Western Dressage Isn’t For Dummies

Western dressage is a complicated, mentally challenging discipline. It’s not for dummies! It has only been recently that I learned just how difficult it is to grasp. I was told you use two hands on the reins in western dressage or you lose points. To my backward way of ‘thinkin’, if you can do exactly the same thing with one hand on the reins, it means you’re even better. Like when I was small and the older kids rode their bicycles with one hand while I used two hands. Wrong! Not in western dressage, two hands are required.

Confused, I started sending e-mails and asking western dressage experts why two hands are better than one hand. The first answer I got was safety. It is for the safety and welfare of the rider and fellow participants. For a dumb red-neck from Oklahoma, this was a little hard to follow. If my horse does everything your horse does, where’s the safety? Is it because holding the reins with two hands will help keep me from falling off? Wouldn’t it be better just to grab hold of the saddle horn?????

The next reply was because that’s what the rules say. Slow on the uptake, I asked, who made the rule? This is not a proper question to ask. Once “He Who Shall Not Be Named” has SPOKEN, all will follow the rules. All violators will be PENALIZED!  I tried to point out that in battle, warriors probably carried weapons (swords and stuff), but was informed the correctness of the point would not be debated. The judges had been “trained” in the “old ways”.

At least, these individuals were courteous enough to respond. The silence of others seemed to say, “mere mortals” who would ask such questions could never be capable of understanding the depth and wisdom behind the “rule”.

The experts made it clear that “dressage” is a life-long journey that never ends. You never actually get there. You continue and never stop learning. Well, I may have just started the trip, but for the life of me can’t figure out how those guys swung a sword while holding a rein in each hand.  Hey, can any of you “western dressage experts” out there explain to a dumb country boy why two hands on the reins are better than one?

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