How Western Pleasure Horses Are Warmed Up And Why People Are Sickened

This video was uploaded by someone that was at the Quarter Horse Congress watching riders school their horses before they showed. The video was uploaded with the following caption:

“The crabby canter and the zero trot is painful to watch from the side, but watching a horse be coerced into it is unbearable when you see the mechanics of this “western pleasure” from the front and rear perspective.”

Do You Wish Western Pleasure Horses Had A More Forward Gait

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This is an issue that people seem to be so divided on. There is one side who says they are bred for this and that’s how slow they want to go. They other side is totally sickened, sad and appalled.

The video above is a yearling gelding named Cotton Candy Machine. This gelding is being ponied by a ranch type horse that is moving at a nice natural canter and the gelding is following along side loping.  His lope is natural and if you ask me it’s stunning! In my opinion this is a World Class western pleasure horse! There is nothing crabby or unbearable about that canter.

My question to everyone is what do you think the solution is? I know the majority of people think this is sick and disgusting, but what solution do you offer people who love riding a western pleasure bred horse? Do you think all of the horses in the video looked tortured and abused, or were there some that looked happy and natural to you?

Also for people who are currently involved in the industry, when you see videos like the warm up one above can you see why people are so outraged? Do you wish the class would shift as well? What is the solution?

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166 Responses

  1. Kalar Walters

    The second video is how it should be. I despise that “hang-dog” look in the first video with that silly hop. It’s so demeaning and unnatural.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Ok , I feel that there is a extreme exaggeration on the lope on some off them. ALOT of them don’t even know when to release and move them forward, it’s what they have been taught or just watching others. Some are actually loping correctly, it is ALOT prettier to watch and the ones not make their horses look like bad movers. But most judges don’t like this but use them because they are more consistent than correct. I know they don’t want to but they do. Some can be justy ugly and. Look like they have flat tires. And the cstopping and ripping on them I think is more of a bad habit.

      Reply
      • SRathy

        Stopping and ripping on them is not a bad habit, like looking down or turning your elbows out. It’s the inability or refusal to develop a feel for the horse’s mouth, combined with the loss of control over your emotions.

    • Anonymous

      I always feel so sad and sorry for these horses when I see them having to move this way, they actually look depressed to me and very unhappy, this is not natural at all for the poor horses, it’s just what the humans think looks great, it doesn’t, let them move freely the way nature intended

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        100% agree. I watched them practice at the Congress and it was depressing

      • Anonymous

        How about the deadened tails & the horse barely able to push out its own poo?!! Go to any QH warm up pen & its this or worse!

      • Anonymous

        Watching Congress last week on person was so horrifying I had to leave. ..I thought AQHA was making progress to pin good movers but it’s the same depressed horses that are being ruined starting at 2…LET THEM MOVE…and stop canting in…go Down the Rail Straight…penalized this and it will change. ..but trainers are judges…and they make money treating horses the way owners won’t. ..we quit western pleasure as we care about our horses well being and health of their hocks, stifles and backs….

    • Anonymous

      I am watching this video and trying to understand why they must go so slow it looks like a contest of who can go slower ! We can compare all disciplines all we want but it’s not all the same and hard to compare ! I would be very interested in seeing the horses put a regular snaffle bit and pushed forward what they would do ? Would they still want to go slow or would they just go forward with no hesitation ? Can theses horses comfortably go into a hand gallop ? They all move so slow but wether be hunter jumper or dressage there is always a collected and a extended moving forward and coming back ! I would be interested to see the riders move at the pace of a dressage horse or a hunter ? Why has it become so slow ! Everyone is commenting and people defending it are saying it’s the way if go but WHY SO SLOW ? What’s the point of it being slow ? what is the explanation ? Hunter jumpers and dressage go forward and collect we show that a horse can come back to us but go forward ! So we show all degrees in our gates! Are theses horses anywhere asking for extensions ? Show a beautiful stretching stride anywhere ? Why don’t they ? Or do they ? I would love to see a class where they ask for an extended trot or hand gallop ! And why are they all haunches in or out why are they not traveling in a straight line ? Just trying to get clarity into this ?

      Reply
      • Megan

        I have a gelding that was bred for and originally trained to be a western pleasure horse. I ride him as a hunter, and even after having him for a year and a half- he still doesn’t get very forward. It much better than it was, but he does seem to enjoy going slow. Or being lazy, is probably the real reason. Lol. He doesn’t go nearly as slow as the western pleasure horses, but coming from riding hunter/jumpers growing up- he’s very slow. Also- those horses don’t travel straight because being haunches in drives the inside hip up under them more (judges want to seem them moving under themselves) and angles them toward the fence to help keep them slower. I’m not a fan of this at all. And my particular horse is far happier jumping and going English than crawling along the rail as a western horse.

      • Anonymous

        What is the deal w/NOT being on the rail & going sideways???

      • Anonymous

        The horses turn tier hips in so there back leg can be in the middle of their body. This allows them to sit back and drive forward into the bridle. This causes it to be easier for them to go slow and many times they have to be pushed forward. Some horses in this video were overdoing it. You can also get penalized for going to slow and many times horses are asked for extended gaits.

      • Anonymous

        My former trainer does both regular hunters and western pleasure. Her Paint horses can all switch from normal canter to a nice lope, depending on what tack is being used, and win in both the — USEF hunter classes and Paint western pleasure.

      • Anonymous

        I am also left wondering why they don’t track straight???

      • Levi

        Typically the haunches are in to force them to go slower, I agree with you on collection a nice western pleasure horse that is going to collect and slow down nicely, but not to the point where they are “troping”. If you want to see extended gaits try watching ranch pleasure it’s western pleasure without all the frills and they have extended gates as well

      • Anonymous

        They are required to extend the jog in every western pleasure class. In other classes like horsemanship and western riding the horses do more forward and in patterns asked to hand gallop and extend trot.

      • Dani

        I would like to answer some of your questions. First though, you should be commended for seeking to understand instead of just bashing with comments like many do. They just prove themselves to not have any clue as to the mechanics of motion of all types of horses. I feel a true horseman will seek to become more knowledgeable about all horses. I have been training horses for over 35 years and have rode/trained not just pleasure horses but warmbloods, hunters, cutters, reiners, arabs, gaited horses etc. They all have different abilities and attributes. The pleasure horse that is rewarded is the one that can perform a correct two beat jog (not a trot) and a correct 3 beat lope (not a canter). The slowness or the tempo of the gaits while remaining correct is given more credit for the degree of difficulty. The class requirements do ask for an extension of the jog and the judges can ask for an extension of the lope as well. The video from the QH Congress that started all this was a novice rider class in which the extended gaits are not required. The pleasure horse trainers that know what they are doing understand the concept of sending a horse forward to the bit to teach them to go slow. Yes, they will go slow because they learn to engage their hind legs, round their back and lift their front shoulders. They gradually learn self carriage with the help of exercises that strengthen their topline. The haunches in maneuver that many of them are doing at the lope in the schooling pen is one. It is a well known dressage technique. Here is a video link with a statement about it from a knowledgeable trainer. https://youtu.be/DGr3C-o3CZQ The horses learn to use their inside hind leg at the lope to balance the majority of their weight on it during the stride and push with the outside hind leg. That is why you see the skipping look, just like we did as a kids riding our stick horses. The half halt is another one used to teach the horse to rebalance himself on his hindquarters. Another point I would like to make is that a horses head position is in no way an indicator if they are moving heavy in the front end. That comes from lifting the back and engaging the hindquarters. Horses that carry their necks level do so because of conformation traits. Just as an Arabian will naturally carry their neck arched and higher than the withers. Doesn’t mean one is right and the other is wrong, just personal preferences.

