Cowboy Dressage Newsletter

December 2015

Happy Holidays from Eitan and Debbie

It has been quite a while since I wrote a newsletter.  This is a “short version” of what has been happening in the world of Cowboy Dressage.

We wish you all the best in 2016 and hope our paths will cross down the trail.

Message from the Heart

Our personal Cowboy Dressage journey has had a strong learning curve for us. Not to mention some curve balls thrown at us as well. Here is what we have learned:
Cowboy Dressage started out to help improve the life of all horses. We found that it did help the horse but it was helping people even more. Because we have few rules and there is a good reason for this, we wished to develop a moral high ground so to speak, a place for people to make good, fair decisions because they were the right thing to do, not because of a rule. Don't  get us wrong, rules do have their place but it is the freedom to elevate ones qualities and even if they fail, they are encourage to try again.  We have created a support system for the horse and rider both. It is first and foremost "welcoming." We believe in each other. The people involved in Cowboy Dressage protect this "lifestyle" like a mother cat. They own it, they live it, they ride it but most of all they cherish it. In hind sight this may be our greatest accomplishment...... this home we created for both horse and likeminded riders.

Join us and take the Cowboy Dressage Hand Shake by Clicking Here.

2015 Cowboy Dressage World Gathering and Finals Recap

In the words of Dr. Karl the Cowboy Dressage World Gathering and Finals 2015 was "EPIC." We could not of said it better. From a record 980 rides, 4 days with 4 arenas going to our debut of the new Top Hand Competition, to the Body Clip Contest (the Cowboy Dressage  Art Show)  there was something to be shared, enjoyed and learned for everyone.

Below are  a few shared thoughts from those that were there. For more stories, results and recaps go to

The Top Hand event was a huge success. You can bet it will return next year. The big news is that there will be an AMATEUR DIVISION ADDED!

Read more about our 2016  Gathering and Finals at

By Jenni Grimmett DVM

If you weren’t at the Murieta Equestrian Center, in Ranch Murieta, California last week for the Cowboy Dressage Final Gathering, I hope you at least took advantage of the live streaming, because history was made. Cowboy Dressage has been at the forefront of a revolution in equine competitions and equestrian lifestyle and this weekend we made a giant step forward in showing the world what is possible when you focus on riding with softness, lightness and partnership with your equine companion.

As always the gathering was populated with wonderful people and horses that had traveled from all corners of the world. There were riders representing states including, California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and probably a few others that I missed. The Canadians were very well represented and I’m sure will have a time at the border crossing explaining all the “loot” they are taking home! Great Britain, Poland, Germany and Australia were also represented. It truly was a gathering of the Cowboy Dressage World. It didn’t matter where you hailed from because Cowboy Dressage looks the same no matter where you go. It always looks soft.

All kinds of horses were represented as well. Morgans were there in high numbers, but so were Quarter horses, Appaloosas, Paints, Arabians, Ponies, Saddlebreds, Mustangs, Fjords, Haflingers, Tennessee Walkers, Pasos, Rocky Mountain Horses, and others I’m sure I missed.

Riders of all ages were competing. In the Silver (over 60) age group, the competition was fierce, and the youth riders were battling it out in their division as well. Cowboy Dressage truly is for every horse and every rider interested in cultivating kindness and soft feel.

The 28 Top Hand Competitors

The big history making event at this year’s final gathering though, was the Top Hand competition. This was the first year for this elite competition for Cowboy Dressage’s top competitors to all throw their hats into the same ring. Each rider rode the same test, W/J/L 2. This test on the surface doesn’t look terribly difficult. It requires many of the standard maneuvers that many of our CD tests ask for. The killer maneuver in this test is what we call the “bow tie”. This asks for the horse to lope half of a 20 m circle then change direction over the ground poles on the short diagonal with a lead change through the jog within the box (8-a-gon) then another half of a 20 m circle holding that lead through the box and then transitioning to a working jog. It sounds easy enough until you try to ride it. Out of the 28 horses and riders that ended up competing in the Top Hand, probably only a handful managed their two trips through the bow tie without a bauble. That one maneuver requires such timing, softness and precision to execute perfectly that it really separates the cream from the milk.
Megan Gallager

