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2024 WDAA/USEF Judges Seminar Experience Essay by Nance McManus

Dressage: (French) to train. May I point out not only the horse needs training? Also, the rider (and/or trainer) need training too. Luckily with the western dressage wheel we have a better idea of what training can do for us AND especially our horses. Being someone that enjoys competition I was curious to learn more of what the judge’s training would have to do with my scores. What could I do to get a better score and understand better what our judges are trained to look for and encourage? So, I signed up for the USEF/WDAA Judge’s Education Seminar in Denver and spent this last weekend, 3 days, getting a drink of water from a fire hydrant.

Over the three days we went from how to judge gaited horses to rail classes, Intro through Level 5 to exceptional riders to freestyle and even online judging. The brilliant 4 leaders that taught the classes were Cindy Butler (President of the WDAA), Joanne Coy, Jodi Ely, and Gail Matheus (brilliant video clips and computer work Gail). They brought amazing lessons to the weekend. Smartly Joanne Coy made sure that an “R” judge was sitting at every table. There were about 14 of us auditors and the rest were applicants or judges.

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In Memory of Ellen DiBella, WDAA Founder

View the Memorial Email for Ellen DiBella 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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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

Racing Into Western Dressage

An ex-racehorse finds a home in a different discipline.

By Holly Clanahan

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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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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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Announcing the 2021 Harmony Award

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

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Voices from the WDAA World Show by ProStride

The Horse Radio Network Western Dressage with Stacy Westfall:  The online Western Dressage Association of America was a huge hit this year.  Hear the voices of some of the amazing competitors and how the WDAA impacted them this year.  Listen in…

Listen to the podcast here:

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.

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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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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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,

My Journey to Western Dressage

Western Dressage came along at a good time in my life and the life of my horse.  I have a long and varied background in traditional dressage, and I have taken advantage of many educational opportunities through the US Dressage Federation and US Equestrian Federation over the years.  I have also been an active participant in my local dressage club, Kansas Dressage and Eventing Association.  As a result of my experiences and education, I'm an L-graduate (able to judge dressage schooling shows), as well as an “r”  Technical Delegate for dressage shows (rules enforcement at dressage shows).  I have also been a secretary or manager for both schooling and recognized dressage shows and horse trials, and I'm currently the President of Kansas Dressage and Eventing.  With my current horse, I also competed through Fourth Level dressage, and I've been teaching dressage to local riders who bring all breeds of horses to their lessons. 

With my horse now aging, and not wanting to push him to express his gaits to the fullest extent at his age, I looked toward the relatively new discipline of Western Dressage.  Maybe Western Dressage was a way I could continue to school my horse, with dressage principles, but still be taking on the demands of a different discipline that might be more challenging to me than to my horse. 

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