November 2015 Newsletter

Exciting happenings at Western Dressage Association of America... Be sure to check it all out!
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WDAA 2015 Rules & Tests!

Our Rules incorporate elements of both Western and Dressage disciplines. Their revision was a collaborative effort on the part of member feedback, evaluation of respected horse people and equine organizations, and edited by a team of our Advisory Board members.

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.

WDAA Professional Directory

The Western Dressage Association® of America has implemented a new Professional Directory for WDAA members. For a very small fee you can "Get Listed... Get Found... Find an Instructor or Clinician!"

Try it FREE for 30 days!!!

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.
Last month the leaves on the trees were red and gold; now, they are hidden under the snow drifts. Our horses tie us to the seasons. They grow winter coats to prepare for the weather they know is coming. The days grow shorter and our time to ride each day also grows shorter. This is our time to plan and to prepare for next year.

WDAA has just finished our 3rd World Championship show and our 6th Annual Meeting. For the Executive Board this is time for us to prepare our report card; to assess what we did well, what we must do better, and what we must change. This year, we had some wonderful members who made time to work with the Executive Board to take on all of these tasks. The enthusiasm for Western Dressage and the positive energy of these generous members has energized the Executive Board.
With the wonderful energy and input at our Annual Meeting, we worked through rule change proposals coming from both individuals and the USEF Western Dressage Committee. Attendees listened to presentations on finances and governance for WDAA. The Honors Luncheon was a highlight; giving us an opportunity to recognize a very special Western Dressage Champion, JB's Raising the Bar, and our Top Hand, Joyce Swanson. Joyce has consistently stepped up as a volunteer for the Education Committee, our Group Apprentice Judging, and development of our Western Dressage tests. Dr. DeRoy White of the Sapulpa Equine Clinic joined us for lunch, sharing his expertise in a presentation about equine dentistry.

Friday morning found us all at the Fairgrounds for live education. Several talented horse and rider combinations rode tests with live judging, giving each of us live feedback from a judge evaluating a ride. Cliff and Joyce Swanson worked to show legal and illegal equipment, bits and more. We learned how to correctly tie a mecate with a bosal and how use a double rein using a bosal. Our heads were spinning, but we were all smiling. There is nothing like being around a horse at an equine meeting. They remind us why we do this!
As president, I have a very long "To Do - Immediately" list. I keep trying to cross things off, but new To Dos appear even more quickly. The good news is that we have a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm following a great meeting and World Championship Show; the bad news is that it’s imperative we capture and direct all of that wonderful energy before we lose that momentum. The Executive Board will be on task to accomplish this goal. We are delighted to welcome a new board member, Janet Lee Parker, to our Executive Board.
I would like to thank the board members and volunteers who stepped up to work on the meeting and the show. Holly Clanahan was on deck for both our meeting and our show; she is a small person who has a great heart and an even larger commitment to Western Dressage. Darrell Bilke and his management team from Pinto were pretty much tied to the Fairgrounds keeping the show running. Guy Brown was able to join us as well and Karen Homer Brown worked so very hard on rules presentation and facilitating the Group Apprentice Judging. Dini Swanson and Cath Lindsey worked during the meeting and show; Dini as our volunteer Events Coordinator and Cath Lindsey as part of our Video Education Committee filming interviews, presentations, and more.
I believe that 2016 will be an extraordinary year for WDAA and for Western Dressage. We are working on new tests for 2017.  We have an amazing Marketing Committee on task; creating a significant base of commercial sponsors for WDAA and a focused World Championship sponsorship program. The Train the Trainers team is ready to go for 2016 with two clinics already scheduled. Our Video Education Committee has created a library of materials for use. WDAA is reconstituting old committees and populating new committees with support materials.
The horses may be resting up for next year but the board, staff, and volunteers of WDAA are hard at work. Have a wonderful Holiday Season and go hug a horse!

Ellen DiBella

2015 WDAA World Championships Report:

The WDAA hosted their third annual World Championships on November 6-8th at the Ford Built Tough Arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With unprecedented class sizes, impressive test scores, and horsemen and women attending from all over the United States and Canada, the show was an overwhelming success!!
Bradie Chapman: “It was a wonderful experience for all of us that were there representing Ohio University Southern. I love being a part of the growth this discipline has made so far.”