After watching the first round of the competition most of us were trying to figure out who would make the top 10. It was a difficult task. Since virtually no one had been completely perfect it would come down to who had the most perfect ride and how heavily the judges penalized the different maneuvers. It’s also supposed to come down to soft feel and partnership, but I would have to say that for the most part, that element was universal as all of the riders exhibited with soft feel and partnership, even those that had come that were new to Cowboy Dressage.
Richard Winters

When the top 10 finalists were announced, we were still in the dark trying to guess who the top five final competitors would be. Cowboy Dressage World kept us all on the edge of our seats waiting until right before the moment they were going to have to ride onto that court to see who the top five were. Once they were announced, then a Calcutta was offered and each rider was auctioned off to the highest bidder. As each rider was being bid on they did their best to put on a show of their best horsemanship and the training that their horses had attained. A couple of the riders removed bridles, did sliding stops, spins, lead changes, all in front of the screaming audience while, I’m sure, trying to go over the test they are about to ride in their heads.

Rebecca Worth

It was at that moment, watching the top 5 folks out in the ring that I realized how very far I still have to go. There was not a doubt in my mind that any one of those talented riders and obedient, soft, willing horses had what it took to be the Top Hand. All 5 of those teams were calm, cool, collected and rode like they had ice in their veins. I was sweating and fidgeting in the stands for them as I watched my friends get ready to ride. It was impossible to know who to root for so we rooted for them all.
Jenni Purcell

Each of the riders had amazing rides on their horses in their next test, which was a brand new test to all of us. This test again, had all of the elements we’ve all ridden before but in different order with shorter quicker transitions than we had seen before. Those quick transitions, when riding with soft feel and lightness can be difficult to execute with precision, and it was completely gratifying to see them all do it well. The field was pretty much wide open after the first go and then the real fun began as they drew to swap horses.

The final 5 horses were as different as can be as a group. There was a Paint, a Morgan, and three Quarter horses who were all different types of quarter horses. The competitors had 2 minutes to ride their new mount, at a walk before the testing began. Then right before their test they had another 2 minutes before their bell rang and they rode into the court.

You could have heard a pin drop in that arena. We collectively held our breath as each rider rode in. Then as they transitioned to the lope you could see cowboy hats bobbing in time as we all rode each stride with them. The long test seemed to take forever and the stress was palpable, keeping us rooted to our seats watching each rider’s go.

Marcia Moore Harrison

When the dust settled and it was all said and done, it came down to who had the best go on the horse that they drew. Our Top Hand rider, Megan Gallagher had an amazing ride on both her Morgan and the beautiful Quarter Horse that belonged to Richard Winters. Megan exhibits everything that the Top Hand rider should. She is a kind, wonderful lady and an excellent horsewoman. Her ride on Richard’s horse was soft, quiet, and gorgeous. She is what we are all striving to be. Any one of those top 5 riders could have been the top hand, honestly. The differences in scores between them all were minute, I’m sure, as were the points between all the top hand riders.

When we first dreamed up the Top Hand competition this is exactly what we were hoping for. It was a stunning exhibition in soft feel and partnership and it brought in folks from far and wide that had never shown Cowboy Dressage before.

So, where does Cowboy Dressage World go from here? This was our 3rd Final Gathering and we had 980 rides. Cowboy Dressage continues to grow and bring in new members of our Cowboy Dressage Handshake family. We now have an E-learning program in place that can reach an even larger audience for people that are struggling to build a Cowboy Dressage community in their area. We are progressing towards establishing a regional gathering circuit as we build events in more and more areas. New next year will also be a combined clinician and judges training course so that more and more judges are available for the growing number of events and clinicians trained to teach to the Cowboy Dressage World standards.

Cowboy Dressage is here to stay. This isn’t a fad. This is a revolution in how people and horses in the western community communicate with each other and their horses and it is world wide. What started with dreams of just one man and one horse has now spread to encompass the entire world.

What’s Up With “Cowboy Dressage?”

With Richard Winters Horsemanship

As I write this article, I’m sitting at a horse show. Last night I rode with over thirty other riders in the preliminary round of the Top Hand Competition. I know that I have qualified as one of the top 10 riders. We are now waiting to see who will make the top 5 cut and ride in the finals tomorrow night. I wasn’t judged on how far my horse slid or how fast he could spin. I don’t believe there was even one cow on the premises. This weekend, I’ve tried something brand-new, Cowboy Dressage.

winters3This new horsemanship discipline is really taking off. At this show there will be over 900 individual goes with three arenas continuously active for three days. Although this event has its roots in Classical Dressage it has evolved into something very specific unto itself. Its organizers would also want to clarify that this is not “Western dressage”. Cowboy Dressage has developed its own unique set of principles, guidelines, courts and tests. It’s been a huge learning experience for me and has challenged my own horsemanship skills. Below are just a few things that I’ve learned.

