When Dressage suits your needs, but a Stetson suits your lifestyle.
WHAT IS COWBOY DRESSAGE?
"Cowboy Dressage, as the name implies, is a combination of the best of both worlds: Traditional western and classical horsemanship. Each discipline of horsemanship is time honored and recognized on it's own. When you combine the philosophy and practice of each and add music, you create art. Art is what Cowboy Dressage is all about: a medium of self-expression through the freedom of pure horsemanship."
It is so hard to explain what Cowboy Dressage is. It is so many different things to so many different people. Perhaps it is a way of not just combining two distinct disciplines but even more importantly "uniting" them. Good horsemanship, its principles, practices and teachings do not belong to just one discipline, it belongs to all disciplines, all breeds, all equestrians. Dressage and its development through history is a gift to all equestrians, to be shared by all and to be learned by all. It is not about the saddle, it is about you and your horse. The partnership, the friendship and the commitment. Pure and simple.
Dressage to a horse and rider are like the blue prints to an engineer who must build a bridge. You must know the fundamentals of building in order to create a structure of durability, strength and ability. Dressage is the hub of the wheel and from there come the spokes which are the understanding of form, movement and balance.
The "Cowboy" part of Cowboy Dressage..... that is my own personal dream. That lifestyle and its code is where my heart lies. As a kid in the movie theaters I was swept way by the romance and hardship of it all. And the horses, every day was filled with horses. In those days your lives truly depended on each other. A partnership could mean life or death to one or the other. I have had the pleasure and honor to visit and participate on some real working ranches in Wyoming. That partnership between horse and cowboy is as true today as it was 100 years ago. That truth brought me to this country and it has had a hold on me ever since.
Cowboy Dressage for me is a belief in a life style and a discipline. It is an open door to knowledge and growth on two fronts. There are no rules, there are no judgments, there are no tests. Just you and your horse, your conscience and quests. It is about the partnership and how I arrive at mine with my horse.
"The Dressage is my discipline.... the Cowboy is my freedom."
What can I do with Cowboy Dressage?
If you have a competitive spirit and a love of Cowboy Dressage there are a few doors that are opening up to you!!!
Western Dressage is the name of the class at a horse show to compete in Cowboy Dressage. Western Dressage classes are just getting started across the country. The classes offer a place for the western rider and horse to improve themselves as individuals and as partners through the use and discipline of Dressage. By using Dressage principles the western rider will help their horse in multiple ways such as cadence, balance and carriage to name a few. The use of Dressage will help the western horse to work off his hind quarters allowing for lightness in the front end with a more natural head set. Dressage itself will also greatly help to maintain the soundness of the horse for many years.
If you are a Dressage rider none of this is new, but to many western riders these teaching have been out of reach or practice for them. It is a "comfort zone" many in the past have felt that "western" is not a part of. We feel that the time is right to open the dressage doors to the western division. The competitive bar will be raised as well as the personal satisfaction in knowing that "good " is being done for both horse and rider. These classes will also offer a place where the western rider can compete on a scoring system that allows them to move "up" at their own level. It is not just a competitive format but an educational one as well.
The Western Dressage classes give a mature western horse (5 and over) a place to be re-schooled with the use of a snaffle. It is also a place that a sour rail horse can still be a good competition horse. It is a very good entry level for individuals who wish to learn to ride and show, and riders returning to competition. Plus it educates!!!
It is not the goal of the Western Dressage classes to use Dressage Horses under western tack. It is the goal of Western Dressage to maintain the integrity and lightness of the western horse and western traditions through the use of dressage. This is very important. A western horse moves different, Western Dressage can just help it move "better."
Western Dressage is all about being the best western horse and rider you can be...
Dressage is not about the outfit or the tack.... it is about the horse, (face it, we are all riding the same animal) and if the western public wants to participate lets give them the opportunity. The rider wins, the horse wins and the show industry wins as well.
We will try to post news about the growth of Western Dressage classes on this website as we become aware of the development.