I wrote this article 10 years ago. Yet, in the 2021 horse show world, western pleasure continues to ride out its ups and downs, rising stars and rule revisions. I included perspectives from of several of our Canadian horse show judges and horse trainers – fun to re-read their thoughts!
Popularity and controversy often go hand in hand. We love and hate our celebrities and politicians – whatever the case; we love to talk about them!
Similarly, the western pleasure class, while historically one of the most popular classes in the stock horse show world, is an equally popular and polarizing topic of conversation in the barn aisle and horse show bleachers.
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.
In reality, I guess everything we do with horses is unnatural. I’m pretty sure that any horse would rather be out on pasture with his buddies than loping around a western pleasure ring, doing a piaffe, sliding stop or barrel racing pattern.
See next post for part 2 of the article…