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Reflections by Dr. Jenni Grimmett DVM

It seems like we spend our entire year working diligently towards a single goal and then in a blink of an eye it is over and done with.  The ribbons are distributed, the buckles are handed out and with a few last hugs we bid our Cowboy Dressage family adieu until next year.

Cowboy Dressage World Final Gathering 2019 is in the books.  As always, Cowboy Dressage World partners work hard to make this a memorable and rewarding experience for all our handshake members bringing the best awards, fantastic venue, talented entertainment and a welcoming environment.  The Final Gathering is a destination worthy of travel, hard work and commitment.

The Gathering kicked off officially on Tuesday afternoon with informative lectures.  Dr. Sharon Spier, DVM gave a first rate lecture on lameness in performance horses that was reminiscent of some of my vet school lectures.  When I think of what I had to pay for the privilege of that information and here CDW was providing it for free!  Many thanks to Dr. Spier for your support of Cowboy Dressage and for the great presentation on lameness to a packed (standing room only!) house.  Also on the docket for Tuesday evening was a lecture by professional braider, Brad Tarp Sr.  Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Mr. Tarp was unable to give his planned presentation.   No worries, as we had Phil Monaghan and Dave Ellis, both accomplished bridle horsemen, available to step in and give an impromptu lecture.  It was a treat to listen to these two horsemen swap tips and traditions in a friendly back and forth venue.  Both men are humble gentlemen giving credit to the horses and their mentors for the knowledge they had to share.

The gathering kicked off officially on Wednesday morning with 4 rings of Cowboy Dressage tests.  Our Recognized Cowboy Dressage judges were kept busy with full schedules of tests for all 4 days of showing.  The environment was welcoming and encouraging as we traveled from warm up ring to show ring.  It is common to hear calls of good morning and offers of assistance no matter what barn you ride for or who you are competing against.  Anyone is happy to stand as a buddy horse or help call a test.  It’s a family, with the welfare of the horse front and center and kindness to everyone you meet standard operating procedure.

Thursday evening was the golf cart decorating contest.  While there were fewer entries than in previous years, the carts present did not disappoint! Jessica Hutchings group had a great double entry featuring the Dia De Los Muertos theme.  They performed their riding test in perfect tandem golf cart pas de duex.  Lucky Duck Ranch’s entry featured a huge inflatable duck on the top of cart with duck music and perfectly choreographed ninja moves for the judges.  In the end the judges were unable to choose a winner and declared both teams as victorious.  In the spirit of cooperation and kindness the two teams exchanged tokens of appreciation from their themed carts to share in the victory.  Silly stuff, for sure, but also such a great part of the fun we have at Cowboy Dressage World Gathering.

Friday evening we were treated to a special “Dinner In the Dirt” with western performing artist Dave Stamey with an opening performance by our own Rudy Lara Jr., trick roper extraordinaire.  Rudy wowed us with his talent with the rope and Dave wowed us with his talent with the guitar.  What a great evening of celebration with friends partying down on the dirt! Did I mention the food was spectacular?!

On Saturday, after the completion of the regular classes, it was time for the final tests for the Riding for the Brand competition.  This is our elite competition that was formerly the Top Hand competition.  In a brand new format this year the participants were required to do a Partnership on the Ground test, Musical Freestyle Performance and Challenge Walk Jog Lope 2.  The new format emphasized the importance in the community for both groundwork and the celebration of partnership that is musical freestyle.  The top 5 then had to return to do a mystery test and a musical freestyle with no requirements for compulsory moves, just an opportunity to really show off what they could do with their horse.  What a pleasure it was to watch all the performances.  If you are looking for a snapshot of where Cowboy Dressage is today and how we are different from the rest of the equestrian disciplines it was in watching our freestyle performances by our Ride For the Brand Competitors.  We had a cross section of different folks from across the globe giving it their all.  Where else can you see Rudy Lara from Arizona riding in full traditional Mexican regalia competing against Dave Ellis, of Porterville, California riding in spade bit and tapaderos, Amy Prechter on her gelding that spends most of his time winning barrel races in Montana and JoAnne Gillespie riding in a leather vest with her purple hair free and flying while she shows off her tatoos and her love for her equine partner.  And we can’t forget our Australian friends, Tanja Kraus and Phil Monaghan that annually make the 22 hour flight to come and step on borrowed steeds to throw their hats in the ring and give it every bit of try they could muster, both of them making the top 5 this year!  The top awards went to Jenna Rankin this year on a gorgeous Morgan gelding.  Jenna started off her career in the equestrian world riding with none other than the one and only Eitan Beth Halachmy.  While this was her first foray back into the show ring after leaving the Morgan show world behind, she looked like she hadn’t missed a day in front of the judges.  Her musical freestyle performance will not soon be forgotten and you could definitely see the influences of the master in her riding and showmanship.

Sunday morning started with Cowboy Church followed by our awards ceremony where we give away piles and piles of loot!  It’s neat to see the ribbons and buckles are spread around with prizes going to many different competitors.  The top award this year was a gorgeous retro-designed silver face plate and breast collar set reminiscent of the westerns from the 40’s and 50’s.  It’s an adornment that would look at home on Trigger, unique and beautiful.  Our fellow Idahoan, Davalee Minden gets to find out how that set will look on her lovely Arabian mare, Sophie!  Congratulations to all of our winners and a big thank you to the volunteers, show staff and Cowboy Dressage World Partners who work so very hard to make this event a one of a kind celebration of soft feel and our Cowboy Dressage Community.

Until next year!  Happy Trails!

Another good read from Jenni Grimmett