Western Dressage



Western Dressage is fairly new to Nova Scotia. This page is intended to assist those people who might be interested in entering a western dressage class at Five Fires Scotia Series shows. The article What Is Western Dressage? from the Western Dressage Association of America website gives a good over view of this discipline.

Both the Canadian and US western dressage association websites (links below) are a wealth of information about the sport of western dressage. The sites explain the tests, the ring they are to be ridden in, gaits, philosophies behind western dressage, etc. Western dressage requires use of dressage judges.

Scotia Series Dressage is available for the first time in Nova Scotia this year. This year, while things are getting started, Scotia Series rules will indicate that western dressage tests (patterns) can be ridden as a ‘test of choice’. More information about this will be provided as it becomes available.

Tests (Patterns) and Rules

The  Canadian Western Style Dressage Association (CWSD) and the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) use the same tests. Five Fires will offer these tests as a ‘test of choice’. Although the two organizations use the same tests, the CWSD and WDAA have slightly different rules. Five Fires will use the CWSD rules for attire, tack, gaits and movements  In keeping with CWSD rules, helmets are mandatory at all times when mounted. Five Fires competitions will take place in a 20 metre by 60 metre dressage ring.

Western Dressage Tests (Patterns) and Rules

The tests are organized on a progressive scale of difficulty as follows: Introductory level tests 1 to 4, Basic Level tests 1 to 4, Level 1 tests 1 to 4, level 2 tests 1 to 4.

 What Does Western Dressage look Like?

Here are some videos to give you a visual of the sport. While these tests are being ridden one handed with a curb bit, please note that two hands, snaffles, bitless bridles and hackamores (bosals) are also permitted under the CWSD rules. These tests aren’t intended as examples of ‘perfect’, but as a general guide. They include scores out of 10 for each movement, so you can see the results. This horse and rider combination achieve unusually high scores – don’t be discouraged if you don’t achieve the same results! Scores in the mid 60’s are considered very well done.

These are US tests, and US rules indicate the working lope should be slightly less forward than the English working canter. Canadian rules don’t stipulate this, so gaits may be slightly more forward, but should never be rushed or ‘speedy’.

United States Equestrian Federation Primary Test # 2

United States Equestrian Federation Basic Test # 1

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