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RUNAROUND

Sandy Collier has enjoyed great success in her career as an NRCHA, NRHA, and AQHA champion horse trainer. Named one of the “Top 50 Riders of All Time in All Disciplines” by Horse & Rider Magazine, she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2011, and the NRCHA’s Hall of Fame in 2012. Collier was the first and only female horse trainer to win the prestigious NRCHA (National Reined Cow Horse Association) World Champion Snaffle Bit Futurity. She also won an NRCHA World Champion Snaffle Bit Futurity Reserve Co-Championship in addition to being a regular Finalist there annually. She has been a NRCHA Stallion Stakes Champion, an NRHA Limited Open Champion, and an AQHA World Champion.

In champion trainer and popular clinician Lynn Palm’s book THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION, Palm asked Sandy Collier to share how she works to achieve collection with her performance horses.

“I do a lot of work through speed and gait transitions,” was Collier’s reply, “which makes no sense at all to most reining or Western riders.”

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Sandy Collier competing.

Collier says that even though reiners and Western riders will often get their horses really collected at the trot and lope, “as soon as you start putting a lot of speed to it, it’s like the wheels start falling off the car.” She uses an exercise called The Runaround to maintain collection, improve the quality of a horse’s rundown, and thus ultimately better his stop.

“I’ll build speed while maintaining collection for a long, straight run,” explains Collier. “As I approach the short end of the arena, I’ll take a deep breath, start to exhale, and make my horse follow my seat as I sit down in the saddle, making him come back to me on a straight line without falling out of lead. It’s like downshifting a real expensive car, where it has to come back down real smooth. I keep my horse slow and collected through the short end (don’t let him careen around the corner), and once I get around the corner, I ask him to build speed again and start over. My horses eventually get to where they can run really fast while staying collected, and then as I let my air out, they’ll come all the way back to a slowdown or a stop, depending how long I sit.”

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The goal is to capture the complete tail-to-nose package of supple muscle and hind-end-generated impulsion that becomes a “frame” where the horse is more athletic—that is, his forehand lightens, enabling him to maneuver his front end more quickly, and his steps become cadenced and his movement free-flowing. For more exercises that help achieve this real collection, check out THE RIDER’S GUIDE TO REAL COLLECTION by Lynn Palm, on sale now at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Eitan Beth-Halachmy on Santa Fe Renegade. Photo by Lesley Deutsch.

The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) defines engagement as “increased flexion of the lumbosacral joint and the joints of the hind leg during the weight-bearing (stance) phase of the movement, thus lowering the croup relative to the forehand (‘lightening the forehand’).”

Engagement is a prerequisite to impulsion (thrust): the “releasing of the energy stored by engagement. The energy is transmitted through a back that is free from negative tension and is manifested in the horse’s elastic, whole-body movement.” Engagement is carrying power, whereas impulsion is pushing power.

Many people who ride horses have no idea what the technical terms mean. Although Cowboy Dressage tries to avoid confusing language, engagement and impulsion are such important aspects of forward motion that they need to be understood and recognized, and so they are explained in the book COWBOY DRESSAGE by Jessica Black with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy.

In simpler terms, engagement refers to the manner in which a balanced horse brings his hind legs under his belly to move forward off his hindquarters efficiently. Engagement is the basis for a horse’s impulsion–the energy with which a horse moves forward. The true lightness of Cowboy Dressage can only happen when the horse is engaged and moving with impulsion, with his weight over the hindquarters rather than on the forehand.

The hindquarters are the energy source of the horse. At the same time, he carries most of his weight on his forehand thanks to the head and neck. Engagement helps the horse achieve balance under these physiological conditions. To better bear the weight and enable balance, the horse must round his back and bring his hind legs well forward under him. This is called tracking or tracking up (USDF). Tracking is a necessary component of engagement, but it should not be confused with reach (how far the hind leg reaches forward).

Nor should engagement and impulsion be confused with speed. A horse that is rushing will often be strung out and hollow-backed, the opposite of being engaged. The front and hind end may appear disjointed or unconnected. Conversely, a horse that is engaged will move from behind in a balanced, energetic fashion at any gait and any speed.

Although the Cowboy Dressage horse may not have the length of stride or suspension that a traditional dressage horse has, he should show engagement and impulsion. All four feet should be working together in a rhythmic fashion.

