Desirai Schild


Western/Cowboy dressage offers riders a unique way to improve communication with their equine partners.

“Cowboy/western dressage has improved my relationship with my horses so much,” said Steve Simmons, of Rexburg. “I want to share this opportunity with anyone who is interested in improving theirs.”

Simmons said the frames western pleasure show horses are put into are often uncomfortable for the horse.

“Western/cowboy dressage is a sort of push back on western pleasure classes that ask horses to move in unfair and unnatural ways,” Simmons said. “This type of dressage allows the horse to move more naturally and comfortably.”

Simmons has taken training in western and cowboy dressage as well as participating in events and competitions. He is an advanced graduate of WDAA, Western Dressage Association of America. He is offering a series of training sessions as his arena north of Rexburg. The first will be Jan. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. The cost will be $25 per horse and rider pairs and $10 for auditors.

The instruction will include the basics of groundwork, riding and guiding your horse. Simmons will send a map to the arena to anyone who signs up.

“Horses of all breeds and riders of all levels are welcome,” Simmons said. “This dressage training isn’t just for a show ring. Learning cowboy/western dressage makes for better experiences on the trail and anywhere you might ride your horse. It teaches you and your horse to communicate with each other.”

It also teaches respect and insight into the horse’s natural learning style.

“Release is a big reward and tells the horse he has done what you asked,” Simmons said. “For example, if you squeeze your legs to put your horse into a trot, quit squeezing when he trots. If you pull back on the reins to ask a horse to stop, quit pulling when he stops.”

Riders are taught that softness and lightness works far better than force or confusing signals.

“You learn how to get more by doing less,” Simmons said. “The result is a more relaxed horse and rider.”

January’s class will be limited to six riders. Another is planned for sometime in March. Further classes and possibly competitions may be organized if there is enough interest.

Further information is available by emailing Simmons at

Desirai Schild has been involved in raising, breeding and showing gaited horses in eastern Idaho for more than 20 years. She may be reached at

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