March 2017 Newsletter

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Exciting happenings at Western Dressage Association of America... Be sure to check it all out!
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A Letter From Your WDAA President

The days are getting longer and sometimes warmer. Can Spring be on its way? This is the time of year when the weather makes great promises one day and then sends snow! The horses continue to take therapeutic mud baths and are keeping a sharp eye on the pasture for any signs of green grass. The season of shedding is getting closer; I love to look at shiny, slick coated horses but filling trash cans with muddy winter hair is not so much fun.

In some parts of the country, folks are riding and even competing while others are shoveling snow or building boats! As we look forward to a new competition season with new tests, WDAA is working on production of videos on the new tests. The raw footage for this was shot at our 2016 WC show; that is the easy part. Reviewing each ride to be certain that it is correct and timing voice over is a much more time consuming process! Stay tuned.

The WDAA Rules Committee has begun work on rule change proposals for the 2018 competition year. Cindy Butler, our hard working chair, is getting input from committee members already. Please go to for the time table for submitting rule change proposals.

The WDAA Marketing Committee is finishing a member survey; Thallia Blight has taken on this job. It will arrive in your inbox shortly. The information from this survey helps guide the board in allocating scarce funds; it also is very valuable as we approach commercial sponsors whose support is essential in providing additional member benefits, member services and funding for education. Please take the time to fill out this survey. We need your input to help guide WDAA as we grow.

The WDAA Board and staff are buried in sticky notes reminding of things that we need to do preferably “right this minute.” We would ask each of you to do your part: go hug a horse!

World Show Volunteers Needed!
WDAA is looking for volunteers to help out at the 2017 Western Dressage World Championship Show Sept 27th – Oct 1st, 2017 in Guthrie, Oklahoma – please contact us at [email protected] if you are available and willing, it takes a village to put on an event like our World Show and we would love to have you aboard!
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Judge's Seminar Report

One of WDAA’s most important responsibilities is the education of judges. WDAA has three programs used to accomplish this mission. WDAA organizes a multiday seminar for judges who are renewing licenses; USEF requires licensed Western Dressage judges to attend a WDAA Judges’ Seminar ever three years. Attendance at this program is also the first step for individuals who are interested in getting a USEF license to judge Western Dressage. One of many goals for this seminar is give judged and prospective judges the opportunity a unique eye for Western Dressage and the Western Dressage horse.

This year’s seminar was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denver; 63 eager attendees plus staff, guests and clinicians gathered for a welcome reception on Tuesday night, February 7th, for appetizers and cocktails. Cliff Swanson brought an impressive array of western saddles, bridles, bits, reins and more. After a great presentation about tack, Cliff was available to answer questions that evening. He kept the display available for the entire seminar and stayed busy answering questions.

Joyce Swanson offered a wonderful video presentation on the athleticism of the Western horse; she and Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez covered a large number of topics including judging methodology, gaits, movements, judging mechanics, terminology, judging rail classes and equitation, and more. Dolly Hannon gave a spectacular presentation on judging a musical freestyle; you can read an article by Dolly about this

on our website. Cliff Swanson wrote a test on the USEF General Rules and the USEF Western Dressage rules that each participant took; he also graded each test and reviewed the test with the attendees.

Samantha Kline, the Director of USEF Licensed Officials, came to support the Seminar and answer questions. Her presentation on the process for fulfilling the requirements for licensure was very comprehensive; she was on hand for two and a half days to provide support and information. Dini Swanson, our Executive Secretary, and Una Schade, our IT specialist, were on hand as well. While Una worked IT miracles, Dini dealt with every other problem.

Each year, WDAA also invites auditors to attend the Judges’ Seminar at a reduced cost. We had several auditors this year who had a wonderful time and learned so much. If you ever wanted to know just what a judge is looking for in a test,

Each year, our wonderful clinicians work diligently to update the Judges’ Seminar Book and to update and improve both the video presentations and the lectures. These amazing individuals not only give WDAA their expertise and energy during the seminar, they spend countless hours preparing for the seminar. Hats off to our clinicians and their commitment to Western Dressage and to WDAA!

Social Corral Changes
WDAA has made some exciting changes to the Social Corral. What is the social corral you ask? The Social Corral is a Member Benefit of the WDAA; it is a Facebook Group intended for our current members to get to know each other and learn more about the sport of Western Dressage. We would love for you to participate! 

The Social Corral used to be an online forum, but we have recently switched it over to be a Facebook Group! The activity in the group has taken off and we are excited to see our members interacting and getting to know each other.
Join the Social Corral
Membership Report

WDAA membership news: January and February were very busy months for membership, since we switched from anniversary-based to calendar-year memberships starting this year. Everyone who joins in 2017 will receive a membership card printed on card stock and delivered by US mail. A word of caution: since the cards and mailing materials are “home-produced”, they are sent out whenever there are enough renewals and new members that makes it feasible to produce a mailing. Having said this, if you don’t know your membership number and need it before your card arrives, please send a request to [email protected], and we will send a quick email response with your number. We have also added two new fields in the online invoice request form for people who need to update their residential or email address if needed.
Licensed Western Dressage Judges link on Home Page
We have added a new spot on the front page of the WDAA website. On the right side you will see "Important links" this will be your quick access to our most in demand information.
View Licensed Western Dressage Judges
Attention Canadian Exhibitors

If you are showing at a USEF licensed show the following applies to you.