    • Anonymous

      I disprise it also.AQHA needs to stop it. Judges need to start placing a natural moving horse highest.stop this abuse.people should be charged for animal abuse.!! It is criminal.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I have a western pleasure bread horse that now loves to barrel race and do games, he is winning with little kids, so he’s going because he wants to, we use nothing on him.

      • Anonymous

        I agree !! Horses do not lope naturally at angle like that!! Horrible!!!

      • Joanne

        I agree – AQHA needs to stop rewarding this in the show ring for sure. On the other hand, it should not take RULES to stop such obviously unnatural movement – NO horse is bred to do this naturally. QH folks need to sit up and ride the horse the way God created it, and not some silly show ring fashion. If they are too scared to ride it in it’s natural way of going — get out of horses!

      • Anonymous

        Agree, it starts with the association requiring judges to judge to the rule book…

    • anonymous

      I’m not no expert or professional but I have worked with peoples horses and had showed myself. My opinion is they should have that nice forward gait when they canter. I think it breaks from the trot and canter definitely,It’s more of a relaxed ride.I always love feeling the three beat slow canter when I ride horses,but i’m not into the little hop at all and how they do train to get them to learn it. I’m just stating my opinion I think it just depends how everyone is brought up in working or training horses. I’m just a more forward gait person for a horse.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      I agree..it has to change..the second video shows natural movement..AQHA and other organizations need to make rules to keep the horse movement natural ans stop this abusive type of training.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      It’s a travesty to see this ridiculous way of going, but apparently there are also many of those who disagree. Just saying, it’s not all about the horse any more

      Reply
      • Marsha

        I agree. Horses were not meant to move looking as though they have been hobbled for so long they have forgotten the power and beauty of the natural movement God gave them.

    • Noah

      When movement is forced it is not beautiful. It is un-natural. When it is un-natural it is not efficient. It takes a lot of work to make a horse look like this… that isn’t as sad as the judges who reward it and an industry that believes this is the standard for beauty. Any flexion that is not related to movement is “false collection.”

      Reply
    • Linda Lentz

      I think people are so uneducated about horses it makes me ill. There has been so much money put into peanut horses they don’t want to have to retrain. Disgusting!

      Reply
  2. bonnie hachey

    yes kalar, the second video is lovely except he was dragged onto his forehand in the first lope depart, however he is a baby and the first video is entirely awful and quite disgusting did not see any happy horses there and as usual the human factor is quick to get on the hand to pull and “bump” the bit but that is what is being taught so fix the coaching system, and that will correct the issue. then again the judging system has to come into play as well when judges stop rewarding these awful techniques, it will force coaches to teach correctness and humans will then have to learn to ride, then horses will be much happier humans wont be though as the force of just using hands and gadgets to bully horses into submission will be in the past hopefully

    Reply
  3. Lana

    The word “natural” that is being used by many of the QH people in regards to their WP horses is about as far from the truth as it could be. If it was “natural” to move at a snails pace with their head a few inches from the ground–they would do it “Naturally” on their own out in a pasture. You do not see that in any horse breed–so its a man made gait these horses are doing. We all learned to skip as children–its a fairly fast way of moving. Try doing it in slow motion and see how easy it is–not very and it would look very labored like the WP horses look these days. They were not meant to go that slow and labored looking–no way. You train them to slow down, speed up etc. with good training–but not to drag around like a snail–that is not “natural”.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I fully agree, and cantering at an angle is adding stress to those hocks. Where do you see a horse loping at such an extreme angle on their own? This is abuse..

      Reply
      • Elyse Evans

        I just read an article about that sideways lope. I always thought it was a canter cue gone horribly wrong. Apparently it’s to get the appearance of a “deep hock”, whatever that is. It’s ridiculous and doesn’t enhance the conformation at all; it looks like they don’t know how to ride a straight line.

      • Anonymous

        Western Pleasure 101: Riding with the hip in does help produce a deep or deeper hock, which in turn helps hold the back up, which in turn allows the front end to let that neck and head hang out there naturally. Think collection here. (If you will also please notice the conformation on these horses, their necks come out horizontal. Not up and more vertical like Arabs or Morgans do and even some of the stock breeds that aren’t bred for WP) Once a horse has developed the muscle control to hold themselves here, then they will be allowed to travel more straight down the line. These are just the basics you are seeing in the warm up pen. IF it were allowed in the show pen, then they aren’t used…UNLESS this is the only thing being presented that day. Now after this explanation, if you still don’t understand what a deep hock is, then this is 1/2 the problem with this entire scenario! Education and respect needs to be addressed before trying to take down an entire discipline, just because the majority don’t understand the mechanics of WP.

      • Anonymous

        Someone noted that this is a form of collection below. You have Got to be kidding. And deep hock flexion for support. REALLY? Well that explains it. Cough cough.

      • Anonymous

        THIS is exactly what those that know and understand about training a horse to collect, are talking about. If you don’t understand that a horse collects from behind, then no wonder people are confused on what they are seeing!!! If you think you are looking at horses that are on their front ends in this video, there is no hope.

    • Anonymous

      I have actually been around horses that do that that are worth $100 grand and ones that have won over $300 grand – they aren’t WP QHs but they are reiners. I’ve watched those horses play in a huge pasture, and for those good ones it is 100% natural for them to lope with their nose on the ground. They love it. They play like that all the time – slow, fast, you name it. However, people try to make them all look like those few great ones, but not every horse is great. They are good, sure. But they aren’t as “natural” as those others. Judges need to stop rewarding the bad behavior, yes; but trainers only fit to their program. The horse has to do it their way. There are very few trainers I’ve found nowadays that actually change the way they teach to ride the horse as an individual. And I believe that is the root of the problem.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      I love your post! It is so disgusting and UNNATURAL. Your analogy if trying to skip slow is spot on. Its sad that we can’t get judges on board. You stop placing them, only place the true natural horses of 30 years ago, they will stop training it pretty quick!

      Reply
    • anonymous

      Actually Lana, moving level and slow IS very natural for these horses… I have a field of them. I urge you and any others that don’t think it is to ask any top quality pleasure breeders if you can visit their farm

      Reply
  4. Lindy

    I don’t get how it’s any more ‘cruel’ than racing, polo, jumping or dressage!
    Dressage – look at Totilas & tell me THAT is a natural gait. They’re cantering without trotting for warm up BUT it’s not as if they’re straining themselves or about to pull a muscle.
    Racing horses are ridden as young as 1.5years old – focus on that… THAT is bad and cruel when their backs only fuse at 5 years old!

