GoHorseShow has been at the Congress checking out all the sights and sounds including many of the classes. The western pleasure class is still one of the more controversial classes in our industry--many feel the class has improved while others think the class is still headed in the wrong direction. We decided to ask several leading trainers what they think about the jog in the western pleasure. Several judges have pointed out to us that there appears to be a new trend of horses not executing a two beat diagonal gait in the class and that many horses are moving too slow and not following the rules of the class. Let's find out what some of the leading professionals had to say at the Congress. Also, please let us know what you think!
Patrick Heeley-- (pictured right) We (Trainers) concentrate so much on the third gear and chasing the perfect lope that the jog is largely neglected. We are breeding for the lope and many times now I see horses that are great lopers but aren't good joggers. I have been guilty at times of striving to perfect the third gear and not paying as much attention to the jog. I think there needs to be more of a balance where we do concentrate more on the jog because it is not a one gait class.
Stephen Stephens--I think that we need to educate the judges to call the gaits where it is beneficial to the horses--call a moderate extension of the jog right at the beginning of the class because it helps open up the horses' strides in the class and they all look much better. We have been trying to get the hunter under saddle classes to stay more on the rail--we need to do the opposite with the pleasure horses. We need to keep putting it out there that it is okay to pass and come off the rail to let your horse move in a more natural way. There is a common belief that the judges frown on horses passing, and, unfortunately, I think that some judges do still hurt horses for passing.
Steve Meadows--It is largely known in the industry that Ohio and the Congress is known as "Slow Ohio". All the trainers slow them down at the Congress and then they change them and move them out at the AQHA World Show. Since we have a standard and rules we are supposed to follow--that doesn't make sense. We should show them the same way no matter where we show. There is a belief at the Congress that the slow man wins, and this needs to change.
Amanda Ringer--I think all the great horses are good at all three gaits. However, I have seen horses at the Congress that are lame and should have been excused but weren't because of who was riding them. If a horse is lame--it should be excused no matter the rider.
Mary Luther--I think that judges are criticized because of how we place classes but we can only judge what people present to us. We want the winners to step forward and show themselves. Come on and bring us something! If we have to choose the best of the worse unfortunately we have to choose horses that normally we wouldn't have on our cards.
Christa Baldwin--I hurt the horses that don't have a three beat lope and two beat jog and their heads too low. They must have all the gears including the walk and back. At the Novice Show, they only put twelve horses in each cut and the horses were all able to get great rail spots. I think the problem with a lot of places like the Congress--the cuts are so crowded that people are afraid to lose their rail spot because they are riding so close together. It would help if the cuts had less horses so they are able to move forward and show off their horses.
Patti Robertson--I think it is better this year but I think there is room for improvement. I have been disappointed in how slow many of the horses look at the jog to the point they all look like they are jogging up front and walking behind--that is not an acceptable two beat gait. I think many horses have been overtrained and the jog has been largely ignored.
Candy Parrish--I think over time that we have been breeding to improve the lope and it has gotten much better over time. I do think that the jog has suffered and that we need to balance it out a bit and concentrate more on it.
Kim Rotenberry--We need to be breeding horses with excellent conformation that are able to be strong enough to execute all the gaits correctly. Sometimes I think people have been breeding weak to weak and too many average horses have been bred and have passed on their conformation flaws. We need to breed stronger horses that have more self-carriage, strength, and structure that have the physical capabilities of doing what the trainer is asking of them.
Mike Hawkins--The horses need to have all gears. I do think people have a fear of passing and this perception needs to change in our industry.
Jadasa Jablonowski--I think the jog has improved from a few years ago but I do think there is still room for horses to move more forward and show a more forward two diagonal beat at the gait.
After watching 80% of the western pleasure classes I am amazed at the judges ignoring the rules. They picked the horses that went the slowest and had there heads the lowest once again. AQHa needs to clean house where there judges are concerned. They picked horses that were walking in the rear in the jog over horses that were truly jogging. Its unbelievable.
Why aren't we holding our judges accountable AQHA????? You are hearing what the people are seeing. You are also seeing what the people are complaining about. If a judge is placing the horses that aren't moving the way AQHA rules require ---- for gosh sakes ---- get them out of the ring --- they don't belong there!!!!! The rules that you have in the book should be followed. If a judge can't follow them, as in any job -- find someone who can. You are letting your membership down by allowing this to go on.
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.
I hate to say it, but I agree with each person that has commented on lame horses, judges placing horse that should have been excused in the 1st go & horses with no two beat gaits. I don’t how many of you attended the Congress Super Sale but even over there, almost all the Halter horses being lead in & shown in the ring had lip chains being used & being yanked on. Didn’t AQHA just pass a rule about this but yet when it comes to even a simple auction rules are ignored? The problem lies with the AQHA PERIOD. They don’t practice what they preach to the public or say in the rule book. They don't seem to be monitoring anything but the bank account. The only way we will see a difference is when AQHA decides to hire real professional judges that don’t overlook the obvious violations of the rules. Many other sports use unionized judges that do have ethics & are true to their profession. With today’s technology AQHA should be reviewing the tape & evaluate each judges placing’s & holding them accountable with a rating of accuracy based on the rule book. If instant replay can be used in other sports then so can the AQHA use it to fix this out of control problem of inner politics & corruption!
It has been a very long time since I showed quarter horses. The western pleasure is so sad looking. I have a question though. Are the horses trained now where you keep a spur in their sides at all times? I went to a show and observed this. Is that how they are trained now?
Thank you for all these comments because this issue is very confusing for those of us who are learning and will be the future AQHA competitors. We go to shows, not only to compete, but to learn correct riding style and carriage of the horse by observing. My teacher has me read and go by the AQHA book. This describes a two beat jog trot that is a fluid movement. Then at the shows we see horses place high that are walking in the back and look very unnatural, definitely not fluid. Then if we are on a horse doing a true jog, we are passing those horses, which also seems to be frowned upon! So it seems like to place in these classes we have to go against what AQHA says they want.
I have rode WP horses for 30 years off and on, and stopped showing AQHA because of politics and the disappointed way these animals move. Why have a rule book if the judges do not help enforce them? The jog should be just as important as the lope. Lame horses at these shows should be sent home to heal. Judges that place horses that break the rules should be reprimanded. What happend to what used to be the most awesome breed?? Enough said!
I agree. Many that were obviously lame were not dismissed and should have been which was disappointing. It is a joke that you can still have a "two beat job" where many were not actually jogging but walking in either the front or back in order to stay so slow and were still either advanced on to the finals over horses that were better joggers with a lope of equal quality based on who was riding them. Until politics and the unwritten I'll pat your back if you'll pat mine system goes away, which I don't see happening....nothing will ever change and why it will continue to be a money game for those that can afford trainers who are also judges with no place for the little guy.