From the USEF General Rule section,

     "GR1307 Amateur Status 1. Only active Federation members may obtain amateur status. Every person who has reached his/her 18th birthday and competes in classes for amateurs under Federation rules must possess current amateur status issued by the Federation. (Exception: This is not required for Opportunity classes except for the Dressage Division. If Opportunity classes are offered at Dressage Competitions or Regular/Local Competitions with “Open” Dressage classes and are restricted to amateurs, riders are required to have amateur status with the Federation). This status must be available for inspection or the competitor must have lodged with the competition secretary, at least one hour prior to such class, an application for such status provided by the Federation. Amateur status will be issued only on receipt of the application properly signed and is revocable at any time for cause. Foreign riders requesting Federation Amateur status, must be a Junior, Senior or Life Competing Member of the Federation (Exception: Equestrian Canada members in possession of current EC membership may sign for USEF Amateur status on a show by show basis at no cost). Any person who has not reached his/her 18th birthday is an amateur and does not require amateur status."

USEF Report

In early January, Dini Swanson and I flew to Lexington, KY, for the USEF Annual Meeting. This was Dini’s first trip there and it was wonderful to see it through her eyes. Murray Kessler, the new president of USEF, launched a very comprehensive new marketing campaign to recruit new members to USEF aimed to bringing in fan members in addition to competing members. During two half day sessions, we were introduced to this campaign.

Despite a very late arrival at the host hotel in Lexington because of cancelled and rescheduled flights, we hit the ground running. We attended Rules Forums, the National Affiliates dinner and Round Table, the Legislative Committee, Awards Committee, Breeders Committee and more. We networked with breed alliance partners

and spoke with several USEF departments including Licensed Officials and Official Education. The Pegasus Awards banquet was a highlight as we watched film from our WDAA WC show.

For many of our WDAA members, USEF is not a part of their equine competition experience. In 2016, we asked the staff of USEF to partner with us introducing USEF to WDAA. The USEF staff was generous with the time and their support; they were very complimentary about WDAA and are determined to continue working with us in 2017.

WDAA applied for two grants from USEF for 2017. The 2016 Youth Sportsmanship Grant was $1500 was awarded to Ohio University Southern to support an educational event which brought several collegiate equestrian teams and at least on 4 H group. You can find a great article about this clinic on our News page on the website. The 2016 Membership Grant of $2000 provided financial support for our Annual Meeting and Honors Luncheon.

WDAA is honored to be the USEF Recognized National Affiliate for the discipline of Western Dressage. We are so grateful for the support that USEF provides to our association and to the welfare of our horses. They are great partners!

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WDAA Website

Western Dressage Education!

Find all the WDAA Tests, Guides and lots of great reading materials in our Western Dressage Education Center!
Clinics & Shows
Looking for a Schooling Show or Clinic to brush up on your skills. Stop by the Events Calendar on the WDAA website where you will find lots of events happening all over the USA!

WDAA Social Corral

If you wish to be more informed about the Western Dressage movement, we do have a private Social Corral network where members of the Western Dressage Association® of America can interact, discuss various topics, conceive new ideas and generally share all things Western Dressage, including people who are instructors, clinicians and even judges like yourself.

Judges Education Program

The WDAA Western Dressage Judge’s Education Program is open to all licensed Dressage judges, Western, Breed judges and those starting out who want to learn about Western Dressage. This Judges Education Program offers training so that they can accurately evaluate horse rider combinations, score the tests and provide comments.


Find A TTT Graduate

The Western Dressage Association® of America has a list of professionals that have graduated from the past few years of Train The Trainer Clinics. If you are looking for an instructor or trainer in your area..

WDAA General Store

Where You can purchase WDAA Customized Apparel in our Apparel Boutique as well as Books, DVDs and other educational material all about Western Dressage in our Products General Store.

Follow Us on Facebook

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for all of the latest Western Dressage updates from all over the US and Canada.

Find new WD groups, follow your favorite riders, find shows and clinics and connect up with Western Dressage friends in your neck of the woods.

Please Join our rapidly-growing online community...
Why Be A WDAA Member?
Ever wondered what it means to be a WDAA member? Sure, you get access to the Social Corral, events, dressage tests, and tons of information on our website; you can participate in high points programs and receive our awesome newsletter each month, but what else?

Breed Alliances


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International Alliance Partners


About The Western Dressage Association® of America is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization focused on providing a model of horsemanship which optimizes the partnership of horse and rider for their mutual benefit.  The mission of the Western Dressage Association® is to honor the horse, to value the partnership between horse and rider and to celebrate the legacy of the American West which it focuses on through its offerings of educational opportunities and events to the equestrian community.
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