To achieve impulsion and engagement, encourage your horse to round his back, stretch and lower his neck, and move forward actively. The energy has to flow naturally through your hands at a free gait. Much of the time spent on the horse’s foundation should be dedicated to encouraging forward motion. Good horsepersons make engagement and forward motion a prerequisite to every maneuver.

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Encourage your horse to stretch and lower his neck as seen in this free jog.

Again, remember that energetic forward motion requires strength and endurance: the horse must be conditioned slowly until he has the ability to meet the physical and mental demands of Cowboy Dressage or any other equestrian discipline. Much of the cadence and beauty of the finished gaits comes from long hours simply moving forward at the walk, jog, and lope.

Find out more about developing beautiful gaits in your horse in COWBOY DRESSAGE, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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No one can give us the skinny on how to do an honest-to-goodness half-halt like motivational speaker and dressage rider Jane Savoie. She gets that this integral part of, well, basically EVERY riding activity, can be difficult to understand and tough to put into practice in a way that it actually (really and truly) works.

Here’s Savoie’s no-fuss guide to understanding half-halts, from her bestselling book DRESSAGE 101:

Let’s break down the half-halt—or if you prefer, the “half-go”—into its parts. The half-halt itself is the combination of the driving aids (both legs and seat), the outside rein, and the bending aids (both legs and the inside rein), maintained for about three seconds.

During those three seconds, close both legs and push with your seat as if asking for that 100-percent, wholeheartedly forward response that you practiced when you put the horse in front of the leg. This is the “go” part of your half-go. But, instead of allowing the horse to go more forward as you did then, receive and contain this energy almost immediately by closing your outside hand in a fist. This becomes the rein of opposition. Make sure you feel the energy surge forward into the rein just before you actually close this outside hand.

By using your driving aids a fraction of a second before you use your rein aids, you ride your horse from back to front. This is your goal no matter what type of riding you do, because it’s the only way you can honestly connect your horse and make him more athletic and obedient. If you’re preoccupied with creating an artificial “headset” by fiddling with your hands, you’ll be riding your horse from front to back, and you’ll never truly be in charge. Remember, she who controls the hind legs—the “engine”—controls the horse. Always ride from back to front by directing the power from the hind legs forward into your hands.

To the naked eye, it will appear that you use all of these aids simultaneously. However, freeze-frame photography should show you using your driving aids first, then closing your outside hand, and finally, if necessary, vibrating your inside rein to keep the horse straight. (Remember, “straight” means straight on a line and bent along the arc on a curve.)

It is absolutely necessary for you to send your horse forward with your driving aids a fraction of a second before you close your outside hand. If you close your outside hand before you use your driving aids (or even exactly at the same time, for that matter), it’s like picking up the telephone before it rings—no one is there!

To help you imagine this concept, think about a balloon. Your driving aids blow up the balloon, and closing your outside hand in a fist puts the knot at the end of it to keep it full of air. So, to give a good half-halt, use your seat and legs first, and then close your outside hand, just as you’d inflate a balloon first and then tie the knot.

Quick Reference: The Aids for a Half-Halt (on a Circle to the Left)

Seat: Stretch up and use your seat in a driving way, as if pushing the back of the saddle toward the front of the saddle. Be sure to stay sitting in a vertical position when you push with your seat. Leaning behind the vertical can cause the horse to stiffen or hollow his back, and his head and neck will probably go up in the air as well.

Legs: Close your legs steadily, as if squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.

Outside rein (right rein): Close your hand in a fist.

Inside rein (left rein): Vibrate, if necessary, to keep the horse’s neck straight.

The aids are applied almost simultaneously, but basically they should be thought of in this order:

1  Driving aids first to create energy.

2  Outside rein second to contain energy.

3  Inside rein third, if necessary, to keep the neck straight.

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Apply these aids for about three seconds by increasing the pressure of your legs and reins so it is slightly more than the maintenance pressure you have when your legs are softly draped around your horse’s sides and your hands have a firm but gentle feel of his mouth. After you give the half-halt, relax. This relaxing—the finish of the aid—is as important as the aid itself, because it is the horse’s reward. When you relax, let your legs rest lightly on your horse’s sides again, keep correct contact with his mouth, and continue riding your circle.

