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Connecting with Western Dressage

Passionate professionals like these are go-to sources for those looking to learn about this popular sport

- February 18th, 2016 - Cover Story, Special Section

California Western Dressage Association
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.

Ann Marie Avansino
Wild Wine Farm Riding Instruction
Ann Marie Avansino has been a part of a farming and ranching family in Linden for six generations. Her father and uncles raised and trained thoroughbred race horses in Northern California for many years. While in San Diego, Ann Marie co-founded Winner’s Circle Ranch, a non-profit organization for at-risk-youth and race horse adoption. A student of the horse in both English and Western riding she offers lessons and training with a specialization in starting people on horses along with instruction & coaching for intermediate and advanced riders. Ann Marie is a graduate of the WDAA Train the Trainers™ program.
Horses have a unique place in human history.  They are powerful and magical creatures that captivate all people with their beauty and strength.  Horses are also valuable work partners with an extraordinary capacity for learning.  But horses cannot be forced to respond, they are simply too big. Instead, a horse must be taught with a careful blend of simple steps repeated over time with understanding, discipline, and strategy. Learning to handle a horse allows people to develop techniques for overcoming life’s challenges. The rewards of handling, riding, and partnership with one of man’s best friends can change a person’s life and their perspective on life around them.

Jec Ballou
Santa Cruz
Most prominent in the dressage competition scene, Jec Ballou has trained and competed through the FEI levels but has also competed in long distance trail riding, Ride & Tie, breed shows, and almost everything in between. She won three consecutive East Coast championships in distance riding, becoming the youngest rider in history to win the prestigious Vermont 100 Mile Competition. A proponent of interdisciplinary study, she serves as an advisor to the Western Dressage Association of America. She works tirelessly as an advocate for the understanding that proper biomechanical movement and athleticism can never happen as a result of short-cuts, force, or hurried training methods. Jec A. Ballou is the author of 101 Western Dressage Exercises, an advisor to the Western Dressage Association of America, and a national clinician.

Brad Price and Nicole Chastain Price
Price Ranch
Santa Ynez Valley
Brad and Nicole incorporated Western Dressage into their program shortly after being married in 2011. They felt that the timing of this emerging new sport was perfect with Nicole, a dressage trainer, marrying a cowboy and trainer with a background in ranch horses, cutting, sorting and colt starting. Western Dressage functions to combine their love of the western lifestyle with what their program strives for: correct, calm, consistent basics rooted in classical theory that can be applied to competitive sport. Brad and Nicole strongly believe the gymnastic exercises that dressage embraces can be applied to the Western horse to produce a more supple, balanced, sound and versatile athlete. Too often, horses specialize in only one discipline. Being allowed to use bosals, snaffles, two rein or a bridle honors a tradition of building horses at their own pace, much like the Californio bridle horse traditions. Both Brad and Nicole have competed and will continue to offer clinics. Nicole is a WD judge and is currently pursuing her USEF card. She has attended several judges’ education programs. Both Brad and Nicole have attended Train the Trainers® and Nicole has attended the Advanced TTT.

Kathleen Elliott
Kathleen Elliott Equestrian
Kathleen Elliott Equestrian offers English riding lessons for all levels of equestrians, from pleasure riders to advanced competitors, both children and adults. Her riding program focuses primarily on Hunter Jumper, Dressage and Western Dressage. Kathleen specializes in getting you started the right way on the right horse with the right instruction. She can teach you how to conquer your “mental monsters,” like overcoming rider fear, anxiety, insecurity, anger, impatience, frustration, or self-doubt. She offers very respectful and high standards dressage training, classical methods for a better balance and a softer contact, and starting or re-starting a difficult horse.  Kathleen completed the Train the Trainers™ Western Dressage training course in Canada and she is also an approved riding instructor for ARIA.

Kaili Graf
Speak Equine
805-991 2404
With a brand new facility and recent successes at the WDAA World Championships, Speak Equine is poised to take the training world by storm in 2016. Originally a small grassroots training facility, Speak Equine has grown to a training enterprise with a big vision, offering clinics, training, lessons, show opportunities and full-service boarding. Kaili studied under Monty Roberts, has trained for some of the top Paint Horse breeders in the state, and passionately advocates for OTTBs. Speak Equine forges a background of classical and western dressage with a unique Natural Horsemanship approach.
Their 2015 accolades include two Open Top Fives and three Open Top Tens at the WDAA World Championships. With monthly Western Dressage clinics scheduled, a quickly growing home team and plans to attend the next World Championships, 2016 will be a big year for Team Speak.

