By Lynn Baber
Western Pleasure classes are included in most breed and open circuit horse shows. Horse owners looking for ways to have more fun with their horses often pick the pleasure class as the first attempt in their new show career. Because the class routine itself is not very complicated new exhibitors are frequently confused and disappointed by their lack of early success. Here are the basics of Western Pleasure competition and the qualities the judge looks for in a winner.
Western Pleasure Is Not As Simple As Many Think
Horsemanship is similar to other sports like dancing and gymnastics. Unless you have dedicated a considerable amount of time and study to them, you won’t have a clue about how to evaluate differences among couples on the dance floor or gymnasts performing their floor exercises. Judging a ‘simple’ class like Western Pleasure is really quite complicated.
In a Western Pleasure competition, each horse and rider team performs three gaits going one way in the arena, then reverse and do the same three gaits the other way. At some point they will also be required to back up. The three gaits are walk, jog and lope. How difficult could that be to score?
Western Pleasure is actually quite technical regardless of how simple it seems. Many riders compete in Western Pleasure and never truly understand what the judge looks for when selecting the winners and placing the riders from first to last. In a pleasure class only the horse’s performance is judged, not the rider’s. Riders are judged in horsemanship and equitation classes. Read more