    Reply
    • bonnie hachey

      i dont think it is pitting discipline against discipline just if no one speaks up for the horse in any discipline then it will never get fixed anywhere

      Reply
      • Lindy

        No, I’m merely saying that it is not the worst! There are far worse things done with horses every day

    • Anonymous

      This is like saying if they can do it, we can too. Answer would be to have the judges not be trainers perhaps. That way perhaps they would place the correctly moving horse. These horses are not anything like the rule book describes a pleasure horse.

      Reply
      • Lindy

        Nope, I don’t think that high level dressage or youngsters being raced so young etc. is acceptable… I just don’t thing this should be causing so much outrage when the fact that 1.5yr old are RACED doesn’t cause any outrage.

      • Anonymous

        The judges have to stop placing these horses and go back to the rules as written. Once that starts the rest will fall in line. Most horses do lope with their head down and face vertical but not dragging on the ground. What I see in the vids is the rider is all over the place above the waist trying to keep their butt in the saddle and it’s worse because they are so stuff. They are NOT in rhythm with the animal under them. I don’t believe it is “cruel or abuse”, simply uncomfortable for the horse and rider. My body gets sore when I try to do yoga, the average human body is not really configured to twist in some ways. A horse is not built to be that slow in a gait that is intended to move them out of the way or get somewhere. A WP should be just that, a pleasure to ride at any gait. That doesn’t even look pleasurable, much less pleasing to the eye.

    • Anonymous

      Lindy, I’m not sure you have full understanding on where many hunter/jumper and dressage trainers and riders stand. As a person that has ridden pleasure in both English and Western and ridden hunter/jumpers and dressage and trained with well respected trainers, we’ve only used the horse’s true natural gaits to do movements that are required in a course or a test. Totilas is a very well trained horse, yes with some touch of rollkur in there that many of us despise and don’t train with, but everything we use and teach is connect to the horse’s natural gait. This means that we use true walk, trot, and canters in all we do, no matter if it is a working, medium, or free w/t/c. Nothing is forced in dressage or hunter/jumpers and we always make sure that our horses are warmed up before entering the show ring, so the typical trot that is seen before a dressage test is called a sitting trot (which is a working trot) where the horse is not hollow (don’t think you really understand this unless you have trained in dressage). This lope that wp does is something that is truly unnatural for the horse and is not seen in the true environment of the horse in a field or the wild and honestly is like the mullet hair style, trot upfront and canter behind. Is it supposed to be a canter or a trot? Neither. Is it something that the horse would do on it’s own out in a field herd or wild herd? Nope. You take on racing, well that’s racing and I do agree that they start too early, but that’s a field I don’t know anything about so that is not debatable.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I think Western Pleasure should stay the same,the point of it is to go slow and use minimal showing cues,Western Pleasure is about control and collection but that being said I do agree that the horse in the beginning of the video is being way over done and that rider has very tight reins and is yanking the bit to the back of the horses mouth. So that horse isn’t going to do proper WP.You have to have soft hand on the reins to do WP.And yes I think I would have my head in the air and be tensed up to if a bit where yanked back in my mouth.But also I do t think the second video depicts WP training,that’s just leading,begging training for a young horse I do that to all of mine regardless of there displine.But that horse is year-long and unable to be ridden even and has a choppy trot and and it head is way up in the air.The horse in the second video is being dragged around by to long of a lead rope and it’s head is way high in the air it would not win in WP.I have a WP bred filly she has a natural gait.I will not have to force her to do a dancing looking trot or lope.If you are doing WP right you do not have to make the horse do WP they do it naturally with light cues.But at no time should the bit be yanked or keep at the back of the horses mouth unless your trying to stop and even a lite tug on the reins is warranted and then release when the horse responds. WP is not a reining horse class and you don’t train them with a ranch horse there not suppost to have a sloppy pounding trot.I had a horse with a pounding trot and it is not an enjoyable ride that way,I taught her to extend her trot but I didn’t force her to do it by being hard on the reins I did it by teaching her to flex more in the head and neck and angling her shoulder and driving rein training and the ride was much improved and I did not have to yank the bit in the back of her mouth to get her to do it,just soft hands and a light foot cue and that is the way it should be.

      • Anonymous

        I meant Beavo on the above comment about the dressage horses,etc.

    • Cathy

      Ummm…you DO know that most WP horses are ridden at the same age as racehorses, don’t you? Most are started around 16-18 months to be ready for the 2 year old snaffle bit futurities.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Yearling horses are not ridden are ridden in racing and futurity horses are rode by extemely small people and you wreck a horses legs riding them to early smartly pants so that is not always a good idea just because you want points early and the racing industry wrecks more horses then any other and talk about abuse there an industry people should talk about.I have taken veterinary assisting I know plenty about the horse industry. Just cause a human decides to hop in the saddle doesn’t make it physically right or mean the horse should be ridden and many race horses end up lame or with weak or broken legs because they are ridden before there legs lock in place and are solidly built up this is a proven fact smartass

    • Joanne

      if you want to look to the worst to justify this form of performance – it only tells me you KNOW this is in the list of BAD horse training. Why not look to the horse for it’s best — not some contrived show ring fashion that changes in a whim.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Finding faults in other disciplines does nothing to excuse the abuse in WP. Two wrongs never make a right!

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      I have never seen a dressage horse warmed up at the canter only. I warm up for dressage all the time. Walk trot and canter. I do work in the canter yes, and pick up my canter and trot, and do transitions. Really the only reason why you should be cantering excessively is if you are warming up for cross country or show jumping where you need to be sure your horse can gallop off and come right back and go forward to the base of the fence. And while some movement may not be natural in dressage it is at least forward and gotten from using the horses hind end, and well the horse doesn’t look like it’s lame.

      Reply
  5. Richard Neidermyer

    I have a WP stallion, Rock With A Zip, who was a top 10 finisher in the 02 WP classes. So I breed. Anyone that says they are bred for this is full of bunk. They do not want to go that slow naturally. They have to be taught to do so. You want this to go away then the judges need to stop placing these horses. They need to place the natural easy lope. I wish they would as I cannot stand it. Ride a nice easy natural lope then ride one of these WP show lopes and there is no comparison.

    The WP is a result of what happened in the arena not in the breeding. Western Pleasure is supposed to be based upon how you would ride when you take your horse out on a pleasure ride. A nice easy soft walk, a jog/trot that you can sit not post, and a smooth rocking chair lope with good forward motion. It started out that way once upon a time. What happened is someone trained their horse to go slower and stand out from all the other horses and the judges noticed and placed that horse. The natural evolution to this is that others saw this and since that horse won they wanted their horse to do the same thing so they could win too. So now you have the mess we have today.

    Step one to fix it the associations need to write rules that require the natural gaits. Step two is to make sure the judges understand the rules and stop placing unnatural gates. If the judge continues to do so revoke his card. This is the only way this will change.

    Reply
    • bonnie hachey

      totally agree fix the judging system then the coaching system and issue gone horses would be much much happier

      Reply
      • Deborah Cole

        Totally agree. If ‘the in people’ would object and tell the judges to quit screwing around with their horses and let them move normally it would happen. This Fashion has been going on far too long and have ruined many a good horse. It needs to stop and it will take money to fix it. Otherwise, the people just trying to get along will never make an impression.

      • Joanne

        I would hope that horse owners would get a grip (and get educated) to stop participating in such events. No Go – No Show! Start something worthwhile that has benefit to horse and rider.

