Inspiration For A Brand New Year (Member Reflections from the 2015 World Show)

2016 is already underway, and no matter where you are in California you’ve been dealing with some kind of unhappy weather! But the sun will be back before you know it, so now is the time to make your plan for the year. What are your goals for 2016? Attend your first show? Move up a level? Master that free jog? To help inspire you as you set your goals, here are some words and videos from your fellow members about their experiences at the 2015 World Show.

Some were there to ride, some to master judging skills, and some to do a little of everything! Either way, our fellow California members shined at Worlds. Thanks so much to all who contributed, and congratulations to everyone who got out there last year and rode at any show, any where!
Who will we see at Worlds in 2016? Why not you!?

from Sandra Ogden:

It is always a lot of fun to attend the WD World show. It is  a great opportunity to visit with WD enthusiasts from other states and countries, as well as meet WD board members.

It is also fun to stable with other CAWDA members from California and cheer each other on. And who says if you want to keep a secret don’t tell anyone….my horse’s trainer entered my horse in a Musical Freestyle and managed to keep it a secret from me until the moment she entered  the arena to the music from Guys and Dolls!  It was one of the truly nicest surprises I have ever had….and it took the collaboration of dozens of people to pull it off!  If I had only known, all my visits to the barn to help get ready for the “World Show” were  actually interfering with “the musical freestyle practices.”  You can see the ride on YouTube at WDAA World Show 2015 – Zips Vanilla Belle.

One of the most heartening things was to see such a large group of participants in the western dressage judges program at the show studying “western” dressage. They spent long hours each day judging classes and having their work critiqued. It was a truly rigorous process and we appreciate their hard work and dedication to learning. It is this kind of education that will help solidify and define the direction of this fledgling sport.

from Terri Polley:

I created a news post for the Arabian Performance Horse Club website about our trip to Oklahoma for the World Show:

“Western Dressage held it’s 3rd annual World Show in conjunction with the Pinto World Congress in Tulsa OK Nov 6-8th. Nicki, myself, Brandie and Trish made the trek to compete and see what this new discipline is all about. What was so fun to see was the overwhelming enthusiasum of many different western horse riders and the variety of horses and riders it attracted.  The levels of expertise varied as much as the horse breeds and for some dressage was a new endeavor, but all were eager to  participate and become a part of it. The Western Dressage motto is ‘It’s about the Journey,’ and the Western Dressage Association of America itself is still on that path as they refine the standards, procedures and policies of this infant organization.  We loved watching the tests (4 rings going non-stop!) with all the different horses. The musical freestyles were fun to watch and there was some great shopping.  It was a great experience overall and we were excited to be a part of it.”

I created a short video of it also, that you can find here at

from Cynthia Collins, Luna Tunes Freestyles:

CAWDA and CDS member Cynthia Collins on I’ll be a Scarlet Moon, a 4 year old paint mare, won the 2015 WDAA Western Dressage Basic Amateur High Point World Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma Nov 6-8.  In a class of 26 riders from all over the United States and Canada, Collins had the highest combined scores from Basic tests 3 & 4 of 76.3945 to win one of the few belt buckle trophies.
Scarlet was not happy about the two days of traveling. She wouldn’t eat or drink on the way there. Thursday’s warm up was during a loud thunderstorm with a tornado warning, but Tulsa is all indoors and she didn’t seem to mind the noise.  Friday’s equitation class was a bit of a challenge. Scarlet is usually very quiet and consistent, but the crowd in the bleachers and flashes from the photographers got her attention. She just started to settle when we had to line up to ride our individual patterns. She wanted nothing to do with standing while waiting for our turn. I never practiced standing!

Saturday started with the dressage classes. She usually comes down centerline and goes into “show mode”, but she never did. After the first ride she had a 74.848% for fifth, so I thought there was no way we could win the belt buckle. Saturday night we rode I. The Basic freestyle which we have scored as much as 82% during the year, but she was again a bit distracted by the crowd and banners. She was her usual obedient self, but a little tense. We still ended up Reserve Champion with a 73.3%.

Sunday morning was our last ride. She was finally a little tired and I could get her to come over her back a bit. I still didn’t think it was a great ride, so I was a bit surprised she scored 77.9%. We still only placed third in the class, but the two that placed over me had scored quite a bit lower than me on Saturday. My husband Terry and I were so excited!

