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Teaching Western Dressage in Northern Michigan and on – Facts

Definitely not a Western Dressage move….but we love cows too !
details to follow…

Trailer in, or use one of our schoolmasters for lessons…….

Press Release September 2012 – Expand Your Knowledge about Dressage and Increase your Performance Scores.


Clinic at Brek-n-Ridge Farm in Harbor Springs, Michigan

“The winning difference between first, second and third place in dressage is in the small details,” Offield says, “and those details come from years of experience teaching, training and riding.I have a strong background in the world of western riding and we love to teach. I welcome students and their trainers to visit us in Harbor Springs this Fall, Winter and Spring to learn about Dressage. Western Dressage rocks ! We are located 30 minutes from the Mac Bridge, 2 hours from TC and less than 4 hours from Grand Rapids. We have extra corrals and a small barn for extended visits.”

Participants will ride a test of choice – the Basic or Primary Test  (as if at a show) while being judged by Karin Reid Offield.  A 45min. lesson will follow and Karin and Kate will work with you to improve your test results. Plan for a one-hour time commitment.

Contact information:  Manager: Kate Etherly 231-242-0012

About Karin Reid Offield Clinic’s in Grand Rapid’s in 2012:

On January 20 and 21, 2012 Serenity Farm proudly hosted Karin Reid-Offield as the clinician for the first clinic in the Grand Rapids area’s ADA Winter Clinic Series. “Karin is a clinician at Serenity Farm and so the line-up of riders consisted of some familiar faces as well as some new ones. It was fun to see the great improvement in the horses. I truly wish I had taken video to compare the first and last five minutes of each ride. One would have thought there were months of training between the two performances. Once again, this proves how important it is for us to have a ground person with has a keen eye for what the judges are looking for. Without that, bad habits can form since things go unnoticed and uncorrected,” noted Serenity Farm’s owner Janine Holmes.

Participant Kim Nobel, an accomplished and longtime western rider: “Karin put us right at ease. The focus of our lesson was to do a dance, not just the geometrical movements. We’ve thrown away the spurs and are learning to communicate subtly. It’s all about making the dance beautiful!

While enjoying‘ summer time grilled burgers’ for lunch, Karin engaged in numerous discussions with riders and auditors. Questions were asked and answers given, stories were told and experiences shared. Everyone benefitted from Karin’s background and training with Olympians Robert Dover and her overseas experience and the wisdom she gained while living with multiple Gold Medal winner Anky van Grunsven. All agreed that Karin was easy to understand, that what she taught made perfect sense.

For more information about Brek-n-Ridge Farm visit For more information go to to read about the stable, email us at, visit the Harbor Springs area to visit the farm at 7359 South Lake Shore Drive and learn more about the world famous dressage stallion LINGH owned by Karin and now standing at stud in Germany. Check out his website at

Western Dressage: Frequent Questions & Answers

Western Dressage started growing in northern California at a local Morgan horse show, known as the Mother Lode Show.  The concept was simple; a platform was offered for anyone who wished to compete in dressage classes using Western tack and clothing.  Currently, Western Dressage classes are only USEF recognized in the Morgan Division.  At USEF shows which are open to all-breeds, Western Dressage classes fall under “opportunity classes.”  As the discipline grows, WD classes should increase!  The Western Dressage Association® of America offers a variety of resources for those interested in learning more about the discipline.  Here is a list of common questions and answers; these can also be found on the WDAA website.

Where do I find rules and classes for Western Dressage?

There are new rules and tests that WDAA are finalizing, which will include gait descriptions.  The new rules and tests will be ready for the 2013 competition season, and can be found on the WDAA link below.

What is the difference between Western Dressage and traditional Dressage?

The goals of Western Dressage and Dressage are similar. They both wish to create a better horse and rider with the use of structure and levels. The Western Dressage horse is encouraged to work and school on lighter contact than the typical dressage horses. While both want to see balance, cadence and carriage, the Western Dressage horse will be evaluated with the conformation and movement of today’s western horses in mind. The Western Dressage horse will have a shorter stride than a Dressage horse and the Western Dressage horse will be asked to walk, jog and lope as opposed to walk, trot and canter.  In keeping with the tradition of the Western horse and rider, they will be shown in Western tack and attire. These are just a few examples of the differences.

The goal of Western Dressage is to take the principles of classical dressage and bring them to the western rider.  The goal of having a strong, balanced horse who responds happily to the rider’s cues is one that will be paramount.  One of the most important hallmarks of a great Western Dressage ride is lightness in both the rider’s hands and the lightness of the front end of the Western Dressage horse.