    • Carolyn Deoew

      Could not agree with your more. The forward movement isn’t being bred out. it’s being taught (I won’t use the word training to describe something so negative). I’ve shown Arabians for over 30 years. There was a time our breed was attempting to turn our WP horses into the same kind of trotalope mess. My western horses were penalized for being forward moving but they did so with a rounded back and a soft way of going and I was just fine with that.

      The AQHA reining horses appear to have a beautiful, natural, forward moving lope in their slow circles and there’s no reason a pleasure horse can’t be ridden at that same gait. I guess it would take a big name trainer with a backbone to buck the current trend and try it.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        The problem is, the judges are the trainers. Protecting their livelihoods, I get that, but it is time for change. Ranch pleasure is becoming quite a popular class in my area.

    • Jane Bellerby

      Sure you could say fix the judging system and sack the trainers but really the responsibility lies with the rider. If enough people went into the show ring and rode well – ie free swinging walk, ground covering jog and easy going, forward moving lope, and if they had the guts to tell the judges and the system to stop concurring with such cruelty and stupidity then things would change. Much like the political system – take personal responsibility of your life and refuse to be part of the insanity of corporate and govt greed.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        You are 100% correct. I am not a competitor, but my granddaughter is. I would rather see her never place on our Quarter Horse Mare, than to give into this horrible way of showing. Give me a ranch class any day.l

    • Cordie Sands

      Your horse may have gone TT back in ’02, but I saw big problems with WP back in 1994 when I got my Paint mare. being a working hunter person from outside the breed show ranks, I bought my mare on an emotional impulse. When I started going to local shows just to watch, I saw people who were tuning up their big winning stock breed horses for the breed shows. It was disgusting! These horses were dumped on their forehands and had their noses down at their pasterns. Now how the heck can a horse see?? Answer: they CAN’T.

      I see it has only gone downhill since then (though I didn’t think it could).

      Don’t get me started on what breed show people (that even includes Arabian Main Ring Horses…NOT sport horses) think a huntseat pleasure horse should move.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      I agree 100 % Richard. I would love to show my cutting horse on a WP class with her natural headset and amazing comfortable lope. I would do it just to make a point.

      Reply
      • Cathy

        Western Dressage. Your mare would probably knock it out of the ballpark and you wouldn’t have to change a thing. WD rewards a traditional, smooth, forward moving, natural, happy western horse.

    • Anonymous

      Way to go you have hit the nail on the head so to speak. Hate the wp way of going and I will not force my horses to do it we show at the natural gates hope more will do the same.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Here here. I agree that there has to be a platform that punishes trainers and fines judges who allow this to go on. But when you see video of an entire class being judged for and accepting of the same way of going, it didn’t happen overnight. I went on to the AQHA site to see if an accepted standard was offered. Sure enough, they are promoting two WP categories … Ranch and Arena. One is asked to move forward in a natural balanced frame that is required in day to day travel of a working horse. The other type is never expected to do anything outside of an arena and how sad is that? This is not a breeding issue its pure and pathetic training. If I was shopping for a horse to be a pasture ornament or yard art, I would run in the other direction if this type of movement was presented to me. I certainly wouldn’t waste my time getting on it. And yes I’ve competed western and English disciplines pleasure, hunter, jumper, dressage and eventing.

      I hope that AQHA judges grow a pair soon and stop this from being the accepted norm.

      Reply
    • Levi

      Unfortunately it will just take time, AQHA can’t just tell top breeders and trainers that oh sorry this horse would have won but the rules have changed and the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on training and breeding have just been wasted… that’s not gonna happen. And I agree people think WP is so much fun to ride but what most don’t realize is the level of equitation it takes to ride today’s finished lope. For English people imagine sitting a rough trot that you should be posting….. do you have that image in your head? Good, now imagine having to sit that trot while making it look like you are rolling your hips while riding a nice canter all the while keeping your back perfectly straight, staying balanced, and keeping your horse entirely collected … all the while with a smile on your face.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Finally someone spells it all out. It starts with the association then the Judges and finally the trainers. If it is pentalized from the association and judges are penalized for allowing it then the trainers will get it.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    My question is why are these people picking on just Western pleasure horses, it seems to me that there is some abuse as they are calling it in all disciplines. I am not thrilled about the way pleasure horses move either but to those slamming WP you need to take a look at cutting, reining, contesting, dressage, racing, halter, lunge liners etc.!!!! Stop bashing just WP!!!!

    Reply
    • bonnie hachey

      i dont think it is pitting discipline against discipline just if no one speaks up for the horse in any discipline then it will never get fixed anywhere and yes someone needs to speak up and get something done not just in WP but all disciplines but it is not going to occur over night going to take lot of time and resilience to touch the wrongs in all disciplines but got to begin somewhere

      Reply
    • Patricia Hayes

      I agree here. I won’t even watch reinging anymore. Makes me sick what happened to reining. They have to do everything with their nose down to their knees.

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      • Anonymous

        Agree with you there. Also hate the hunch back look on reining horses these days.

    • Anonymous

      This isn’t about bashing WP, abuse should be abhorred in any form or discipline. My daughter and I ride hunter jumpers and you can bet that we speak up if we see a horse being mistreated.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    As a western rider I’m personally not a fan of these types of gates however, these comments are just that, personal opinions. The fact being disputed as to whether or not this is “natural” is entirely void. Nothing any human does with any horse at any time is natural. Humans and horses working together in itself is unnatural so I really think people just spend too much time pointing fingers at each other.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Humans and horses have been working together for millenia, so you are way off there. “Natural” is a horse moving under saddle the way he would out in the pasture. The current WP gaits are not only unnatural (ie you will NEVER see that movement from any horse, ever, on his own) they are detrimental to the physical well-being of the horse. The excessive hock strain coupled with the in vogue way-too-small QH feet leads to pain and discomfort. Add to that the constant jerk and snatch of the mouth I see constantly in WP warm ups, and you have a miserable horse. How are these ridiculous gaits pleasurable? Is this how you want your horse to move out on a pleasurable trail ride? Riding should be a partnership and pleasure for both the rider and the horse!

      Reply
  8. Sara Welsh

    I did see a few horses that were moving naturally, but the majority were looking crippled, I thought that the AQHA had changed the rules and that the horses head was to be level and the gaits were to be more forward. The only way to “fix” this problem is from the organization down. Judges that place horses that are not meeting the standards set forth by the organization should loose their judges card, period. But as in any horse show until some one is willing to take a stand, this will continue.

    Reply
    • bonnie hachey

      you are absolutely correct it will not change until someone has enough guts to raise the bar and judges and coaches need to be reeducated. egos will get in the way and the arguments will be fast and furious change wont come without a fight cause afterall it is a huge business for all involved across the board the ball has to start rolling and if it is the WP community to give it the first big push then kudos to them as what is occurring in all disciplines needs to get cleaned up

      Reply
  9. Tessa

    Judges need to excuse horses from the ring that move like that and then people will stop showing up with horses trained that way. It won’t take but about two or three big shows to change the tide. Come on people! Do it for the common good of the horses AND the trainers AND riders!

