Cowboy Dressage – Horse Whispering

By: Deb Kitchenmaster

I am amazed how the world of horses has connected me to new faces, cultures, and experiences. CORRAL CONNECTIONS has ‘new’ meaning as I reflect. A young equestrian student who was the first to come into my horse-related life was from Switzerland. Cornelia’s equine interest surpassed any I had encountered. Forever engraved in my memory are the two young women from Tokyo, Japan, (psychology students) who came to the states and spent three weeks with me, learning equine and some English. Our good-bye hugs were wet with tears. We mutually were honored and grew from being together. New Zealand brought an equine lover into my life, and she experienced what it felt like to have wings and soar on the back of the horse. What a beautiful story came out of this corral connection. Within the states came people from Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas. And we simply cannot forget Canada! What amazing Beloved people. How interesting to learn about other cultures.

And now the experiences! (a) riding Western (b) riding English (c) trail rides (d) horse shows (e) camping along river beds in the fall with the beautiful colors and beautiful horses (f) learning how to work with a full moon pertaining to riding and worming horses (g) hearing for the first time about Animal B.E.S.T (bio energetic synchronization technique) and becoming a licensed practitioner; eye-witnessing the betterment with the horses (h) founder of Abba’s LAD Riding camp where I served community by working within foster care (i) founder of CORRAL CONNECTIONS that offers one-on-one sessions (contributing to personal destiny) and group sessions where the horse is the visual aid and we let the horse teach and reflect…Healing(s) come out of this for several present at these sessions. Give me a “J”! (j) Stands for cowboy dressage.
In order to trace Cowboy Dressage back to its roots, the names of Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy and their Morgan horses will be highlighted as the movement’s ambassadors. “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.”

Because Eitan is especially well known in the Morgan Horse industry, that association, AMHA (American Morgan Horse Association) has begun including what they call “western dressage” in their shows. Jack Brainard, one of the most respected and successful Reiners and Quarter Horse Trainers in the world, working together with Eitan in California and at his (Jack’s) place in Texas, has become a Cowboy Dressage enthusiast and is determined to make it a popular horse show class.

Western horsemanship is of pastoral origins. It came from the herding of cattle. Dressage was originally a military art. Like Western horsemanship, it once had a practical value when men fought with swords and lances from horseback.

Kindness is prescribed as the goal and guiding principal of Cowboy Dressage. Kindness means working with the horse, not against him. The rider uses cues and aids to make it easier for the horse to do the right thing and offers a reward when the horse gets it right. The first reward should always be the relief from pressure. Touch and Release! Always think “light.” Light hands, light legs and light voice.

As the founders of the movement say, “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.” Dressage is the training of a horse to carry out a series of precise controlled movements in response to minimal signals from its rider. A dressage event is a competitive event in which horse and rider are judged on the elegance, precision, and discipline of the horse’s movements.
My bay, Morgan gelding (Ruhammah), and I are heading to Cowboy Dressage court. Journeying on…