Judges Reward Forward Motion In Western Pleasure

At a horse show this past weekend, an exhibitor decided to ride her horse more forward in the pleasure class and the judges rewarded her for it! Brooke Dixon wrote on Facebook, “Decided to show my Ava girl more forward in the western pleasure today and I had a blast. She is my once in a lifetime horse and I have never had so much fun showing in a western pleasure class. Thank you to the judges for rewarding my forward motion 1,1,1,2,4 junior western pleasure. Jacksonville, Florida.”

Is this a lope you'd like to see rewarded in western pleasure?

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Regardless of how you feel about western pleasure, I think we can all agree that forward motion is beautiful! Share this on Facebook if you agree!

39 Responses

      • Kim Hice

        So you ride your horse behind the vertical with a hollow back.. so sorry..

    • Kim Hice

      I keep waiting for the Arabians to actually be on or in front of the vertical.. instead of behind it with hollow backs….

      Reply
    • Tena

      Arabs are not Quarter Horses and should not move like QH’s as QH’s should not move like Arabs. Get it?

      Reply
  1. gg

    Left rein was better than the right. To me, still too slow. At least you had a 3 beat gate(barely). Pick it up a bit. The riders look stiffer than the horses. The guy along the rail she passed looked horrible. I mean, do they really pin a horse that is hobbling along at a 4 beat gate. The horse looked lame.

    Reply
    • Rachael

      I don’t see the four beat lope. Not at all. I see three clear beats on all the western pleasure horses.

      Reply
  2. Nicole Bean

    Still need more forward but kudos to her for saying to hell with the ridiculous current standard. Need more like her.

    Reply
  3. Anne

    To me, what’s sad is one horse moving sort of forward (and just barely at that…) is worth a headline.. with an exclamation! No discipline is perfect, but come on.. that still looks like a bunch of stiff riders on lame horses..

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Looking better..if they can just get rid of the bobbing head..it would look effortless.

    Reply
    • Liz Morgan

      The horse has to bob it’s head at the canter. It is how it balances. Biomechanically, a canter without a head bobbing to counter balance the hind end would mean the horses back was not moving it’s back at all, just it’s legs. This would put so much strain on the horses joints and back as to be crippling after a while.

      Reply
  5. Sandee

    Looked fantastic! This horse is great at any speed. This is probably just what she looks like softly moping around the pasture. Her gait was fluid at the jog and lope. Ears were forward, neck level, no head bob. (I mean all necks move a little even race horses.) this horse was balanced and fully driving underneath and was not using its neck for balance. Those saying its too slow should stick to barrel racing I guess because anything faster wouldn’t be a pleasure for me. I showed Arabs all through my youth and although the movement was different they were still rewarded for slow and cadenced. By the way nothing natural about their headsets. This horse is bred to move this way. There are ranch rail and ranch riding classes for the stock horses bred to move quicker. The key is showing a horse that can do it naturally instead of forcing one that can’t, to do it mechanically.

    Reply
  6. Pam

    This horse had a nice jog. It got a bit flat to the left; better to the right. The pace was OK (somewhat irrelevant) but needed to be framed up to the left.

    Reply
  7. Peggy

    It still looks like the horse is lame. I cannot stand to watch theses classes. The horses look like they are crippled ☹️

    Reply
  8. Horsemomma

    still looks like all the horses are drugged out of their minds! Why must they constantly look down on the ground? Why do people think that extremely snail lope is nice to look at? Looks like the horse is crippled or is hurt. The girl looked better than the other couple of riders they showed in the background! The one guy looked like he was a rag doll or he passed out! That slow walk just looks ridiculous. There is nothing, absolutely nothing NORMAL about how those horses are forced to move! They all look like they are riding ancient horses!

    Reply
  9. Josie

    they look lame and in no way moving as a horse would naturally move. if it is contrived motion they want, then this is good. I personally like to see a horse be a horse with a natural head set and moving forward with purpose. If these horses were not in sand, and variant to the ground level would allow them to trip and fall. Pick those feet up and MOVE! yehaaaa!

