FOSH Holds First Judge's Certification Clinic for Gaited Dressage



The first Independent Judges' Association gaited horse dressage clinic made waves that will be felt in the equine community across the continent.

The clinic was generously hosted by FOSH Patroness Sarah Bushong-Weeks at her fabulous 8th Heaven Farm in Castle Rock, CO.

Three clinicians donated their extremely valuable time to instruct at the event. The clinicians were K C Parkins-Kyle, Castle Rock, Diane Sept-Sutton, PA and Laurie Wolf, FL. Diane and Laurie also are IJA judges. KC brought her experience from years of working with non-gaited dressage. Together, they offered about 85 years of experience with horses.

The May 31-June 2 event attracted five IJA judges, four entrants for the IJA dressage certification program, eight full auditors and three part auditors. Participants came from nine states and one foreign country.

The20event began with a day of classroom instruction on what was expected in dressage in general and gaited dressage in particular. The newly developed IJA tests were presented and explained. The tests range from beginning level where horses are required only to do various types of walks to higher levels where canters are required.

Day two of the clinic brought 21 tests being ridden by all different levels and breeds of gaited horses. Judges in training were assigned to one of the three instructors for a certain number of tests, then rotated onto the next instructor.

"It's amazing how closely all the judges scored the tests and how similar the scoring was to non-gaited dressage," said Christy Taylor, Pocatello , Idaho . She owns C&M Farms, teaches numerous dressage classes and competes in non-gaited tests all around the west. "I was so impressed with the knowledge of the instructors. I'd like to hire them to judge my shows."

Christy has incorporated the IJA dressage tests into her instruction for her gaited students and will offer the tests at her annual show.
The participating horses and riders20were treated to an equine body work session by Diane Sept-Sutton and assisted by Laurie Wolf. Owners were taught how to make their horses feel better through massage and other physical means.

KC was impressed by all the FOSH members. She was introduced to gaited horses by working for Sarah at 8th Heaven.
"What a relief to meet people who truly have the horses' best interest in mind among the gaited horse community," she said. "Dressage is about really good riding for the human and the solid development of the horse. There is no limit to its application."
The third day of the clinic was spent evaluating the tests and how they should be executed in the ring.

"The clinic was a positive, educational and progressive experience," Diane Sept-Sutton said. "There were lovely horses presented for the show. As for the people and horses who participated in the clinic, the notable changes in both horse and rider were nothing less than exciting and positive."
She praised the people who did so much planning to create a positive gaited dressage experience.

"The official IJA manual for gaited dressage has been developed and is a work in progress," said Dianne Little, IJA Director of Judging. "The enthusiasm and hard work by the clinicians in putting together the manual was awe-inspiring. Having them all come together with the dedicated clinic participants was wonderful. This is just the very beginning. The impact and enhancement of horsemanship through dressage has just begun to be felt in the gaited community. There is no end to where this can go."

The IJA was founded in 1998 as a subset of FOSH to provide a source of trained and qualified pleasure horse judges to preside at open, saddle club, and gaited breed shows.

FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and in the fight against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. 

For more information about FOSH, or to become a member, please visit or call 800-651-7993

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