Monday, June 1, 2009

Pleasure Me

My titles probably worry you guys sometimes don't they?? LOL!!!! So I have a new Tri Color Buckskin Paint mare that is my new western pleasure horse. She has only ever had 5 rides on her so basically I get to start her from scratch, and I love it!!! Let's discuss some Western Pleasure Do's and don't shall we!?!? Also some techniques I use to obtain a nice WP horse.

Ahhh the don'ts are fun! These are things that will get you marked down in a show ring, yet I see people do it ALL the damn time! Then they wonder why they don't place!

  • NO MORE Peanut rolling! The judges have started asking for an extended jog, which peanut rollers can't do because they'll kick themselves in the face.

  • Shuffling, no more lazy sloppy walk, jog or lope.

  • The 4 beat is OUT! Cadence and forward momentum is what the judges want to see!!!

  • No more behind the vertical!

  • Judges do NOT like the spur stop. Don't do it!

  • Do not "check" your horse in the mouth using both reins! The judges can see it in the horse's face if it's been checked or is anticipating a check. The horse ends up behind the vertical and looks nervous or agitated!

Here are a couple dos!!!

  • Lope naturally, a nice 3 beat lope.

  • When training a horse to stay slow, do circles or do a one rein check, typically to the outside. If you check your horse in the mouth with one rein to the outside it will slow or stop. It can not brace on your hands and reins like it could if you were doing it with both reins. So check it to the outside and they'll learn to slow down without any nasty side effects.

  • The horse carries it's head slightly in front of the vertical now and with the poll almost horizontal to the withers.

  • The horse is relaxed and showing cadence.

  • Keep a relaxed slack rein, but not too terribly slack or it looks sloppy.
To see other riders dos watch 2008 AQHA/APHA worlds shows. That will give you a good idea of current "trends" and what judges look for. Make your transitions smooth and practice a lot! Your horse should always stay relaxed and in frame between transitions. To stop and back up apply a slight pressure on your horse's mouth by lifting your hands a bit, sit deep in your seat, take your legs off and say whoa. Soon you won't need the verbal part.
And of course HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!! Have more tips??? You know I love 'em!!!!


GoLightly said...

Yup, definite double-take on the title.


Sounds like a gorgeous mare.

snorking over the "kick themselves in the face" comment.

I'll just sit back and imagine a real WP ride. Instead of what I've been seeing on youtube..

Gryph said...

Hate to sound dumb, but what do each of those mean to the layperson, anyway?


cattypex said...

OK So I went & looked up the 2008 World Show Sr. Western Pleasure...

It was a *little* better. Actually the extended jog looked good... the gaits were truer than in the 1990s.

But now the horses look ... strung out or something, with their noses sticking out like they can't get enough air.

And when their necks hang straight out and *down* from the withers, they look like Victorian drawings of pathetic spiritless old horses.

Also it messes up the topline, always has. It looks like the rider is perched on a triangle.

The day they start pinning horses with polls level to above-level with the withers, I'll be satisfied.

In fact, I'd LOVE to see an easy-moving horse with its poll level with the saddle horn (approximately) be a big winner.

All this trickles down. The 4H kids still want extreme lowness, tropes and wogs, and angled-in HQs.

Trainer X said...

CattyPex AMEN!!! I've noticed that! They do look more strung out... I like my horse a wee bit closer to the vertical than the nose poked so far out! LOL!

cattypex said...

And I don't care overmuch if the nose is vertical or not, I just want it to look... natural.

And work with slow, smooth collected movement. Doesn't mean his head has to look like a chess piece.

But those horses look like they're about to *snort* !

That horse in the photo looks about right, except I'd like to see the horse's head & neck in a position that supports balanced, correct and natural movement. Not the tortured & disjointed-looking lurching movement you see.

Those show saddles are so ginormous, the guy looks like he's levitating above the horse.....

That weird effect is also magnified by unnaturally low head carriage.

adrienne said...

Question (slightly off topic, but still relevant): How come in a HUS class they (the judges) want a western horse in english tack??? That is so very annoying for us who actually ride REAL hunters and haven't trained our horses to hang their heads between their knees. I'd love to see a horse like that actually do some field hunting. They'd fall all over themselves before they'd clear one fence.

Sorry, but it is a pet peeve of mine :P

lachellesays said...


YES! OH MY GOD YES! My horse goes on the bit in a hunter class, or in a relaxed frame, and always places below the peanut-rollers in a Hunter Under Saddle class. HUGE peeve!

CurtsBooks said...

I'll take your word for it that things are changing in the WP world. Maybe it had to change as it got about as bad as it could possibly be. I don't like the thrown away reins in the photo you used. If that horse wakes up & does anything it will take the rider until the next day to gather up the reins and do something about it.
Have fun w/your new horse!

PS--I enjoy your post titles--usually a hoot.

cattypex said...

Notice how "many" people are in the stands to watch a WP class, even at the TOP LEVEL.