I bought Scarlet last year in Idaho from Danny Thompson’s daughter Danielle. He had bought her to be a cutter, but she didn’t like it. He then tried roping and barrel racing which she really didn’t like. His daughter rode dressage so he handed the mare over to her. She rode her for 10 days, took her to a rated dressage show, and scored a 70% at Training Level. Terry and I drove to Idaho and when I got done riding her, I said, ‘She’s sold’. I’ve never ridden a horse so relaxed in her back. Especially at three years old. We plan on traveling back to Tulsa next year to compete at Level One.

from Brandie Haining, Circle B Riding Academy:

I went to world had a great time! I hauled a horse for another trainer friend of mine and her client Terri made a wonderful video (see Terri Polley’s video above!). Dancer and I took fourth place and went top five; there’s a picture of us and of my jacket and forth place ribbon located on The Circle B Riding Academy‘s Facebook page.

from Nicole Chastain Price, Nicole Chastain Price Training Stables:

The side view….a reflection from the USEF Judge’s Apprenticeship program at the World Show

Since its inception I have been thrilled about this discipline.  Through the bumps and curves I have watched it grow, evolve and change and now with the USEF accreditation comes the development of a training program to license new judges.  I have been privileged to attend this program in several facets and this year was the first group apprenticing/judge’s training program to be held for the WDAA.  Thanks to Karen Homer Brown, Joyce Swanson, Janet Dolly Hannon and Cliff Swanson the weekend was full of learning opportunities.  Being the inaugural program it had its own challenges that were met and handled with grace and tact by our fearless leaders. We were so fortunate to be able to observe and judge so many wonderful rides on such a broad variety of horses over the three days.  While competitors were busy preparing for their rides, we were busy studying the rules, defining the standards and putting into practice live judging from the sidelines.

“S” Judge Janet Dolly Hannon judged alongside the participants and in the late afternoons we met to discuss our scoring- we had to be within 2 points of our senior judge Hannon and place our classes in roughly the same order- having the first two horses first and the last horse last was the most important criteria.  Every evening we were hitting the books, studying the tests and reviewing our methodology.  It was stressed throughout the program that while our personal preferences may vary there is a standard we are judging toward and if we remain consistent, whether we are consistently higher or lower than another judge is not as important as remaining consistently true to the standard and to our methodology.   A score for each movement is defined by considering the Basics + Criteria +/- Modifiers- sound confusing? It does take a lot of practice! And while the competitors were riding their best to receive high marks we were doing our best as we were being evaluated the entire weekend as well- from appearance, to speaking ability/presentation, to our ability to deliver accurate, consistent results in a timely manner with purposeful, helpful and succinct remarks that matched our scores.

Even though by the end of the weekend I was tired and mentally stretched I was so excited about the energy, interest and enthusiasm of everyone I met in Tulsa.   It is so encouraging to see first hand how much this sport is growing and even though I love the judging aspect I can’t wait to be taking my own horses down centerline in Tulsa-hopefully in the near future!

from Kaili Graf, Speak Equine:

Challenging. Fun. Inspiring. Educational. This year’s Western Dressage World Championship was a whirlwind of emotion and experience. I left Tulsa with a profound respect for those that make this discipline a reality. From the friendly competitors to the hard-working Board, the air of enthusiasm, hard work, commitment and passion for our sport was overwhelming.

It was an honor to compete alongside the trainers I most admire in the industry. I made unexpected new friendships, found inspiration in the stories of competitors from all over, and learned from fellow trainers I’d never met before. Unlike other championships I’ve attended, every single person I met was cheerful, friendly and genuinely excited to be there. Truly a supportive community of horsemen and women.

I was in attendance on “double duty;” first as a competitor, but also as a representative of the WDAA. As the WDAA’s Social Media & Marketing manager, I had the opportunity to attend the Annual convention, interview, photograph, network and assist with the WDAA booth.  I am in awe of the energy and commitment of our Board and Staff. We have an amazing, inspiring group of leaders within the WDAA that work incredibly hard to keep our sport growing.

In reflection, I am sincerely glad that I made this trip. I certainly met with challenges in the show ring and came home with an excess of “homework.” It was hard work to prepare, train and travel to Tulsa. I made the trek from California to Tulsa all alone, just me and my horse – getting stuck in a snowstorm and all! But I learned a lot, gained new confidence in myself and my horse and managed to (somehow) bring home an armload of colorful ribbons amidst large classes and tough competition. Aside from the camaraderie and friendships I made, the highlight was competing in and watching the freestyle classes. What a blast. I need to make sure I prepare a costume next year!

I left Tulsa feeling grateful, inspired and completely exhausted. What a way to wrap up my year! I can’t wait to share my journey with my students, clients, friends and family. In many ways, I was the “World Championship guinea pig” for my barn this year. But I know that my experiences have challenged and inspired my students and friends to join me next year. So from Team Speak out in Ventura County – we’ll all be seeing you at World next year! And we can’t wait!