My Top Hand experience… Rebecca Wirth

It takes years to develop a partnership with a horse and the hard work put forth by our Northwest riders shown through at the Cowboy Dressage 2015 Gathering & Finals. They were rewarded for their dedication to their horses and rightly so.

Rebecca Wirth from Estacada, Oregon

Linda Cody

Winning ribbons sometimes is and sometimes is not a reflection of how well you and your horse are doing in Cowboy Dressage™. It is a process, a steady improvement in connection between horse and rider, purity of gaits, precision, impulsion, suspension, suppleness, softness and more. The measure of that improvement is found in riding tests and receiving a score sheet with comments from a judge.

Read those score sheets carefully. They are your guide to planning your work to be done. Save those sheets and com-pare scores for the same test ridden in different shows. Is there a comment that has become a recurring theme? Work on that. Improving that one thing noted on test scores often has impact on other areas of your ride. Improvement includes challenging yourself and your horse to move on to the next level. There are valid reasons to remain at the walk/jog level usually related to age and/or health issues of either the horses or rider. The Cowboy Dressage™ process can still occur with improvement shown within that level. EVERY TIME YOU IMPROVE, YOU WIN. Bringing home shiny ribbons is a bonus.

Those ribbons are not necessarily a reflection of how you are progressing. That progress is personal. The winning of ribbons is subject to many outside factors. Including who is in that same test/class at any given show. The rider who scores a 60 in walk/jog test 2 at one show and a 68 on the same test at a show a month later has made real improvement and deserves a ribbon more than the rider who gets an 88 on walk/jog test 2 and has been also showing the same horse and receiving scores above 70 in walk/jog/lope for two years. Entering classes just to earn points towards a high point award is not a demonstration of the best sportsmanship, but is unfortunately done. You have no control over the outside factors, so the ribbons may be elusive. You have control over personal improvement through good old hard work. WORK – IMPROVE – YOUV’E WON.

RebeccaWirthMy Top Hand experience was not so much about the competition in Rancho Muieta but was in the decision to enter the new division. I like to push out of my comfort zones every now and then and try something new. It loomed in front of me like a mountain that needed to be climbed. The first obstacle to scale was getting my horse Ella to care about going over poles at a lope rather than clunking, stepping on or kicking them across the arena. We don’t normally enter Challenge tests for that reason but 1 – it would be good for us work on something I have neglected & 2 – the part about switching horses lured me in, being a trainer, normally I don’t get on another persons horse because their well behaved. During the competition I was enjoying the grey horse I drew so much while loping over the poles (because he actually cared about not hitting them) I made my last lead change very late. It’s been a very long time since anyone rode Ella in a show situation and as I watched Ella being ridden by Richard Winters in the switch all I was thinking about is she’s so pretty….and the little rat is loping the poles well for Richard. Ella didn’t want to learn to rate her stride to the poles but she finally did and as a result her jumping has improved a great deal. That being said Ella and I are starting to prepare for a “Super Horse Challenge” and jumping is included. Entering Top Hand was the next mountain to climb in the pursuit to be a better equestrian.