Katrina Sanders Classical Equitation

APHA Journal

Do you desire to work towards seamless transitions, perfect rhythm and precise control over your horses tempo? The process of developing advanced levels of communication is highlighted in the new disciplines of Cowboy Dressage® and Western Dressage. Designed with the western horse in mind, both organizations honor the time tested philosophies of classical dressage, keeping the physical, mental and emotional balance of the horse in the forefront of training and competition.

While partnership with the horse is the desire of all riding disciplines, for Cowboy Dressage® and Western Dressage this is the central idea behind training, coaching, showing and judging. Both organizations emphasize the utilization of classical dressage principles to enhance the western horse, regardless of breed or background. Many horses who compete are also active competitors in other western disciplines and riders find that using dressage training principles improves the overall balance and quality of all work.

Here are descriptions of each discipline.

The Western Dressage discipline is a melding of training methods. Classical Dressage brings the techniques of master European horsemen, techniques that are hundreds of years old and based upon principles which encourage cadence, balance, and carriage. It is technical and it is precise, a rigorous discipline for horse and rider. It is also an art. Western Horsemanship has been practiced on the ranches of the American West since the 1700s and even earlier through the traditions of the Spanish vaqueros. The subsequent advances in Western Horsemanship begun by the Dorrance Brothers and practiced by a new generation of horsemen and women opened the door to the mind of the horse, encouraging patience and understanding. The concept of “lightness” and subtle cues grew from its acceptance. They found that the result was good for both horse and rider. The Western Dressage competition court is the same size as a standard dressage arena which is 20 x 60 meters. http://www.westerndressageassociation.org/

Soft Feel (or Fresh Rein) is the guiding principle of Cowboy Dressage®. It is a wordless, intimate and for some a spiritual communication within the partnership between horse and rider. Soft feel is not only sending messages but having the sensitivity and awareness to feel and receive the message the horse sends back. The timing and use of the Release, Relaxation, Preparation and Execution are the basic fundamentals of Soft Feel. Since Soft Feel is the mission of Cowboy Dressage® it will be scored with emphases on lightness, harmony, finesse and partnership as a priority. Balance, cadence, carriage, control, and performance are additional areas the horse and rider will be judged and scored. © The Cowboy Dressage® competition court is 20 x 40 meters which is considered a “short court” in standard dressage competitions. http://cowboydressageworld.com/

Both organizations follow a similar competition format. Classes are organized so that riders have specified times to conduct their tests which are ridden individually. The tests are presented in sequential levels where one can enter at the most basic level or ride more advanced tests that include maneuvers such as turns on the haunches and flying lead changes. There are youth, amateur and open divisions and even in-hand divisions from which to choose. Both organizations also have finals competitions in the fall of each year and offer incentive programs for high point awards.

Whether you are looking to explore a new discipline or to augment your current training program, consider utilizing Cowboy Dressage® or Western Dressage as a way to enhance your partnership and communication with your horse.

  • Katrina Sanders ~ Classical Equitation
  • Katrina Sanders ~ Classical Equitation
  • Katrina Sanders ~ Classical Equitation
  • Katrina Sanders ~ Classical Equitation
  • Katrina Sanders ~ Classical Equitation

Katrina Sanders is a trainer, coach, and clinician on the Central Coast. Her training operation is located at Rancho del Rio 9961 Santa Clara Rd. in Atascadero. She is a current competitor in Cowboy Dressage®, Western Dressage, Californio Bridlehorse, AQHA shows, Versatility Ranch Horse and Working Equitation. For more information about Katrina or if you have interest in organizing a clinic with her, please go to www.ksclassicaleq.com.