Friday morning began with a number of our members participating in two educational opportunities. The Judge’s View clinic allowed participants an insight to Suitability and Hack rail classes and what our judges look for. Four volunteers rode a class and judge Joyce Swanson provided real-time feedback and scoring. Cliff and Joyce Swanson also presented “From the Horse's’ Mouth” - a hands-on presentation about bits, legal equipment, and hand position.
On Friday afternoon amidst the buzz of excitement and nerves, our riders tested their ability in Equitation, Hack, and Suitability rail classes. Saturday morning saw the commencement of dressage tests judged across four arenas. In the Ford arena on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we hosted our freestyle dressage tests. This year the WDAA allowed costumes in the freestyle and we saw everything from traditional medieval costumes to Maleficent and Lady Gaga! This was a highlight for many of our riders and audience.
Mary Lynne Zylstra: “I had an awesome time with my Michigan entourage! Thank you for putting on a great show.”
In conjunction with the USEF, the Western Dressage Association of America offered a Group Apprentice Judging program during the 2015 WDAA World Championship show. Headed by judge Janet (Dolly) Hannon and assisted by Joyce Swanson and Karen Homer Brown, participants had the opportunity to learn and practice their judging skills with classroom instruction, sideline judging, and scribing.
A special congratulations goes to the recipients of our USEF Grant, the Ohio South University Equestrian Team. This determined equestrian team worked all year to secure the necessary funds to attend this year’s World Championships, and the USEF grant allowed them to defer the cost of shipping their horses to Tulsa to compete.
The WDAA would also like to thank our three Para-equestrian riders for an exceptional Western Dressage demonstration on Friday evening. Their dedication and participation will help us grow Western Dressage involvement in the Para-equestrian world.
A special thank you must be extended to our four judges, Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez, Sue Malone-Casey, Robin Brueckmann, and Barbara Ebner. The WDAA would also like to thank the Pinto Horse Association for hosting us, as well as Stacia and her team from Horse Show Consulting for their hard work and dedication in managing our show and getting those test scores out quickly and accurately!
Cynthia Terry Collins: “Thanks for wonderful show. The organization is still learning and growing. Very exciting to be involved.”
The WDAA World Championships of 2015 was a resounding success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. The culmination of the hard work and dedication of not only our devoted staff, board members, and volunteers, but also each and every competitor, their horses, and their family and friends. We send out a heartfelt congratulations to each and every one of you; thank you for your participation and your continuing support. We’ll see you next year!

Membership changes:

In July of 2015 the WDAA Board unanimously voted to convert to a calendar year membership. This is a more efficient method of maintaining and processing memberships, and makes it easy for you, our members, to know when to renew. 2015 memberships were prorated starting in July to coincide with the new January 1st start date. We are excited to launch this in a few short days - look out for your 2016 membership renewal emails!
We will continue to invoice existing 2015 members that were not converted to the new format during the first half of the year. If you renewed your membership or joined before July 1st, 2015 please be on the watch for your prorated membership invoice in your email.
All new members, simply will join at the regular rate and automatically be on the new calendar format.
If you’d like to get a head start and renew early, just click here:
Thank you for supporting the Western Dressage Association of America by renewing your annual membership.


New Board Member:

We are thrilled to welcome a new board member this month, Janet Lee Parker. Hailing from Nampa Idaho, Janet brings a lifetime of experience in varied equestrian disciplines. With her 14.3h foundation-bred quarter horse, she’s explored the application of dressage to many traditional western disciplines, earning championship after championship. With a background in business, as a paralegal, and in finance, Janet brings an amazing background and skill set to the WDAA. We are delighted to welcome Janet to our board!
Read more about Janet and our current board members here:

Awards Luncheon:

During our Awards Luncheon at the WDAA Annual Meeting, we presented our two annual awards. The Top Hand Award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the WDAA. The Hall of Champions Award is given to a deceased horse who has won Reserve or Champion titles in Western Dressage at either a breed Championship show or the WDAA World Championship show.

This year's Top Hand was Joyce Swanson

Following is the speech given by Board President, Ellen DiBella at our Awards Luncheon.
Each year the Western Dressage Association recognizes an outstanding volunteer who has made an exceptional contribution to the association and to the discipline of Western Dressage. I am proud to present this award to Joyce Swanson.
Where do I begin the very long list of Joyce’s contributions to WDAA? I guess at the beginning. Joyce has trained and shown horses of many breeds as winning pleasure, dressage and driving horses. She is an outstanding instructor who brings a special ability to communicate with her students; she approaches each horse as an individual with strengths to build on and weaknesses to be overcome with tack and patience. She has always brought her dressage background to training her horses in all disciplines and in teaching riders.
For more than five years, Joyce has been the one who has taken on huge projects from writing the Western Dressage tests to watching literally hundreds of hours of videos looking for material to use in a variety of educational videos to teaching at the Judges’ Seminar to volunteering to teach at the Group Apprentice judging program this year. Joyce is an ‘R’ licensed judge in Western Dressage; she holds a large number of USEF judging cards in breeds as well as a Reining card. Joyce’s video illustrating the special athleticism of the western working horse demonstrated in reining, cutting, team penning, ranch work, and more is an essential part of training Western Dressage judges.
Joyce is critical of herself and not of others; Joyce sets very high goals for herself but sets reasonable goals for her horses and her students; Joyce celebrates her horses her, her students, her family and       friends, Joyce celebrates Western Dressage. A number of years ago, Joyce danced her wonderful Morgan stallion, Cedar Creek Quartermaster, in a memorable pas de deux with Holiday Compadre for the closing ceremonies of the International Path Meeting. I was fortunate to be able to watch this first Western Dressage pas de deux. The audience waved their hands to cheer; this is a tradition in the para community. I am again fortunate to be here today to present the Top Hand Award to Joyce. We can cheer her out loud today. Won’t you join me in applauding Joyce and her generous contributions to Western Dressage!

