Visit the website below for the information on shows and clinics and all things Cowboy Dressage.
This is a short documentary video of Eitan Beth-Halachmy and his
Cowboy Dressage journey. From his early life in Israel to the present here in the US.
Soft Feel (or Fresh Rein) is the guiding principle of Cowboy Dressage™. It is a wordless, intimate and for some a spiritual communication within the partnership between horse and rider. Soft feel is not only sending messages but having the sensitivity and awareness to feel and receive the message the horse sends back.
The timing and use of the Release, Relaxation, Preparation and Execution are the basic fundamentals of Soft Feel.
Since Soft Feel is the mission of Cowboy Dressage™ it will be scored with emphases on lightness, harmony, finesse and partnership as a priority. Balance, cadence, carriage, control, and performance are additional areas the horse and rider will be judged and scored. ©
Most competitive disciplines have numerous pages of rules, restrictions and regulations. These are established in Completive Dressage to ensure the humane treatment of the horse as well as to set a standard of excellence for the sport. There is a new competitive discipline that is governed by many less pages - Cowboy Dressage. What do I mean?
In Cowboy Dressage the "canvas" is the court. The medium is the elements of the test. The visual expression is the performance of the test. The uniqueness is the breed of horse performing the movements. The artist is the rider AND the horse controlling the chisel or the brush. Wallah! The finished work is revealed at the last salute.
What is the judge (the ultimate viewer) looking for to score? Eitan's vision of the expression of Cowboy Dressage is harmony and partnership between horse and rider, evident in the performance of the test. The lightness in the use of the aids by the rider, manifested in elegant self carriage of the horse, from engaged haunches and elevated withers and poll. The visual presence of soft feel, imperceptible use of legs and seat and hands by the rider, and noticeable lack of extreme tension on the reins.
Since all breeds of horses are generally performing the tests, the focus is on the quality of movement determined by the inherent gaits of that breed. The relaxed frame of the quarter horse will be more level than the relaxed frame of the Saddlebred. The stride of the Warmblood will be longer than that of the Morgan. Just as the final class, the Best in Show, in a dog show, the judging is based on the animal that magnifies the best qualities of their breed. So it is the same in Cowboy Dressage judging. The judge should be scoring according to the best movement a Quarter horse has to offer in his execution of the test, when the Quarter Horse is the one doing the test. If an Arabian enters at A, the judge should be looking for the best movement offered by the Arabian, a higher head carriage, light foot fall and perhaps more animated steps.
All of this is to be in addition to the goal of flawless execution of the elements of the test, by a willing horse, responding respectfully to the direction of the rider. A square stop, a show of the free, working and collected frames of the horse, a round 10 meter or 20 meter circle, smooth transitions from walk to jog or jog to lope; turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand; absence of the horse's head behind the vertical, absence of sluggish steps by the horse. As well, the four beat walk, the two beat jog and the three beat lope.
Cowboy Dressage™ has long been a labor of love for Eitan and I. It started with Eitan’s work and performances with home bred Holiday Compadre in the early 1990’s. It is because of this great horse, his talent and his heart that Cowboy Dressage™ first came to public recognition and applause. Due to demand Eitan and Compadre soon became educators as well as performers. From Eitan’s years of contact with the general horse public the idea of Cowboy Dressage™ as a competition came to being. At first only a dream it is now a reality. In Eitan’s efforts to continue on with his own personal dream and to continue on the legacy that he and Holiday Compadre founded he has brought forth his personal dressage home for the western horse. It is Eitan’s vision that this be a western discipline that is enhanced by dressage, not ruled by it. The tests are very western. Like the early west the rules are simple and the freedom abundant. It is based on release, not contact. Soft Feel, founded by great horseman of the past is Cowboy Dressage™’s core. It is the goal of Cowboy Dressage™ to promote and teach that in a competition atmosphere, bringing it to light to a public that is in great need of it.
The competition part is new and will need time to grow and develop. It is created for those of you who longed for a place to hang your hat and live and ride the western traditions. It is our hope that each of you will embrace this new division. It is offers a place for the “partnership” to be rewarded more than the “maneuver” and the wellbeing of the horse and rider are held in the highest regard. If you ride the trials, the range, the rodeo or the dressage court you have a place to explore and grow with Cowboy Dressage™.
Cowboy Dressage is not offering a certification program of instructors, trainers or clinicians. We do have a list of people who we think are fine horse people who understand and believe in Eitan’s teachings, training practices and philosophy. Each has spent time with Eitan and has shown great aptitude and a genuine interest in helping others with Cowboy Dressage. Some are available for clinics. Please check with each individual as to what they can do for you.
Auburn, CA 95602
Sonya Livermore Brown
Cowboy Dressage is excited to form an alliance with Cowboy Solutions.
Cowboy Solutions is also an authorized GGT Footing subdealer, specializing in Western blends, a full range, of Cowboy Dressage Competition and training arenas and accessories, trail obstacles and natural horsemanship training obstacles, and more. Ask for Allyn. She will take wonderful care of you.
firstname.lastname@example.org. 951.775.7466 direct. Toll-free: 866-389-0018
Cowboy Dressage Gathering, Clinic and Horse Show
$10,000 in prize and awards Vaquero, Youth, Challenge tests to be offered. Bar-B-Que, Vendors, Entertainment.