexico Quarter Horse circuit. It was great fun to visit with folks and get some great instruction. Many thanks go out to the team at Dressage Club of New Mexico and The Dressage Foundation with Lynn Palm’s grant. Super thanks to Vert for sponsoring the rider’s dinner that included a most wonderful evening with clinician Ellie Stine-Masek.

The next thing that is on our calendar is a fundraising trail clinic at the Stanley arena on July 9th. Brigette Honea will be the clinician. Brigette has taken a lot of horses to the AQHA World Show and done very well. For more information, here is the New Mexico Quarter Horse website.

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May 2023 Newsletter

View the May 2023 WDAA Newsletter as a PDF!

Pinto, It’s not Just a Color!

The Pinto Horse Association of America (PtHA) has been one of Western Dressage Association of America’s (WDAA) most cherished partners from the time our association started.  PtHA hosted the first few WDAA World Shows in conjunction with it’s Colorbreed Congress.  Many exhibitors may know that Western Dressage is still offered at Pinto shows.  However, you may not know that almost any horse can be registered as a Pinto. 

Pinto has evolved to become a horse show registry, not a color registry.  Therefore many breeds, colors and types of equines are eligible for registration and subsequently showing at Pinto shows.  To find out if your horse is eligible, you can follow this link:

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Multiple Championships for Morgan Stallion in Western Dressage

Reading through the latest edition of The Morgan Horse magazine, where the 2022 AMHA Open Competition winners were announced, we noticed that the Morgan stallion Misty Green Cimmaron was the Champion in Western Dressage Levels 2, 3, and 4. WDAA sends their congratulations to Misty Green Cimmaron and his owner Gia Long. Well done!”

The Open Competition Program of the American Morgan Horse Association recognizes Morgans competing in 34 different divisions of equine competition based on 8 core activities: open shows, competitive trail riding and driving, endurance trail riding, dressage, carriage driving and combined driving events, working western, western dressage, and eventing. Registered Morgan horses competing in these competitions earn year-end awards and lifetime medallions.

March 2023 Newsletter

View the March 2023 WDAA Newsletter as a PDF!

2023 March WDAA Member Question of the Month - Saddle Survey

Dear WDAA members,  

Thank you for your time answering this short survey, as the WDAA board of directors tries to determine how the majority of members feel about Western saddles. Because of the recent debate, we realize the saddle rule needs to be amended or clarified, one way or the other, so that it can be easily understood and consistently enforced. We welcome your opinion. DEADLINE TO RESPOND IS Tuesday, March 21st at 11:00PM Mountain time. 

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New statement on saddles from WDAA Board of Directors

Thank you WDAA Family for your many insightful and supportive messages to the WDAA Board of Directors regarding the recent discussion of what constitutes a standard American Western stock saddle.

The WDAA Board of Directors has determined to use the rest of 2023 to evaluate the definition of permitted saddles within the USEF discipline of Western Dressage by conducting research and WDAA member surveys.

If these activities indicate a change should be made, a rule proposal could be developed for implementation no earlier than the 2025 competition season.

We, the WDAA Board of Directors, will find a way forward that continues to uphold the WDAA Mission:
To build an equine community that combines the Western traditions of horse and rider with Classical Dressage.
We honor the horse.
We value the partnership between horse and rider.
We celebrate the legacy of the American West.

The Western Dressage Association of America Board of Directors

December 2022 Newsletter

View the December 2022 WDAA Newsletter as a PDF!

WDA of Illinois - December 2022 Newsletter

View the December 2022 WDA of Illinois Newsletter as a PDF!

WDA of Arizona - December 2022 Newsletter

View the December 2022 WDA of Arizona Newsletter as a PDF!

October 2022 Newsletter

View the October 2022 WDAA Newsletter as a PDF!

Five Grants for Western Dressage Riders have been Awarded

The Dressage Foundation (TDF) is pleased to announce that five grants for Western dressage riders have been awarded from TDF’s Lynn Palm Western Dressage Fund. This Fund was established in 2019 to initially provide grants for Western dressage educational events and was expanded in 2021 to also provide $1,000 grants to riders for their Western dressage education. 


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Leslie and Nox's Journey to the World Show

With a total of six western dressage tests under Equinox’s (Nox’s) cinch and my belt, we headed to the 10th annual World Western Dressage Show in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Nox is my novice husbands horse that was found on a ranch in Reno, Nevada. He is Clydesdale and quarter-horse cross. He was afraid of everything five years ago. A lot of trail rides, kisses and carrots lead him to trust my husband and I.Exactly one year before Worlds, Nox and I went to our first local horse show in Las Vegas. He could still not be cross tied and we nearly missed our morning classes because he wouldn’t load into the trailer. With Jessie Bonneau’s guidance, training, and friendship, we entered our first western dressage test last Spring. I memorized and practiced the wrong test (2017) and got a bell, but we finished. We decided that Nox was much better fit for WD, still not giving up on local English/western classes to build our relationship and performance.Nox and I have been built from the ground up. We started with my knowledge from 4-H many years ago and his memory of abuse and fear to where we are now, both physically and mentally. We placed third in our first rail class at the World show last week and improved on every test during the week. More importantly, Nox and I learned so much about each other. He was relaxed and confident his week at Worlds, much more than I was. When you say “It’s all about the journey” it really is. I could have bought a horse that was trained and ready to go and win, but I have different goals. I want to build a relationship with the best horse in the whole world, Nox. I want to see what we are made out of as a team. I want to set goals and succeed, growing along the way. I want my “husbands” horse to enjoy this journey as much as I do. So far, Nox and I are feeling amazing and enjoying our journey day by day. I wouldn’t give that up for any trophy or prize in the entire world. See you next year in Guthrie! Nox and I will be working hard and enjoying the journey everyday!

