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Photo courtesy of Specialized Saddles

Ranch horse competitions have been exploding in popularity, and in an effort to help more riders develop the partnership these events require, North American Western Dressage (NAWD) is pleased to introduce Ranch Horse Western Dressage. This exciting new program celebrates the athletic abilities of the working ranch horse while demonstrating the benefits that can be gleaned from Western dressage training.

Inspired by the ranch riding classes so popular in stock horse associations, Ranch Horse Western Dressage combines dressage training-scale values with maneuvers used by the working ranch horse, including hesitations, sidepassing, rollbacks and more. Horse and rider must work together to complete a prescribed pattern of maneuvers while showcasing calmness, relaxation, balance, precision, obedience and self-carriage.

“The beauty of Ranch Horse Western Dressage is that it takes what you’ve learned in the dressage court and gives you the opportunity to have fun showing off some movements you would use in real life on a ranch,” NAWD Executive Director Jen Johnson said. “Western dressage provides a great foundation for any horse; Ranch Horse Western Dressage expands upon that foundation, giving you the opportunity to start making some decisions on your own, such as when to make transitions, the depth of your corners and how to fit the required elements in the space without the assistance of letters telling you when to do each maneuver."

Photo courtesy of Randy Byers Horsemanship

“NAWD has always said Western dressage is more than a competition in and of itself—it is progressive training for any discipline. The Ranch Horse Western Dressage program is another great way to demonstrate that mission.”

As part of its new Ranch Horse Western Dressage program, NAWD has developed 12 tests encompassing six progressive levels. Each movement within the test is scored on a 1–10 point scale; the scoring system is based on the Andrew McLean scoring system, the most ethical and objective judging system in the world. Designed as a progressive program, exhibitors are encouraged to start with Ranch Horse Western Dressage Test 1A and incrementally advance to the next test after achieving a proficiency score of 65% or greater.

NAWD Ranch Horse Western Dressage tests are offered virtually 24/7 as part of the association’s revolutionary virtual testing program; ranch horse tests will also be offered as part of multiple nationwide virtual shows in 2016. Virtual testing provides an economical means to test one’s skills and training at any time from the comfort of home and receive constructive feedback from a panel of highly trained judges.

Special thanks to the following NAWD Professionals for their help developing the NAWD Ranch Horse Western Dressage program: Julie Slater of Slater Horse Training, Dighton, Kansas; Mike and Laura Marquez of Vaquero Training Center, East Windsor, Connecticut; and Amanda and Michaela Lane of Double Lane Horsemanship, West Bend, Wisconsin. To learn more about NAWD, virtual testing or its new Ranch Horse Western Dressage program, visit

About North American Western Dressage
North American Western Dressage (NAWD) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating horse enthusiasts about the universal benefits of Western dressage and providing fun, affordable ways to participate in this popular new sport. NAWD offers a variety of programs—Six Feet on the Ground groundwork tests, traditional Western Dressage, Western Dressage Trail and Ranch Horse Western Dressage, and Pre-Intro Western Dressage for even the youngest exhibitors—as well as virtual coaching and showing opportunities, achievement awards and more. Learn more about NAWD at and at

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