For more of Jane Savoie’s terrific teaching, check out DRESSAGE 101 from Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com), where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order now

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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When Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship was growing up in his native Australia, his father stressed the importance of using long-reining as part of early groundwork when starting colts, as well as using the technique as a safe way to troubleshoot issues when restarting older horses with training or behavior problems. But the influx of American horsemanship methods just as Dan James and his business partner Dan Steers began their careers meant the popularity of traditional long-reining techniques waned.

It was when Dan and Dan trained with Heath Harris, one of the world’s elite liberty trainers and the man behind the horses in blockbuster films such as The Man from Snowy River, Phar Lap, The Young Black Stallion, and The Legend of Zorro, that they discovered the true value of long-reining in a horse’s education.

“Heath mounted us up on green Warmbloods that had just come in for training,” Dan and Dan remember in their new book LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP. “If one of those ‘giants’ wasn’t well broke and ran away, it could get scary really fast. It became quickly apparent that the more we had these horses bridled up and working well from the ground, the easier it was when we got into the saddle.”

So yes, long-reining is a fantastic intermediate groundwork step that bridges the gap between leading a horse and riding him.

“There are a lot of horses that get ‘lost in translation’ when making that leap,” say Dan and Dan, “so the simpler and smoother you can make the transition, the better. We’re not saying that everything a horse can do when being long-reined he will automatically be able to do with you on his back, but we do find it drastically reduces the level of fear and confusion for most horses. And, colts that are taught long-reining progress much faster starting under saddle than horses that are taught everything from their back.”

Heath Harris also had Dan and Dan work with off-the-track Thoroughbreds and “problem” horses that needed to revisit earlier training to fill in holes in their education. These horses taught them that long-reining is equally useful for building a foundation, working through issues, or refining skills the horses might already possess.

“Since we started teaching long-reining to the public, we’ve learned that the magic it works with horses is only half of its benefits,” say Dan and Dan. “We’ve also discovered it helps people gain confidence with their horsemanship—no small thing.”

Long-reining rapidly builds from basic skills to performing high-level exercises. Many classically trained dressage riders at the Olympian level use a lot of long-reining in their programs, as do some elite Western riders. And of course, we’re all familiar with famous Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, who–alongside their trainers–take long-reining to its highest level of difficulty, entertaining the world with maneuvers that once prepared horses for the immense challenges of the battlefield.

Whether you are into Western or English riding, the long-reining concepts taught in LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP are well worth trying!

“If you have ever seen the Double Dans perform a long-reining demonstration, I am sure that you have been amazed by their skill and talent,” says Jen Johnson, Chief Executive Director of North American Western Dressage (NAWD). “At North American Western Dressage, we understand that good horsemanship begins on the ground. Long-reining can help you and your horse develop a great deal of harmony before you ever get in the saddle, and your horse can learn to use his body in a beneficial manner—without the added weight of a rider. Working your horse from the ground enhances physical and emotional fitness, and this is a great step-by-step guide to help you, with lots of terrific exercises.”

“Dan James and his partner in Double Dan Horsemanship, Dan Steers, are very well suited to offer advice in achieving success with long-lining techniques in a friendly, easy-to-follow manner,” agrees FEI 4* judge and long-lining expert Bo Jena.

You can download a free chapter from LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP or order a copy of the book from the Trafalgar Square Books storefront, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

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When your horse performs the turn-on-the-haunches, the outside front leg must cross in front of the inside one, as seen here.

When your horse performs the turn-on-the-haunches, the outside front leg must cross in front of the inside one, as seen here.

In the book COWBOY DRESSAGE, readers not only discover the story of how and why this new discipline has secured such an avid and expanding fanbase, they also learn the movements recommended by Cowboy Dressage founder Eitan Beth-Halachmy as beneficial to the development of horse-and-rider partnership. Here are his tips for adding the turn-on-the-haunches to your horse’s skillset.

 

In the turn-on-the-haunches, the horse pivots around his inside hind leg. The horse must be slightly bent in the direction of movement. The exercise serves to build the rider’s control of the horse’s shoulders. The hands communicate with the shoulders and forelegs while the seat maintains the balance of the horse over his hindquarters without losing forward momentum.

 

It helps to teach the horse the maneuver from the ground first, then teach him to associate your aids from the saddle with a familiar learned behavior.

 

To perform a turn-on-the-haunches:

 

1  Bend the horse slightly in the direction of movement. The inside rein creates the bend while the outside rein maintains the bend and communicates with the outside front leg through the shoulder to build momentum. As an example, when turning to the right, the inside rein is your right rein.

