Photo by Inner Vision Images
It still feels to me that my Cowboy Dressage 2017 season just started a few weeks ago. As I’m looking back on a year of accomplishments and growth and fond memories of my Cowboy Dressage family it is hard to reconcile our Final Gathering has already come and gone. If you are like me and still reeling from the long weekend or were unable to attend, allow me to share with you what you missed!
Though there is no doubt the temperatures can be quite challenging in early September, there is also no denying that the gorgeous setting of the Rancho Murrieta Equestrian Center outside of Sacramento, California is an amazing setting for our Final Gathering at any time. The immaculately maintained facility is large while still seeming to be cozy and close enough to attempt to stay engaged with all the activities that are occurring across the grounds. The Cowboy Dressage World Partners and volunteers worked hard to bring us a variety of educational opportunities as well as fun competitions to keep the action hopping all through the extended weekend. This is part of the reason why our Final Gathering of the year continues to be an event that draws participants from all corners of the country as well as far reaching regions of the globe.
The Gathering kicked off on Tuesday September 5th with the first day of Power Clinics and educational opportunities offered to a lucky group of participants that could take advantage of the excellent instruction presented by our Cowboy Dressage World Partners, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Lyn Ringrose-Moe and Garn Walker. Riders could attend sessions with each of the talented horseman to concentrate on varied topics including transitions, lateral maneuvers and lope departures. Each of the Cowboy Dressage Partners bring their own unique skill set and different point of view while all teaching the same basic principles of soft feel, partnership and harmony and building self carriage in our budding Cowboy Dressage Handshake members.
Wednesday September 6th the Gathering really got rolling with our first day of tests ridden in 3 arenas which were manned completely by our own home grown and instructed Cowboy Dressage Recommended judges. It is a testament to the hard work of World Partner Lyn Ringrose-Moe who has worked tirelessly to create shape and guide our judges program ensuring that our handshake members continue to be rewarded for the elements of Cowboy Dressage that we hold most important. While the tests were being judged throughout the day there were also multiple educational opportunities to attract our members. Australian Natural Horseman, Ken Faulkner paired with our own veteran of Natural Horsemanship and Cowboy Dressage supporter, Dr. Bob Miller, DVM to put on a demonstration of colt starting and roundpen skills. Marcia Moore-Harrison and Davalee Minden of Potlatch, Idaho provided a stimulating and beautiful demonstration of the possibilities of building partnership through liberty work with an eye on someday including liberty groundwork classes at our Cowboy Dressage Gatherings. And, while all of this was going on in separate corners of our facility, the Power Clinic sessions continued with the Cowboy Dressage World Partners in the big arena. As if this wasn’t enough to keep any of our handshake members busy, the vendors that bring so many wonderful products to our Gathering were busy setting up for a complete shopping experience along the main thoroughfares!
Thursday and Friday September 7th and 8th were busy days of riding tests for most of our members as each horse and rider pair did their best to show how far they had come in their own personal journeys throughout the year. As always each arena was like a mini family reunion with cooperation and support in evidence for members that may or may not be in direct competition throughout the show. Cries of “Good Luck!” and “Nice Ride!” are common among the participants while offers of callers, buddy horses and just good old encouragement continue to be offered to friends new and old. One of my favorite pairs to watch throughout the gathering was two of our youth riders. Both of these young girls have been competing for several years but only get to see each other at the Final Gathering each year as one is from Washington while the other is from California. They laughed and joked hanging out before each of their tests and were genuinely happy when one of them beat the other. When one girl would have a tough ride the other was there to offer encouragement and uplifting words and when one would have a good ride the other would cheer louder than the rest. We don’t have to do a thing to encourage sportsmanship among our young riders in Cowboy Dressage. In a community built entirely on kindness it’s just what we do.
Thursday and Friday evenings after the tests were completed it was time to focus again on education. Both evenings featured presentations by our Cowboy Dressage Professionals on topics of their choice that were designed to help each of our members in unique ways. Topics varied from Yoga for Horseback riders to a Saddle fit and a very informative talk on the different actions of our common pieces of headgear for our horses. Each of the professionals put a lot of time and thought into their presentations and it is gratifying to see that just as our Recommended Judges program has grown and thrived, our Cowboy Dressage Professionals program is also bringing together the very best and brightest like minded horsemen and women that the world has to offer.
