We Ride Sport and Trail Magazine October 2018 - Page 22

to school your horse. Again, these disciplines are not there to replace what you are already doing with your horse (barrels, roping, trail), but to build a foundation into your daily riding habits to help your horse make its job easier.

Dressage is Beneficial, Even for Cowboys

So why do I need it? If your nose runs and your feet smell, you may have been built upside down. Some of the horses that come along in my world of horse training have training foundations like that—upside down. The chief training conundrum (western) people struggle with is based, I believe, on horses ridden in tension—lack of balance, poor rhythm, suppleness, etc. Folks don’t realize their horse is leaning into the corners when they ride, or drifting away. They may have learned to control the shoulders, but miss how the body shapes the movement when riding in a court. I’ve ridden some western champion horses trained only in their specific discipline, a form to function program; these wonderful horses would have seriously benefited by truly becoming supple. For riders who don’t ride in a ring, establishing a reason to further educate their horses means showing them the benefits of collection to produce lighter, sounder horses. To carry you in the most optimum frame, regardless of the current speed, turn, or gait transition you are riding is to ride a light horse—something most people have never done.

The list of behavior problems based on the horse being braced or behind the bit is endless. I’m also talking about the ‘woes’ folks are aware of but don’t know how to solve

Trail horses that are spooky, ring horses that are stiff,

working horses that struggle to stay balanced. OK, so none

of those horses are yours, but suppose you have that one

friend…

Dressage for the western horse? Your friends might think

your cornbread isn’t done in the middle, but pull your

cowboy hat down over your head tight and go find a chance

to experience this beautiful blend of cross disciplines.

American horsemanship has never been better. Oh, I

haven’t even mentioned the best part: You’ll have FUN.

*Lest there be some confusion, I have great respect for the

dressage world. Competitively, it’s a tremendous discipline.

I enjoy watching upper level horses and riders that have

mastered the requirements of the sport. Happy Trails!

I’m still laying in the dirt with the social media stampede

Please take some time and “like” www.facebook.com/Jeff-

ilson-Cowboy-Dressage so I can stand back up and dust

myself off. That’d make me happier than a full breeze from

a corn-eatin’ horse. I have been training horses for over 35

years and value the western horse lifestyle in my approach

to training. Giving clinics and seminars on how to reach your

full potential with your horse through the training

foundation of Cowboy Dressage keeps

me young.

Jeff and Candlelight Lady Galadriel

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