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WDAA Announces New Partnership with ASPCA Right Horse program

Each year, hundreds of thousands of horses are transitioned from career or ownership. A number of these horses end up at risk of inhumane treatment. The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Right Horse program was developed to unify horse industry professionals, equine welfare advocates, and the broader horse loving public to improve the lives of horses in transition.

ASPCA Right Horse promotes horse adoption as a trusted method for finding your next horse and operates an equine adoption platform, The Western Dressage Association of America’s partnership with the program commits time, talent, and resources to promote horse adoption through education, training, and public awareness on a national level. Together, alongside over 100 industry partners and equine shelters and rescues, we will work to achieve our shared goal of massively increasing the number of horse adoptions nationwide.

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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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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

Announcing the 2021 Harmony Award

WDAA is very proud to announce the 1st Annual WDAA Harmony Award.

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Grants for Western Dressage Riders Now Available Through The Dressage Foundation’s Lynn Palm Fund

TEL (402) 434-8585, EMAIL: [email protected]

April 20, 2021 – Thanks to the continued generosity of Lynn Palm, grants for individual riders are now available through her Grant Fund at The Dressage Foundation (TDF). The Lynn Palm Western Dressage Fund was established in 2019 to provide grants for Western Dressage
educational events, and now individuals riders are also able to apply for financial help for their Western Dressage education.

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Ring Savvy As Seen From The Judges And Scribes Perspective

By Sue Hughes and Mary Lynne Zylstra

Show season is almost here. Are you nervous? First time in the dressage ring or working hard to get those scores up from last year?

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2020 WDAA Year in Review

2020 Year in Review video produced by WDAA Board Secretary Thallia Blight.

WDAA partners with eVet and shows you how to easily store and share your horse’s medical documents

Easily store and share your horse’s medical documents

by Katie Navarra

Relying on paper copies to track vaccination records, health certificates, registration, and microchip numbers is cumbersome. The more horses you have, the more challenging it becomes.

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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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USEF free fan membership to all WDAA Military Veteran Members

WDAA is very proud to announce that USEF will be offering a yearly free fan membership to all WDAA Military Veteran Members. All WDAA members receive a 1 year free USEF Fan Membership but our veterans will get it every year!!!
"US Equestrian is honored to be able to provide benefits to these brave servicemen and servicewomen.  We are very appreciative of the sacrifices they make in service to our country and their efforts to keep our country and our families safe.  Additionally, US Equestrian commends WDAA’s efforts to not only bring the joy of horse sports to a new segment, but also promote the many therapeutic benefits that interaction with horses provides." - Leslie Mangan- USEF Executive Assistant and Project Management Analyst. 
A USEF Fan membership opens the door to amazing member benefits, for more information please visit, 

2019 WDAA/USEF Youth Grant

Every year WDAA receives a Youth Grant from USEF that can be used by horse and youth related outreach programs. Last year WDAA chose Operation Wild Horse (OWH) a new Extraordinary Partner of WDAA to receive this grant. OWH shared this wonderful letter with us from one of their Veteran families. We feel this puts our commitment to Military Veterans and their families into sharp perspective.

2020 USEF Annual Meeting Recap

US Equestrian Outlines Key Areas of Success, New Goals at 2020 Annual Meeting
President Murray Kessler and senior staff report on membership growth, program successes, and new member benefits.

At US Equestrian’s 2020 Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., federation President Murray Kessler unveiled statistics that show how a vibrant US Equestrian that is growing membership, boosting sponsorships, and building for the future with new initiatives and operational efficiencies.

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USEF Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ellen Di Bella

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian is pleased to announce the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Junior Equestrian of the Year Award to be acknowledged at the 2020 US Equestrian Annual Meeting at the Hilton West Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Fla. Ellen Di Bella is the winner of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award, while Julia Stone is the 2019 Junior Equestrian of the Year. Both Di Bella and Stone will be recognized at the Pegasus Awards presented by Adequan® on Friday, January 10, 2020, along with other prestigious award winners.

Ellen Di Bella (Parker, Colo.), the Western Dressage Association of America’s founding President and now its Director Emeritus, has been key to the rise of Western dressage in the U.S. She has devoted her life to inspiring others, creating opportunities for equestrians and their horses, and working for every horse to be valued and cherished. She also served on the US Equestrian board for a decade and currently is on five US Equestrian committees.

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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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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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Lynn Palm Western Dressage Fund created at The Dressage Foundation

Multiple WDAA World Champion Lynn Palm has announced the creation of the Lynn Palm Western Dressage Fund at The Dressage Foundation. Through this fund, financial support will be available for educational events for Western Dressage riders. If you or your club is hosting a Western Dressage clinic, camp, seminar or other type of educational event, you will be able to apply for a grant through The Dressage Foundation,

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: