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© Kansas Cowboy Dressage™ Association
Kansas Cowboy Dressage™ Association
Aug 2014 “Why Gatherings?”
Article written by Rachel Zenger
The Kansas Cowboy Dressage© Association (KCDA) began calling its events “Gatherings” to follow the lead of
Cowboy Dressage© creators and tireless promoters, Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy. They began using the
term in California, and I think I know why.
In 2012, I got very excited over an article by Jack Brainard about his vision for a new discipline that would
become Cowboy Dressage© as we know it now. I did enough research to know who Eitan was (although not
how to pronounce his name) and the origins of his Cowboy Dressage© philosophy. I had heard on Facebook
about a Kansas clinic in this new discipline. I knew I couldn’t miss it, so I booked a motel room, loaded up my
horse and my dog, and headed south.
I didn’t know anyone there. I had no concept of a meter, where “C” is, or what a person might mean by
“haunches in.” I never felt like I had so much to learn. I spent most of my whole first lesson walking circles,
and not very well. And I was hooked.
Getting hooked on the “dressage” that went on in the clinic another story. What I want to talk about now is
the other thing that hooked me right away: the spectacular, friendly, welcoming people I met that day. It was
the weekend I first met founding KCDA board members Julie Vosberg, Joan Stibal and Bill Walton. That first
clinic was also my first Gathering, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
Every event I have attended for Cowboy Dressage© has had the same atmosphere, and it’s created by the
people who are drawn there, and our mutual understanding of why we’re there. I have heard a lot of people
say our crowd is laid back – and we are in a way, but we’re also striving to be better horsemen and
horsewomen each time we ride. We’re trying to unlock those mysteries of horsemanship that will take us to
the next level. But we want to enjoy the journey, to celebrate even the smallest measure of progress, and to
be alert to whether the things we are asking our horses to do are good for their physical and mental health. I
know that the frame of mind I find myself in, and the automatic smile when I watch other people doing
something great on the court, is what makes the event a Gathering to me. Sure, we’re there to compete and
to “show,” but it’s a competition against the rider we were yesterday, not against our friends who happen to
be riding the same test.
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