FROM THEN TO NOW
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 honoured 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.” – Eitan Beth-Halcamy
For 20 years or more Eitan and his horses traveled showing off their skills. Eitan never dreamed of becoming an educator but with scores of people begging to learn from him he eventually decided that his calling was to help to bring his brand of lightness to the world. Cowboy Dressage®, the discipline was born in 2013. For a short time, Western Dressage and Cowboy Dressage® shared a common foundation. When Western Dressage decided to join with the USEF, Eitan and Debbie decided to go their own way and follow the dreams of Cowboy Dressage® as Eitan envisioned it without the confining oversight of the USEF.
Cowboy Dressage® has now grown from one man’s vision to a revolution in horsemanship. Founded on the principle of kindness to horse and human, Cowboy Dressage® is first and foremost a community of like-minded horseman looking to find a better way to be with their horse. We use the Cowboy Dressage® courts (arena) and tests which are loosely based on classical dressage training principles to help build and shape our horses, but the ultimate goals of Cowboy Dressage® go far beyond the court.
Cowboy Dressage® is a relatively new riding discipline that was first conceived years ago, by Eitan Beth-Halachmy. It was during a victory lap at the Morgan Grand Nationals in 1993 that Eitan first introduced his unique blend of classical dressage training and Cowboy flare as he took to the arena to receive his Grand Champion award for Western Pleasure stallion aboard the ever-impressive Holiday Compadre. Eitan, ever a showman, decided to show the stuffy Morgan show world a thing or two about what he and his stallion could do. He went from reining maneuvers, to classical dressage to western pleasure all in the blink of an eye. A canter pirouette became a flat reining spin. A collected lope became a gallop and sliding stop into a roll back that became an extended trot; all while he was waving to the crowd. To say he was hit is to seriously understate the crowd’s reaction. Before he could make the long drive back to California from Oklahoma the calls had started coming in with invites for Eitan and his amazing horse to perform and visit expos and events across the country. When asked what he called his particular blend of horsemanship he came up with “Cowboy Dressage”, to describe his love of the cowboy and his classical dressage back ground.
In Cowboy Dressage® World we believe in building partnerships with our horses. Through a concept called, “soft feel” we endeavour to create a wordless bond built on mutual respect that allows horse and rider to be together and ride as one. That partnership is ultimately what you see when you watch Eitan and his horses perform. The fancy moves and the flashy presentation are wonderful, but it’s the partnership that really gets to your heart.
Our Cowboy Dressage® membership is through an electronic “handshake” agreement. There are no membership fees to be a part of the movement. You agree with your handshake to uphold the integrity of the community and ride with kindness in your heart and Cowboy Dressage® agrees to always provide you the tools that you need to do that.
IT IS THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS ….
Cowboy Dressage is a combination of the best of both worlds: Traditional Western and Classical Horsemanship. This discipline focuses on the harmony and partnership between the horse and rider. Instead of rewarding the traditional schooling of the dressage discipline, Cowboy Dressage aims to encourage horse-rider combinations to build bonds and trust, communicating through the mutual sensitivity and awareness of rider to horse and horse to rider.
Today Cowboy Dressage® is growing each and every year and is largely being fuelled organically by the folks that come and experience the difference themselves. Instead of horse-shows we hold Gatherings were handshake members come together as a community to not only learn and enjoy each other’s company but ride tests and get feedback to further their personal journeys with their horses. The principles that make up the Cowboy Dressage® tests are the foundation of any good training program. We focus on bend, straightness, balance, cadence, rhythm and softness. Always softness. The tests are fun, providing challenges for every level of horse and rider. The skills that you acquire on the Cowboy Dressage® court will serve you well no matter what direction your riding takes you off the court (text with permission Jenni Grimmitt).