I have a little draft cross mare that I'm riding this year and want to take to some shows. She's kind of "pony" looking due to the draft, but has a big stride and very nice, pleasant way of going. She'll probably be more suited to the Pleasure division than hunters, and I plan on taking her to local h/j shows this year. What are the judges looking for? I know I need an extended trot and the horse should be shown on a light contact. She is in a snaffle bit and does not need a martingale. Anyone have video links?
One would think that the horse that has great manners, looks pleasurable to ride and is aethetically pleasing size wise with its rider would have a good shot. Not always so in my experience.
I had a kid rider who lost her confidence in a bad fall one year (pure accident - it happens). She had been doing the children's hunter division previously and some 3' eq. She was scared to jump but still wanted to be a part of the shows we went to which was great so she did the pleasure divisions with one of our lovely, happy, cute, soft, kinda plump, very eyecatching blood bay, good moving Wb's. He was an absolute chicken over fences and had no lead solid change so the flat division was perfect for him too!
She did three A level shows. The first she got nothing...not one darn ribbon. The classes were surprisingly large at about 18 or so in each. She started the day with a pelham because it was a bit chilly that morning and she just wanted that extra confidence that if all heck broke loose with 18 cantering at once that she would be ok. Horse was a super star - didn't put a foot wrong and wore a I am so cute, happy, soft & pleasurable expression on his face the whole time. Not even a reserve. Hmmm. Ok, let's swap in the big D-ring snaffle now that it is mid morning, warmer and kid knows horse is just fine in a big group. Again, horse performs flawlessly. No placing. And so it was with the third class of that division. Judge just didn't like the horse for whatever reason. It happens.
Next show, I think there were maybe five or so. Three blues no question.
Next show maybe 8 or so. Nothing in the first class - wrong lead doh. Then mid ribbons maybe a 5th and 6th? Then, she wanted to do one more class for the day so I had her hop into an under saddle class for haha's even though she hadn't jumped with the division. Very large class of 25 or so. Same judge in the same ring. Back in the pelham for her comfort level and voila! First place. A shock but a very happy one to end the season!
Good luck and go for the enjoyment of riding at a show. Ribbons will be gravy!
The pleasure classes are a toss up. Just enjoy your horse and have fun. Get the correct leads, don't kick anyone and have good transitions. It is a local show class, and all the judges have a different criteria.
When I judge the hunter pleasure, I often use the horses that wouldn't quite cut it in a true under saddle. I like to see a pleasant fellow I would take hacking with DH or Grandma on a Sunsay afternoon.
Pleasure horses should look like a pleasure to ride-comfortable gaits, easily forward on a loose rein, easy immediate transitions, quiet, relaxed, completely consistent. It shouldn't look like the rider has to work. I've found many judges don't look for super-forward, but rather easy working gaits that would be suitable for an all-day hack out in the country-not sluggish, but not huge either. Bits DO matter-most judges will not place a horse in a strong bit high, but want the horse to go in a plain snaffle. If the horse needs a stronger bit that's noticeable, like a wire snaffle, kimberwicke, or pelham, that's an indication to the judge that the horse is harder to ride than the one in the plain snaffle, and harder to ride=less pleasurable.
So basically, no matter who the judge is, you want to present a pleasant, happy picture, looking like you are both out for a lovely hack in the park on a quiet, pushbutton pony with both rider and horse enjoying themselves immensely.
In most other divisions, the rider should make it look easy. In pleasure, it should actually BE easy.
Manymanymany years ago, I used to go to some local shows during the week just to get my QH some show mileage. We did some pleasure classes and almost always won.
Quiet, but willing hacker shown nearly on the buckle - especially at the trot. Gets along nearby the other horses; especially at line-up. Stands quietly, and looks happy with what he/she is doing. And the rider should look relaxed and look like he/she is having a good time, while still being a good showman.
put it to you this way...I showed a really cute, but forward and "up" TB in the pleasure division this past fall. Did not do well, I think we were like 5th out of 6 and some of those other horses, well let's just say one was dead lame and he placed better than us
Same horse went in the next division and won the under saddle against several of the very same horses, including the pleasure div champion.