New to the Competition this year was the Cowboy Dressage Musical Drill Freestyle Competition. We had two large drill teams competing for the top honors and it is so much fun to watch a group of riders exhibiting soft feel work through maneuvers in unison. I believe this will be a division that continues to grow as more and more riders discover the joy of riding together in formation.
And we can’t forget the always entertaining Left Hip Body Clip competition sponsored by Wahl clippers. Several members participated this year and the artistic abilities of our Cowboy Dressage family are inspiring. One of our competitive drill teams each had the same clip on their left hip which were not only beautiful but a great way to identify the drill members.
Of course, the culmination of our year from a competitive standpoint is the Top Hand Competition. While entries were down this year from previous years the same cannot be said for the level of horsemanship. The elite Top Hand Competition is in its third year this year and we have seen each year a tremendous amount of growth in the skills exhibited by those riders brave enough to through their hat in the ring. The test scores on the preliminary rides this year were 5-10 percentage points above previous years. The competition could not have been closer and the riders were separated by mere fractions of a point as they came to the top 5.
For the spectators (and I believe the riders as well) the real excitement in this competition stems from the switch ride as each rider draws for one of their competitor’s horses to ride a mystery test. As in previous years it is encouraging to see that, while this is a very serious competition with big prizes on the line, each rider is thinking first and foremost of their mount and the success of their fellow rider. After the switch you can see each rider explaining what their horse is like and helping them to avoid trouble spots during the test.
This year we were excited to watch two of our returning Top Hand riders and mounts back in the top 5. Jennifer Purcell and Kellie Shields both rode in the top 5 last year with their mounts, Griff and Fireman. New to the line up this year was our first youth rider, Joy Wilcox as well as Tami Beach and Nina Burkett. When all was said and done each rider did a very commendable job with obvious respect for their competitor’s mounts. Rising to the Top of the Fields was Kellie Shields followed by an astounding finish by Joy Wilcox. A big shout out goes to Jennifer Purcell’s, horse Griff who has twice now been the horse to draw in the switch successfully taking each of the riders that have drawn him to the top spot.
Sunday the show wrapped up with the last day of tests followed by the awards ceremony. Not even the high temps could damper the enthusiasm as the Cowboy Dressage community gathered to hand out 2 tables worth of awards to the hard-working members of our community. Most of the awards are well spread out throughout the group but you occasionally see some of our hardworking members needing a sac to carry out all of their winnings. The Cowboy Dressage World Partners and gracious sponsors continue to do a wonderful job of ensuring there are plenty of awards to go around.
So, with the closing of our Final Gathering we officially bid adieu to the 2017 Cowboy Dressage season. But don’t think the hard work is all over until next year! Our Partners, professionals and volunteers are already hard at work organizing and planning for next year. The Final Gathering will be later next year with new October dates which should help us avoid the high temperatures! More education, events and exciting developments are in store for your 2018 Gathering! Until then, happy trails!
Jenni and Dan Grimmett were the Awards MC’s and they brought down the house with their impersonations and comedy. They were spot on and just hysterical. Don’t want to miss them next year!!
Photo by Inner Vision Images
For complete details of wins and award for the Gathering and Finals visit: https://cowboydressageworld.com/2017-cowboy-dressage-gathering-and-finals-results-2/
Cowboy Dressage Professionals Association Lectures at the 2017 Gathering and Finals.
By Sara Uhalde
Six educators each volunteered 30 minutes to teach and share with Handshake Members. Niki Gibbs Wilde provided before and after photos of a stressed confused horse and its metamorphosis after two years of training for relaxation. Kenda Firkins gave insight on inspecting and choosing western saddles. Martina Bone explained the mechanics of lateral work, common misconceptions, and how to decide when to use them in a freestyle.
Bina Sigl held a yoga session that encouraged physical and mental balance to take into the saddle.
Dr. Jenni Grimmet D.V.M. told us why education and riding principles of Cowboy Dressage help prevent common injuries, and makes happier and healthier horses.
Educator Phil Monaghan lead a discussion on form to function of bridles, bits, and hackamores, that encouraged empathy and asking questions.