JB's Raising the Bar was this year's recipient of the Hall of Champions award

After seeing a video of this colt as a yearling - free gaiting to perfection while being ponied off of another horse, Blankenship Stables & Brandreth Farms knew this would be the one that would be able to do it all. He was purchased by Brandreth Farms and renamed JB’s Raining The Bar - and raise the bar he certainly did. He was sent to Blankenship Stables to be started under saddle and trained for the 3-year-old Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association’s Versatility Futurity.
The beginning of Bar’s amazing career started when he won the MFTHBA Open Western Pleasure World Championship, one of the youngest horses to have claim this honor - then he went on to win Reserve World Champion Open English Pleasure.
Tori said, “He was the easiest horse I have ever worked with and an absolute pleasure to start under saddle. Kind, loving, intrigued & genuinely interested in his training work  Like the teacher’s pet - always wanting to do his best to please. The fact that he was a stallion never limited him - he was always a true gentleman”.
Bar returned to Brandreth Farms for trail riding & pasture time, after very successful 3 & 4 year old competitive years. His owner John became his primary rider then, and would visit Blankenship Stables from time to time for coaching or working on areas that needed finessing. Also targeting new skills that would be developed for Bar to continue his show career - with his best friend & owner in the saddle.
2014 was the first year that the Western Dressage Association of America had added gaited classes to their WDAA World Championship Show. Brandreth Farm entered 3 of their outstanding Fox Trotting horses to be exhibited by John, daughter Isabella, and their trainer Tori Blankenship.  A last-minute change of plans, then change of plans again - dialed in Tori to be Bar’s exhibitor.
Tori said, “That was like winning the horse show lottery! Riding Bar is like slipping on my favorite pair of jeans; he feels what you think and focuses into the movements so gracefully. Bar carried me to the 2 WDAA World Champion & 2 WDAA Reserve World Champion wins. It was almost like he was saying, I‘ve got this Sister - you just relax and enjoy the experience.”.
The future was so bright and held so much promise, to showcase the athletic abilities of this young, gaited stallion. It seemed there was no limit to what he could accomplish, with ease and natural ability. He would continue to raise the bar in so many more ways.
Four months after the WDAA 2014 World Championship Show, Brandreth Farms suffered a tragedy that resulted in the loss of 5 horses’ lives. 
Bar was one of them. He was 6 years old.  
Last year the Brandreths had bred their multiple award-winning mare to Bar twice, his first breeding attempt. Both times the veterinarian report showed that the breeding - did. not. take.
Miraculously, on June 30, 2015 Bar’s son was born. 
JB’s Phoenix Rising. A true miracle - rising from the ashes.
By the grace of God, JB’s Raising The Bar’s legacy will continue. It is an honor for the Western Dressage Association to add JB's Raising The Bar to our Hall of Champions.


Lifetime Performance Award Program:

We have recently launched our Lifetime Performance Award Program, allowing horses to accumulate points by participating in recognized shows around the country. Points follow the horse and are awarded for dressage tests of all levels and rail classes (suitability, hack, and equitation).

Get a head start on the 2016 competition year by registering your horse here:

Facebook promo:

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for all of the latest Western Dressage updates from all over the United States and Canada. Find new Western Dressage groups, follow your favorite riders, find shows and clinics, and connect up with Western Dressage friends in your neck of the woods.

Join our rapidly-growing online community by clicking here:

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

t is important to examine horses’ teeth on a regular schedule and to correct disorders early in their development. Dental care, vaccinations, de-worming and a good nutrition program should all be part of a preventive medicine program for horses.

Lifetime Points & Awards Program

The very first enrollment into the new WDAA Lifetime Performance & Points program is Tango, a Paint Gelding owned by Jessica Shier of Ortonville, Michigan. Please read her story below about how she came to own Tango and their journey into Western Dressage!

Member Spotlight

WDAA member Bud Blankenship has recently been inducted into the MFTHBA Hall of Fame in recognition of his distinguished service to the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association and a lifetime of dedication, education and promotion of this wonderful breed.

Breed Alliances


Corporate Sponsor

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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