Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cowboy Dressage Jeff Wilson

I thought since Buckaroo Leather will be at the Cowboy Dressage Circuit Show #2 happening this weekend, June 20th-22nd at the Murieta Equestrian Center in Murieta Ca. this great article on Cowboy Dressage Gaits by Jeff Wilson would be appropriate!!

By Jeff Wilson
Photos by Lesley Deutsch

 Free Jog

As western riders have begun to embrace dressage for their western horses, they have endured opposition created as a result of the two worlds colliding—the western world and the dressage world. The horse world at large has watched this rise of dressage horsemanship for the western horse with mixed opinions. Without a doubt, the western jog, standing alongside its English counterpart, the trot, as a legitimate dressage gait has been a hotly debated topic. 

One of the biggest misunderstanding here is because a large portion of the horse world, trying to relate to Cowboy Dressage, stumble on the word “dressage.” It is just too easy for folks to come to their own conclusion that western horses should mirror the competitive dressage world. Suddenly, the jog puts them into a quandary because this fun-tastic middle gait does not fit into that dressage world. 

Working Jog

To clear it up, Cowboy Dressage is a western division with western gaits. As soon as you begin to trot and canter, you have left the western division. Trotting and cantering belong in the dressage division. I hate to drawn lines where horsemanship is concerned, but confusion exists because people are trying to plug “dressage in a western saddle” instead of dressage for the western horse.
There is a difference.

Working Lope

An interesting bit of biomechanics to be clear on is that suspension exists only in the trot and canter; the jog and lope do not have suspension. That is a fact. Once you have suspension, you have left the western element. A western horse, developed properly, certainly does need to be able to move forward freely in a pure two beat gait. From this western working jog, developing the ability to move more forward in an opening stride becomes the free jog. In the free jog, the entire frame of the horse levels out and the horse reaches under itself from behind with a longer stride. One of the hallmarks of suppleness in Cowboy Dressage is to be able to shorten and lengthen our horses stride without changing the tempo—without slowing during shortening, and without speeding up during lengthening.

 Working Lope

It is easy for the traditional dressage person to view our western gaits as being underdeveloped and lacking engagement. Conversely, it is easy for the western person to view dressage gaits as being complicated and impractical. The truth of the matter is that the merits of both are often sadly hidden from the views of either side…Regardless, it matters during the test only. 
Cowboy dressage is about having fun with your horse, and recognizing the “try” of horse and rider. It is not about attempting to make competitive dressage horses out of our western horses!

If you want to learn more about what Jeff talked about here, or you have a question you would like to ask, you can reach him at:

 Jeff has been training horses for over 30 years and values the western horse lifestyle in his approach to training. He gives clinics and seminars on how to reach your full potential with your horse through the training foundation of Cowboy Dressage.

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