Have the same exp with pony pleasure, have seen the best, fanciest mover out there, on a nice long rein but a little bit of a sour expression, who would win the under saddle regularly but didn't always pin well in the pleasure.
SO, In my experience, their way of going is more important than their actual movement. I guess they are taking it literally, the judges want the horse who is most "pleasurable" to ride in that division, not the fanciest, not the best mover etc.
LONG rein, no contact, easy transitions, nice expression, consistent. That seems to be what they want in our area at least.
USEF/USHJA does not recognize a "Pleasure" division nationally and USEF A rateds do not offer it.
Some local shows that may be rated by USEF as B or C do depending on your area...it is more prevalent in areas where breed shows are popular.
I have never been in an area where they offered it though.
Hey Findeight..USEF does recognize English Pleasure Hunter Seat. I am very proud to say my horse Medallion, whom I co owned with my sister Shirley, placed THIRD in the Horse of the Year Standings for USEF for 2010, he was in first for most of the year before he passed away. The EP classes are offerred at such "A" shows as Ox Ridge and Fieldstone in New England and this summer some classes will be held in the Vermont "A" shows. In California, it is at the A rated shows at Murieta and Pebble Beach, and the "Let's Show" series. In Florida, it is being held in Jacksonville at the Rush shows, and many, many other shows including Gulfport. There are also pleasure classes at WEF.
My guy wasn't a 10 mover, but looked pleasant. He would keep a frame with a loop in the rein and would halt without me having to touch the rein. He looked pleasant and went around with his ears up alot. To back him up, I could just tighten my thigh without touching the rein and he would back.
Some judges like a soft frame others like their nose out. Some like a more forward trot. Some would not mind a steady trot but then wanted a flow to the canter to show flexibilty- not crazy fast, just a little canter.
Breed shows- forward trot, sit the canter.
H/J- half seat canter.
Other than that, its the judges opinion. And you just do what you can to show your horse to the best of his ability.
We did local shows as well competing for USEF HOTY points- Just got back from the Massachusetts Horsemen's Council Banquet, where we picked up the Hunter Pleasure Champion of the year and Reserve Champion in Ladies Pleasure.
PS I was never asked to extended trot. But when Shirleyand Medallion won the Championship at Ox Ridge, he did Hand Gallop
Horse capable of primary-colored ribbons in the U/S classes at the same show who can do the whole class on an almost-dropped rein, including transitions. That's how I managed to win it at one of our county championships shows.
Many judges simply judge it as an U/S without rewarding the steady, obedient horse who is merely a pleasant mover.
I was looking at my state assoc specs and also some prize lists. The state specs include a few comments about "obstacles commonly encountered on the trail" as part of the hack class and handy classes. Has anyone had to do anything odd such as open a gate, cross water, or such? Most of the prize lists have an u/s, a hack combo (2 jumps) and an o/f. Some have a park hack where you may be asked to extend the trot and hand gallop.
My WB gelding won his pleasure US class more than 90% of the time, provided we had time to switch to a plain snaffle beforehand. The few times we had to go straight back in the ring after an over-fences round, still in his pelham, it was usually the kiss of death, even though I always rode him on the buckle and his transitions were darn near impeccable. He was always really relaxed in the pleasure classes, even when we had idiots deliberately trying to take him out.
I want to thank everyone who posted here with such helpful comments and tips. My daughter has had a difficult time going back and forth from U/S to Pleasure.
She has worked so hard to get her U/S technique down that throwing it all out the window to do Pleasure has been a struggle. She normally pins in U/S at local shows but pinning in Pleasure is truly a hit or miss.
We'll be working more on your ideas, especially the bit one as we always leave his full cheek bit in. She also overworks her hands to keep his head down which is definitely not what you'd want if Grandma is riding. Lots of work to do...but she's determined (which of course is also not the look you want lol). Thanks all!!
Good luck to Flash44! Sorry, of the 155 vids my daughter has posted to youtube, none are of her hack classes. p.s. my daughter has not encountered obstacles or jumping but we are only at the local division level. It must vary depending on Pony/Horse and locality. I think she'd actually enjoy the variation you're describing, sounds like fun!
Last edited by tameraj; Apr. 18, 2011 at 11:51 AM.
Reason: adding p.s. comment