What The Judges Think
The Gathering had a particularly in depth Judges talk. These are provided at the beginning of Cowboy Dressage Gatherings as an opportunity to welcome exhibitors and answer questions. Recommended Judge Lyn McEnespy gave a thorough and original lecture about how Cowboy Dressage Judges think, and how they are trained to find scores and form remarks. It was encouraging and insightful, and had a lengthy question and answer session. The exhibitors made great use of this opportunity.
Legends Teamed Up
Dr. Robert Miller D.V.M. shared, and CDWPA Member Ken Falukner of Australian Natural Horsemanship showed, what goes into educating and handling horses in the beginning for a good future.
Dr. Miller’s Lecture: Where Handshake Members asked questions and watched subject matter on a big screen. What was being discussed was further displayed in Ken’s demos.
Lyn Ringrose Moe’s filly “Chica” attentively following Ken Faulkner as he speaks into a microphone, explaining every action and reaction to the Handshake Members sitting in the shade.
Judy Johnson’s Mare Kharioki with Ken, Dr. Miller watching
Because Ken always tried to end his sessions when it was best for the young horse, he sometimes had time left over during his demos. With this left over time he would demonstrate working with a nice mature horse whose foundation was lacking, or had room for improvement.
Building Partnership with Liberty
CDWPA member Marcia Moore Harrison gave Handshake Members education and demonstration on, the growing ever popular, subject of liberty.
Riders had the rare opportunity to ride up to nine hours in two days under the instruction of Cowboy Dressage World Partners Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Lyn Ringrose Moe, and Garn Walker. They covered material for every level of riding. It was a marathon and an encyclopedia of Cowboy Dressage beliefs and practices, from using patience with yourself and your horse to executing advanced transitions.
An “all ears” moment during one of Lyn Ringrose Moe’s session.
Ride, Learn, Succeed
Michaella on her Harley and Debbie on her scooter
After meeting Eitan and Debbie at the Hoosier Horses Fair and Expo I have been on the most remarkable journey. It has lead me down roads of success story after success story with my customers as they use the Cowboy Dressage Challenge Court. When I found out about the Power Clinics I knew I had to be a part of that. For me personally I traveled 4000 miles on my motorcycle in hopes of working with the clinicians I admire and respect. My goal was to get to California in time to see if someone would let me borrow a horse to ride in the power clinics with 8 (Eitan), Lyn and Garn. The minute I pulled up Debbie Beth Halachmy jumped off her horse “Champ”, hugged me and asked if I wanted to ride. Indeed I did. So my dream came true. I signed up for both morning sessions and was thrilled to learn! Each clinician reinforced a positive skill-building experience for each rider, at the level of their individual horsemanship needs. So very effective. Thanks to everyone for sharing the knowledge, and doing it in a way that reinsured confidence and developed a lasting change. My big take-away was when Lyn said “Your belly button is like a flashlight, point it where you want to go.” That put my core where it needed to be. Thank Lyn, Garn and Eitan!
Back Row: Phil Monaghan, Tanja Kraus, Jenni Purcell, Tami Beach, Erin Adderley
Front Row: Nina Burkart, Reserve Champion Joy Wilcox, Champion Kellie Shields, and JoAnn Gillespie
Top Five on their talented and diverse mounts
Champion Kellie Shields, Calcutta Winner Kelley Rankin, and Cowboy Dressage World Partner Lyn Ringrose Moe. Cowboy Dressage World used a portion of the Calcutta winnings as donation for Hurricane Relief
2017 Top Hand Champion Kellie Shields on her Prize Saddle
Kellie’s winning switch ride, on Griff owned by Jenni Purcell
WAHL Left Hip Body Clip Competition Winner “The Handshake”
“This is Webber’s hip clip. It’s the Cowboy Dressage Handshake, meant to symbolize partnership with the horse and our fellow riders.”- Jill Plumb
Cowboy Dressage Drill Team Freestyles Were a Hit!
The Briones Buckarettes Cheering on Fellow Freestyle Exhibitors, watch their ride here: https://vimeo.com/233104355
AWARDS & ENTERTAINMENT
It was a “you should have been there” kind of time, full of laughter and gratitude. Partners, riders, staff, and volunteers were all honored. The Grimmet’s pulled it off!
Winners of the Cowboy Dressage Volunteer Raffle
For all who were unable to attend or want to enjoy again, here it is.
