How did western pleasure world get caught up in controversy? Slower lopes, lower heads, longer reins, stiller tails? Because of the specialization of the western pleasure horse and the process it takes to produce a winner, many of my amateur riders I coach have opted for the “all around” route. Classes offered at stock horse shows include western riding, trail, ranch riding and horsemanship. In pattern events, a horse which lacks the quality movement or compact stride of a pleasure horse can still be competitive.
The calmness and manners expected by competitors in the western horse show world is admired by other riding disciplines. This was one of the factors that attracted me years ago to the quarter horse horse show circuit. “Well-broke”, they stood still while mounted, ground tied and ALWAYS loaded. I’ve carried over the expectation of manners into the coaching and training I do with all horses and riders. So if calm and mannerly good…is MORE better?
The latest horse show rule books were delivered to my mailbox.
These are the rules. These are the ring dimensions. These are the tack restrictions.
With clear, well laid out rules-of-play, we’re free to push the limits of excellence, within the limits of the rules of the ring. With clear, well-laid-out fence lines, horses are free to buck, play and graze.
I guess a “you-do-you”, “follow your heart” view of the world doesn’t really work, regardless of how cool it sounds in a song lyric or Disney movie…
Standard equipment in English disciplines. Training equipment in western. While nosebands are designed to prevent bit evasion, in the horse business, we’re inclined to default into thinking “If a little is good, more is better! Glad to see that Equestrian Canada has added a 2021 horse show rule addressing nosebands. The question upstream from noseband “restrictions” – are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting?
I’ll be speaking at Ontario’s Grey Bruce Horse Day this weekend – The Science of Bits, Spurs and Training Tack: How we choose, use and sometimes abuse them.
In light of this, and of the annual unveiling of horse show rule amendments, I was glad to see that Equestrian Canada has added a 2021 horse show rule “restricting” (pun intended) tight nosebands.