It’s All About Transitions

There were probably over twenty different transitions that I had to execute during my test. Transitioning from the working walk to the free walk, on to the working jog then the free jog, asking for the lope and back down again. And of course, all of these transitions had to happen at a very specific mark on the course.

Bending And Straightness

Every circle was judged on how well the horses were bent and how consistently they traveled in the circle. Then aligning the horse’s body on straight-lines was also closely scrutinized. “Kind of, Sort of” just didn’t cut it. I really had to strive for perfection.

Poles And Cones

In many of the challenge tests, poles and cones were set up for the rider to navigate in different gaits. This was helpful in some ways in that it gave us a frame of reference of where to ride. In other ways, it was tricky to keep my horse riding correctly over polls that were spaced at different intervals.


Although it was important to be familiar with the particular test that I was riding, every rider was allowed a caller to announce the next maneuver in the test. Having a good caller, that stayed in the rhythm and flow of your ride was vital for success. It also relieves a lot of pressure of trying to memorize a test that can last up to seven or eight minutes. Should a rider go off course, a cowbell is rung and the judge helps the rider find a new starting point. This makes the event very rider-friendly. There’s only a small penalty for this happening twice but getting lost a third time is a dismissal.

Bits And Headgear

Unlike other disciplines, Cowboy Dressage allows you to ride a horse of any age in a Bosel, Snaffle or Leverage Bit. It is strictly the rider’s preference. You can also ride with a Leverage Bit using two-hands. However, if you start two-handed you must ride the entire test with two-hands. If you begin your test one-handed you must ride the whole test one-handed.

Levels For Everyone

This weekend I competed in the “Top Hand” Division. This perhaps was the most challenging and difficult test of the weekend. However, there are classes for every level of horse and rider. Youth classes, Novice classes, Amateur and Open classes. There were many classes offered for just those who wanted to walk and jog. Then many more that also included the lope and more challenging maneuvers.

Cowboy Dressage Handshake

This is an agreement that every rider makes: They will always put the horse’s welfare above any competition or goal. The show management insists, and enforces, that no equipment can be used, or training techniques implement, in the warm-up pen that would not be allowed in the show arena. Although almost every club and association talks about and attempts to put the welfare of the horse first, I have not seen any group practice what they preach any better than Cowboy Dressage


Soft Feel

Although the technical aspects of each test are critical, there is also a more subtle area that is judged just as importantly. Riders are judged on the “soft feel” that they exhibit while executing each maneuver. That means; riding with light contact without over-flexing the horse. If a horse’s head and neck get too low, or a horse’s nose gets behind the vertical, penalty points are assessed. Without the soft feel that exemplifies harmony, balance and partnership, it is difficult to do well in Cowboy Dressage.
Personally, I love the tradition, athleticism and discipline of the Reined Cow Horse. However, Cowboy Dressage has added a new dimension and challenge to my own horsemanship. This weekend I observed riders of many levels riding many different breeds of horses. The common denominator was that each rider was trying to ride with more finesse, feel and accuracy. This is the first Cowboy Dressage show that I have ever attended and I think I can share a pretty objective opinion. It appears to me that horses and riders are both winners in this deal. Cowboy Dressage is an opportunity for any rider, at any level, to bump up their horsemanship game and refine their skills. It’s also a place where each horse can step up to a higher level of performance without being compromised physically or mentally.

Here’s the rest of the story: I did indeed make it back to compete in the top 5! We rode a mystery test and then had to switch horses with another top 5 contestant and re-ride the test. My horse Whiz secured the Championship win for a veteran Cowboy Dressage competitor, which was beautifully executed. Whiz and I placed fourth, which my wife assures me is more than respectable for my first endeavor with a brand new discipline, having entered the toughest class, at their year-end finals.
I had fun this weekend and learned a lot. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do it again.

Cowboy Dressage World eLearning

Want to Learn Cowboy Dressage?
Lessons and Instructions as Close as Your Computer.
Join, Learn, Ride!!!

