© 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.