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Western Dressage —

The word dressage comes from the French word dresser which means to train. In the simplest sense, it is the art of riding and training a horse to be balanced and harmonious in movement and willing and obedient in attitude.Dressage

Dressage is rooted in centuries old history and traditions in Europe that originated for the purposes of training cavalry horses for movements on the battlefield. This time honored systematic development of horse and rider is known as Classical Dressage and is the foundation for the dressage of our modern times.

Classical Dressage values and encourages harmony between horse and rider; the natural gaits and movements of the horse; the development of a balanced and independent seat of the rider; and the gymnastic strenghtening of the horse. It honors a progressive system that educates a horse and rider to increasingly difficult movements.

In its most foundational stages dressage helps the horse and rider communicate with each other and develop balance, strength, flexibility and accuracy. As a horse progresses, their ability to correctly use their body is improved, enabling them to appear effortless in their movements. For these reasons, riders of varied backgrounds and goals often use dressage as a means of developing an athletic and responsive mount and improving the horse's performance.

As horse and rider progress through the training levels, they are able to execute the more magnificent movements, such as the collected and extended gaits, lateral movements and collected work such as the pirouettes, passages and piaffe. The esteemed Lippizan Stallions of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna demonstrate the "haute ecole" or highest degree of training in dressage with their famous "airs above the ground."

What is Western Dressage?

Meanwhile, in recent decades, the western way of horsemanship in America has been finding its voice against practices based upon fear and intimidation and has been replacing them with new methods and philosophies that are based on lightness, trust, respect and mutual understanding between horse and human. These simple concepts, now known as Natural Horsemanship, have found a perfect union with the aims of Classical Dressage and from the blending of these two worlds Western Dressage was born!

Although the practice of utilizing Classical Dressage concepts and techniques to benefit western horses is not a new one, it was only recently that an organized effort began to develop this blending of east and west into an officially recognized discipline. In 2010 the Western Dressage Association of America® (WDAA) was founded and is now on a mission to inspire western riders to a higher level of horsemanship and partnership through the use of Classical Dressage. The association strives to honor the horse, value the partnership between the horse and rider, and also celebrate the legacy of the American West. To learn more about the Western Dressage Association of America® please visit their website.

Western Dressage at Mountain Rose Horsemanship

Mountain Rose Horsemanship is proud to be on the cutting edge of the new and exciting Western Dressage movement. Emily Johnson has been both a student and long time admirer of Eitan Beth-Halachmy, creator of Cowboy Dressage and one of the founding inspirations behind the Western Dressage movement and the WDAA. Emily is one of only a small group of instructors in the nation to have completed the WDAA Train the Trainers™ program and is also a proud member of the Western Dressage Association of America®, the United States Dressage Federation and the Nebraska Dressage Association. Emily is eager to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for this new discipline with horse enthusiasts of all kind. The MRH horsemanship curriculum now includes Western Dressage clinic offerings and instruction as a means of continuing to serve and support you and your horse on your journey of ever increasing lightness, understanding and ultimate partnership!

Western Dressage Show Coaching

Emily is now available to coach, support, educate and otherwise inspire you at your horse show! Please email us at to inquire about date availability and rates.

What Students Are Saying...

"Emily, as I reflect back on this past year and begin setting my goals for the next, I can't help but realize how blessed I was to have you as a coach for my Western Dressage journey. Every time we met, it truly lifted my soul to realize that you don't just say, 'honor the horse', you practice it!!!! You helped my mare, Solo and I become a better team by giving us two to three new things to work on each session versus overwhelming us with things we weren't ready for. I loved that the first thing you asked me when we began talking about the WDAA World Show was, 'what are your goals?' It made me think and put things into perspective rather than going into it without a plan.

"I can't even name all the times that I relied on your wisdom during the World Show run. Whether it was the discussions on hauling techniques, setting the warm up routines, selecting the show outfit for the day, or breaking down the patterns your advice was always spot on! You gave me time to consider suggestions and you were ALWAYS my number one supporter!! It gave me the confidence to know that I could go in and have the opportunity to live a dream and achieve my goal.

"So, now begins the western dressage journey for the coming year. I look forward to the opportunity to honor Solo by continuing to expand my knowledge with you as my coach. Thank you!"

- Kathy

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