We did it!!! Thank you Stormwalker Ranch!!! The Cowboy Dressage World eLearning is now up and running...... just for you. Become a member of the Round Up Club and start your educational journey today. Learn how to ride Cowboy Dressage, share knowledge, and become a part of the Cowboy Dressage Educational Program. It is as simple and as close as your fingertips. Anyone anywhere in the world can now have the Cowboy Dressage education they have been waiting for. Enjoy live steaming of Cowboy Dressage events, have access to a video library and educational articles. Learn from informative scripting and video at your own pace and you will always be able to go back and review any lesson at any time. Even take a quiz and re quiz if needed.

Sign up, saddle up and let’s do this together.

Book Release

BookChristmasWe are so very excited and proud to announce the publication of Eitan's new book, Cowboy Dressage, Riding, Training and Competing with Kindness as the Goal and Guiding Principle. Authored by Jessica Black with Debbie and Eitan Beth-Halachmy. Published by Trafalgar Square Books. Forward by Dr. Robert  Miller. Photographs by Lesley Deutsch of Blue Fountain Farm Photography.

This book is not just  highly educational  with diagrams and explanations  but it is full  of some of the most  beautiful  pictures  you will  ever see. You will find a bit of bit of Eitan's unique history and lots of philosophy, wisdom and his remarkable sense of humor. This is not just a "how too" book but a very open and honest account of one man's journey in horsemanship. It is unusual as much as it is unique. Beautifuly done and an excellent read.

This  book  is  on sale at during the holidays. Reg price $29.95. Sale price $24.95. It can also be ordered at  or

Inside Cowboy Dressage with Rick Lamb
and the Horse Show on RFD-TV


The Horse Show with Rick Lamb on RFD-TV,
Featuring “Inside Cowboy Dressage” Program Episodes

Cowboy Dressage was featured on The Horse Show with Rick Lamb on Nov 5th. It will also air again in Jan of 2016. Please check Episodes can be reviewed and replayed. You can also go to and look on the side bar for Rick's CD programs, click and you are there. Both Part one and Part two as well as "extra" CD segments are easily accessible.

Rick and Diane put their hearts into this program and it shows. They are true professionals and superior artists. It was a 105 when we filmed this and they gave everything they had making sure the footage and audio was exactly what was needed.  We were honored to be able to share our world with so many viewers. Watch for more episodes on The Horse Show with Rick Lamb on RFD-TV in 2016.

Grammy Award Nominee Mary Ann Kennedy writes new theme song for Cowboy Dressage!

I know many of you loved Mary Ann Kennedy's "Palomino" song. Eitan has used it many times in his videos. When Mary Ann offered to write a song in honor of Cowboy Dressage we were excited to say the least. Knowing her and her work as we do we knew it would be really good but she exceeded our already high expectations. She hit this song out of the ballpark. Mary Ann captured everything that is important to Cowboy Dressage. The lyrics and music make you want  to sing and dance along. It is hard to get the lyrics out of your head and find yourself singing them long after you listen to the recording.


Enjoy and be sure to listen to the words closely..... like I said, she nailed it!!

Germany Welcomes Cowboy Dressage

Eitan was privileged to be asked to bring his Cowboy Dressage to Americana in Germany. This is no small event and there are an estimated 200,000 people who attend. It is five days of all things Cowboy and Western. From Reining and Pleasure Competitions to Clinics and OMG the shopping was amazing. I did my part to support the German economy. I mean, it was the least I could do, right?

Our friends and support team Nadine and Wyatt Paxton traveled with us. We were graciously hosted by HP Kind and Tessa Baumann of Cowboy Dressage of Germany.

Cowboy Dressage was very well received and we were amazed at how many people came to see Eitan and knew of him and his horsemanship. There seems to be no borders or language barriers when it comes to the love and language of horses.

Watch for a lot more Cowboy Dressage in Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary and the UK in 2016.


Cowboy Dressage World Calendar of Events

Anyone hosting any kind of Cowboy Dressage event is welcome to post the event on the events calendar by CLICKING HERE . It is free so take advantage of it.

We personally produce 3 shows each year at Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, Ca. Here is a schedule of just a few of our events. Watch for more at the Los Angles Equestrian Center in Los Angles, CA in 2016.

For Eitan's clinics in 2016 go to Dates and Locations to be posted by Jan 1.