Notice that Freestyle Reining is always SOLD OUT at Congress.

Not that Reining is a perfect sport by a looong shot, but it's a lot more interesting to watch than sad-looking horses going round and round.

I will say that I looked at a couple of World Show classes on YouTube, and saw some WP horses I really liked a LOT. I liked how they weren't all downhill (though many were), and I liked how some of them were actually allowed a little freedom of shoulder to show off good smooth movement.

It made me a little bit happier seeing horses looking like soft, fun riding critters ... though the Tropers and Woggers were still placing, too.

Jasmine said...

Adrienne, from someone else who does 'real' hunters I agree!

However, there are some videos of a rather nice WP horse that wins HUS and can jump! that I wrote about on my blog asking this question here. I had some pretty decent answers. If any others of you would like to take a look please go for it!

adrienne said...

Well said in your blog post Jasmine, you read my mind! Also, I think that you can still have your horse "pleasure looking" and not dangerously on the forehand. That Oldenburg in your post looked like a very nice ride. To me, the HUS and O/F classes that feature the head-down-western-thing scare the hell out of me. I keep expecting them to somersault over the jump because they can't see past their own toes!

cattypex said...

I posted this on Jasmin's excellent blog entry:

Yes, Jasmine!! Great video illustration, especially as an intro to someone who's ONLY done AQHA/APHA and has never had the opportunity to see a real hunter.

What chaps my hide is when you see a lovely QH who obviously has the potential for beautiful movement and correctness over fences... but he's been trussed up, beaten down (or so it appears to a H/J person), and hindered in every way possible.


I wonder how many AQHA/APHA HUS competitors have NEVER been to a real hunter show?

I mean, you have to travel at least an hour from my town to get to one, and a lot of folks aren't inclined to do that if they're not actually showing.

And unless you're "plugged in" to the H/J community, you don't even know they're going on. We don't have a tack shop anymore (and the one we did was all QH stuff), or a feed store that has anything other than local open shows advertised.

sterling said...

cattypex said... All this trickles down. The 4H kids still want extreme lowness, tropes and wogs, and angled-in HQs.

I indefinitely agree with you. My friend and I both do 4-H, and I show an Arab while she shows well0bred Quarter Horses. Her WP horse does trope, because that's what he was trained to do before she got him, and yet he still wins his class and goes on to State. His poll is level with his withers, though, so that's a plus.

Her HUS horse practically falls over cantering to the right. *headdesk*

I'm thankful in some ways that I have an Arab, but in other ways I'm not. The judges look for an arched neck, but that is not what true flexion, which I have aspired for since day 1, is. Flexing at the poll seems to be out in many cases in the show world.

Oh, and TX my horse has figured out what I've been asking him to do for two years! I think someone's trained him to do that before (because he was certainly started correctly), but he was unsure of the command I was giving him. Now he gives to the bit and holds the flex for two 20-meter circles and bends like a macaroni noodle whenever I ask him, and does half-passes! Woot! Thanks so much for the help; I think it was just a mental block because he didn’t know what I was asking him. We're going to a show next weekend my trainer has, called the Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Open Show. Any saddle, bridle, and combination thereof is legal as long as it is not abusive, and running martingales are acceptable. I'm looking forward to it; it’s the only show I’m attending before Fair in July, and I have high hopes this year!

cattypex said...

I raved about it somewhere else but check out the George Morris photo essay in the June Practical Horseman. It's eloquent about true flexion.

It's why I really like the true spade-bit artists: the horses are so finely tuned, and look PRETTY, as opposed to today's WP stuff.

Hey, check this out TX:

This horse is more decent... and has a long pretty mane? And semi-natural looking tail?

What IS Select Western Pleasure?

cattypex said...

a HA...

Apparently I will qualify for the Select division in 10.5 years :P

Trainer X said...

World Select is dedicated for 50+ riders. And yes those horses were nicer!

cattypex said...

So how does a World-level WP competitor get away with that long mane?

Not that I am complaining!! I think it is pretty, and very shiny!

Smurfette said...

I agreed with all you, and most of the comments said except for this part of the original post: "To stop and back up apply a slight pressure on your horse's mouth by lifting your hands a bit, sit deep in your seat, take your legs off and say whoa. Soon you won't need the verbal part."

The piece I disagree with is the "take your legs off." Question one, on the WP horse, why would you have your legs on him in the first place? With no contact on the bit you are not pushing him into the bit. To keep a collected, in frame at all times (like you said) stop, my behavior would be to lift the hand (only far enough to shift the bit, not put pressure on it), sit deep, and STILL and wrap legs in a STILL fashion around the horse. To "ride him into the stop" as I have heard it described.

monstersmama said...

I always assumed WP horses were spur trained where pressure meant whoa, and taps meant go...I know thats how my friends mare was. Cause I showed her hunter under saddle and we did terrible cause i wasnt use to her buttons but she won her WP classes...