    Reply
  10. Darcy

    The comments about these horses not passing a lameness test is totally untrue. Pleasure horses have to pass the same vet check as any other horse. There’s not some sub-standard vet check we use for pleasure horses so maybe you should refrain from making uneducated comments. We all care and stress about our horses joints and ligaments. We wrap their legs with green jelly, poultice, quilts, standing wraps. We add supplements to their feed to aid in their comfort and movement. If there’s any sign of soreness we use magnawaves, theroplates and equissage machines to ensure they’re comfortable and willing to do their jobs.
    These horses are bred to do this, they love their jobs. These horses could not go barrel race, show jump or do dressage just as those horses could not be pleasure horses.
    Also, this video is a 1.25 minute snippet of riding. How about all the footage you missed of people petting their horses and horses having fun doing their job? And don’t tell me you didn’t see any of that because I’m here every year and see so much joy and compassion for horses from their riders or trainers. This video shows horses being reprimanded, comparatively the same disciplinary measures used on a dog. These are large animals and with out discipline can be dangerous. Every style of riding reprimands their horses.
    I noticed you like reiners based on your profile, I find it interesting there is no big stand taken on their training methods. I personally do not have an issue but I would be sure that a horse-lover such as yourself would be distraught at horses taught to stop by using a solid fence. And if you have a problem with the gait of a pleasure horse I’m sure you’d also have an issue with the gait of reiners too.
    You state that you do not wish to be the target of drama but you are the epitome of drama. You have taken it upon yourself to post a video you know will upset a lot of people so you have instigated the drama and started this charade.
    Lastly, I believe you have to pay an entry fee to come in and watch the congress so we all thank you and appreciate your support of The All American Quarter Horse Congress.

    Reply
    • Jane Bellerby

      What a lot of sarcastic arrogance you bring to this debate! Doesn’t sound to me like you have a vested interest in the welfare of the horse or you would not be defending this kind of stupidness and cruelty. I don’t care if you are a vet, a millionaire, a judge, trainer or whatever – what you are promoting as okay for the horse is just so wrong for the horse. Any horse can do dressage, run barrels, jump etc – it is just a matter of to what degree and the degree of so called expertise in any judged discipline is so often cruelly skewed towards a person’s idea of ‘good’ that the horse suffers. Do the horse world a favour, educate yourself, practise a bit of humility and think of the horse. 🙂

      Reply
      • Annie

        Jane, if a horse is bred to do Western Pleasure but is forced to run barrls, would that be cruel? I’ll be waiting for your answer.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you Darcy.. I have been showing wp since I was 7, starting from 4-H and moving up to national and world shows. My pleasure horses are spoiled rotten and love what they do. And YES my mare now is bred to the limits with wp blood and ever since she was a baby would slow lope through the pasture with her hip naturally kicked in and a lower headset. She likes to play like any normal horse, but still goes back to her natural state.
      When she is in training we strive to get the most out of her natural talent, but know when to draw the line. Also, if the creator of this discussion actually did some research on judging criteria put out by NSBA they would know that there are positive changes happening.
      There is no reason to use words such as “disgusting” for this debate. Yes, there are some training techniques I definitely do not agree with, but let’s get a few more facts on the subject before assuming the worst. Watch that video again and look for the many horses going around naturally on a relaxed rein and try to put up an argument on those horses not being happy.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I have a 7 month old wp bred colt! He has a to die for lope and naturally low head set! He doesn’t not lope side ways down the rail!!! It makes me sick to watch this video!!! Aqha should change the rules!

  11. Anon

    I am not sure how the second video was an example of “natural” movement. The horse being rode was stiff especially in its head and neck. It was not moving naturally. Also the horse being ponied wanted to slow down. He wanted to slow his stride especially right away when they first started loping. Just because they are going faster doesn’t mean it is more natural.

    Reply
    • Mark

      Hey now, don’t be dissin’ on Duck! You would be stiff and hold your head there too if you had yearlings bumping into you.

      Reply
      • Jerry

        Or some weekend cowboy hanging in your mouth. Tell me which video is of horses that are going on a loose rein, collected and relaxed. Which video is of horses giving to the bit? Spend some team learning what broke means and we can talk. And I don’t show western pleasure. I rope and my horses are broke enough to lope collected and on a loose rein.

      • Peter

        RE: Jerry – are you serious? You want to pick a battle on what’s natural and you are a roper? Rope horses are sooo soft in their face and most of those guys ARE weekend cowboys. Whens the last time you saw a horse rope a cow? It’s not natural. What about the abuse the cow takes for you and your friend’s crappy weekend roping skills – jerking them down, breaking necks & causing other injuries. It’s sick.

  12. Kristi

    Tortured and abused? I find western pleasure very boring to watch, but I didn’t see any abuse going on in the video above. I’m not understanding what the problem is. There are a lot worse things going on in the world to focus our energy on.

    Reply
  13. Giddyupgrl

    These horses are moving so unnaturally they look lame. Clearly they are not enjoying their jobs at all. Yes, there is abuse in every discipline to some degre. I think every discipline has streets away from the roots and reason we do this. It’s become all about the show and less about the classical way of riding.

    Reply
  14. Rick Gates

    I think this video should be included in the AQHA judge training program. The spotted colt is clearly performing a natural and true lope and the lead horse seems to be enjoying his job as well. These two are both a pleasure for me to watch. The part of this issue that I find hard to comprehend is that clearly the vast majority of QH owners do not like the show video shown at the beginning of this discussion, yet the very small minority who condone this unnatural exhibition will not even consider that they might just be wrong. This same scenario is playing out in many different breeds as well. Just what is the basic breed standard of the AQHA? Is there one for the breed or is there one for each AQHA discipline? Which horse/standard does the equine public prefer. And yes, it does matter what QH owners think outside of the current WP arena. I have judged many breeds and disciplines of each since 1985.

    Reply
    • Annie

      Rick, examples have been set by Vital Signs Are Good and A Certain Vino. These 2 are the epitome of what a WP horse should move like and they both respectively deserve the titles they both have won. Now, with ANY sport, it’s human nature to want to be like or mimic the winners and it goes without saying, sometimes doing what it takes makes it APPEAR cruel or under punishment. The video that has caused this years strife, (it happens every year when Congress comes around) shows horses in a WARM UP pen. Some are being reminded to keep their hineys up under them, while the big sorrel had a horse come very close to his face, he lost focus and the rider regained his focus. IF and I will repeat, IF those complaining knew what it takes to TRAIN a WP horse, they first would understand what was happening in the warm up pen but it seriously is no different then most other disciplines. It’s called muscle memory and it goes without saying, it takes months to get a horse to the point of being able to correctly go down the rail straight and correct. OR go through a Training Level Dressage test bending and giving. Or jump an oxer without refusal. This is what “I” personally don’t understand. Did these people even go and watch the classes these horses showed in later? Were they videoed while being shown and did they exhibited the same kind of gait? I bet not. I know from my 35+ years of experience, that if you want a horse to perform at a high level in the pen, you must train even higher while in training mode. Is the current movement “ideal”? It all depends who you talk to BUT it isn’t up to those on the sidelines that NEVER show WP to drag this down to a level that demeans the various breeds, trainers, owners and such that put their heart and soul into it every weekend, day or when they find time to ride and train. NOTHING against you, just replying to your comment. 🙂

      Reply
      • Rick Gates

        Annie, is there a video of the two horses you mentioned available to the public? It would answer some questions I think. If these horses are the breed standard for WP then I would assume that they are being used in the judge training process. Judges are bound by oath to judge according to the rules and standards. I would really like to see the judges’ standard video. I think it would answer some questions and clear some issues.