 

2  Ask the horse to move his front legs and outside hind leg around his inside hind leg that serves as a pivot. If performing a turn-on-the-haunches to the right, open the right leg and apply the left leg at or slightly in front of the girth. The horse should remain in the same location by bal­ancing his weight between the two hind legs.

 

3  Ride the horse into the turn; do not pull the front of the horse. It is important for the horse’s body to remain supple and that he never loses the forward motion.

 

4  Teach the turn-on-the-haunches one step at a time. Start with one step and move forward out of the turn; work up to two steps, and so on.

 

Reward response to your aids by immedi­ately releasing the pressure as soon as the horse moves into the turn.

Turn-on-the-haunches to the left (top) and to the right (bottom).

Turn-on-the-haunches to the left (top) and to the right (bottom).

 

To sum up: In a turn-on-the-haunches to the right, the horse will be slightly bent to the right, and his weight will shift back as he moves his forehand to the right, in a clockwise direction, around the right hind foot. The outside front leg crosses over the inside one.

 

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There are more great exercises, tips, and training ideas in COWBOY DRESSAGE, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or order now.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

 

 

 

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“Cowboy Dressage is really starting to take hold,” says Reining Hall of Fame Inductee Jack Brainard, and this, according to Brainard and renowned author and father of imprint training Dr. Robert Miller, is a good thing—for people and horses. Care for the horse’s welfare is part of what’s making Cowboy Dressage a success: “[People] are here for skill and compassionate horsemanship,” emphasizes Dr. Miller.

Jack Brainard and Dr. Robert Miller are just two of the respected horsemen featured in COWBOY DRESSAGE: RIDING, TRAINING, AND COMPETING WITH KINDNESS AS THE GOAL AND GUIDING PRINCIPLE, the new book by Jessica Black and Cowboy Dressage founders Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy. We caught up with Black and asked her a little about her history with the Beth-Halachmys and Morgan Horses, as well as her new book and current studies at the University of Oklahoma.

 

TSB:  Your new book COWBOY DRESSAGE was written in conjunction with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy, the founders of this new riding discipline and equestrian community. You were a teenager when you first met Debbie. Your mother was breeding and raising Morgan horses, as Debbie still does today, and the result of their friendship was Holiday Compadre—the famous Western Pleasure Champion Morgan. What do you remember of the Morgan show scene in those days? How do you think it differs from today?

JB: I was a lot more involved then than I am now: I started showing in Morgan shows when I was 10 and did so until I was 20 or so. I never had my horse with a trainer (though I did take lessons), so I was always at a disadvantage against those who did; this hasn’t changed much, I imagine. What has changed are the classes offered. Back then, we had 13-and-under and 14-17 for junior exhibitors.  There was only English Pleasure, Hunt Seat, Western, and Park—no Classic Pleasure, for example, and definitely no Cowboy or Western Dressage! On the other hand, there was “Most Classic Morgan” and Road Hack and Roadster under Saddle. And there were a lot more horses: Roadster to Bike used to be a scary class, it was so full and fast. In junior exhibitor classes, the ribbons always ran out and there was a reserve. The last time I was at the Morgan Medallion Classic, maybe four years ago, entries almost always ran out before ribbons.

 

TSB author Jessica Black on her first Morgan, Capella Command, at the Morgan Medallion Classic in 1982 or '83.

TSB author Jessica Black on her first Morgan, Capella Command, at the Morgan Medallion Classic in 1982 or ’83.

 

TSB: COWBOY DRESSAGE specifically states that the discipline is intended to be available to all horses and all riders, regardless of breed, gait, or geographic location. Why do you think this particular pursuit can cross the usual boundaries that divide much of the equestrian world?

JB: I believe there are two primary reasons.

First, the guidelines allow for any breed: riders, judges, and clinicians are taught to assess each horse according to its conformation and ability. As such, a Morgan-type is expected to move in one way (higher head carriage, for example), whereas a Quarter-Horse-type is expected to move in another (more downhill conformation, different movement). There is no single image of the “perfect” Cowboy Dressage horse, and the competition is really against oneself: the point is to take the horse you have and improve your relationship

Second, Cowboy Dressage has developed outside of the standard breed paradigms. Because it’s not USEF, shows tend to be held separately from breed shows. This encourages anyone to participate. There are also tests specifically for gaited horses, and even minis can be shown in the Partnership on the Ground classes.

