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.

MEDIA ARTICLES

 WES News 
Western Dressage

 Western Horse UK 
Western Dressage
Western Dressage

Western Dressage

 Dressage Training 
for Western Horses,
& how to get started
in Western Dressage:
> Mary Knetter
Stacie Moyle
> Di Schorzman

 Jack Brainard 
Western Dressage
Hands-On Horseman

 Eitan Beth-Halachmy 
"Best of Both Worlds"
Western Dressage

 Dr Robert M Miller 
Western Dressage

 America's Horse 
"Western Dressage"
by Holly Clanahan.

 Discover Horses 
"New Horse Sport"
by Gavin Ehringer.

 Horse Junction 
"Western Dressage
in South Africa"
by Izak Hofmeyr.


 


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