      • Rick Gates

        I watched the amateur video from the stands of Vino. I would still like to see the Breed Standard video by which judges are trained. If the vast majority of QH owners do not agree with the Breed Standard video, then it would be up to AQHA management to address the concerns.

    • Anonymous

      There is a WP standard available. It’s either through aqha or nsba, I cannot remember, but it’s about ten dollars and they send you a cd. YouTube and Google are very good sources to find many video on a certain veno, vs codered, vs flatline, and vital signs are good. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  15. Anne

    Let them put their heads up! Real riders ride real horses not beaten dogs! The rules need to change to allow the head and neck to be ABOVE the withers like they naturally have when they lope. Why on earth do they insist the head and neck be at or below the withers? It is this fanaticism about where the head and neck are that is making for this stupid, cruel and sick form of riding.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      WP horses are bred that way. Their necks come out of their withers. It is uncomfortable for them to ride around with their heads in the air like giraffes!

      Reply
      • Joanne

        Oh my – let’s understand that all horses heads are at the beginning of their spine that follows down the neck to the withers and then back to tail. Knee bone connected to the leg bone! Put any one of them in a pasture and let them go — you will not see them travel with their heads in the dirt – not even at a walk. Grazing is a natural head-low position for all horses, and they move slowly in the process, but once they get in forward motion, that head comes up. Yes all horses of all breeds. No – have never seen a horse move like a giraffe — that is essentially the same head to tail spinal connection, but in a completely different proportion and balance.

      • Levi

        I actually have a WP bred appy that I work with everyday when he is relaxing in his stall his pole is level with his withers, when he’s walking same thing when he’s jogging again same thing, and when he is in the pasture again pole is level with the withers and he even kicks his hip out a little. Most WP horses are bred for tempermant as well that’s why most of them look lethargic and have resting “derp” face. And with relaxation comes a lower headset and a more relaxed position. The head position and relaxed reins show the judges total acceptance of the bit and their job. And for some reason judges like horses that look half asleep as well.

    • Anonymous

      Sure theor heads would be up with a hollowed back. However ride with your horses back rounded ( collected) and the head and neck go level or slightly below. Try riding collected and tell me where your horses head and neck go. Js

      Reply
  16. Rick Gates

    The solution is for judges to return to placing natural traveling horses of unnatural. Reaching that goal is not as simple as an overnight change. It will take nothing short of a press release to initiate the change immediately but in reality it will take several years, maybe, to correct this in all show pens.

    Reply
  17. Bob Setliff

    The horses in the first video look like cripples! This is not in any way “natural” for a horse! It looks like they have been through a similar regimen as “soreing” in the Tennessee Walkers!

    Reply
  18. Carol

    I have a question – Is it illegal to film someone and post without their permission?
    Also did the person who filmed and posted this, go inside and watch any of the western pleasure classes after horses were warmed up??

    Reply
    • Wendy

      does make any difference in the show rink….those horses were not doing a 3 beat gait. They were 4 beating. Working off the front end of the horse. They should be driving from the back with the power is.

      Reply
    • Annie

      I wondered the same thing. The warm up pen is totally different then what is seen in the show pen. You sometimes do need to over do it outside, just so the horse is reminded to stay in frame when showing. It’s called, muscle memory. Heads and necks will naturally come up in the show pen but those videos aren’t being shown for some odd reason.

      Reply
  19. KMG

    In terms of ugly, this is right up there with Big Lick. There are not enough adjectives to describe how loathsome this is.

    Reply
  20. Kayla

    You totally bash those involved in the QH industry, some of the most welcoming people I have ever met, and at the end ask them for a “solution.” Your approach is not going to help you in solving your “issue.” Ps most of those horses aren’t being warmed up, they are being trained; I saw only one show pad.

    Reply
  21. Wendy

    >what solution do you offer people who love riding a western pleasure bred horse?
    Have them ride the true, natural smooth flowing 3 beat lope, on loose rein.

    Reply
    • Kayla

      Some of the great western riding horses were pleasure horses first, ie A Certain Vino and Harley D Zip

      Reply
  22. Diane

    I have ridden different breeds of horses from draft horses to Paso Finos. I have always found that when a horse was forced into a position to perform the gait you want thinking it was correct—that is when you get an extremely unpleasant ride. Not only attitude wise but comfort wise. I am not here to bash WP, but I have seen the beauty of WP go down the drain through the last 10 years at least. Noses to the ground, noses close to the chest etc.. These videos now show the horses not really loping beautifully but they look like they are humping up ready to buck, looks like a very uncomfortable ride. In order to get the problem fixed–you have to get judges that are qualified to judge. I have never shown any of my horses, but have gone to many horse shows and you can tell when the judges are TRULY judging correctly or have THEIR favorites and no matter how bad they perform that day–they still give them blues. Until judges do their job correctly in any discipline the horses will keep suffering. Sad but true.

    Reply
  23. Becky

    You can’t have the wolves guarding the sheep! In other words, the judges are the trainers who propagate these extremely slow gates. I think that maybe the current roster of judges should be fired and the AQHA “train” a new crop. Then suspend them for noncompliance if this continues. This snail movement has been evolving for the past 25 yrs and it won’t change without drastic measures!

    Reply
  24. Jordan

    This is an industry problem. Until the judges quit placing the peanut pushers, they’re gonna keep pushing. I do agree these horses are bred to move slower naturally, but none of them would go around THAT slow with their hips at a 90 degree angle from the wall. They would move straight. Look at the red horse that lopes across the screen from right to left at 21 seconds. Much more natural, more of a western riding looking horse. Way nicer to watch. Still moving slow but more forward and natural looking. That’s what it should be. Still “slow” but more natural.

    Reply
  25. Tracy

    Wow, things have really changed since I last saw a QH show. That’s really ridiculous. The answer is JUDGES need to STOP rewarding this, and start DISQUALIFYING. That is not a gait. Perhaps riders have become so lacking in skill that they can’t sit to anything more than cripple-like hobble.

    Reply
  26. Taylor

    Love it that y’all are generalizing western pleasure warm up all because of one video. When I warm up, I warm up with a snaffle and(occasionally) a running martingale with TONS of scratches on the withers, praise, softness, and kind words. THAT’S why my WP horse is so willing and soft. I absolutely NEVER snatch up on my horse out of the blue. Just because one video of horses that aren’t even competitive(none of these lopes would even be considered for top five or even top 10), doesn’t mean every western pleasure warm up is like this.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous

    Yes they need to be more forwards and riders need to be taught ,so do some of the so called trainers. But let’s not jump on the tortured bandwagon.

    Reply
  28. Monica Whitmer

    anyone who thinks the yearling paint is loping in a manner similar to what the WP show horses are doing needs their eyes checked. There is NOTHING wrong with the yearling – he might be moving with one hip leading, but most horses do that UNTIL they are taught to travel straight.

