Uh-huh. Put down the rotten tomatoes. I can already feel everyone getting heated up on both sides. A discussion has been bouncing back and forth on my classical dressage listserv regarding cowboy dressage. Eitan, I believe, is the most well known, having been invited to ride at the Dressage World Cup Opening ceremonies in Aachen. Watch, and come to your own conclusions.
To mis-quote a famous personage (isn’t that a nice way to cover up I can’t remember who the heck said the original?): Dressage is dressage is dressage.
I’m not going to comment on the video at all. It’s only up to as an A/V aid for those who haven’t seen it performed before.
Overall, my personal response to ‘cowboy dressage’ (in general, not specific to this video) is positive. The tack doesn’t matter as long as it doesn’t contradict what you are asking the horse to do, or impede the movement and ease of communication. (Heaven knows, plenty of mis-fitted dressage saddles and mis-used weymouths do just that.)
Good horsemanship is good horsemanship. Period. If someone wants to work towards that in a properly seated and fitted western saddle, why not? If it brings up the gaits, collection, and heads of WP horses, I’d say Amen. (Hey, I said put down the tomatoes! Ow! Ewwww. Yuck. It’s just my opinion!)
Sure, it may or may not be dressage…but I’m not sure a training level test I perform would be considered dressage either, if you were to open your fingers and watch it.
My point is, if the goal is comfort and relaxation for the horse, correct building up of muscle and balance, and good horsemanship…why not?