Understanding Western Pleasure

Discussion in 'Equestrian Events, Shows, Competitions' started by mooselady, Oct 14, 2015.

  1. mooselady

    mooselady Senior Member

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    Yesterdays thread was closed, and I really hope this one lasts because I really do not want this one to become a bashing WP.

    OK, I do not understand it, I said that yesterday I believe, but those who do train and compete explain it better for me please.

    What is the history? What where the WP horses of yesteryear like?

    What are horse judged on?
    How do good trainers train the gaits?
    What are the short cuts and abuses that the less than honest and ethical use to win?
     
  2. Dream27

    Dream27 Senior Member

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  3. mooselady

    mooselady Senior Member

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    A very intersting article thanks @Dream27 rearing some of the comments below is even more interesting, must revisit both the article and the comments when I have more time.
     
  4. hoofs2118

    hoofs2118 Senior Member

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    Thank you for starting this thread Mooselady! I find it really sad when people who know nothing about western pleasure, and have never even been around or ridden a western pleasure horse tear into it so viciously. I know it’s hard to understand, but most of the horses at that level already have a natural way of going slow and low because of how they were bred, and how they are conformed.

    I know this isn’t the BEST example out there – but take a look at this baby:



    Western pleasure takes years of training to do correctly, build the proper muscling, and you need a very naturally talented and well minded horse. One way I explain it is this- if you sit in a chair and you suck your stomach in, your back rounds and your neck and head round down toward your belly.

    When riding these pleasure horses it’s all about lifting the horses barrel, lifting the shoulders, and engaging the hind end. It is very important that these pleasure horses understand leg pressure and spur aids. When the leg and spur comes in, it means LIFT and COLLECT, not to go faster. The headset comes DEAD LAST. The proper headset should be the result of proper collection from the riders legs, and the horses conformation. Some horses never could do that low headset, but that’s because they were not built to do it. If the horse falls too far forward onto the forehand, it gets sloppy and its pace quickens. You can’t obtain that slow and low consistently and correctly if you are forcing the horses neck and shoulders into the dirt. It just doesn’t work.

    I know there is the argument that this isn’t proper collection- but for THIS horses body type, it really is. To get them to slow down, you actually have to use your legs MORE. It’s a real work out, and its REALLY difficult to show.

    There are trainers and riders out there that will force a horse into a “false frame” with incorrect use of training aids and abusive methods. This is usually because the horse was not built for, or doesn’t have the mind to do the pleasure classes. Judges can more often than not tell what these horses look like because they don’t have the same flow, rhythm and balance of a properly moving WP horse.

    I’m not an expert, and I hope others chime in, but that’s my 2 cents!
     
  5. MIEventer

    MIEventer Senior Member

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    I would love to examples of original WP horses, in comparison to what they are now. The movements especially.
     
  6. bnttyra

    bnttyra Senior Member

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    I had to go and find the thread from yesterday but wow, talk about rude! Glad I didn't see that one!

    As for why to do it, there is something special about riding that lope, very comfortable when it is done correctly. I do agree that in the recent past, they were way to low and too slow, some still are but the trend is moving away from the super slow and low.

    To answer some of those questions.

    What are they judged on? Mostly the movement of the horse. They are expected to be flat kneed, deep hocked, nice cadence at every gait. Slow legged is another term you will hear alot of. Collected and riding on a loose rein to show that the horse can maintain that gait at that speed, collection, and cadence. Transitions are also important, as you want to see a smooth change from one gait to another without the horse picking it's head up losing that collection. All of this takes time to get the horse to learn but many now days have been bred to move this way naturally and all the trainers and riders do is help them to maintain those gaits through training.

    How do good trainers train those gaits? Well many move that way naturally. Each trainer has their own way of achieving that collection but as with all disciplines, it starts with the core and riding the horse back to front. Engaging that hind end and rounding the horse will in many cases slow it down some. I had one trainer use a lot of inside rein as well as a lot of backing. But again, the horses that should be winning WP classes are ones that move that way naturally. Forced slow gaits never look good and shouldn't be rewarded. There are also many short cuts and bad training that occurs in WP but that happens in every discipline.

    The short cuts I have seen are excessive use of draw reins, head setting devices, tying up the horse's head in their stall for long periods of time to make it too tired to carry it higher, I have even been told that one local trainer used old tires to tie to the young horses in the round pen to tire them out so they would keep their heads low. I am sure there is a lot more that goes on but thankfully I haven't seen it.

    I do have a concern with a trend I have seen happening. Since adding the Ranch Riding classes I am seeing many of the WP horses that were a bit too fast for winning the WP classes are now doing the RR classes. I guess they are thinking that since they can't win in the WP class that they will try in the RR class. RR is different and I will say that any horse that wins a WP class should not be winning the RR class too, although I have seen it happen and my own daughter has done it. But usually in those cases, the judge really doesn't have any options meaning while my mare is still too fast for normal WP, she still had the best movement of that group of horses and then in the RR class they did a fantastic pattern and the others didn't. But in general at bigger shows, no WP horse should win a RR class, they just aren't moving as called for in the class if they move like a true WP horse.
     
  7. Whoa

    Whoa Senior Member

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    A point I think that is important to make in comparing (any discipline) is that the horses shown in the past (70's-80's) are different. The horses were bred with a broader range of use. Today's performance horses are bred from lines that are successful in that discipline. I'm pretty sure you won't find Hancock in the mix at the World show western pleasure, and you most likely won't see a western pleasure horse shown in the roping at the world.

    A horse from the 70's would not be competitive today, not in western pleasure, reining or probably not even halter. It's both too refined and too defined now.

    It's a tough class, I haven't shown western pleasure in many years, not because I don't appreciate it, I don't have a western pleasure horse. :)
     
    kodemiester, Arem, Dream27 and 2 others like this.
  8. mooselady

    mooselady Senior Member

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    I would love to see this as well.

    Can anyone explain why in the video that was linked it seemed that every horse goes crooked? I believe in every other discipline straightness is desirable. Is this not something that gets taken into consideration? Would a straight moving horse get placed above one that is crooked?
     
  9. MIEventer

    MIEventer Senior Member

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  10. SEAmom

    SEAmom Senior Member

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