 

TSB:  There’s a lot of back-and-forth over the difference between Cowboy Dressage and Western Dressage, which is legitimate, which is better. How do you feel they are similar or differ? Can they coexist?

JB: They do coexist! I think this is a good thing. Western Dressage suits some people (it’s USEF and people can compete at breed shows; there are a lot of competition levels) and some types of horses (tending more toward traditional dressage, with bigger movements), whereas Cowboy Dressage suits others (it offers its own shows, in more relaxed venues, with an emphasis on learning and community rather than performance) and other types of horses (more Western-y, smaller movements). Some people and horses do both successfully.

They are also both “legitimate,” whatever that means. They both started with the inspired team that was Eitan Beth-Halachmy and Holiday Compadre, and although they have taken different paths, both are valid. I wasn’t “paying attention” when CD and WD separated, and I certainly don’t know the whole story, but I think there was a lot of disappointment initially, that they couldn’t stay together. That’s understandable, but in retrospect, I believe it was the best thing for everyone. Instead of one new outlet for people and horses, we have two! The horse world as a whole benefits from having two options, because a lot of people who would never go to a big breed show are enjoying CD, while at the same time a lot of people whose horse-time is taken up with breed shows would never go to a CD event.

 

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

JB: My mother used to longe me on her Anglo-Arab mare named October. On a blue bareback pad. This was before I got my first pony, so when I was around three years old. I remember doing balance exercises, like holding my arms out to the side. Once the mare shied and I had to grab her mane (I remember that bit better than anything else!)

 

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

JB: My first pony, a Shetland called Angel, bucked me off (or “toppled” me off) when I was around four or five. To add insult to injury, she kicked at me, and WORSE, I was wearing a brand new Cowboy hat, and it got dirty. I picked up my hat and marched out of the arena, swearing that I would never, ever ride again.

 

Black on her first show pony, Jaggers, at age seven.

Black on her first show pony, Jaggers, at age seven.

 

TSB: You’ve had some impressive horsey adventures, including riding Lusitanos and galloping Thoroughbreds and Arabians in Spain, as well as galloping Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in Mexico and Panama. Can you share one story from your riding adventures abroad?

JB: That’s difficult, because there are so many! I’ll go for one that’s sort of funny. During the years I spent at the racetrack in Madrid, I was part of a group that owned a four-year-old mare called Baigorri. She raced in my colors, but there were nine other owners, mainly friends. We had a lot of fun. Anyway, Baigorri was a nasty mare who would rather kick you than receive a pet; she wouldn’t try to buck you off, but she would try to exit the track via any gate, at top speed. One day I was riding her in the training track that winds 1,700 meters through trees and brush at Hipodromo de la Zarzuela, in Madrid. At this time, the track had been closed, and was sadly neglected; since there were fewer people around, the jabali, or wild boars, had decided to invade the tracks. That particular morning, I was trotting Baigorri alone, and we came round a curve on the first loop to find three huge boars in the track. She spooked, but when I insisted, kept trotting. The boars moved into the trees, but once we had passed, they came onto the track behind us and started trotting in our direction. Baigorri thought they were chasing us (and they might have been—who knows what goes on in a pig’s mind). She started pulling hard and trotting as fast as I would let her. The boars went off into the bushes after a few hundred feet, but Baigorri remained a nervous wreck. After about half a mile, I pulled her down to a walk, and she was immediately stiff. Within a few feet, I could tell she had tied up. I hopped off, led her slowly back to the stable, and called the vet.

Since then I have added “fright” (and wild boars) to the list of things that can cause tying up!

 

Black's first racing win was on Gran Sol, a four-year-old gelding trained by Paco Galdeano, in an 1800m race at the racetrack in Madrid, Spain (1996).

Black’s first racing win was on Gran Sol, a four-year-old gelding trained by Paco Galdeano, in an 1800m race at the racetrack in Madrid, Spain (1996).

 

TSB: You are currently pursuing your doctorate at the University of Oklahoma, with a focus on the intersection of narrative and morality. Can you tell us a little about your research and what you hope to do with it in the future?