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    It’s a move in the right direction. Hopefully it means most judges want to place the horse that has more movement. I don’t know anyone can think riding a horse so it takes 2 hours to ride across a field would be a pleasure. To me, and I suspect to most people with some common sense, a pleasure is a horse that covers ground while making it look smooth and effortless.

    Reply
    • Kate Harms

      I agree. A real pleasure horse walks about 4 miles an hour, does a jog you can ride all day and lopes relaxed: joyful for horse and rider.

      Reply
  11. Mal

    I liked the horse on the rial behind it more, but it was ok. Funny how all the negative comments where from people the don’t show pleasure horses.

    Reply
    • Barbe Bartlett

      I show pleasure horses and have for decades. I am VERY pleased to see someone taking a stand for more natural movement in WP. Tired of seeing movement like broken rocking horses when they can’t round up their spine and push off their engine and end up balancing themselves by bobbing their heads up and down. This is a step in the right direction and the new hierarchy of AQHA placement rules agrees.

      Reply
  12. Kay

    In the last 70s early 80s when I was showing western pleasure at the quarter horse shows, the horse was shown at a natural gate with a level head set from the withers. Your reins were held with a slight loop in them and your hand never moved from in front of the saddle horn even when you asked your horse to back up. Who in their right minds stops and backs any horse by pulling the reins over their heads. And this is to be rewarded in the show ring? No. There was a slightly slower pace than ranch riding but enough to make a difference between the classes and to show the versatility of the quarter horse. Each gate was very recognizable unlike it is today. THE INDUSTRY HAS FAILED THIS BEAUTIFUL BREED by rewarding this UN-NATURAL type of movement. Whatever Judge it was that first saw this and rewarded it started this mess. Others had to copy to compete to place in the show ring and there you have it. I refuse to support the AQHA & APHA since this first began. The PEANUT PUSHING head set and CRIPPLE LOPE, a trot and walk where the hooves drag the ground is not what the quarter horse was bred for. SHAME ON YOU ALL. Poor horses that have to move in way that is not natural. Almost if not as bad as the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

    Reply
  13. Lisa St. Marie

    Although I don’t appreciate Western Pleasure as it is currently performed, I give this rider kudos for having the guts to dare to step it up a bit and go against what has been a downward spiral of lower and slower for years. I also give the judges a tip of my hat for awarding top placings to this team. THAT is what it is going to take to change this industry. Judges who will dare to pin forward rides and riders who will dare to push for the more natural, flowing forward gaits that these horses deserve to show.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Every horse moves different. You guys keep trying to force and clone nature. I will develop unique partnerships. To me this is all a neurosis.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    What the hell is that ?
    All those horses should be pulled for being lame. That looks like ass.

    Reply
  16. Pamela Hemmes

    Still a little too slow…much prettier than the choppy slow lope, but I’d still like it too be more natural. Then, you still have to consider the horses that are naturally slow and pretty. Judging is complicated if done well!

    Reply
  17. MEL W

    My horses walk is faster than their lope. If they were cowboys on the prairie it would take ages to go anywhere!

    Reply
    • Wallaby

      True that! We moved at a fast walk or a trot when making a circle. Circle = moving around sections of ground, NOT in an arena.

      Reply
  18. Diane

    Brooke, Good for you for daring to be different! Still too slow for my taste, but at least your horse was moving and didn’t look head-bobbing lame! Every discipline has it’s issues, be it WP, dressage, jumping, whatever. I’m all for letting the horse move as a natural horse should! Now, if we could only eradicate the Big Lick!!

    Reply
  19. Sandra

    Still too slow to me. Not natural and the horse looks way uncomfortable. I don’t understand why they don’t show them at a natural gait. The horse has to be trained to do this. So sad for the horses.

    Reply
  20. Becky Robinson

    This is just my opinion..but there is nothing attractive about how these horses move. I’m old-school quarter horse fan, and the lope looks like the feet are sore and the horses look like they hate life. When did this change?

    Reply
  21. Yeah Right

    Now quick…!!! How many of you writing comments about how a horse should like have ever shown in a Western Pleasure class in the AQHA and finished in the top 5?!?

    Reply
  22. Wallaby

    A horse does not move this way in the real world. This forced slow gait is not natural and I have never understood how disconnected the show world is from how a horse moves naturally.

    Reply

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