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Western dressage integrates the historically validated principles of dressage with the best of Western stock horse tradition. It is a systematic and progressive system of training for the Western horse and rider in traditional stock tack with the purpose of enjoying a safe, pleasurable, versatile, and useful working horse. The hallmarks of the Western dressage horse are usefulness, rideability, willingness, safety, pure gaits, lightness, calmness, and steadiness. A Western dressage rider should be attentive and tactful. They should use clear, effective, subtle aids coupled with a confident seat and light, responsive hands in communication with their horse.

A Western dressage partnership should exhibit impulsion originating from deeply engaged hindquarters transmitted without resistance through a supple topline to a light, soft contact with the rider’s hand(s). The horse should move freely forward, laterally, and to the rear via a willingness to work off the hindquarters, which enables the Western horse to be a useful working partner. A Western dressage partnership should culminate in a happy, harmonious horse and rider relationship.

Western dressage tests provide the opportunity for horse and rider to demonstrate growth through a series of progressive elements by advancing from test to test and level to level as they develop in physical skill, mental maturity, and partnership. Competitions are both rewarding and educational, with judges providing scores and offering feedback for each element, as well as for collective marks demonstrated throughout the test.


Nicole Zerbee
[email protected]

Western Dressage Committee




Western Dressage Association

Recognized National Affiliate Association

The mission statement of WDAA is to build an equine community that combines the Western traditions of horse and rider with Classical Dressage. WDAA honors the horse, values the partnership between horse and rider, and celebrates the legacy of the American West.

You can visit the Western Dressage Association at their website:

Forms and Publications

Current Western Dressage Tests Link

Current Western Dressage Tests

Western Dressage Equipment Book

A guideline of legal and illegal equipment when competing in Western Dressage classes.

2021 Rail Class Guide for Western Dressage Judges

A reference guide for judges regarding Western Dressage Rail Classes.

WDAA Judge's Score Cards for Horsemanship and Medal Equitation Classes

WDAA Judge's Score Cards for Horsemanship and Medal Equitation Classes

WDAA/USEF Membership Benefits

The benefits of being both a WDAA member and a USEF member

Competition Licensing Comparison

Document outlining the different competition licensing options for Western Dressage competitions.

Regular Competitions with Open Dressage and Western Dressage classes

How to hold breed-restricted competitions with open Dressage and Western Dressage class in compliance with the rules

Western Dressage Glossary of Terms

Western Dressage Glossary of Terms

Western Dressage Judging Guidelines

Judging criteria for Western Dressage classes

Western Dressage USEF Lite Information Sheet

USEF has added an additional license called Competition Lite. This new structure was created to provide another avenue for competitions to be licensed with US Equestrian while experiencing a modified application of some of the rules. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact Nicole Zerbee at [email protected] or 859-225-6952.