JB: In the future, I hope to flesh out a theory of narrative moral agency that explains the way the life stories we create affect our moral decisions. At present, my research is focused on how media (books and film) affects and is affected by social and moral cognition. For example, in a recent paper that received a lot of news coverage (click here) we reported two studies in which watching award-winning TV dramas increased participants’ theory of mind (the ability to interpret others’ emotions and intentions), compared with watching documentaries. I also study imaginative resistance, or the reluctance to buy into fictional worlds in which immoral actions are presented as the right thing to do.

 

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

JB: Only one book?  Hmm. Perhaps William Gaddis’s The Recognitions. Ask me again tomorrow and I’ll say something different. (Maybe I should choose James Joyce’s Ulysses; possibly I would be able to get past page 100 if I were on a desert island for several weeks with nothing else to do.)

The horse would be an Arabian, but that’s probably because my current horse is an Arabian mare. (Or maybe it’s memory of The Black Stallion!)

 

TSB: If you had an iPad and WiFi on your island, what movie would you stream?

JB: The Return of the King, because it never ends…

 

Black riding with her two sons on a recent trip to Spain.

Black riding with her two sons on a recent trip to Spain.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

JB: Wit.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

JB: Courage.

 

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

JB: Ride in the Tevis Cup.

 

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

JB: Alfalfa, black oats, handful of rolled barley, dash of olive oil. Or did you mean human meal? In that case, wine and cheese and good music.

 

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

JB: I never have a good answer to this question, because I have found that my best conversations have often been with unexpected (even if sometimes famous) people. When it comes to people famous in academia, if I want to, I can have a conversation with them, so I guess they don’t really count. And a lot of the dead famous people I find intriguing were also male chauvinists, so that puts them out.

Wait! I know. I’d like to interview Mary Bacon from beyond the grave, because I’d love to write a book about her.

 

TSB: What is your motto?

JB: Hmm. Carpe diem. Or, “I was born under a wandrin’ star.” Or maybe, when I’m really fantasizing, “at the still point of the turning world” from T.S. Eliot’s “Burnt Norton.”

 

COWBOY DRESSAGE by Jessica Black with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE. Order by midnight, Wednesday, December 16th and you’ll still get free shipping in time for Christmas!

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Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs for 30 years, is a small business located on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy share the Cowboy Dressage Handshake. Photo by Lesley Deutsch.

Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy share the Cowboy Dressage Handshake. Photo by Lesley Deutsch.

The equestrian pursuit known as Cowboy Dressage was born 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.

While there isn’t an official “association” or fees, there is an informal membership agreement known as the “Cowboy Dressage Handshake.”

“Part of the appeal of Cowboy Dressage,” explains TSB author Jessica Black in the new book she wrote with Cowboy Dressage founders Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy, “is that it allows people to extend the feeling of partnership that they are fostering with their horses to others who are pursuing similar riding goals: kindness, the Soft Feel of complete communication, and a relaxed atmosphere in which to learn. The Handshake is emblematic of the Cowboy Dressage community and partnership.”

 

THE COWBOY DRESSAGE HANDSHAKE

With our handshake and our word, we promise to:
• Continue to educate and teach as much as possible in all formats.
• Keep Cowboy Dressage simple and uncomplicated.
• Provide tests, rules, and information to everyone who wishes to show.
• Support and educate individuals outside the show ring who want to learn and improve as horsemen and horsewomen.
• Strive to maintain Cowboy Dressage as a grassroots, community-focused movement.
• Ensure Cowboy Dressage is accessible to everyone regardless of his or her income or status within the horse world.
• Make this a place where all people can hang their hat and be proud, whether they show, trail ride, barrel race, cut, rein, or just love horses.
• Most of all, we promise to look for the “try” in you, the Cowboy Dressage world members.

 

With your handshake and your word, you pledge to “try” to:
• Become the person others can trust with a handshake and your word.
• Exemplify the Cowboy Dressage way of life and find the courage to chase your dreams.
• Not allow defeat when faced with setbacks in your life and your horsemanship.
• Treat all horses and people with integrity and kindness.
• Look for “the try” in your horses and always reward them.
• Look for “the try” in people as you travel down your horsemanship path.

 

With your handshake and word, you become a member of the Cowboy Dressage World.

 

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The superbly written and beautifully illustrated new book 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, Cowboy Dressage is more about a way of life than a rulebook. And with that as its premise, we can see how it can show the way to true partnership with a horse.

 

COWBOY DRESSAGE is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to order or to download a free sample chapter.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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