Is this the norm in western pleasure? - Page 7

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Is this the norm in western pleasure?

This is a discussion on Is this the norm in western pleasure? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        01-09-2014, 01:45 PM
    I love it when these threads go so far off topic!!!! Time for round

    I express my opinions as just that, my opinion. I do not profess to be the end all, be all of knowledge. I do believe, show horses have ruined the quarter horse breed. Halter horse influences have made feet smaller than they should be, because " it looks good in the show" , WP has developed a down hill horse with a head/ neck set too low to be truly athletic for the qh intended, then cow work. I personally like a bit of TB tossed back in the blood lines to help correct these "show mistakes".

    As far as the training goes, higher level trainers can accomplish the goals with relatively little "forcing" or brutality. The reality is, most show horses are the product of the unskilled, backyard trainer / show rider who finds any way to get the result. Is this any of my business, NO, I really don't care about other people's horses or what they do. I can only work with my horse the way I believe I should. If she works good and stays healthy with quality care, then I keep her and enjoy her. If not, down the road she goes. I am not going to protest and hold up signs to stop shows, I just won't participate in them. Heck, the horses I like, the more "natural" ones tend to cost less
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        01-09-2014, 02:58 PM
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    Originally Posted by Cynical25    
    So from ONE experience, you've proven that ALL horses naturally want to hold their heads higher? I can't agree.
    That isn't what I said - I was just giving one example.
    My point was that not all WP horses have a naturally low head carriage
    A headset that is as low as some of these WP horses, or as 'collected' as a dressage horse should be attained through correct schooling so the horse is ridden into it and not forced into it using restraints that give pain
    A good WP should be able to work with its head in any position - a dressage horse can go in 'free walk' when asked with its head/neck really low, its not because its naturally that low but because its being cued to do it
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    Cynical25 likes this.
        01-09-2014, 03:24 PM
    I agree with jaydee. Not all WP horses have a naturally low head carriage, but forcing them to do it by ripping on their mouths is not correct - and it's not correct training for any horse. But, on the same note, WP horses who do have a naturally low head carriage should not be thought of as being abused to get that head carriage.

    Of course I never understand when people say pleasure horses are ruining quarter horses. Last time I checked the racing QH industry and the cow horse industry were alive and well. And I believe the cutting horses were usually the most downhill horses I have ever seen and ridden in my life, so I don't really think it's fair to blame that on pleasure horses alone. :/

    But then we could go on about this ad nauseam.
        01-09-2014, 04:37 PM

    I do take it personally when people make a generalization that all WP horses are forced into unatural movement and body carriage, because that assumption erroneously includes my horses and myself.

    I want to work with a horse's natural inclinations, not against them, and I specifically chose my horse because low and slow is how he naturally maintains his balance. Sure, I could cue Cash to carry his head higher (going back to the dressage horse free-walk analogy,) but forcing him to carry his head like an english horse would likely cause him distress and discomfort because that is not HIS normal.
    oh vair oh likes this.
        01-09-2014, 05:09 PM
    Originally Posted by HorseMom1025    
    It was an eye opener to me when we started showing our QH. Acey is somewhere around 98% foundation bred. She's short, stocky with thick legs. Some folks call her "cowy". When my daughter enters the ring at QH shows, Acey is a pretty dramatic contrast to the other horses. (I teasingly call them the "super models" and Acey is more "mare next door").

    My daughter quickly lost interest in Western Pleasure for many reasons. Acey's head set in not naturally low and it's a lot of work to keep it down (we have a trainer helping, but she warned us that it will never be WP low). Her jog and lope are always extended (she was used for play days and trail riding before we bought her), so we are working on slowing her down, but Kitten, my 11 year old daughter, doesn't find slow fun. She just doesn't enjoy it, we're not sure we'll ever be competitive with our horse, so, while we still work on WP and HMS sometimes, it is no longer our focus.

    We love showing, we love our short stocky mare. My daughter does really well in equitation and English on the flat. We will never be Congress or World contenders, but we're ok with that.

    We ride our mare on trails, in play days, parades, and have even herded cattle, goats, and ducks with her. LOL! Acey is everything we were promised in the QH breed. Intelligent, willing to learn, an amazing companion to our daughter. She is worth her weight in gold to us.
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    She sounds like she would be better in the ranch horse classes. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
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        01-09-2014, 05:28 PM
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    Originally Posted by 2BigReds    
    My horse also has his head up when turned out, but he also isn't collected when he's running around like an idiot or simply standing in the field. He even has it up when we're riding if he's not soft and collected. When he is, however, his more natural position is a level head on a draped rein. I can get him up into a Dressage type headset and on the bit while collected and soft as well, but I find he prefers a more western-geared headset when he's really working his body correctly because that's his breeding. It's not as low as some fancier WP or reining horses, but it's level and he does it himself when he's working and thinking. I've ridden plenty of dressage horses who are heavily bred for what they do and I find that they are more comfortable working correctly on the bit than the typical western bred mount is.