    The poster asks what are people who enjoy western pleasure supposed to do? How about showing their horses in a frame similar to Ranch horse pleasure. How about training your horses to travel the way they were framed in the 1980;s before peanut rolling came into fashion- which was then followed by the slowest horse wins.

    Western pleasure existed LONG before these levels of extremism came into being. It didn’t used to be the norm to leave a horse with his head tied up to the rafters all night so that in the morning, his neck muscles were too exhausted to lift his head. We didn’t Used to inject a horses tail so the muscles were paralyzed.

    We need judges to admit this is wrong, trainers to stop doing “whatever it takes to win’ and we need the AQHA and other lead associations to require the judges to look for a Balanced horse with Natural gaits, or pretty soon WP will be targeted by ethics groups like Tennessee walking horses are.

    Reply
  29. Kandice Wright

    This looks so unnatural. I am so glad I don’t show WP anymore. I have 21 year WP horse that I would say is old school and have won many 1st place ribbons. He was even reserve grand champion in his younger years. I Just don’t understand why these Judges think this is a smooth gate. It looks painful.

    Reply
  30. Jessica

    I have worked at a barn that trained aestern pleasure horses. They constantly jerked and yanmed on the horses mouths if they raised their head even level… This is apalling to me. I have nevsr seen a horse lope naturally this way. Even the jog is unaturally slow. Yes horses jog, but not that slow.. And the head being carried so extremely low is very unatural as well… Horses will stretch their necks and backs, but they do not stay there… I have also been told by friends who have been in the industrh that horses bei g left on treadmills over night and having their heads tied very high are or were common practices. Especially with studs. Sad..

    Reply
  31. Cherry

    The first time I saw one of these horses at a local show, I was horrified and thought he had broken his leg…it looks more like a hobble or extreme lameness to me. My trainer was big a few years back but he refuses to force his horses into the pen before they are grown and doesn’t teach this lope…so he doesn’t go to very many big shows anymore. Sad.

    Reply
  32. Anonymous

    IF the second video was the perfect way a pleasure horse should go, then why was the rider pulling it back to slow it down?

    Reply
  33. Brenda

    I’m really curious as to how many of the complainers are pleasure horse owners/trainers. How many have ridden one of these trained athletes? Why are they focusing on the pleasure community primarily? All areas of competition require these creatures to do unnatural movement, hence trained to do so. Body build , mind ect. is taken into consideration as to each horses ability. I know from trainers I know, that if the program does not suite that horse, there is another area they try for that horses ability. A lot of the warm up for pleasure classes are done in prep to avoid injury, to the horse and the rider. I’ like to see comments accordingly in all areas of competition, or is it the complainers do not show pleasure horses, or do not feel they can not be competative with their horse or trainer. The quarter horse is the ultimate versatility animal. No one advocates cruelty and there are professional horsemen watching the warm up areas. There is room for everyone to do and enjoy their sport.

    Reply
    • Annie

      VERY well said. The OP has blocked me from any more comments but it was because I hit a nerve in her that she knows is true. She’s a ring side judge and trainer and is clueless about what she is looking at. She is watching a warm up pen where horses are being kept in show mode before they enter the pen. She was smart enough to not go into the show pen and video the classes, as that would totally show the difference between warming up and training vs the end result you would see in the show pen. Again, it’s that, “there is always 2 sides to every story” syndrome and she has chosen to stir the pot with only 1 side. From what I have gathered from her crazy comments over the last several days, is that she’s never ridden a WP horse but feels they are being abused. Even after multiple support from various owners and trainers stating otherwise. She also asked for drug testing and then pushed the slaughter issue. I’m sure she loves her horse she has at home (which photos show a horse with a sour look on his face from being jumped) but if I were in her shoes, I would be more open minded and get an education before spouting off about something I knew NOTHING about. She also really couldn’t believe that WP owners really do care about their horses and actually got them massages, wrapped legs, Magna waved them, etc…. She asked for vet records to prove it. UGH. And now? She’s claiming slander against her! Uh boy.

      Reply
  34. Vicki

    It only will change when the JUDGES change, they must demand a more forward movement and must make it public around the AQHA shows

    Reply
  35. Anonymous

    I am very new to Western Pleasure as I breed pleasure horses, so am learning the discipline. Though, not my preferred type of riding, there is nothing cruel or demeaning in teaching your horse to go this slow, though, my preference is to see them stride out more…but… what is cruel and demeaning is the way some of these horses are bullied into it, just the same as those bully dressage or jumping riders. Nothing wrong with the discipline just the DISCIPLINERS.

    Reply
  36. Anonymous

    This is an Animal Welfare issue and should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. The opening Horse, throwing the Head in the Air, is in fact UNSOUND and seeking relief when it can’t stand the pain any longer. Disgusting.

    This is the first time I have written on such a Forum but my sadness makes me 🙁

    John O’Leary

    Reply
  37. Elyse Evans

    There were a couple of horses moving out in a nice, natural lope, and a couple in the background of the arena at a nice jog. I take it those were not the WP horses… can we get them to enter in WP and see if the judges will use them?

    Reply
  38. Anonymous

    I took this year off from showing. I took a step back away from the drama, the I Have to be better than everyone else attitudes, the trainers who think they are above the rest of the world….
    What an eye opener!

    All I see and hear in the horse industry is negativity. Club against club. One discipline against another…..

    I didn’t realize how bad the horse industry had become until I took up quilting this year. Quilters are a happy bunch. I haven’t heard any negativity or rude criticism. If anything, quilting has helped my riding and attitude.

    I’m sure every sport has a few idiots who make the rest look bad. Some more than others. So instead of complaining about another club, discipline, rider….
    Get off your high horse and step up to be a better person and
    Show the rest of the world how awesome having a horse can be!

    Reply
  39. Anonymous

    The slower the horse goes, the smoother the ride for the rider. They roughest riding horse at a natural gate will look fabulous even with a novice rider at this Crab canter, sideways crawl down the rail. The slow got slower like some warped competition to see “how slow” they can go. Put these horses back on the rail, head level to the withers, straight travel and then it’s about the horse!

    Reply
  40. Anonymous

    Well….my western pleasure horse goes in a straight line. Why would you train a horse to go sideways like that?
    I’ve seen it at shows, mostly trainers and/or the students. It doesn’t look like the horse or rider are having fun.

    Reply
  41. Jeanine

    These horses are bred to do this, the better they are bred the more natural and slow they are!!! Why don’t we pick on the Tennessee Walker trainers that “sore” the horse’s front feet? They put these huge blocks and metals straps on their front feet and if the horse tries to lay down and they beat them to make them stand back up!!! I don’t see anyone in that video doing anything close to that!!!

    Reply
    • Pam

      You don’t see the negative training methods in this video because this is the warm-up/show ring. All the “training” – and I use that term loosely – happened long ago away from the cameras. I have seen it all with my own eyes: Heads tied either to the rafters or tied to the front legs for days, bricks attached to bits to weigh them down, harsh bits that resemble torture devices, horses longed or put on a walker til they are exhausted, and I could go on and on. The methods used to get a horse to this point are disgusting and cruel. If you can’t see that, then there’s no point in continuing to discuss it. Soring, Rollkur, steeplechase, and 2 year olds racing are just as bad if not worse, but this discussion is about WP.

