5 Things People Should Stop Saying About Western Pleasure

It’s time western pleasure riders get the respect they deserve!  Every time I post something about western pleasure it sparks a debate.  Whether you love it or you hate it, these riders deserve the same respect as any other discipline!  Here are 5 things people should stop saying about western pleasure.

1) Western pleasure horses are all lame and crippled.  This is not only terribly inaccurate, it’s downright rude and offensive.  Western pleasure horses receive the same veterinary care and attention as any other performance horse.  They are closely monitored to ensure they are sound and comfortable.  Unfortunately, in every discipline, there are those that value winning over a sound and healthy horse, but they are not the majority.  The majority of exhibitors put their horses and the care of their horses first.  Just because you don’t understand the way a western pleasure horse moves doesn’t give you the right to call them all lame.  Leave the lameness diagnosis to licensed veterinarians!

Photo Credit, Impulse Photography. Courtesy, Brandy Brown (shown).

2) Western pleasure is abusive.  How can the discipline be abusive?  The discipline is not riding the horses, people are.  Western pleasure done correctly is anything but abusive.  It creates a happy partnership between horse and rider.

3) Western pleasure is not a real sport, it is so easy.  I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see most people get on their horse with slack in the reins and flawlessly guide them around the arena with invisible cues.  I challenge all of the people who think western pleasure is easy to do this with their own horses and then they can talk about whether or not it’s easy.

4) Western pleasure horses are downhill and not collected.  The Wikipedia definition of collection states, “Collection occurs when a horse carries more weight on the hind legs than the front legs.”  Just because my horse can do this without their head arched up high in the air and without going fast, doesn’t mean they’re not collecting.  It means they are collecting in a way that’s NATURAL for their conformation.

5) Western pleasure is unnatural.  Yes, western pleasure would be unnatural if you were trying to train a 17.2 hand Hanoverian to do it!  However, it is perfectly natural for a horse that is specifically bred for the discipline to do it.  Just because it would be unnatural for your horse to do it, doesn’t mean it’s unnatural for mine.  Horses are individuals just like people.  If I expected my western pleasure horse to do the 4-foot jumpers….that would be unnatural!

I will leave you all with this video clip that highlights the 2015 AQHYA (Youth) World Champion.  You can see in the video that she’s beaming with pride in her accomplishment, her horse and the team around her.

Her horse won this world championship because she moves naturally for her conformation, she’s sound, happy, athletic, and collected!  Share this on Facebook if you love western pleasure!