Court-side Spectators encouraging fellow riders and Handshake Members
The Judge’s View at C
For complete details of the winners for Top Hand visit: https://cowboydressageworld.com/2017-top-hand/2017-top-hand-results/
Top Hand Winning switch ride.
All Top Hand Top Five Rides can be seen on the Cowboy Dressage Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CDEducation/?ref=br_rs
Drill Team videos can also be found at: https://www.facebook.com/CDEducation/?ref=br_rs
Photos From Finals:
Photo Credits: Lee Folino, Inner Vision Images Photography. Cathy Barns, Lacy’s Mom Photography
2018 Rancho Murieta Cowboy Dressage World Show Dates
April 20-22, June 22-24 and Gathering and Finals Oct 9-14, 2018
New Show Management 2018
Cowboy Dressage World welcomes Marlie Perry & Diana Pyle to their Management Team. Marlie and Diana both come with strong credentials relating to Cowboy Dressage Shows. This team will be taking on all our shows at MEC in 2018. They also manage the Far West Cowboy Dressage Show.
After 5 years of a strong learning curve for the CDW Partners we felt it was time to turn it over to the professionals.
We are so glad to have these two join us and look forward to working with them next year.
New Cowboy Dressage World Membership Level for 2018
The partners have been struggling with this decision for quite a while. With the financial demands that are required to maintain Cowboy Dressage World and what it offers its public we have decide to implement a Competition Level Membership.
The Handshake Membership is still our core and is welcoming to all. It will always remain.
Here is how the Competition Level Membership will work:
Lifetime Adult Membership is $1500
General Membership fee is $50
Junior (17 and under) fee is $15
If you are a CDWPA Member there is no Competition Membership Fee Required. You must be a member and be listed above an Ambassador Level to qualify. Ambassador Level will increase from $50 to $75 and that will include the Competition Level Membership.
The membership will run Jan 1- Dec 31 of each year.
You will have to state if you are an amateur, open or jr rider.
If you are not a member and do show at a CDW Show above a schooling or play day there will be a $50 non member fee per show.
We are in the process of purchasing a program that will manage the membership and also allow us to record points for future award programs.
It is our plan to have this in place and ready to go by Jan 1st. Fingers crossed so stay tuned.
Cowboy Dressage World Courts for Sale
In 2018 CDW will be offering a few of their courts and challenge courts for sale. We will be upgrading our competition courts to better serve our public. If you have an interest please let Wyatt Paxton know. Wyatt_paxton@yahoo.com or 530-784-8000. Also if you know of any nice used courts please let Wyatt know.
New Websites for 2018
It is the Partners plan to have a new and much more user friendly CDW website up in 2018. All competition information, rules, tests, diagrams etc. will now be on the CDW website only. One place for everything. It will be a work in progress and we hope to have it done before next show season.
Award Changes for 2018 Gathering and Finals
The 2018 Oct Gathering and Finals will be the last year that a saddle award will be given. Only one saddle will be given away in 2018. More news on that as we make decisions. It is our plan to still give wonderful awards but wish to let go of the higher end award, the saddles, and offer awards that allow us to focus more on the ride than the prize. The Cowboy Dressage way!!!
The Story of the ‘Aussies Horses’ And The Journey to Cowboy Dressage
This story starts in 2014 (truth be told it begins a lot sooner than that, but 2014 seems a good place to start). In 2014 Phil and Tanja (the Aussies) had been looking into Cowboy Dressage for a couple of years, talking with Eitan over Facebook, and learning as much as they could ‘long distance’. So in 2014 they made the leap to fly to the USA and meet with Eitan and Debbie in person, at light hands horsemanship.
They, of course, loved every minute and were even more excited about Cowboy Dressage, and all that it means. Upon returning from the US, shortly after Eitan does a Facebook post, about a new class he is introducing to the world final gathering – the Top Hand. In his post, he explains the class, and also writes ‘we will have competitors from all over the world’. This of course piques the interest of Phil and Tanja, who both comment ‘we would love to ride!’. 8 replies ‘come on over, I will get you horses’!
