New Horse Sports for the 21st Century

As published on

NEW HORSE SPORT: Western Dressage.

What it is: Anyone sharing a barn with English riders or who’s seen events such as the World Equestrian Games is familiar with dressage, the “high schooling” event of English riding. Horses perform pinpoint-precision maneuvers under almost- invisible guidance of their riders. Western or cowboy dressage combines classical dressage maneuvers and training/ performing with Western tack.

How it began: Reasoning that good horsemanship isn’t the exclusive province of English riding, American-Israeli trainer Eitan Beth-Halachmy, a student of classical dressage in his native country, saw the chance to pair his knowledge of dressage with his love of the traditions of the American cowboy. He began performing “cowboy” dressage in a Western saddle and tack in front of audiences across the globe. He performed in the closing ceremony of the 2006 World Equestrian Games and rode in the WEG opening ceremony in Lexington, Kentucky, last year. While Beth-Halachmy owns the trademark for the term “cowboy dressage,” that doesn’t mean he can or desires to contain enthusiasm for the discipline. In 2010, a group of interested riders came together to form the Western Dressage Association of America. Though in its infancy, the group has goals that include aiding members to create clinics and riding tests under WDAA guidelines, and eventually formalizing the rules of competition and rider tests to create a competitive format. Both Beth-Halachmy and legendary horseman Jack Brainard serve as advisers to the organization’s board of directors.

What it takes: At Beth-Halachmy’s Cowboy Dressage School of Horsemanship, the master emphasizes that in his view, Western dressage is not for the unschooled horse; this is for the trained horse and rider with ambitions to build on a solid existing foundation. Beth-Halachmy conducts riding clinics at his facility at Wolf Creek Ranch, located near Grass Valley, California. Western Dressage Association® of America, WDAA is actively seeking instructors and judges to help advance its goals. According to spokesperson Bonnie Glasgow, the organization has developed dressage tests for the Morgan horse division of the United States Equestrian Federation, and hopes to work with breed registries and organizations to create additional competition opportunities.


2 Responses to “New Horse Sports for the 21st Century

  • Sue Duncan
    6 years ago

    Hi Bonnie,

    I’m very interested in becoming involved with WDAA & this new excitingDiscipline. I’ve studied the art of dressage for many years , but also started
    My love with horses ” The Cowboy Way”. I would like to learn more about
    this. Thanks, Sue

    • WDAA-Admin
      6 years ago

      Hi Sue, if you wish to contact Bonnie Glasgow directly her email can be found on the Executive Board of directors page or you can use our contact form and send us an email that we can forward onto her. Bonnie does not monitor the blog post comments and will never see this listed here. Thanks!