NEW HORSE SPORT: Western dressage
What it is:
Anyone sharing a barn with "English" riders or who’s seen events such as the World Equestrian Games is
familiar with dressage, the “high schooling” event of "English" riding. Horses perform
pinpoint-precision maneuvers under almost-invisible guidance of their riders. Western or cowboy dressage
combines Classical Dressage maneuvers and training or performing with Western tack.
How it began:
Reasoning that good horsemanship isn’t the exclusive province of "English" riding, American-Israeli
trainer Eitan Beth-Halachmy, a student of Classical Dressage in his native country, saw the chance to pair his
knowledge of dressage with his love of the traditions of the American cowboy. He began performing “cowboy”
dressage in a Western saddle and tack in front of audiences across the globe. He performed in the closing
ceremony of the 2006 World Equestrian Games and rode in the WEG opening ceremony in Lexington, Kentucky last
year. While Beth-Halachmy owns the trademark for the term “cowboy dressage” that doesn’t mean he can or
desires to contain enthusiasm for the discipline.
In 2010 a group of interested riders came
together to form the Western Dressage Association® of America. Though in its infancy the
group has goals that include aiding members to create clinics and riding tests under WDAA guidelines and
eventually formalizing the rules of competition and rider tests to create a competitive format. Both Beth-Halachmy
and legendary horseman Jack Brainard serve as advisers to the organization’s board of directors.
What it takes:
At Beth-Halachmy’s Cowboy Dressage School of Horsemanship the master emphasizes that in his view Western dressage
is not for the unschooled horse; this is for the trained horse and rider with ambitions to build on a solid
existing foundation. Beth-Halachmy conducts riding clinics at his facility at Wolf Creek Ranch, located near
Grass Valley, California. WDAA is actively seeking instructors and judges to help advance its goals.
According to spokesperson Bonnie Glasgow, the organization has developed dressage tests for the Morgan horse
division of the United States Equestrian Federation, and hopes to work with breed registries and organizations to
create additional competition opportunities.
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.