Cowboy Dressage

Uh-huh.   Put down the rotten tomatoes.  I can already feel everyone getting heated up on both sides.  A discussion has been bouncing back and forth on my classical dressage listserv regarding cowboy dressage.  Eitan, I believe, is the most well known, having been invited to ride at the Dressage World Cup Opening ceremonies in Aachen.  Watch, and come to your own conclusions.

To mis-quote a famous personage (isn’t that a nice way to cover up I can’t remember who the heck said the original?): Dressage is dressage is dressage.

I’m not going to comment on the video at all. It’s only up to as an A/V aid for those who haven’t seen it performed before.

Overall, my personal response to ‘cowboy dressage’ (in general, not specific to this video) is positive. The tack doesn’t matter as long as it doesn’t contradict what you are asking the horse to do, or impede the movement and ease of communication. (Heaven knows, plenty of mis-fitted dressage saddles and mis-used weymouths do just that.)

Good horsemanship is good horsemanship. Period.  If someone wants to work towards that in a properly seated and fitted western saddle, why not?  If it brings up the gaits, collection, and heads of WP horses, I’d say Amen.  (Hey, I said put down the tomatoes!  Ow!  Ewwww.  Yuck.  It’s just my opinion!)

Sure, it may or may not be dressage…but I’m not sure a training level test I perform would be considered dressage either, if you were to open your fingers and watch it.

My point is, if the goal is comfort and relaxation for the horse, correct building up of muscle and balance, and good horsemanship…why not?

Your thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Cowboy Dressage

  1. If Dressage is “training”, then why wouldn’t it be appreciated by and beneficial for all horsemen, regardless of whether they wear white breeches and a tophat and ride a black saddle…or wear a big hat with chinks and an intricately carved western saddle – good “training” and proper form is essential for all of us!

    1. Well said. The clothes and gear don’t matter. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship. Period. What matters is how we handle ourselves and our horses, and the normal adversity life throws our way.

    1. I nearly broke my own vow of silence to say something about the video, but I caught myself in time. One rotten tomato was enough. Whatever we call {cowboy dressage}, I think good horsemanship should cover any of it that is well done!

  2. I’ve got to agree with your point. Every horse would benefit from the correct training in dressage. It doesn’t matter what discipline you ride, dressage is always a good basis for all of them.

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