The 7th annual Cowboy Dressage World Gathering and Show recently wrapped at Rancho Murieta Equestrian Center in Northern California. This year’s poster states “Find your Clan, Find your Tribe, Find your Family” and it seems like that’s what everyone did. Most horse competitions are just that, a competition. I’m a traditional Dressage rider and technically you and your horse are in competition with yourselves, as a team, to get the best points possible. As I understand it, Cowboy Dressage is similarly scored yet, more often than not, at competitions we compete with others for 1-6th places and, at least stateside, it’s occasionally... as the levels increase the comradely decreases. It’s true there is not an “I“ in the word team yet only 1 person can step on that middle podium. It was so refreshing to hear what a caring, friendly, and supportive environment the Cowboy Dressage folks have fostered in their annual event. "A great description of Cowboy Dressage that I heard from Jill von Iltun, one of the Judges," says Tom Spalding, "is that every horse owner loves their horse, but not all competition horses love their rider. At Cowboy Dressage the horses do love their rider." Cowboy Dressage is for everyone and anyone who loves horses whether you’re interested in riding or spectating!

What is Cowboy Dressage?
Cowboy Dressage World started as a partnership between, Debbie and Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Lyn Ringrose-Moe, and Garn Walker but now has thousands of enthusiasts. This group came together because of a shared passion for Cowboy Dressage. They are dedicated to educating the public about Cowboy Dressage and the benefits it holds for the Western horse. You will find them together or apart presenting clinics and supporting Cowboy Dressage competitions. Cowboy Dressage is a combination of the best of both worlds: Traditional Western and Classical Horsemanship. To learn more about Cowboy Dressage check out their website at

About This Year’s Cowboy Dressage World
Cowboy Dressage is still one of the fastest growing equestrian disciplines in America. This year’s Cowboy Dressage World Gathering & Finals had more entries than last year! The gathering was host to over 1,100 rides running in 4 rings for 4 days! Spalding Labs own, Tom Spalding, was on hand and captured some terrific sound bytes speaking with judges, trainers, and riders so check our Facebook and Instagram for those wonderful tidbits.

Moreover, what is riding in lightness?
“Lightness" represents the highest achievement between horse and rider. There are no short cuts on the road to its success. It is a pure partnership built on trust and reward. Lightness is accomplished when full use of the riders correct aids have maintained the horse in balance, cadence and carriage. When a horse is taught to "balance himself" and not rely on the riders hands to hold him in frame, lightness occurs. Lightness begins with the lead rope. From there to the advanced horse, it is a long, exciting, and rewarding journey. The feel of “lightness" is like no other. It, in itself is the reward.

Photos © credit Maria Marriott Photography