So we start making plans to head back to the States in November 2015, and we are commenting on posts to say we are coming, and it gets to about August 2015 when we havent heard much about the horses we are meant to be riding. We email to Eitan, who passes it onto Deb (of course!), Deb replies ‘Lyn is organizing horses’, so we contact Lyn who replies “Deb is organizing your horses” Oh O! So the epic task of finding horses begins, with 2 months to go until the gathering.
We had an offer to hire some horses, but our budget was tight enough on flights, accommodation, car hire and entry fees – we just couldn’t justify the stretch to horses, and at that stage we were quite certain that we would get onto some horses somewhere. Days and weeks go by, with us contacting everyone we know (and some strangers!) in the united states, and still nothing. We contacted Australian friends living in the states, and Australian friends who had recently visited – basically anyone, who knew anyone, we had sent messages to. With a couple of weeks to go before our departure, we were onto a couple of ‘maybes’ an Aussie trainer now living in the USA had a student that was willing, and friends of ours that had recently been in the states ranch roping, sounded like they had the ranch owners on board with supplying us a couple of horses to ride.
24 hours before boarding our flight, we get told that the trainers horse had fallen through, and, the ranch owners are starting to have second thoughts about their ranch horses going to a dressage, thinking the horses would not be good enough in an dressage arena, as they only had roping experience. The day of our departure we send a message saying they will be fine, as long as they can walk, jog and lope, we will figure out the rest. Then our phones get turned off for the 15 odd hours of our flight to the USA.
15 hours later we land at LAX, turn on the phones and …… no horses. The ranch owners had come back and simply said their horses would not be ready.
So, with no horses for the competition that starts in less than 14 days, we decide to stick to the same plan we originally had – hire a car, drive up the coast road of California, taking in sights along the way, head to San Francisco to visit one of Phil’s friends, and back track to Rancho Murieta to the gathering, to no longer ride but be a part of.
So we do that, we are having a great time along the California coast, staying in little towns, posting updates on Facebook along the way. Eitan shares one of these updates with a picture of me (Tanja) that says something along the lines of “Top Hand Competitor from Australia” Enjoying our drive up the coast, checking out the seals, Big Sur, having a great time on the way to finals”.
Kerrin Hoban, the owner of City Limits Ranch, Watsonville, CA,
In the meantime, we arrive in San Francisco, and visit Phil’s friend, head to dinner, and go back to the motel we are staying at. At the motel, we have free wifi, I turn on my phone, head to Facebook (of course) and get a notification in my ‘other messages’ folder. I open the message and it is from Kerrin “Hi Tanja, I saw on Eitan’s Facebook that you guys are driving up the Coast, before heading to top hand, if you would like to come and visit our ranch, you are more than welcome, we live in Watsonville, near Santa Cruz”. I turn to Phil, read the message out to him and say “what do you think ?” (‘Im a little reluctant because we are over 2 hours past Watsonville), Phil says “That would be cool – we get to visit a ranch, and we have nothing else to do now we dont have horses to ride and prepare for finals – at this stage we are 7 days out from competition.
So we stay in San Francisco for the night, and head back towards Watsonville the next day, unknown to us this conversation is happening at City Limits Ranch between Kerrin and Dink her partner;
Kerrin “I have some Australians coming to visit”
Dink “What do you mean?”
Kerrin “I Invited some Australians to visit the ranch, today, they will be here this evening by 5pm, I may not be home from work then”
Dink “well who the hell are they and what am I supposed to do with them ? Do I have to feed them ? Did you invite them for dinner? If they are weird they aren’t staying!”
Kerrin “I saw a post on Eitan’s Facebook page – if Eitan knows them, they must be alright, I kind of invited them for dinner, Tanja is a vegetarian, but if we don’t like them we will just make an excuse.
Dink “A vegetarian?”
So Phil and I are headed back to visit the ranch, and on our arrival we are greeted by a pack of dogs, lead by a barking, seemingly aggressive German Shepard, a red heeler, a few collies, a blind, partially deaf border collie and a small mixed breed of sorts wearing a muzzle. All of them being yelled at by Dink. All of you who have met Dink can imagine what this looks like, and she seems pretty cranky having been dropped in it to be nice to some random Australians.
Lucky we love dogs and this was somewhat of an ice breaker, Dink started showing us around, and soon after Kerrin arrived home. We got a full tour of the ranch, which is a non-profit organization that provides natural horsemanship opportunities to children, teenagers and at-risk youth.
