Cowgirl and Western Dressage

I’ve talked once before on my blog about my use of Cowgirl in the titles of my horse books.

Most of the time when someone sees the word Cowgirl they think of working cows, working out on a ranch, or even barrel racing and rodeos. What often doesn’t come to mind is other western disciplines: Western Pleasure, Ranch Riding, Trail Riding, Cowboy Dressage, and Western Dressage (Cowboy and Western Dressage are two different things). Each of these disciplines have similarities and differences.

In my world, Cowgirl is a term of endearment. We’ve called our daughter Cowgirl from the time she was very small. She currently rides Western Dressage on an competitive equestrian team. She has ridden some western pleasure but she prefers riding a dressage test that challenges her to memorize and ride a specific pattern.

Western Dressage is a melding of western horsemanship and Classical Dressage. There are a few subtle differences between the two, gaits being one of them, however the concepts of collection, straightness, impulsion, connection, relaxation, and rhythm are key to both.

Both Western Dressage and Classical Dressage has a set list of tests for riders and horses to work through as they increase their skill level. Each level of tests adds additional elements and are increasingly harder then lower levels.

For more information on Western Dressage, visit the Western Dressage Association.

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