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What does the judge want to see in a successful test?

What does the judge want to see in a successful test?

By Dolly Hannon

· Regular and free gaits and paces (variations of the gaits) that have no rhythm issues and are elastic and expressive, with reach and springiness. Horse covers ground without speed or loss of balance.

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It’s About the Journey: An Interview with Past WDAA President, Ellen diBella.

by Katherine Rosback

“I would say, ‘not right now!’” she replies with a hearty laugh. After a couple of weeks of phone tag, I have finally connected with this incredibly energetic past-President of the WDAA, Ellen diBella, and have just asked her if the WDAA has their sights on the Olympics. “Right now we are working on just bringing out the best in people and in people’s horses and developing the needed pool of judges.” Ellen is one of the founding members of the WDAA. She has owned and shown Morgans since 1972 and is an avid supporter of the Western stock horse.

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A Good Sport

By Barb McLintock


He’s one of the youngest competitors at the Western Dressage World Show. And he’s riding the oldest horse in the competition.

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New Organization, Old Discipline

How the Western Dressage Organization Came To Be.

by Katherine Rosback

(First in a three-part series on the beginnings, the rules, the tests, and the future of Western Dressage.)

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McLaughlin Ribbon Awards Partners with WDAA

Official Award Ribbon Supplier to the WDAA & State Affiliates

McLaughlin Ribbon Awards is now the Official Award Ribbon Supplier and Partner of the Western Dressage Association of America and their State Affiliates! The Western Dressage Association of America is an Educational Not for Profit with a 501c3 status. Their primary focus is on education about and the promotion of Western Dressage.

Safe Sport Training FAQ's

Safe Sport Training Frequently Asked Questions

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Lexington, KY – The US Equestrian Federation (USEF) announced a rule change on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, requiring that, effective January 1, 2019, all USEF members 18 and over with an Adult Competing Membership must complete Safe Sport training in order to be eligible to participate in USEF activities, including competitions. Since that announcement, we are pleased to report that over 3,500 USEF members completed the Safe Sport training. To provide further guidance, below are a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new rule change.

Where can I locate the required Safe Sport training? How long does it take?
The required Safe Sport Core Training is on the U.S. Center for SafeSport website. Instructions on how to set up an account and access the training are here. It will take approximately 90 minutes to complete and consists of three modules: Sexual Misconduct Awareness Education, Mandatory Reporting, and Emotional and Physical Misconduct. All three modules must be completed in order to satisfy the requirement.

Who is required to take the Safe Sport training?
Any USEF member who is 18 years old and above and who has a USEF Adult Competing Membership is required to take the Safe Sport training, including amateurs, professionals, and owners who have an annual, three-year, or lifetime membership. The Safe Sport training requirement does not include USEF Fan Members.

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Western Dressage Therapeutic Riding Division Debut at Preston Horse Farm PVDA Show

On April 15th 2018 PVDA hosted a Dressage Schooling Show at Preston Horse Farm (owned by Becky Langwost-Barlow). At this show we (Courageous Hearts Horsemanship) were able to debut an idea, passion, and dream of ours to have a division for riders with special needs and abilities to be able to show in dressage. It has taken a long time to develop a program that would meet the dressage standards, as well as meet the needs of therapeutic riding and horsemanship. We are so excited that PVDA has supported our passion and helped us make this a reality for our riders and their families and hopefully more riders to come!

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Your First Western Dressage Show....A DIY Experience

Your First Western Dressage Show....A DIY Experience

If you are reading this you are probably at the same point my husband and I were three years ago. It was at this time that we wanted to try something different with our horses. Something that would complement our trail riding as well as the ranch riding classes we were showing. We wanted something that would build on the training we have always done with our horses here on our farm. We also wanted something to stimulate our senior brains; a challenge for both memory and learning. We wanted something that was, like our trail riding and ranch shows, an event where the class or activity was warm up the horse and go. We also wanted something a two hour or less drive from our home so that it was not an overnight trip. Yes, even retired people still have responsibilities at home. Most importantly we wanted something that was good for the horse; awards and ‘being the winner’ was never the objective. Western Dressage has proven to be all of the above for us and more!

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WDAA is proud to announce that the Thoroughbred Makeover will now include Western Dressage!!

