By ROBERT M. MILLER DVM
An exciting new event has entered the
horse show scene which I think will have 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.
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
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 !
for Western Horses,
& how to get started
in Western Dressage:
"Best of Both
Robert M Miller
by Holly Clanahan.
"New Horse Sport"
by Gavin Ehringer.
in South Africa"
by Izak Hofmeyr.