A Cowboy’s Thoughts on Western Dressage

Printed in “The Morgan Horse” magazine | November 2011

Salute (Photo by Judy Raitt)

It was early in the morning when I first awoke. Neither the roosters nor the cattle had gotten up yet. I put on my jeans, boots, belt, and hat and headed out to my machine for the long ride to Northampton, Massachusetts to partake in the first Western Dressage Classes ever held at the New England Morgan Horse Show.

As I got closer to the show grounds, fog was lifting over the lakes and rivers which I crossed to get to my final destination. My horse had already made this trip days earlier,  but I had work to do before traveling. Both my wife and my horse were already up when I arrived.

Before being called into the ring, I had enough time to grab a cup of Joe, get into the saddle, and review the tests once more. I was pleasantly surprised by all the Western riders who were also up early for Western dressage which took place before the start of regular classes.

Everyone on the grounds was also surprised by all these early risers. I had a trainer tell me later that they thought they missed a change in class times after seeing all these Western riders heading for the dressage arena.

As I waited for the bell to signal the 45 second count down to enter the ring, I thought of many things: tips from my trainers; Cheryl Marcelonis,  Eitan, Doc Johnson; and my wife, who also acted as my caller. I was excited for this moment in time, a once in a lifetime first, that I felt lucky to have helped happen.

My favorite caller, Cindy Harb (Photo © Shana Piltz)

After we finished our tests, my horse Kali (Sunny Acres Kaleidoscope) and I were mentally and physically exhausted, and ready for some well deserved rest (and more Joe for me). If you don’t believe me, look at our picture. I was also thankful for the many spectators and exhibitors who rose early to see what this new Western Dressage business was all about.

Many advised me to continue to train hard, because they and others would certainly be joining in this competition next year. I look forward to the growth of this new division, and will continue to pursue its addition to other New England Shows, having successfully aided its addition to the Granite State Morgan Horse Show earlier this year.

As a friend once told me, “It’s all good” when we can get closer to our horses, and enjoy working with them more. As we all know, the Morgan horse wants to work. Look for Kali and me in next year’s Western Dressage Division. I will be the good guy in the black hat. Please take a moment to say “Hello,” and join me in this new, exciting division.


“Buffalo Bob” Harb is the immediate Past President of the Granite State Morgan Horse Society, Inc. and a Western Dressage exhibitor.
Top image: Salute (Photo by Judy Raitt); Feature Post image: Down the rail (Photo © Shana Piltz); Bottom image: My favorite caller, Cindy Harb, (Photo © Shana Piltz).



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