Western Dressage Quick Tip: Step One – Forward Movement

Today’s we have a Western Dressage Quick Tip for you.

The very first beginning step of Western Dressage is to teach forward.

Before you can move through any other maneuvers or levels, you must first teach and have consistency in moving forward.

Moving forward is creating the acceptance, willingness, balance and softness in the forward moving gait.

Getting Started

To create forward movement with willingness and softness you must allow the horse to understand exactly what you are asking and exactly what you want! (I call this being cut and dry.) The horse has no room to misunderstand, so it is your job to be very clear and consistent in your asking.

Squeeze, cluck and add a tightening in your seat to squeeze your seat as you ask for forward. The moment your horse responds with forward motion you stop asking and sit quietly with your body, legs and hands.

Ask, get a response of a try forward, stop asking, stop moving, just sit quietly.

This teaches your horse that if they respond to you with forward when you ask that you then stop asking and leave them alone quietly. A horse feels and understands this almost instantly……or within a quick couple minutes.

Once your horse masters moving forward when you ask you may begin to ask for a little more forward or that your horse stay forward in front of your leg so they maintain that forward on their own.

The process is the same…. ask for forward, get a response of forward from your horse, stop asking and sit quietly. (Repeat) This is how you begin to have a two way conversation with your horse.

Do not ask for too much forward or aggressively ask for and continue asking for forward….teach your horse to respond lightly by asking lightly and reward the smallest effort or try by becoming quiet and staying out of your horse’s way.

Master this first foundation step and the rest of the road of building your foundation becomes easier.

A side note

When you are starting here and at step one, even if it feels like going backward…..teach FORWARD BEFORE collection!! Allow the horse to learn to move forward freely and relaxed so this exercise is to be done with light to no contact and asking for NO collection or connection at all at first.

Go out and get started on today’s quick tip.

(If you have a western horse coming in from Western Pleasure or all-around events you may have to adjust your cue to asking for forward off one leg not squeezing with two or with a very light and subtle tap instead of squeeze or hold if your horse has a “spur slow” or “spur stop.” Don’t miss an upcoming Quick Tip coming soon on exactly how to transition the western pleasure or all-around horse to western dressage. It is a four part series coming soon….so keep an eye out and don’t miss that one.)


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I’m Jen.

Most days you will find me with a coffee in one hand, hot pink manure pick in the other with my mind bubbling over dreaming up ways to help my horse girl sisters find their true selves & ride their best life every. single. day.


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