Phil and I must have passed ‘the test’ because a dinner invitation was forthcoming, and we had a great evening with Kerrin and Dink, and a few people from the CLR family. At one point during dinner, the upcoming Top Hand competition was mentioned, and Kerrin said how exciting it must be for us to be competing, and we told the story of how we had come to have no horses to ride. Kerrin said “We know some people up around the Rancho Murieta area, let me make some calls, and we will try to get you some horses. She said to come back to the ranch the next day at 9, to see what options had been found.
Phil and I leave, find a nearby hotel and settle in for the night. Upon returning to City Limits we are greeted with “You can ride our horses, we will haul them up there for you”. Wow – Phil and I were not expecting that! Of course it was subject to us meeting the horses, and riding them under Dink and Kerrins watchful eye, to decide if we were capable, and if we would handle the horses in a way that they liked or not (they had not seen us ride or work with horses). So for the next few days Phil and I played with Smoky and Triscuit, and a couple of other horses, and it was decided that we would take them to Rancho Murieta to compete in both the Cowboy Dressage World Gathering, and the Top Hand Competition.
Triscuit is a horse that was very much an ‘allrounder’ used for helping to start horses under saddle, and competed in reined cow horse events. Smoky is a retired roping horse – retired due to injury, and now used in the City Limits Ranch kids program.
Neither horse had seen a Dressage Arena before – let alone a Cowboy Dressage Arena, or Challenge Court! The only time of year these horses see the court, is once we arrive at Rancho Murieta.
That year, our 7th rides on those horses were in the preliminary round of the top hand, and we were proud of their, and our achievements together at the gathering, and everything we have learned and achieved since.
And that was the first year of our annual trip to City Limits Ranch, to Cowboy Dressage worlds and top hand, and riding Triscuit and Smoky. It was the first year of our wonderful friendship with Dink and Kerrin, who are walking examples of everything the Cowboy Dressage handshake represents.
2017 was our 3rd year to the event, where Phil and I tied for 6th place in the Top Hand, on our beautiful ‘stolen horses’. 6th place after 30 rides on these horses – maybe in 2020 we will win it!
Cowboy Dressage at the Sept 2017 Parelli Savvy Summit
Cowboy Dressage was well represented at the 2017 Parelli Savvy Summit at the same time our Gathering and Finals was taking place. Thank you to Linda and Pat Parelli for showcasing this new discipline in their “world.” A very special you to CDWPA Ambassadors Dave Ellis and Christi Reins for their excellent presentations.
Training Tip from Lyn Ringrose Moe
Selecting a class for you and your horse at a Cowboy Dressage Gathering.
I often see folks struggle because they selected a test that is a “reach” for them.
Here are some simple guidelines for test selection:
- Ride below what you school at home. You and your horse will lose about 20-30% of your performance skills when dealing with the high energy of a new environment and all that comes with it.
- Play to your strengths. Choose your test patterns carefully to showcase your horse and yourself while you continue to work on your weaker elements at home.
- Take the time to thoroughly learn your patterns ahead of time. This includes looking at the score sheet and reading the Purpose and Directive Ideas. This helps you to understand what is being scored in a particular maneuver.
A Note From Debby Miller To All Of Us……
It is never too late to learn….
Finally, in my eighties, the time has come for me to learn the true science of horsemanship.
I grew up riding bareback, in the hills and in the ocean-surf and wherever else I could get to. It was great fun. I never knew anyone who took lessons.
Even though I was a successful barrel racer, I never had the opportunity to learn the finer points of horsemanship. Thanks to Eitan and Debbie and other advocates of Cowboy Dressage, I have learned so much. I love learning, especially when it concerns horses.
Those of you who have had the advantages of lessons from a truly qualified instructor should be very grateful. I am, even though they have been occasional.
We should celebrate the recent advancement in horsemanship which is scientifically based, and provides kindness, civility, and non-abusive methods of communicating with this animal which has been so important to we humans.
Remember Your Resources!
Keep in mind Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy have a new e-mail address:
Sara Uhalde is our Newsletter Guru and she has graciously taken on the task of managing the new Handshake Membership page on Facebook. Boy is this popular. Check it out on Face book but first you have to be a Handshake Member…so worth it!