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Western pleasure?

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  • Western pleasure?

    I've only been riding for about 3 years, mostly just trail riding with some barrels here and there. I enjoy riding off property, but speed isn't really my thing and trails can get a bit boring after a while. My mare is an Arabian, very level headed and responsive but she likes to have a job(no disrespect to barrel racers, the wear and tear is more than it's worth IMO). I was thinking about starting some western pleasure at home and seeing how we go from there, but I'm having a bit of a hard time understanding it. My trainer describes it as basically just the horse being able to travel relaxed and proper in the gaits, but it was a bit confusing considering I'm 15 and only a beginner. When I think of "relaxed and proper" it reminds me of dressage, but when I see western pleasure(the low headsets and very slow movements) it's very different. Sometimes when I watch a western pleasure horse loping they look as if they're encoraged to move downhill, some looking lame(if that makes sense). No disrespect to western pleasure riders either, just wondering what the basis of the discipline is? And since I've got an Arabian built a bit like a twig, how difficult would it be for her to perform western pleasure? She's fit but not muscular like a paint or QH.

  • #2
    There are some trends in western pleasure that are very exaggerated. You might find the working ranch rail classes more natural.

    You do know that on the Arab show circuit Arabs do every discipline? Look up Arab western pleasure class to see how they do that.
    Last edited by Scribbler; Oct. 13, 2019, 11:57 AM.

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    • #3
      Arabian Western Pleasure classes are much different from QH classes. Arabs move in a much more natural way. I find it hard to watch QH WP classes for the reasons you mentioned. You might also look into Western Dressage or Mountain Trail Challenges. Arabs excel in most disciplines. They are the best! Have fun with your mare.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by imaginique View Post
        Arabian Western Pleasure classes are much different from QH classes. Arabs move in a much more natural way. I find it hard to watch QH WP classes for the reasons you mentioned. You might also look into Western Dressage or Mountain Trail Challenges. Arabs excel in most disciplines. They are the best! Have fun with your mare.
        The trail classes seem like they'd be super fun! I'm going to look into starting, I personally think Arabians are pretty versatile.

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        • #5
          Being competitive in a western pleasure class necessitates knowing what the judge is looking for - and being able to present your horse in that way. What is the judge looking for?

          The western pleasure horse must, above all, look like it is a pleasure to ride. Obviously, a horse with rough gaits, a horse that's difficult to control, tricky to get to pick up the correct lead, and ill-tempered towards other horses is not a pleasure to ride.
          __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
          Western Pleasure Saddle

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Big Thoughts View Post
            Being competitive in a western pleasure class necessitates knowing what the judge is looking for - and being able to present your horse in that way. What is the judge looking for?

            The western pleasure horse must, above all, look like it is a pleasure to ride. Obviously, a horse with rough gaits, a horse that's difficult to control, tricky to get to pick up the correct lead, and ill-tempered towards other horses is not a pleasure to ride.
            __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
            Western Pleasure Saddle
            It's also true that open WP classes are judged against an ideal model of a stock horse that has small gaits and a naturally low head carriage. And that at the top ends of QH breed WP the horses move in a very exaggerated way these days.

            I want all the things in this quoted post but I also want in front of the leg, collection and extension, a nice hand gallop, and good lateral movement for a horse to be a pleasure for me.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pinto.powerhouse View Post
              No disrespect to western pleasure riders either, just wondering what the basis of the discipline is? And since I've got an Arabian built a bit like a twig, how difficult would it be for her to perform western pleasure? She's fit but not muscular like a paint or QH.
              AQHA defines western pleasure as:

              "A good western pleasure horse has a free-flowing stride of reasonable length in keeping with his conformation. He should cover a reasonable amount of ground with little effort. Ideally, he should have a balanced, flow-ing motion, while exhibiting correct gaits that are of the proper cadence. The quality of the movement and the consistency of the gaits is a major consideration. He should carry his head and neck in a relaxed, natural position, with his poll level with or slightly above the level of the withers. He should not carry his head behind the vertical, giving the appearance of intimidation, or be exces-sively nosed out, giving a resistant appearance. His head should be level, with his nose slightly in front of the vertical, having a bright expression with his ears alert. He should be shown on a reasonably loose rein. He should be responsive, yet smooth, in transitions when called for. When asked to extend, he should move out with the same flowing motion. Maximum credit should be given to the flowing, balanced and willing horse that gives the appearance of being fit and a pleasure to ride. This class will be judged on the performance, condition and conformation of the horse."

              I know you have an Arabian and not a QH, but I couldn't find the definition in the Arabian rule book.

              But with that said, I know that the AQHA shows don't exactly follow that description above. I started showing AQHA for the first time myself this year and ***most*** of the WP horses looked terrible and lame. There were a couple that actually looked nice moving at that slow pace because they were capable of doing so, but most were clearly forced into the too-slow-frame. But the judges still pin that and until the judges stop pinning int, it's going to continue.

              So: You ask if your horse can do Western Pleasure. Of course, ANY horse can do Western Pleasure. But is any horse capable of going as SLOW as what wins? Nope.

              It also depends on your goals. Do you think you'd ever go to an Arabian breed show? Or just stick to local shows? A horse that has good rhythm, and is relaxed, and appears to be fun to ride, will pin well at any local show. A breed show is going to be more competitive, usually.

              Like with anything, some horses have natural talent for certain things and some do not. Every horse is different!

              It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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              • #8
                Definitely consider western dressage.

                I have an Arabian gelding who was very competitive in Class A arab shows, but I didn't like the ginormous cost of breed shows. Way too much pressure, if you even want to pay that much. I took him to some of the well-attended open shows near me and found that most of the judges were QH or paint judges looking for QH types. They move very, very differently.

                So I started showing western dressage at the open shows instead. MUCH more fun for both of us. You can talk to your horse during a test (I never understood why any discipline would eliminate voice aids, when they can improve communication so much). you're in the ring by yourself, and you’re graded on your horses’s movement, not on whether he’s going as slowly as the peanut/roller next to you. And the scores are all about harmony in the movements. Plus you can dress up in your flashy WP clothes if you want, but you don’t have to, by any means, and you sure don’t have to be dripping in silver to be competitive.

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                • #9
                  I think Arabian western pleasure is one of the most beautiful pleasure classes there is to watch. Here's a recent clip from one of the biggest arabian shows in the US to help you picture it.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmExs2Tzp3g
                  The ninja monkeys are plotting my demise as we speak....

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                  • #10
                    I went to an APHA show once (as a spectator); the WP horses all looked depressed to me, and I thought it sad that they were all warmed up with tight running martingales to force low head positions that were removed right before entering the arena. Cured me of ever wanting to have anything to do with breed shows.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by propspony View Post
                      I think Arabian western pleasure is one of the most beautiful pleasure classes there is to watch. Here's a recent clip from one of the biggest arabian shows in the US to help you picture it.

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmExs2Tzp3g
                      Sorry, I do not think it looks "beautiful" at all. The so called lope looks like a bad jog. No period of suspension in either the jog or lope.
                      Janet

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.

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                      • #12
                        Well, that's your opinion. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But I also said "of the pleasure classes."
                        The ninja monkeys are plotting my demise as we speak....

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