Retired Racehorse Project Adds Western Dressage to 2019Thoroughbred Makeover: Apply Now!


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Letter From the President

A Letter From Your WDAA President

As we close the door on 2018, I have the chance to reflect on my first year as WDAA President.  I hope I have served you well.  I know I have given it my best shot and I still am. 
WDAA implemented a few new programs this year.  Some worked out better than we could have imagined and we are still learning and working on others.

Early in the year, we rolled out our level 4 tests and a few riders have already accepted the challenges they offer.  Each test builds on the last and offers something new.  I have enjoyed watching and judging Level 4 horses this year and expect to see even more riders attempt it in 2019.

WDAA staff and board members refer to 2018 as the “Year of the Volunteer”!  We had the best volunteers ever this year in every capacity.  Ellen Dibellaand our staff worked with the Oklahoma affiliate to make our World Show an overwhelming success this year.  Kelly Coldirondid an amazing job on the World Show Program.  For the first time ever, we had a volunteer coordinator at the World Show! Katharina Nowotny-Bolesset a standard for the position that may never be topped.  With free t-shirts and snacks, as well as our heartfelt appreciation, Katharina made everyone happy to volunteer and found people for every position at the show.  I am thrilled to say she will be back again for the 2019 World Show.  We had wonderful volunteers who served on our board, our USEF Western Dressage Committee, and WDAA committees.  We had volunteers who helped riders and show managers at the smallest to the largest shows.  We even had great people stand up for Western Dressage at breed meetings and horse industry events.  Gail Matheusvolunteered to help WDAA with strategic planning in Denver last month.  I wish I could name everyone who volunteered for Western Dressage in 2018.  I just feel blessed WDAA is supported by all of you who care enough to join me in donating talent, experience, work, and time to this discipline.

2018 was also a year WDAA reached out to members as never before so that we could steer our organization in the directions you wanted to go.  Ever since 2015, when the membership voted to adopt only USEF rules for Western Dressage competition, the rulemaking process has been done according to USEF procedure.  Therefore, there is no general membership vote on rule proposals.  Proposals are hashed out in committees. To ensure that all members have input, we implemented the “Questions of the Month” in 2018.  Responses from these emailed questions have guided WDAA’s decisions regarding rule proposals without reservation.  I assure you that if WDAA was the Cindy Butler Show, we would have had different proposals this year.  If my ideas get outvoted in the “Question of the Month,” I advocate for the membership’s choice every time.  So, if you care about rule proposals, vote in the “Questions of the Month” and send proposals to us for anything you want changed. I feel strongly that more members have a say through the “Questions of the Month” than ever before because the number of responses averages twelve times higher than the number of attendees we had at the last “in person” annual meeting WDAA held in conjunction with the World Show.

Speaking of the annual meeting, 2018 was our first attempt to replace the “in person” annual meeting with a webinar.  Attendance at WDAA’s annual meetings dwindled to a little over 25 participants in 2017.  Reasons included:  the cost or inability of some members to travel to Oklahoma or to meet on week days and some World Show exhibitors said they didn’t have time to prepare for the show and attend the meeting.  In order to offer more members the opportunity to participate, we decided to try a webinar.  We thought the webinar was a good solution because it would be free for members and it could be recorded so you could watch it any time. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the webinar and participation was six times higher than our last “in person” annual meeting.  Over 50% of registrants sent in questions we were able to address during the hour long broadcast.  So, there will probably be more webinars in our future. 

Our first attempt was quite a learning process.  Two hours before we were supposed to go live, we experienced a last minute glitch with the new host and found out we couldn’t broadcast live.  So, we recorded the webinar on the spot from Ellen’s beautiful ranch and sent it out in the nick of time so members could see it at the scheduled time.  Whew!  That was a close one! 

A project close to my heart is WDAA’s Cornerstone Education Program which currently involves judge’s perspective videos posted on our YouTube channel.  To access them, click the YouTube icon on the upper right corner of the WDAA web page.  Videos of tests from the WDAA World Championship Show are dubbed with comments and scores from the World Show judges so members can learn what scores go with what quality maneuvers and so our judge applicants can practice and learn.  Eventually, there will be more videos and they will be accessible only to members as a member benefit.  However, video education has been like a steeplechase.  We’re off and running and then we encounter an obstacle.  We overcome it and run again only to be presented with another obstacle, but we keep jumping and running so we will get to the finish line eventually..