      Reply
  42. Anonymous

    Ok I’m going to bring up a point maybe a lot of you have not thought about. Have you ever watched dressage at the higher levels? You see the same level of “extreme collection” that we ask of our western pleasure horses. I haven’t heard anyone complaining about them!!! Yes our horses are bred for it, no it isn’t “painful” if the horse’s health is maintained properly, yes some people don’t know when to quit, yes some trainers do a better job than others. I don’t care what discipline you are in, there are always going to be people who abuse the process, and those who don’t.

    Reply
  43. KM

    That top video isn’t even showcasing a lope, unless everyone knows something I don’t and a lope is actually a four beat gait. Those horses are so slow they have created a whole new caricature of a gait with the incorrect number of beats. Unbelievable that they would be rewarded for distorting the natural pace of the horse so extremely.

    Reply
  44. Anonymous

    How can you call that riding a horse when he’s tied down, jerked in his mouth, spurred in his sides, punished with anger…good grief…some of these people shouldn’t even be allowed on a horse until they learn how to develop mutual communication, mutual respect and mutual trust. Western pleasure??? Please…I’m sure the horse is NOT getting any pleasure from this at all!

    Reply
  45. Anonymous

    It needs to go beyond simply not placing these riders and horses… they need to be DQ’d. The sad thing is that AQHA has let this garbage into the English disciplines as well with their so called “Hunter Under Saddle” garbage. Simply taking one if these poor horses and putting English tack on them and the rider dressing up in English attire does not constitute a hunt seat mount. The shame of it is, Quarter Horses are the most versatile breed of horsemen the world… animals this willing to nm please. Any other breed of horse having this garbage done to them would’ve tossed the riders 25 yards in the opposite direction.

    Reply
  46. jan

    Aside from the obvious incompetency of some of the riders, doesn’t anyone else wonder why they are now loping them with the back end disengaged? I’ve seen it in show videos too. Ridiculous!

    Reply
  47. Anonymous

    Head “Level” with withers moving freely … NOT “Peanut rollers (Trot OR Lope- or stumbling thru a lope with nose to the ground—

    Reply
  48. Louise

    the judges are the ones pinning these classes. If they started placing the horses that were more true to their stride, then change would start happening

    Reply
  49. Anonymous

    I think that people need to lay off on the western pleasure crisis saying that this is sick. Have you seen what people do to the saddlebred horses for saddleseat. Come on now every discpline has a bad side.

    Reply
  50. Emily allison

    I show western pleasure and that’s how the horses win! She should me more gentle with the horses face I get that but she’s obviously practicing so the horse will behave in the show ring but that is exactly how the horses are supposed to move its supposed to move right and go SLOW so I have nothing wrong with that! So please stop hating on this stuff please!!

    Reply
    • Joanne

      Emily if you will do this to your horse just to WIN, you don’t know anything about horses and “how they are supposed” to move. Just going for the WIN is how de-Nerving tails, soring, chains, head tying and all kinds of abusive training happens. It ALL needs to stop, and horse owners need to get educated and STOP following what show ring fashion and judges award. GET REAL!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Wow! You are very quick to judge. Can I come video tape you, not ask any clarifying questions and then rip you apart?

    • joanne

      Absolutely — I welcome any/all feedback on anything to do with horses and riding. If you’re intent is to tear me apart, so be it. I learn something from everyone I meet and I always consider the source before accepting or rejecting input. I am not a “hater” and I (MHO) think people who default to that ridiculous “judgment” are simply not educated enough to support their opinions and use the hater-theme to elevate themselves — weird!
      Emily I do not judge you – don’t know you, but again MHO is that when WINNING is the focus, the horse often becomes a victim of fashion/s that often leads to training methods and performance that negate horse health and well being. In most cases, it is lack of knowledge and the desire to WIN that allows these folks to defend the strange, to abusive, practices that evolve.

      Reply
  51. Deb

    I will start with that there is abuse in every aspect of any discipline…. However, how our wp horses are bred and trained in the majority is not abusive. I personally do not show wp but I compete at aqha shows in HUS. I appreciate good well trained wp quarter horses. I have the pleasure to ride some good ones and even a greater pleasure caring for retired wp horses that now work in my therapeutic riding program for at risk boys. These kids have no idea how to ride and I see my fabulous retired wp horses loping around on their own words th no direction from their rider. I see them jogging and loping in the pasture with their head low. They are happy horses! Why are pleasure horses condemned for haunches in but it is ok in dressage? Is a pirouette ok and a lope not?! Is a piaffe a natural movement? I don’t think so… I love to watch dressage and I don’t find out t abussive even though it is unnatural… Just because it is not for you, why try to ruin an industry that has so many people that have a passion for their horses and would do anything to keep them healthy and sound? Haters have no place anywhere…. Call out individuals not th industry!!

    Reply
  52. Anonymous

    First of all, personally I see lots of horses moving freely and naturally in the video. Secondly, these people riding in this video did not give the person authorization to video tape them and some of the riders that were taped are minors, so can you say, “Law suit!”
    Just saying, I work with students and you have to have a video release. I am sure there was no video release. Lately I have seen lots of cases where adults were taped without permission and that is a violation of rights. People with video recorders on cell phones just don’t think.

    I frankly just watched the video because that was the area I went to ride in. Which lucky for the person who took this, I am not in it. I also show heavily and know the trainer you are referring to as well as many, many others in the video. There was a purpose for what she was doing. I am not saying I would approach the response I wanted from the horse the same way, just saying there was a purpose. I am not sure why AQHA western pleasure horses are being “attacked” when I have been in barns with many other breeds that do training procedures that in my book are inhuman. Where is their publicity?

    Lastly, if you don’t like something, there is proper way to file a complaint and get involved to make a change. Taking random video, having it go viral and glorifying something you think is a problem is a very uneducated approach. You are making judgements based off of very little data. Where is your progression of information on how this discipline has not changed? I don’t think you will find it because it has changed for the better and is still changing, but everyone knows change takes time. The truth is, there are horses that are bred and built to move this way naturally and there are ones that are not. Just as some humans are born with exceptional height and are born to play basketball and others are not.

    Reply
  53. Anonymous

    Horseaholic, who are you? What is your name? Why isn’t the author of this article listed? Why can’t I find any information on ownership of this website? What is your motivation? Seems to me your business plan is to cause drama and hits on your website so you can sell advertising? You sit there in the shadows and post things to icite hate. Shame on you!

    Reply
  54. Char

    Western pleasure should go back to where it started. These horses should look like they are pleasurable to ride at all times, including in the warm up arena. I do not find it pleasurable to watch or ride a horse that is nearly tripping on its nose. I also do not like a horse that has a “tranter” or in this case “jope” the canter or lope should have 3 beats followed by a moment of suspension. I have seen good western pleasure horses that can be collected without loosing the correctness of the gait, and not being forced to carry their head below the top line. Those are the western pleasure horses I like. I don’t understand why most western pleasure riders are “yankers” and “pullers” you cannot get true collection from the hand. It must come through the leg and be supported by the hand.

    Reply

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