Cowboy Dressage Show Dates for 2016

Murieta Equestrian Center, Rancho Murieta, CA
  • Feb 20/21
  • June 24/26
  • Sept 1 Mother Lode Morgan Show
  • Sept 8-11 (new Gathering and Finals dates)
FarWest Cowboy Dressage Show and Clinic Bend, Or August 4-7, 2016
PNW Cowboy Dressage Show Spanaway, WA August 24/25
Cowboy Dressage at West Coast Expos 2016
  • Horse Expo Pomona, CA Feb 5-7
  • Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, Denver, CO March, 10-13 (CD show)
  • Western States Horse Expo, Sacramento, CA June, 10-12

Cowboy Dressage World/Stormwalker Ranch Cowboy Dressage Clinic, Cowboy Dressage Judging School and Horse Show Ardmore, OK, Hardy Murphy Coliseum May 17-22, 2016
*These are just a few of the events that Eitan, Lyn, Debbie and Garn are personally involved in. For more clinic dates please go to for Eitan.

Bolender Horse Park

Ok everyone, you have to check this out! We spent three days doing a clinic with Lee and Mark Bolender. Their Mountain Trail courses are so much fun!! This new and rapidly growing discipline really complements Cowboy Dressage. Mark builds and designs courses all over the US and around the World. Competitions have levels so you can progress at your own speed and participate at levels that suit you and your horse. If you get a chance visit Lee and Mark and experience their Mountain Trail Course and Programs.

CLICK HERE to watch a video of our combined clinic.

Cowboy Dressage World Professional Association

Stay tuned, it is in it's final development stages  and should be ready for Cowboy Dressage Professionals later this winter. At that time, a new and current professional and judging page will be updated on the website.

Happy 75th Eitan

8’s Birthday Poem

By Jenni Grimett DVM

Have a happy happy birthday
It’s the best time of each year
It’s bound to bring you presents
And cakes and friends with cheer
It’s not about the years that passed
Or the places that you’ve been
It’s all about the trails ahead
Not where the trails end
To say you’ve made a difference
Or changed a life or two
Is like saying that moon
Has caused a tide or two
You revolutionized an industry
It’s by example that you lead
Your gift to us is kindness
And I know what our gift to you might be
When we give our handshake
And we give our Cowboy word
We are promising to give our hearts
To the message that we’ve heard.
We vow to ride with lightness
We swear to love our mounts
We promise to embrace our friends
And celebrate in life what counts.
So today as you sit down to cake
And unwrap a special gift
We all are sharing in this day
And we give our cowboy hats a tip.
To the man that gave us hope
To the hands that hold the reins
To the horses that he’s made
And all the lives he’s changed.
Happy birthday, my friend.

My Eitan Birthday Poem
By Dan Grimmett
Roses are red
Pepper is black
I might make a horseman
with you at my back

Keeping in the Loop

If you want to know what the latest news is for Cowboy Dressage be sure to visit the website. All rules and diagrams are at The rules do change and new ones are added so be sure to check and recheck often.

Facebook Facebook Facebook

Eitan is a mad man on Facebook. There is more free educational information than you can "poke a stick at." Go to his Cowboy Dressage Page or his Eitan Beth-Halachmy page. Lots and lots of "stuff" Latest news and events always posted and current.

Cowboy Dressage Customs Saddles

Last Minute Xmas Gift for Someone Special..... Someone Very, Very Special

I do have some saddles in stock. Beauties and waiting for a "forever home."


Cowboy Dressage Tack, Videos and More at: 


Cowboy Dressage School of Horsemanship 2016 is sold out.

If you wish to be  put on a cancellation list please let me know.

A Little Lesson from “8”

Photos by Lesley Deutsch

TURN ON HAUNCHES RIGHT (with your outside rein).

  1. Shift the horse's weight to his inside hind (right) leg.
  2. Look to the direction of the turn.
  3. Inside rein is connected to the horse's inside front (right) leg through the bit.
  4. Outside rein is connected to the horse's outside front (left) leg through his shoulder.

  1. Bring your right shoulder back.
  2. Release (open) your inside (right) leg.
  3. With your inside (right) rein bring the horse's inside (right) front leg closer to your right stirrup.
  4. With your outside (left) rein push the horse's outside (left) shoulder (left front leg) over his right front leg.

  1. Ride your horse forward into the turn by using your seat and outside leg.

~Happy Trails
Deb and 8

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