Brandie Haining
The Circle B Riding Academy
Brandie provides quality riding and horsemanship lessons specializing in Western Dressage. With over 30 years of experience, Brandie can help you become the rider you desire to be — from finding the right horse, basic ownership, pleasure riding and competition. Being an open breed trainer, she likes the fact that Western Dressage classes are open to all breeds, and that papers are not required. This is great for the rescue horse that may be either. Western Dressage gives these horses a venue in which to grow and compete. Brandie is a graduate of WDA a Train the Trainers® program. She is a CAWDA 2014 open rider intro champion , CAWDA 2015 open rider intro champion and 2015 reserve champion, CAWDA top-five open basic rider, and WDAAA world top five rider 2015.

Carole Perkins
Foresee Horse Company
Carole Perkins is an accomplished horsewoman with over 40 years’ experience.  Her credentials include World, Reserve World and Regional titles in Reining, Working Cow Horse, Western Dressage and Western Pleasure.  She has trained and shown many breeds including Quarter Horse, Arabian, Appaloosa, Paint, Morgan and Warmblood, and has trained and shown in Western, Hunters, Saddleseat, Dressage, Halter/In Hand and Driving.  She is currently adviser to the California Western Dressage Association board and chairs the CAWDA Trainers Network.
She specializes in training horses and riders using techniques from both western and dressage disciplines.  With an emphasis on individual performance, Carole uses targeted exercises designed to improve movement, balance, control and communication.  Lessons include the use of cavellettis, ground poles, cones, and other obstacles to challenge horse and rider. In addition to training, Carole is an open horse show judge and clinician and an “r” WDAA-approved judge.  She received certification as an equine management consultant from Cal Poly, Pomona.

Sarah Pinney
Sun Hill Training
San Diego
A professional rider and trainer for 30 years, Sarah has a well-rounded education in many disciplines including classical dressage, Western, hunt seat, halter, pas de deux, quadrille and saddle seat. She is excited to combine two of her favorite disciplines into Western Dressage! With talent, passion, experience, knowledge and a deep love for all horses, Sarah is looking forward to coaching and training many partnerships to success in this new Western Dressage arena.
Classically educated in Portugal, Great Britain and the States, she emphasizes a classical dressage foundation for both horse and rider. She believes that with such a foundation, you and your horse can pursue any equestrian discipline. Sarah is a USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist, a USDF “L” Graduate with Distinction; she holds 4 IALHA National Championships in Western Pleasure and 2 FHANA World Championships in Western Pleasure.

Katrina Sanders
Katrina Sanders Classical Equitation
Paso Robles
Learn to ride with elegance, poise and grace. As a horse professional, Katrina makes her living by facilitating clear communication between horse and human. She says she may not always be perfect in her translations, but she has cultivated her skills with countless hours observing horses, people, reading books, watching videos and taking instruction from those whom she considers to be masters at their language with horses. Her goal is to do everything in her power to improve her language with the horse — and to pass that ability and knowledge on to others. Rewarding for every try is the key to building a solid foundation. Katrina is very clear in her teaching that the horse’s welfare is the No. 1 priority, and that there may be times where, as humans, we must our egos and alter our goals in consideration of the best interest of the horse. In every new thing that we expose our horses to, and in every situation where we have to either re-establish or build trust, this must be what guides us in order to develop a healthy partnership with our horses, she says. This is the passion that drives her journey in horsemanship, and how she says “we can achieve horse-art-man-ship.”

Lena Stipkova
Shadow Hills
Lena has a background in classical dressage, but she is a western horse enthusiast and enjoys sports such as team penning, sorting and western dressage. Lena and her horse, Rudy, were the open division CAWDA champions in 2015. We look forward to seeing  more of what Lena and Rudy can do in 2016!

Carol Tice
Rocking T Ranch
Carol Tice has been riding dressage since the early 1980s.  While showing Western Pleasure horses, she knew there was a better way to ride the horses the way the judges wanted and started with dressage. She never looked back and traded her western saddle for a dressage saddle. During the next 30-plus years, classical dressage was always involved in her showing horses in jumping, trail, western riding and dressage.  All of the students at her riding school worked and showed using dressage principles, no matter what saddle they choose to use during their ride.
Carol offers lessons, on your horse or hers, for riders just starting into the sport or returning after a short or long break from the sport.  Lessons are offered to riders starting at age 3 and for adults of any age.  Carol is also available for clinics and specializes in clinics that introduce Western Dressage to riders of other disciplines.

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