True to their Old West philosophy of “git ‘er done,” Cowboy Dressage World has lassoed a creative way of continuing competitions throughout this stay-at-home era of our lives.

These Cowboy Dressage Virtual Shows are a pilot program and admittedly a learning curve for all, but as an age-worn cowboy once said, “Every path has a few puddles.” So with dedication to what the cowboy handshake means, CDW “continues to educate and teach as much as possible in all formats.” Today that means to rearrange your thinking, grab your smartphone, find a willing friend, and compete from home.

Videotaping your own class competition and submitting it for judging strengthens the spirit of this popular discipline. The videos for an individual class are judged, not only for placing, but for encouragement and reward of “try” for both horse and rider. An organization that truly cares, CDW treats all horses and people with integrity and kindness and offers supportive education throughout all competitions.

A complete list of classes for the Cowboy Dressage World Virtual Shows, starting in May and going through September, can be found at and by clicking on the “Dates, premium entries…” instructions on the home page. These instructions lead you to how to accomplish this 21st century style of competition. It also gives you a list of people who will help guide you through this process. And your favorite video test may be submitted several times for judging during the calendar year, although CDW encourages riders to strive for better rides which will require additional test videos.

To compete in a class, the site gives you complete step-by-step instructions on how to download “WhatsApp” on your smartphone and record your individual competition. Then the next step is to practice with a friend or relative with a balanced hand (or tripod for steadying the camera) and a sense of humor!

The video is recorded in a regulation Cowboy Dressage court and the person recording is at the letter “C” (where the judge would normally be located). All perimeters of the court should be seen, and a full picture of horse and rider in corners Y-M and Q-H should be visible. When videotaping the session to be submitted for actual judging, the Cowboy Dressage rules for attire and tack should be adhered to. Take this at-home time to shine up your tack, dust off your Stetson, and iron your shirt!

Download your video to the show secretary (the instructions show you how) and one CDW judge will place all competitors for that class. The judge will score to five places and give certificates or awards stating class placings. High point placings will be posted on the CDW website ( If he or she chooses, they can put their video, regardless of placing, on a specific Facebook page after their ride has been judged and scored. Judges will make supportive comments about this “schooling show” ride so the rider can glean education throughout the process. All riders will be mailed or emailed a copy of their score sheet.

This new way of competing will take some inspired thinking and courage, calling around to find a dressage court (or build your own), and finding a friend who will share the journey (and laughter!) with you. Try it. Think about what you and your horse will learn along the way — soft feel, lightness, harmony, finesse and partnership. Not to mention learning a new app on your phone, videoing your ride, and uploading your test!

For more information about this popular discipline and virtual competitions, visit