Western Pleasure Critique – The Walk

This is Tori and her cute gelding Iza Hot Shot. This picture was taken at the NY State Fair in 2007, where she was showing him in Western Pleasure. You may remember this pair from the Showmanship Pivot Critique.

In a Western Pleasure Class, the horse is judged as opposed to the rider. Tori’s gelding is perfectly turned out, and I do like her choice in color for her clothing, it complements her horse well.

Even though this is not an equitation class where the rider is being judged, good equitation is always necessary to help the horse stay happy. A good Western Pleasure horse is a happy horse.

Notice the horse’s expression, he is slightly irritated. It appears Tori is asking him to move closer to the rail, and he would have preferred to stay where he was. What would help him to be more willing would be if Tori would turn out her stirrups. I’m sure she holds the proper position with her legs normally, but her show saddle appears to be a bit stiff, and it does not allow for her calves to be in contact with the horse’s sides as well as I would like.

The solution:
When the saddle is not in use, take a broomstick, turn out the stirrups, and break the fenders in to make your job easier when you are riding. If it is not a light oil saddle, you can wet the fenders before you turn them, but I would not suggest wetting the light oil because it would darken the leather. Instead you can oil the fenders with Bic4, or some other oil intended for light saddles to help condition the saddle.

Hands / Neck Reining:
As you can see, Tori is using a neck rein to move her horse closer to the rail. Of course she must use a neck rein, but I would suggest slightly bending that left elbow and lifting the horse’s shoulders to move him over. This way, when his shoulders lift, he will collect and slow his walk even further. When bending the elbow and lifting the rein hand slightly, the rider will not have to cross over the mane as much to get her horse to move away from the neck rein. The cue will be smaller and more attractive to horse and spectators.

Note to riders:
Always use a leg cue before or during the time when you are using a rein cue. This will teach the horse to eventually move off of the leg only, resulting in a virtually invisible cue.

Another controversial point I would like to make…

At any gait, before touching your horse, check out where the judge is. I call it cheating, but unless you are in a big show with multiple judges, I recommend trying to fix the horse when the judge isn’t looking. The reason for this is not to “get away with something”, but rather to teach the horse that just because you are in the show ring does not mean that he can do whatever he wants. You also don’t want to appear rude and ignore the judge, so fixing the horse when the judge is busy looking at another rider is your opportunity to be able to show your horse to the best of his ability when the judge’s eyes are on you.

Here’s to a great 2008 Show Season all, and a special thanks to Tori and Iza Hot Shot!



About Deanna Castro

Deanna Castro has been training horses and riders professionally for over 18 years. She trains riders in Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Showmanship and Trail Riding. Deanna is married to Native American Horse Trainer Fredi Castro and she is the author of "Six Weeks to a Better Horse".
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>