CAWDA’s High Point Journey

by Jackie Hills, Past CAWDA President & Advisor

“It’s all about the journey,” Western Dressage enthusiasts like to say. And the California Western Dressage Association, or CAWDA, is beginning its journey toward its 10th year in operation.
CAWDA is the official state affiliate of the Western Dressage Association of America. It operates as a 501(c)3 educational non-profit. Its mission is to educate riders on the training and art of dressage for the western horse.

CAWDA celebrated its 9th Annual “Live Show” High Point program and its first “Virtual” High Point program on January 29 simultaneously at three locations in Norco and Somerset, CA, and Las Vegas, NV, united via a Zoom webinar. One hundred in-person attendees joined in the Ceremony and many more across the United States joined virtually.

The CAWDA High Point Program started as a statewide program in 2014 with a unique concept and approach. The CAWDA Board needed a venue for Western Dressage riders and trainers to attend and host clinics and, in turn, hone their skills at Western Dressage shows and events. But the Board did not have the resources to host clinics and shows across California.

Jessie Bonneau & Skies The Limitt. Live Shows High Point Open Division. Photo: Blesk Photography
Josephine Trott & HD Redford GCH. Live Shows Amateur Division. Photo: Amanda Macha Photography
Sarah Gamboa & Sadie’s Classy Lady Live Shows. Youth 14-17 Division. Photo: Blesk Photography

Instead, they decided to partner with local horse clubs which were offering Western Dressage shows and classes. This way, competitors could compete in their local areas and qualify for the statewide program. CAWDA now recognizes about 80 shows annually.

Competitors participate in at least three CAWDA-recognized shows during the High Point year and submit via email at least five tests. The percentage score of the first five tests is totaled to get the rider’s standings score.

Once the rider submits five scores, they must best their own lowest score in order to up their standings. For example, if a rider submits four 67% scores and one 65% score, their standings score would be 333. In order to increase his standings, the next test the rider submits must be over 65%. In other words, the rider must challenge himself to improve his skills.

Jillienne Endresen & Smokey Live Shows. Youth 13 & Under Division.
Tamara Turgeon & Nanne’s Brandia Dancer. Virtual Shows Open Division.

CAWDA scores its Virtual shows the same way as the recognized Live shows.

CAWDA offers awards at all Western Dressage test levels, including Freestyle and Therapeutic rider. Champion buckles are awarded to competitors in Open/Professional, Amateur, Youth 14-17, and Youth 13 & Under Divisions.

Recognized shows are held throughout California and in the Las Vegas area. CAWDA virtual shows are hosted by Spotlight Horse Shows,

For more information on CAWDA and its programs, visit

Joanna Robson & IE Truly Lafn. Virtual Shows Amateur Division. Photo: Kathryn Lauritzen/Padma Video
Jamie Casden & Psyche’s Vision. Virtual Shows High Point Youth 14-17 Division. Photo: Kathryn Lauritzen/Padma Video

Live Shows Division Champions:
Open Division – Jessie Bonneau & Skies The Limitt
Amateur Division – Josephine Trott & HD Redford GCH
Youth 13 & Under Division – Jillienne Endresen & Smokey
Youth 14-17 Division – Sarah Gamboa & Sadie’s Classy Lady

Virtual Shows Division Champions:
Open Division – Tamara Turgeon & Nanne’s Brandia Dancer
Amateur Division – Joanna Robson & IE Truly Lafn
Youth 14-17 Division – Jamie Casden & Psyche’s Vision