| || |
WHAT IS COWBOY DRESSAGE?
An exciting new event has entered the horse show scene which I think will have a big and beneficial effects on horsemanship skills.
It was created by Eitan Beth Halachmy of Grass Valley, California and he calls it “Cowboy Dressage.” You can see it in his video, “Dances With Cows” which I think is the most beautiful video ever made.
Because Eitan is especially well known in the Morgan Horse industry, that association has begun including what they call
“Western Dressage” in their shows.
Now Jack Brainard, one of the most respected and successful reiners and Quarter Horse Trainers in the world, working together with Eitan in California and at Jack’s place in Texas, has become a Cowboy Dressage enthusiast and is determined to make it a popular horse show class.
This fusion is going to benefit both Western and Classical horsemanship immensely.
Western horsemanship is of pastoral origins. It came from the herding of cattle. Now, in modern times, some show classes, such as Western Pleasure, have grossly distorted the art to the point where a working cowboy would rather be afoot. Adding back the refined technical aspects of Classical Dressage to Western Horsemanship can only improve it.
Conversely, Dressage, was originally a military art. Thus, like Western Horsemanship, it once had a practical value when men fought with swords and lances from horseback. Again, in modern times when its original purpose has become completely obsolete, Dressage has become distorted. Its extremes in contact and hyper flexion of the head and neck have become accepted norms at many shows.
Hopefully, Western Dressage with its looser rein and more relaxed performance will likewise filter back into Classical Horsemanship. Top horses ridden by top horsemen can do it all: intricate dressage maneuvers, precise gaits, reining, roping whatever!
Significantly, Eitan opened the closing ceremony at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Despite his western apparel and stock saddle and tack, his performance brought the knowledgeable, mostly European audience to their feet in an enthusiastic standing ovation. This is going to catch on worldwide!