What Western Pleasure Horses Looked Like 23 Years Ago

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding western pleasure this year. Regardless of where you stand on the issue I hope you can appreciate this special horse.

An Awesome Mister won the Quarter Horse Congress back in 1992. This is the same show where all of the controversial videos were taken.  To learn more about the controversy surrounding western pleasure visit http://thehorseaholic.com/how-western-pleasure-horses-are-warmed-up-and-why-people-are-sickened/.

An Awesome Mister is balanced. His diagonals are hitting with every stride of his even and true jog. His lope is fluid and looks fun to ride. His top line and headset are level. Best of all, he looks happy!

Do You Wish Western Pleasure Horses Had A More Forward Gait

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Do you like the way western pleasure is today or do you wish it would go back to where it was back in 1992? Is there a way to even get back to what it once was? I miss western pleasure when it looked like this.

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30 Responses

  1. Tiffany

    I came across a video of Zips Chocolate Chip at the Congress in 1988, what a HUGE difference! For the health of the horse they need to go back to this more natural way of movement!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Even 1992 version looks too slow and the video of the horse at Liberty in the field looks sore in the hocks or stifles. Probably from years of traveling in rotation instead of forward.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Hind legs and front legs should be connected through a swinging back. Not look like they could be two different horses who just happen to traveling in time with each other. WP horses CAN have air-time. Too much riding the face drops the back and puts all the pressure/weight bear on the unintended joints.

      • Anonymous

        Agree, the horse looks slightly better than those seen in “today’s” videos, but was that the starting point of going even slower? Get the horses moving properly!

      • Anonymous

        I get sick of people wanting all the disciplines to look the same as theirs, Not all horses move alike, nor are they supposed to! There is nothing wrong with this horse, if you don’t like it, don’t look at it! Go pick on the Paso Finos for a while and give it a rest!

    • Karen

      I agree the horse that is being trained today can’t get out of it’s own
      way. I looked in an old rule book the pleasure horse is being jugged on a fluid forward ground covering motion, regardless of what gait they are being ridden in. Could you imagine riding one of these beautiful animals working cattle? Watch a horse when he is free and just running around, he moves differently than when he is under saddle. We were taught to look between your horses ears. I’m an old timer if I were showing a horse today I would be so tired by the time we got around the ring even once a
      I can walk faster than some can jog. Thanks for letting me comment. Karen

      Reply
  2. Rebecca Algar

    The trainer/rider of this horse is an outstanding horseman. His horses always move correctly, in balance and with a true tempo. I might add they also always look happy in their work. The problem is, there are too few horsemen training these days, and the lack of real knowledge is what has produced the travesty of a western pleasure horse we see now.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    This horse appears lame in the rear end when in the paddock. NOT a good example for good movers or maybe IT IS a results representative of many unsound WP horses even 23 years ago.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    This is my horses’ grand sire, he’s beautiful & in no way shape or form looks lame! Compare his video to A Certain Vino & they look very similar, Vino is a multi Congress & World Champion for many years including this year. Different breeds are bred for different things, learn your facts. If you dont like it dont watch it & go do another discipline, but dont run your mouth about things you dont know or understand!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Quit being a bitch. Horses may be bred to do certain things, but a horse is a horse all the same, no matter who the goddamn sire is. The WP horses nowadays do in no way, shape or form move fluently or with grace and ease. They have choppy, short gaits that are absolutely painful to watch. No matter what breed, you cannot convince me that WP horses nowadays have a “natural and fluent” gait, some of them lope slower than my horse walks and that’s not something to be proud of.

      Reply
  5. horsey gal

    In my opinion, WP horses are trained to look as though they’ve lost their will to live. 🙁

    Reply
  6. Tom

    with both videos point I would want to get across to people is that the horse in the past year moving around resembles the same movement in the show arena.we do not want to go backwards 10 15 or 20 years agowe want to ride what we are producing todaybut when they show they need to resemble the same animalyou bought and paid a lot of money foron the lunch line or under saddle. they call for a loop not a show lope.the up and down movement and the head and neck tell me a horse is uncomfortableand is laboring to move and perform the gate call for.we have the best wishesteen raised nowadays but we make them travel completely different in the show arena.if a horse can pick you up and carry you and keep his legs moving properlyand do it at a slow pace then the point of difficulty should be acknowledged. but going slow just to be going slow and destroying the movement of the individual is not acceptable and should be severely penalized.when 92% of the publicdo not like what they see in the show arena today then we as trainers need to listen.if nothing else listen to the animal you are writing

    Reply
    • Tom

      sorry but I usually write better than thatbut for some reason I could not go back and make any corrections.so I will blame it on my phone and not myincapability of writing. see you got me again, stupid phone.