Looking into 2019, I have a few goals:

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American Morgan Horse Association 2018 Open Competition Program Western Dressage

Western Dressage has only been included for the past 2 years as its own division in the AMHA Open Competition Program, but it’s growing every year. Year-end winners in 2018 included Hollyhock Frida Kahlo owned by Denice Wax, who was Champion in the Introductory Level as well as Reserve Champion in the Basic Level, with Blueandwhite Cadence as Champion. We are pleased to welcome Hollyhock Frida Kahlo to the WDAA Horse Lifetime Points & Awards Program (WHLPAP) this year, where she will join over 360 other horses of all breeds competing for western dressage awards at WDAA recognized shows throughout their competition lifetime. The Level 1 Champion in the AMHA Open Competition Program was MtnTop Goodness Gracious, owned by Kristal Homoki, followed by Danville Dinero CH, owned by Nady Peters as Reserve. Danville Dinero also earned top honors at Level 2 in the Open Competition Program. Danville Dinero was enrolled in the WHLPAP in October of 2016. Since then, he has earned six of the seven award levels in the WDAA program, most recently reaching Gold Medalist status by earning over 500 points, with at least five of his tests ridden at Level 3 or higher.

More information about the AMHA Open Competition Program can be found here:
WDAA Horse Lifetime Points & Awards Program information and enrollment form are located here:

US Equestrian's 2019 Annual Meeting: The Take-Home Points


Entering the third year of the Strategic Plan, US Equestrian President Murray Kessler told Annual Meeting attendees that equestrian sport’s national governing body has much to celebrate and more to accomplish

US Equestrian members gathered in sunny West Palm Beach, Fla., in January for the organization’s Annual Meeting, where President Murray Kessler had good news to report and paid glowing tributes to US Equestrian’s many members and volunteers.

The meeting’s theme, “Members Make it Happen,” seemed especially appropriate at a time when U.S. equestrians are still basking in a season of outstanding results, including 12 medals (three of them gold) at last fall’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018. But Kessler pointed out that, in addition to the unprecedented sporting accomplishments the U.S. achieved last year, US Equestrian members—including active competitors, volunteers, licensed officials, and fans—are “making it happen” in many crucial ways, both in competition and behind the scenes.

During his keynote presentation at the meeting’s General Session, Kessler noted that the membership has grown dramatically since US Equestrian implemented its ambitious Strategic Plan in 2017. Kessler reported that membership has jumped by 35% since the plan’s launch and by 76% since 2016, for a total of more than 144,000.

That’s powered growth in other important areas, too. Revenues have climbed, rising eight percent, while the organization’s reserves are up 16% since the Strategic Plan’s implementation. Sponsorship, too, continues to expand; the 12 sponsors added in 2018 bring the total number of partners and sponsors to 69.

Kessler described the Strategic Plan’s five-step “virtuous circle” that has led to this growth, and he detailed key developments and accomplishments for each step in 2018:

Step 1: Improve Core Processes and Capabilities

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SHELBURNE, VT—At the Third Quarter Board meeting held Saturday September 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada, The American Morgan Horse Association’s (AMHA) Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommendation to relocate the AMHA home office. The office will be relocated to the grounds of the Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the main transition will take place during the holiday period that occurs between Christmas and the New Year. However, it is expected that while the new office location will open January 2, 2020, the current office will remain open through January 31, 2020.

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Riding the Rails, Western Dressage Style

By Cindy Butler

If I wanted to ride in Western Pleasure, I wouldn’t be at a Western Dressage show! So, why have rail classes here? Well, there are lots of reasons. First, Western Dressage rail classes offer an opportunity for riders to introduce their horses to the arena in the comfort of a group setting before having to enter alone. Western Dressage promotes a leveled training system beginning with small steps and moving up a challenge at a time. Therefore, the rail classes are included for you to use as part of your training process. The rail classes offered in Western Dressage focus on different goals than Western Pleasure. Let’s look at Western Dressage’s rail classes one at a time and keep in mind that you can substitute saddle gait for jog anytime when considering gaited horses as all these classes can be offered for gaited horses:

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