IJA Judges Seminar for Dressage with Gaited Horses

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June 28, 2013 -- The second IJA Judging Seminar for Dressage with Gaited Horses was held in Chino Valley, Arizona, on June 14-16, 2013, and was organized and instructed by the Independent Judges Association (IJA), a subset of Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH).

The clinic was based upon the FOSH Sound Principles as well as the Fundamentals of Dressage for Gaited Horses. The IJA program is based on the premise that all gaited breeds and all gaited horses are capable of dressage and will benefit from dressage. The IJA program respects the universality of dressage and recognizes and reinforces the aspects of dressage that are true for all horses. The IJA Program adapts and applies the principles of classical dressage to gaited horses while reinforcing the aspects of dressage that are true for all horses.

The IJA program for Dressage with Gaited Horses began in 1998 when FOSH was founded. The program was expanded in 2009 with publication of the IJA Manual for Dressage with Gaited Horses. This is a comprehensive manual based upon the fundamentals of dressage combined with the unique characteristics of the gaited horse. Nineteen tests have been developed that can be ridden by any gaited horse. The IJA tests consist of two Gait Tests, Intro Level Tests, Training Level Tests and First Level Tests. In each of the tests, the transitions occur in locations that can be executed smoothly by all gaited horses whether long strided or short strided.

Every IJA clinic comprises two days of classroom learning and a day of practical application of the theory and skills presented during the prior two days. This clinic was no exception. The third day was a dressage schooling show for gaited horses. Fourteen tests were ridden and provided the applicant judges ample opportunity to apply the principles of dressage, movement, judging and gait as each ride was evaluated. Judging of any kind is a high-level skill, and judging dressage for gaited horses combines knowledge of dressage fundamentals with knowledge of the unique intermediate gait of 20 gaited breeds. Although all gaited breeds have a four-beat intermediate gait, each of those intermediate gaits is unique to the breed. The intermediate gait of the Missouri Fox Trotter is not the same as the intermediate gait of the Mountain Horse even though both breeds may have a smooth and a four-beat gait.

As a special treat, James Shaw of Riding From Within introduced judges and riders to his unique approach to the human riding body utilizing the Eastern modalities. Rose Miller, author of The Horse that Wouldn’t Trot was a special guest at the clinic on Friday. On Sunday, Dr. Richard Weary, a Tevis Cup finisher on John Henry, a Tennessee Walking Horse, communicated the excitement and hard work of riding endurance. Once again, the awesome cooperation, enthusiasm and openness of all rider and participants created an event that will be long remembered.

FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and actively fights against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. For more information about FOSH, the only national organization that represents multiple gaited breeds, or to become a member, please visit www.fosh.info.