The equestrian pursuit known as Cowboy Dressage was borne of a desire to meld the best of Western riding traditions and classical dressage in the pursuit of a harmonious relationship with a horse. Intended to be accessible to all, Cowboy Dressage is open to all breeds and all levels of riders; there isn’t a set frame for overall look, head carriage, or action. The singular goal is to consider the horse’s potential at all times as one strives to achieve a subtle and relaxed flow of information between horse and rider.
In this superbly written book, lifelong horsewoman Jessica Black traces the evolution of Cowboy Dressage back to its roots, sharing the story of Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy and their phenomenal Morgan horses that have served as the movement’s ambassadors. She then provides an engaging and articulate explanation of the philosophy of Cowboy Dressage; expectations of the rider; what a participant needs in terms of equipment; and how the most important element—the horse—should be prepared. A wonderful and thorough section on groundwork, as well as specific training advice for achieving engagement, regulating the gaits, smoothing transitions, and balancing bend and straightness, get the reader started with a solid foundation. Then, specific descriptions of the Cowboy Dressage tests and “court”—the training area designated for practicing the tests—are provided, with additional tools for those interested in competition, including rules, divisions, and how to execute and judge tests.
Striding the line between utterly engaging story and well-organized how-to manual, Cowboy Dressage gives readers everything they need to find a “soft feel” with their horses and then share what they’ve developed with a community of like-minded horsepeople. As the founders of the movement say in the book, Cowboy Dressage is more about a way of life than a rulebook. And with that as its premise, one can see how it can show the way to true partnership with a horse.
170 Colour Photos, 20 Diagrams