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?
In my travels teaching riding clinics, ‘“talking horse” with equestrians from various disciplines, the subject of western pleasure often comes up with the dressage and hunter/jumper riders I meet. NO discipline is without its fads and extremes. Dressage, show jumping, reiners and gaited horses have been called out for unethical practices and “unnatural” training techniques.