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Article by Susan Hargrove,  Oh Joy Farms

OJF Rocky Knox - Walking

OJF Rocky Knox - Walking

Class Description: 
WESTERN PLEASURE is a "horse show" class... not a rider in a western saddle out for a Sunday pleasure-ride. An entry in a western pleasure class MUST present the image of a horse that is a "pleasure" to ride. Horses work at the walk, jog and lope (to demonstrate correct leads) both ways of the arena and are asked to back (Arabians may also be asked to hand gallop). Horse should work on a reasonably loose rein or light contact without undue restraint. Western Pleasure horses are described as having a "relaxed" appearance, being under control, balanced, bright and alert. This class is judged on the performance, manners, condition and conformation of the horse.

The body "frame" for the western pleasure horse varies with the breed...however, all breeds are described as having free-flowing strides with natural lift and self-carriage and carrying the head in a relaxed, natural position. The stock-type breeds carry a level topline with the "tip of the ear at wither-height" at the lowest point and "eye level with the withers" at the highest point; or the "poll level with or slightly above the withers". Head carriage of Morgans, National Show Horses and Arabians will be higher than that of the stock breeds. The head position should never be too high or too low for correct body balance. All breeds state the horse's face should never be behind the vertical. The horse being "over-bridled", "over-tucked" or "over-flexed" is a major fault and should be penalized accordingly.

GAITS: The walk should be a natural four-beat gait. A good walk maintains the four-beat rhythm, level topline and relaxed appearance. The jog is a diagonal two-beat gait. A good jog maintains the two-beat cadence, level topline, is balanced and the horse appears to touch the ground very softly. The lope is an easy, rhythmical three-beat gait. A good lope has the balanced three-beat gait, a strong/deep stride, level topline and relaxed appearance. Judges may ask for extended gaits (walk and jog for the stock breed associations; all gaits under USEF rules). The stock breeds will exhibit a flat-swing to the front legs; while the light breeds (Morgan, NSH, Arabian, etc.) will show more bent-knee action at the different gaits. TWH's and MFT's perform their "special" gait instead of the jog. The Rocky Mountain horse only performs the trail walk, show walk and pleasure gait.

OJF Catch My Drift - Jogging

OJF Catch My Drift - Jogging


TACK:  A western stock saddle with square or round corners (silver equipment will not count over a good working outfit). A western side-saddle is considered legal equipment for western pleasure and western trail classes. A saddle pad of sufficient size to prevent the body of the saddle from directly touching the horse's back. The bridle may be either a plain leather or silver headstall (with browband, shaped ear {single or double} or split ear) and a curb-style bit with curb strap or curb chain. Standard snaffle bits and bosal-type hackamores are allowed on junior horses. Reins may be split or romal style.

OPTIONAL TACK:  Rope/riata and hobbles (must be attached to the saddle); tapaderos (only illegal under USEF and in working cowhorse classes - but are NOT used in western pleasure classes); spurs (not to be used in front of the cinch), breast collar.

PROHIBITED TACK:  Protective boots, leg wraps or bandages, wire chin strap, noseband/cavesson (legal for MFT's and NSH's), tie down, jerk line, tack collar, martingale, draw-reins, slip or gag bit, mechanical hackamore, roping/gaming-type reins, crop or whip.

RIDER:  The rider should have a very "polished" appearance. The attire can be as simple as jeans over western boots, long-sleeved shirt, tie and western hat. Ladies usually wear fancy shirts, vests or jackets. Shotgun (fitted) chaps are usually worn, but are optional (required in Arabian, Half-Arabian, Morgan, NSH and ASB competition under USEF rules). Batwing-type chaps are only seen in cutting classes (and are optional). Gloves are not worn in western pleasure classes (but they are not illegal).

TECHNICAL:  Split reins (leather or woven) are held in one hand (either hand is legal) with the "tails" of the reins falling on the same side as the rein-hand. Split reins come into the hand from the top...over the index finger... across the palm and exit by the little finger. Romal-type reins have an extension of braided material attached to closed reins. The rein portion is held in one hand (either hand is legal) with the "romal" carried in the free hand. The "romal" falls on the opposite side of the "rein" hand. The "rein" portion of the romal-style reins enters the hand from the bottom by the little finger... up across the palm and exits at the top between the index finger and the thumb. Rear cinches are usually not used in western pleasure classes (they are legal and if used must have a connector-strap to the front cinch).

OJF On A Whim - loping

OJF On A Whim - loping


JUDGING TIPS:
A. Make sure the bridle is on the model correctly. Crown piece should lie on the poll of the horse...not resting on the ears. Cheek piece should not be "against" or "too close to" the horse's eye. All strap ends should lie/lay "precisely" on top of lower strap. Bit should be at proper angle. Chin strap should not be tight... it should rest lightly on chin groove. Reins should be smooth (no "kinks") and be "even" unless the horse is turning his head. Reins should have a soft "drape" to them.

B. Make sure saddle is on the model correctly. Saddle should not be up on the shoulders or back on the hips... it should fit snugly/comfortably up against the withers. Cinch should not be tight against the front leg or back around the stomach. Cinch should be snug. Blanket/pad should be "even" from side to side and have proper length around the border of the saddle.

C. Breast collar should be snug... not tight. Breast collar should not be hanging down around the points of the shoulders. Breast collar connector-strap to saddle cinch should not be hanging down between the front legs.

D. Rider should sit snugly in the saddle. Feet in both stirrups. Doll should not be leaning forward or back... should be sitting up straight and balanced with the movement of the horse. Hat should be set down firmly on head...not sitting on top of the hair-do. Hat should be "straight"... crown should not be pointing up or down. No chin-strap on hat.

E. Model should appear calm and relaxed regardless of the gait. If model is loping... should be on the correct lead (moving counter-clockwise should be on the left lead... moving clockwise should be on the right lead).

 

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