If you’re a fan of Western dressage, you already know how it can give you a softer, suppler, more responsive horse (and more on that in a moment). But whether you’re a booster or not, as a Western rider you can’t help but be proud of the demonstration rides that Lynn Palm, frequent H&R contributor, gave at the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals.
The event, which finished up last month in Omaha, Nebraska, is considered THE most prestigious annual indoor championship for jumping and dressage horses from around the world. (Spectators this year included billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, the latter there to watch his daughter Jennifer compete in jumping.)
But, thanks to Lynn, “Western” also wowed the crowd. Riding a Quarter Horse and a Paint in full Western gear, Lynn proved that the traditional beauty of dressage is fully attainable for cowboy-hatted enthusiasts.
On 9-year-old gelding Hot N Royal, the Florida trainer and clinician performed Level-1 dressage maneuvers to a medley of Western-themed classical music. On her 20-year-old trouper, Rugged Painted Lark (“Bruce”), Lynn amazed the audience with advanced movements, including half pass at jog and lope, canter pirouettes, and flying lead changes—all of it one-handed in romal reins.
Now, that’s Western!
As for how Western dressage benefits your horse, I covered that in “4 Reasons to Try Western Dressage,” drawing on expertise from both Lynn Palm and Al Dunning. (That post also includes a slew of links to basic information on Western dressage.)
But here’s something else to consider. If you’re into reining, the rules say the best reiner is “willingly guided or controlled, with little or no apparent resistance.” Or, if Western riding, horsemanship, ranch riding, or any number of rail classes is your thing, your horse will perform best when he’s balanced, with his power and forward thrust coming from his hind end. This enables him to lift his back for maximum maneuverability and fluid speed changes.
And all those qualities—willing responsiveness, self-carriage, power from behind, maneuverability—are at the core of dressage training.
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