Do I need special tack, equipment, or attire to show in Western Dressage?

No! The current USEF rule book permits riders to perform the tests in either a standard western snaffle bit, which is defined in the rule book, or in a standard western bit which is also defined there. You may use your western saddle and your western headstall and reins.

The WDAA has involved its Advisory Board in writing new rules for the 2013 competition year.  WDAA breed alliance partners who are part of the USEF will refer to these rules for Western Dressage classes in 2013.  The definition of both the snaffle and the curb bits have been refined and expanded; the use of a western style caveson or pencil bosal will be permitted with a snaffle bit.  Watch the WDAA website for the new rules and the new tests as well.  Please review the current Western Dressage rules for details ( )

What are the Western Dressage tests?

One of the most important hallmarks of a great Western Dressage ride is lightness, in both the rider’s hands and the lightness of the front end of the Western Dressage horse.  WDAA has been hard at work on a new set of rules that does a much better job of integrating “western” with the principles of classical   dressage.  WDAA strives to create a correct, balanced horse and rider partnership.   There are several innovations in the new rules which will be available for the 2013 competition year that address this issue.  When one combines the “lightness” (that is so central to Western Dressage), with a balanced frame; one will see a more natural carriage that aims to increasingly put the horse’s weight more on the hind quarters.  Also addressed, will be the concern with the very low head carriage that has become the style in some of the western world.

New rules and test will be available for the 2013 show season!

Who teaches Western Dressage?

Any dressage instructor can teach Western Dressage as long as they are receptive to the idea of using western horses in western tack. The WDAA has developed a suggested curriculum for the instruction of Western Dressage. This curriculum will soon be available on the WDAA website. We have a discussion forum on the WDAA Social Corral for instructors to share their experiences and ideas.

How can I learn Western Dressage if there are no instructors in my area?

Getting Western Dressage instructors throughout the US will take time.  In the meantime, you can take lessons from any dressage instructor who has become familiar with the Western Dressage rules and is willing to work with western horses.  The principles of classical dressage apply to any rider and horse and are not dependent upon the tack or equipment being used.

*Resources available at offers two excellent resources for you:  The first is an online educational video library, which can be viewed at:  These videos will help guide you in your training, and will outline proper training versus incorrect training; the second resource in the ability to enter online clinics with experts in Western Dressage for as little as $25!

How do I join the Western Dressage Association® of America and what does my membership include?

To become a member of the Western Dressage Association® of America simply go to the Member Registration page on the WDAA website. Benefits of Membership are listed on the WDAA Registration Page.

Does membership cost the same if I live outside the United States?

Yes.  Just complete the membership application form on the WDAA website.

Who judges Western Dressage?

Any licensed dressage judge can judge Western Dressage.  The WDAA has a list of judges who have judged Western Dressage classes.

Please contact the WDAA for more information at:

Are there Western Dressage shows or classes in my area?

Western Dressage classes have been offered at Morgan horse shows for several years; the Morgan World Championship offered these classes for the first time in 2011.  Breed alliance partners, the Freisian Association and the Pinto Horse Association also offered these classes at their championships in 2011 and 2012.  There are quite a number of local dressage shows that offer Western Dressage classes and the WDAA is working to encourage more shows to offer Western Dressage classes at their shows.  Contact WDAA at if you have questions.  Check out the WDAA calendar for a list of current shows and classes.  The WDAA is in the process of developing a Tool Box with information to help local horse shows hold Western Dressage classes and to assist other breeds to begin the process of getting Western Dressage included into their rules.

Do I have to join any organizations to participate in Western Dressage?

No!  You don’t have to be a member of a breed organization, the US Dressage Federation or any other group to participate in Western Dressage.  If you show at a USEF licensed show, you will need to be a member of USEF or pay a non-member fee at the show.

What is the best way to get Western Dressage started in my area?

Click on the Get Involved button (on the WDAA website) and refer to the guidelines they have made available. To assist you in getting Western Dressage started in your area, check out the How to Organize a Western Dressage Clinic for ideas.

The easiest way for you to begin your process is to put on a clinic using a recognized horseman or horsewoman specializing in Western Dressage. Once you have a group of people who have been introduced to the fundamentals of Western Dressage, you can continue to have local clinics conducted by local accredited instructors.

There is a group in Colorado who started their education with a clinic from Eitan Beth-Halachmy in July 2010. They have been meeting every two weeks ever since.  Their process is a good model for starting Western Dressage on a local level.

For more information on the Colorado Western Dressage group, click on the How to Organize a Western Dressage Clinic under Get Involved (on WDAA), or contact Bob Harb

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