      Reply
  7. Gale Ellena

    I referenced the AQHA rule book. The first sentence states that “a good western pleasure horse has a free-flowing stride of reasonable length in keeping with his confirmation.” When is the last time we saw a horse moving like that in a western pleasure class that actually placed? It does not happen. It is up to AQHA to enforce their own rules.

    Reply
  8. Anne

    If anyone here doesn’t like what is being shown in WP, then give the judges something else to look at and place. But, don’t be surprised when your high headed, uncollected horse doesn’t get pinned. WP is all about staying collected and in frame, while allowing the top line to stay level and the shoulders to move free and all with a deep hick. If you don’t understand any of this, it’s time to get educated and stop assuming that what you are looking at is “unnatural”. And last but not least, the attitude in these horses is not from being beat down or subjected to cruelty. These QH have been bred for their quiet minds, which in turn makes them not crazy or flighty like some other breeds. Please. I beg you. Go hang with a top WP trainer and you will see what I am talking about.

    Reply
  9. Kim Hice

    Everybody is complaining about how western pleasure horses move.. Quit blaming the trainers and place the blame where it should be, on the judges! It doesn’t do any good to have a natural forward motion gait if the judge won’t use it in the show pen. Trainers have to train to suit the judges if they want to win.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I’ve been saying the very same thing. Horses that are being made to move sideways (crabbing) and claims to being made to move in frame and all other things that were said is a bunch of malarkey. I’ve hung with top trainers and watched them collect and collect until it is so over-rated, it’s not funny. My own mare is trained to move this way (I bought her like that) and now her tendons are a problem. I can’t believe I’m actually reading comments from people who think it’s ok for a horse to move this way. But until the judges get on board and judge by the new standards that AQHA implemented, they aren’t going to change. While An Awesome Mister is not moving in a manner that resemblances the horses of today, I feel that his movement and the way he was trained was a prime example that he was on the verge. His jog didn’t even look comfortable, he was moving a bit stiff legged for my tastes. I like WP just fine and I ride WP. But I won’t fight with my mare who doesn’t want to move like that even though she’s trained (she’s Zips Choc Chip bred top and bottom) because I want to be able to ride her comfortably and she’s been doing ok in the show ring so I’m not complaining. We’ll never show at National levels and that’s sad for us because I won’t be in agreement.

      Reply
  10. If you don't like WP don't watch

    Those people who post comments hating WP is because they are so obviously “English” disciplines. Oh I know, let’s bring dressage back to the way it was. Dressage 85 years ago. I had no idea Dressage used to be so forward moving without all of those un-natural movements like canter pirouettes and piaffes. But alas, those poor horses must be in so much pain with their heads and necks cranked like that. Doing all those UN NATURAL movements with their heads cranked so bad they get spinal injuries. Something must be done for the benefit of the horse. They look like they have lost the will to live. Oh yah! Take that right back at you WP Haters. AND I can do this for each and every discipline all day long….Keep bashing WP. Do we need to take your discipline back to the way IT WAS? Yah, didn’t think so. Oh and just to educate you uneducated people, a horse must have forward motion to drive from behind and move that slow. Duhhhh https://youtu.be/cDgxcysHv68

    Reply
    • Amelie

      I totally agree with you. It is normal for disciplines to evoluate with time. Just look at reining, top horses of the time would not even place in today’s amateur classes.

      Reply
  11. mercy

    I liked the way WP was done 40 years ago – judges would ask for extended trot and hand gallop, can’t imagine any of today’s horses doing that. Prefer to see a horse with head above withers, so that they have a clue where they are going

    Reply
  12. No name

    Now that was beautiful! What we have going on now makes me hurt to watch….for the sake of all these beautiful horses lets go back to the natural gait.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I do not think speed is the issue. a judge should judging rytham more then speed. If you can slow your horse down like the top pleasure horses in the country and still have rytham then do so.if you can’t then show your horse at the slowest pace you can or show it in another class like horsemanship western riding ext….

    Reply

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