Western Dressage rider in dressage ring at a horse show

Western Riding is a style of horseback riding that evolved from the ranching and working horse traditions of the cowboys in the American west. A recent development of Western riding is Western Dressage. Western Dressage promotes balance, rhythm, and carriage while using the training techniques from both classical dressage and western horsemanship. Western Dressage is taught with an emphasis on good horse management, knowledge of western equitation, turnout, and tack.

Members will learn to establish a solid foundation of safety habits and knowledge of daily horse care and related equipment use.  Achievement of the higher levels shows a member that is becoming an active horseperson, and caring for their mount independently. Members learn to develop confidence in all riding phases, as well as horse management principles for members of all ages.

Competition

Competitions are held at many levels beginning with introductory level and continuing through six levels to Level 4. A western dressage test is a series of movements, performed at various gaits, designed to test the rider's ability to communicate with their horse. Each movement is performed at a specified point in the arena and is scored individually on a scale from 0 to 10. A score of 0 means that no portion of the movement was executed, while a score of 10 shows excellent execution. The individual scores are added and then calculated as a percentage of possible points to come up with a final score. The highest percentage wins the class.

Tests are different for each level and are written so there is a way to consistently measure the horse's progress through the levels. Judges are looking or accuracy, obedience, suppleness of the horse, quality of the gaits, and the rider's use of the aids. There are also musical freestyle western dressage tests for individual riders.

Western Dressage in Pony Club

With its close connection to classic Dressage, it is easy for Dressage rallies to incorporate Western Dressage into their competition. Western Dressage is available at USPC Championships. Please check the current Western Dressage rulebook and current newsletter for more information on attending Championships in Western Dressage.

Western Education in Pony Club

Pony Club members can achieve certifications through the C-2 level in western riding.  A variety of riding disciplines are tested such as Trail, Horsemanship, and basic Western Reining patterns.  There is a heavy emphasis placed on the Horse Management skills portions of the test that require practical knowledge and evaluation applications.  Members may also complete Certifications in the English disciplines and compete in any of the other disciplines Pony Club offers.

The D Western Standards offer an introduction to the fun and challenge of riding, establishing a foundation of safety habits and knowledge of daily horse care and related equipment use. Attaining the C Western standards the member becomes an active horseman, caring for their mount independently. The C level member is developing a secure, independent seat and increasing control and confidence in all phases of riding, flat, or obstacle/trail.

Opportunities

Opportunities abound for those wishing to pursue Western Riding during their Pony Club career!    The core values members learn in Pony Club also prepare them for other positions in the equine industry.

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Awards

Pony Club offers annual awards to its members who participate in the sport of Western, both at Pony Club competitions and at open shows.

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News

Check out the Pony Club Pizza, where we pile on the knowledge for all things Western (and all manner of other Pony Club-related topics)!

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