Submitted by Leslie Browder

Justin's Journey from Danny Sal Da Na

For Justin Byrom Cummins, entering the WDAA World Champion Show in Guthrie, OK was for him and us a unique and wonderous time filled with great moments, we and he will remember for a long time. 

I can't tell you how much or enough what this positive experience did for him.  Justin, is Savant Autistic. He came to Andrew James and I,  as a homeless 25 yo. man in distress 3 years ago by happen chance or divine intervention. Andrew & I took him in. He required a lot of mental health care which we were able to get for him. Over time he proved himself an invaluable asset with our 12 show horses. He and they bonded well with each other. He took on their care and maintenance for us. His connection with the horses, his fondness and how they work so well for him is wonderfully beautiful. 

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Meet the 2022 Top Hands

The Whittaker family of Massachusetts is making a difference in WDAA.

By Holly Clanahan

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Paying Tribute

Two freestyle riders dedicate their rides to those who gave them their start. 
By Holly Clanahan
Owner, exhibitor, breeder, trainer, groom – these are the visible roles at a horse show, and they’re all essential. But there are other people who are equally important, if not more so – and those are the ones who gave us our start in horses. Realizing this, two exhibitors in the costume freestyle at the Western Dressage World Championship Show, held Sept. 27-Oct. 1, dedicated their rides to beloved family members and mentors. 
For Dayna Alanna Cocca of Aracanum, Ohio, it was her grandparents. Her grandpa, Wayne Campbell, especially supported her love for horses, and he bought her first pony, with the expectation that she would learn responsibility by paying for all his expenses. 
“He showed me what it meant to be both hardworking, successful and generous, as well as passionate about something you love,” Dayna wrote in a Facebook post. 
Wayne and his wife, Jayne, paid for Dayna’s riding lessons, which her single mother didn’t have the means to do. And today, she is a lovely rider, taking her mare, Rebellious Miss, into not only Western Dressage, but also a drill team and endurance riding. 
Their costume freestyle was to the theme of “Top Gun,” a nod to Wayne’s love of military aviation and the Tom Cruise movie. 
Sadly, neither of Dayna’s grandparents got to see her freestyle. “My grandma passed away in January of this year from a long battle with heart problems and COVID, and my grandpa is in a long-term care facility with late-stage Alzheimer’s,” she wrote. But she knew they’d be happy to see her having fun, putting herself out there at her first Western Dressage World Championship Show and her first in-person freestyle competition.  
Wayne would always ask her, “Are you having fun, kiddo?” And Dayna, wearing a flight suit with patches from a local refueling unit and riding the treasured 14-year-old mare she’s had since she was 3, was able to answer with an emphatic “yes.” 
“Elton John,” aka Michelle Frank of Cypress, Texas, rode into the costume freestyle ring immediately after Dayna, and she also had a higher purpose. She rode to honor her horse-show “mom” and mentor, Martha Pirnie, who died four months ago. 
“We sponsored a class in her honor because she loved this, and she loved the theatrics of the freestyle and the costumes,” Michelle said. “She has made me so many costumes, and we just wanted to do this in her honor.”  
Michelle’s mount in the costume freestyle was Aka Tango, a Paint gelding who had been owned by Martha before her health declined and she signed him over to Michelle. 
Martha had known about the Elton John-themed freestyle, and suggested that perhaps Michelle could ride to “The Yellow Rose of Texas” instead, since Elton John was “a little dramatic.” “It sure is (dramatic),” Michelle said she answered. “Your horse is a little dramatic. It’s a black-and-white Paint with a mohawk!” 
So even though Martha’s choice of music didn’t make it into the freestyle, Michelle and her friends are wearing yellow rose pendants in honor of Martha. “That way, we know she’s here with us,” Michelle said. “That was her favorite thing to do every year, was to come up here (to the Lazy E in Guthrie, Oklahoma, for the World Show.)” 
Michelle did ride another freestyle (not in costume) at the World Show on another horse, to music that had been selected by Martha. 
“She is the only reason why I’m doing (western dressage,)” said Michelle, who brought five horses and several riders with her to the World Show. Michelle’s background was in classical dressage, but Martha told her, “‘You have to try this.’ We did, and I fell in love, and now I have a little program.”