    Different breeding and conformation produces a different style of horse when working regardless of how they act in the field. Some carry themselves much the same way, but some don't. It depends a lot on the individual as well so I would have a hard time making a general observation that way for what it's worth. Just my opinion.

    Horses head is up when out in the field running around mostly because he is either posturing excitement ,or is looking far into the distance, which requires a horse to lift their head. When two horses that don't know each other approach each other you will see some high heads. If the are trtting, you may see a lovely, collected trot in self carriage. A QH. Might not have his head as high as another breed, but it will b. Lot higher than you'd see in a show ring.
    2BigReds likes this.
        01-09-2014, 06:11 PM
    Originally Posted by Fort fireman    
    She sounds like she would be better in the ranch horse classes. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
    LOL! We've actually done a little team sorting on her and Kitten had lots of fun with that. :). However, right now she's more into English riding and just does Western events (like sorting) for fun. We don't want a "one trick pony", so we're ok knowing that we will never excel in any discipline. I'm mostly focused on Kitten enjoying her horse and being able to ride well.

    When we were trying out all the various classes at the shows, we tried WP too. It just didn't work out for us. I admire the riders, trainers and horses that master their classes and make it look effortless. I love seeing rider and horse working together as a team and living what they do.

    I've actually seen Oh Vair Oh's filly at a show and she is gorgeous! It's a joy to watch her move and a joy to see them working together. :)
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        01-09-2014, 07:24 PM
    I did some research for a college paper and found that the horses heads being held that low caused damage to the horses front end. My friend grew up showing western pleasure horses. She got out fo it for a few years and recently went to watch a show. She was sick! All the horses she liked would lose. She would then pick out the gimpiest most pathetic looking horse and figured it would be the one to win. She was right 99% of the time the ENTIER show! All 15 classes. THAT is sad.
        01-09-2014, 07:34 PM
    I just have to add my two cents. I personally do not like WP in the slightest. That being said, I do see a lot of "trainers" and riders yanking in their horse's mouths pretty harshly to get their heads down, which baffles me, because logically they should raise their heads in that case to get away from the pressure, and they do start bracing. I'm not a fan of the going really slow, but I don't think it's "cruel" to ask the horse to move slower, or to keep a pace he or she is comfortable with. I have met some good WP trainers who do actually look for what dressage riders look for, just in a different way, they DO want the horse engaged in the back, they don't want the peanut rolling, but they do want a level head, not a dressage type head set, and they are concerned with the whole frame of the horse and how the horse is going, and no yanking or excessive force is used to get those results. WP is not my cup of tea, but I've seen quite a few horses that are obviously happy and relaxed doing their thing, and their owners do care very much, and aren't mean.

    I do have to agree though that the FUN seems to have gone out of a lot of shows. Young kids are getting thrown up on made school horses that win the classes no matter how the rider is doing, because the horse is such a push button point and shoot, and I've seen WP people come to local FUN shows on their $10,000 (yes someone actually was bragging about how much their horse cost), and again winning all the classes they enter, and those who are there for fun, on horses that maybe aren't the ideal, but they just want to get a taste of showing, are left feeling like the only way to win is to have an expensive horse, or a big name trainer, or something else. When I started I was glad that most people were new to riding, had horses that maybe weren't the ideal, but no one cared, it truly was just for fun, and everyone had a good time. Now quite a few of the people have big name trainers, and if certain riders show up, I've seen half the group of people already there leave, because they know that those riders are going to win, and they don't want to waste their time or money. Sad but true. I love showing, and honestly I recently showed a TB mare at an Arabian show, we entered the sport horse classes where you didn't have to be a purebred or even part bred Arabian, and I had a blast, and knowing that they were Arab judges (though they loved the TB), made it so I didn't feel quite as competitive or frustrated if I didn't win, and I could just focus on having fun, getting some feedback on my riding skills, and do a show again.
    Rideordie112 likes this.
        01-09-2014, 09:52 PM
    Why does anyone who's had a passing glance at WP feel obligated to criticize the entire discipline, while simultaneously ignoring the thoughts and experiences of those who regularly follow, participate and enjoy the sport in question? So discouraging.

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