At the first weekend of August the Cowboy Dressage ambassadors Anne-Marie Havelaar and Djoke Knol had planned to sponsor a clinic with Cowboy Dressage clinician Barbara Wagner. Because of the situation with Covid 19 the Cowboy Dressage clinic had to be cancelled. The restrictions eased up a bit though and more activities were possible again in Europe. So at the end of August there were on very short notice a few dates for individual and group lessons possible at various locations in Holland.
In comparison with the planned two day clinic the clinician was able to give the interested riders only a first impression what Cowboy Dressage is all about and why there is so much emphasis on Soft Feel, partnership and harmony between rider and horse as essential elements of Cowboy Dressage. At the end though all participants were curious and everybody wants to come back next year for another clinic which is already planned, to learn more about the principles and possibilities of Cowboy Dressage.
There were riders of all ages from youth to senior and also all kinds of breeds in the horses from ponies to Quarter Horses. And that fact exactly shows that Cowboy Dressage is for all riders and all horses regardless of style or breed because good horsemanship and kindness toward our partner the horse doesn’t depend on your tack or your style of riding.
Right after a short theoretical presentation and introduction of Cowboy Dressage the riders went to work with their horses. As an example out of the elements of the Cowboy Dressage Challenge Court Barbara Wagner selected the octagon. Various exercises at the octagon showed the riders how to improve the bending in their horses. It was an surprising experience for most riders how much they helped their horses only with little changes and adjustments in their seat, posture and aids and how much easier it was for the horse to execute the exercise and keep their balance under the saddle. Therefore they needed far less rein what gave them a better understanding of Soft Feel. These little adjustments changed the horses´ attitude and willingness to participate. Thereby the variety ensured that the exercises with the eight ground poles were interesting and fun for both horses and riders. Because that´s an essential element of Cowboy Dressage as well: Having fun with your horse.
Despite of the time limit the participants got to get a taste of the world of Cowboy Dressage. In striving for Soft Feel, riding with less rein and gentler aids the rider meets much more the horse´s mental needs. Classical Dressage exercises prepare the horse physically for the riders demands. Both doesn’t happen at once but is a process, a journey we all should embark on together with our horses in their best interest. After the first steps in that direction with Soft Feel and with exercises that a horse can understand made most of the participants aware of how easy it is to get a willing partner in the horse that is ready to work with us only because we accommodated their mental and physical needs.
Big thanks to the Cowboy Dressage ambassadors of Holland. To Anna-Marie for organizing the first „mini-clinic“ and to Djoke for taking such good care of the clinician and making sure that Barbara got to all the locations for the lessons all over Holland just in time.