AQHA Judges Will Ask for Lengthened Strides in Western Pleasure
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Expect AQHA judges to call for extensions in all gaits in western pleasure classes at 2013 AQHA shows across the country. (Journal photo)
Heads up western pleasure exhibitors! In 2013, expect your AQHA judges to ask for lengthened strides in all gaits in the western pleasure pen – walk, jog and lope. The word comes straight from the 2012 AQHA Judges Seminar going on December 11-14 in Dallas, according to AQHA Senior Director of Judges Alex Ross.

Click here to read the rest of the article by Christine Hamilton of The American Quarter Horse Journal.


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Added: December 22, 2012. 02:31 AM CDT
In Response to "PLease Read" and the others that say we dont understand
I have shown western pleasure for 30 plus years. I trained western pleasure horses for my own showing for that length of time and for clients for only about 5 years. I am competitive in the western pleasure show ring, showing paints, QH's and Arabians. I have been guilty of slowing my horses down so much that they oil drig on the rail and years ago I swore that I wasn't going to do that again. I know what it takes to make a GOOD western pleasure horse and it isn't slowing that horse down to extreme. It starts with a good mover and a good mind for pleasure. Then it is driving that horse to the bit and the process is done SLOWLY to keep a happy mind and to not disrupt the pretty flow of the horses movement -not the reverse of pulling and jerking way too much on the reins, spurring them and then rushing this process that so many western pleasure trainers do. Of course they have their clients that want the horse trainer yesterday. The canted exercise is a good exercise for getting the horse to drive but we go to extremes with this exercise as well. That is the issue - we go to extremes. Somebody is winning that is going slow, so what do we do - we have to make our horses go slower - that is how it always goes - we go from one extreme to the next. We need to get back in the middle now. A Good well trained horse should be able to collect and extend at the rider's cues. I applaud AQHA for taking a step to correct our bad movers that look lame. Yes, they look lame going down the rail at the lope. I didn't say they are lame, I said they look it. When you have a lame horse, how do you know it is lame? It bobs its head! When all you see are western pleasure horses then your eye becomes acclimated to that movement. If you branch out as I did to reining and riding the beautiful moving Arabian horses and see horses moving correctly at the lope and then you come back and see the Paint and QH w/p horses they look grotesque! A response to "Dark Blue" - look at the video AQHA put out years ago to try and stop the canted and headbobbers. Look at the before they lope with "forward" movement and then the after they lope with "forward" movement. The befores are horrible the afters are much better and pretty. They aren't asking you to become reiners just to move your horses better. People bad mouth western pleasure because they are right, we are training them to move mechanically and it looks bad - it looks like they are lame - it looks like oil driggers going down the rail. Yes, every discipline has its faults but we have a chance to improve our beautiful moving QH and Paints - plus they are a PLEASURE to ride when they move out a little more.
In God's Grace
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Added: December 21, 2012. 05:41 PM CDT
All of you who bash the pleasure horse and the class just see the end result. You never see the work a horse trainer puts into that horse or trying to make chicken salad out of well a lesser ingredient. You dont know what it takes to get one to go around a pen without cheating with its legs firing all for a person who might ride once every two weeks. Us who show horses know how it is for the most part but I want people to really know how it is behind the scenes.
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Added: December 18, 2012. 07:15 PM CDT

Added: October 23, 2012. 07:14 PM CDT

Is any class in any association natural for a horse....No. All disciplines have worked to breed the "best of the best" in any standard. Dressage is not natural, jumping a 10 foot fence is not natural, a horse being led that pivots on a hind foot perfectly is not natural, a team of horses trying to pull a calf in two in the quickest time is not natural, chasing down and turning around a barrel at break neck speed is not natural, sliding 30 feet into a stop is not natural. We participate in the events because we enjoy them. All events are specialized and each has a wonder and beauty about them. No event is perfect and without fault and all events evolved from some form of equine use. I am curious and amazed at the constant pleasure horse bashing. Please, for all things good in this world, stop the tirade against western pleasure. It will never be to everybody's standard or liking, just as any event. I show pleasure and I don't always like what I see, but I love the class and the discipline and talent it takes the rider and/or horse to perform at such a difficult level. There is a plethera of talk about lameness in pleasure. Lameness can be seen at the local rodeo as well. You don't have to like pleasure, but you don't have to speak so poorly of it either. I'm just asking for some respect for those of us that love the class and enjoy a great pleasure horse for what it is, a pleasure to ride and show. I promise, there are very few things that feel as good.

dark blue
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Added: December 18, 2012. 06:44 PM CDT
Im reading through the article and comments and I wonder how many people with the negative comments actually participate in western pleasure or have ever tried to get one ready for a customer. If those people did it they wouldnt be saying nearly as much
Red Rider
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Added: December 18, 2012. 06:24 PM CDT
Western Pleasure Movement
I watched a WP futurity class last year at a major horse show and out of the 25+ in the class--21 moved like they had a broken leg/hip or had heads bobbing like an oil rig. I had to get up and leave before the class was even placed. Made me sick to think about what it took to get them to move that way. Pitiful.

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Added: December 17, 2012. 07:26 PM CDT
PLEASE READ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I ve been thinking for several days about this situation. I am a young professional horseman and I have won every major futurity in the country plus I ve been raised in the industry. I love horses and Quarter Horses in general but I have a few ideas that should be considered:

1 Isnt the object of western pleasure to show your horse with its prettiest movement and topeline ? How can you lengthen a stride when the hock is fully engaged and the front leg completely flat ?

2 How can AQHA, NSBA, APHA, etc expect to have growth in these classes when they themselves bash and criticize the western pleasure horse ?

3 Does anyone who criticizes these pleasure horses understand how hard it is to have a horse show in the open for a pay check and have that same horse show for its owner obedietly without cheat with good legs

4 Why dont the critics of the western pleasure horse try showing and training for a living ? I mean this in no offense but it is often easier to be critical of something when you re setting on the side lines

5 How many of the critics have ridden a true pleasure horse ? How many know what it is to be in control from your legs to the point where a horse slows down, goes forward, transitions, moves their body parts, and gives better legs when asked just by the rider while going down the rail with a championship or even a weekend circuit championship on the line ?

I love the pleasure horse and I hate to see people who dont understand bash my way of making a living or my collegues
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Added: December 15, 2012. 06:33 PM CDT
Lengthened Stride
If this is anything like "lope with forward motion", then I'm not impressed. They do that at shows and I see no change in the gaits.
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Added: December 15, 2012. 05:10 PM CDT
Don't place them if they don't meet the criteria.
If the judges were STRONGLY instructed that entries that do not meet the criteria must not be placed, PERIOD, there finally might be an improvement. In the interim, there would just be a lot of uproar....judges showing to judges.

Dead horses show more animation than most "pleasure" entries.
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Added: December 13, 2012. 09:22 AM CDT
Good vs. bad movers
Remember, judges can only judge and place what we show them. We criticize them for their placings, but until we ALL show well moving horses, they can only choose from what they see in that pen
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Added: December 13, 2012. 06:28 AM CDT
A normal lope
I want to see a horse to normal gaits not that crippled lope that looks like the horse has a bad back. That is so ugly.
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