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smrobs 07-01-2010 09:34 PM

How are todays WP horses trained?
Let me start this off by saying this is not a thread being started to bash the discipline. It is a serious question and I am honestly interested in the answer. My Dad trained show horses for many years but he hasn't been involved in the show world since the early to mid 90s. He trained some WP horses and I know how he did it. What I am wondering is if someone can explain, in detail, the process that a modern WP horse goes through to get that those slow and low gaits. I am curious as to how different the methods are or if trainers are now or were always using the same methods as my Dad.

Eliz 07-02-2010 02:50 PM

I have a horse in WP training at a big name trainer here in Oklahoma. Once the trainer got him to work off leg cues (direction & gaits) he worked on headset. The gaits were rather quick in the beginning, but after extensive riding with the head being reined in at all gaits, they began slowing down. The trainer told me that when the horse doesn't know how long you may keep him in a gait, he'll conserve his energy & go slow. And once they go slow with little correction, he begins to get their outline right & get them driving with their hindquarters.

mayfieldk 07-02-2010 09:31 PM

Most WP trainers train 'slow' before everything else. Even if they let the horse put it's head up for a while, most big name trainers won't let them go fast. You can't have collection without impulsion... therefore--no collection.

There are very few out there doing it right.

Cleve Wells, a huge name WP trainer, often starts his colts with a thin twisted wire snaffle.

I love the classes and the ride, but it's so hard to find good ones.

Spyder 07-02-2010 10:45 PM


Originally Posted by mayfieldk (Post 678895)
Most WP trainers train 'slow' before everything else.

I was at a barn that was training WP. Much what you said is what they did. Anytime the horse started to use impulsion and move forward the trainer jerked the rein until the impulsion is lost and the horse slowed down.I got the impression that the trainer wanted to horse to think "speed = a rein jerk".

MacabreMikolaj 07-02-2010 10:59 PM


Someone posted a video on another forum awhile back about training her youngster for WP - I was sick to my stomach watching it. She had this 2 year old, and basically she had her hands at her knees, and anytime he lifted his nose or sped up, she jerked hard on his mouth and then kicked him. She had him in a snaffle of sorts, no idea what kind, but it was just this constant "kick, yank, kick, yank, kick, yank" until the horse was like a robot.

And everyone on the forum was in disbelief that I could not understand THIS was how you train a WP horse. I actually got flamed for suggesting that what she was doing bordered on abusive (in my mind).

I certainly HOPE this is not the method actual trainers use these days. I will give the benefit of the doubt to the discipline itself and assume a bunch of idiot teenagers didn't have a clue what they were talking about.

dressagexlee 07-02-2010 11:06 PM


Originally Posted by mayfieldk (Post 678895)
Cleve Wells, a huge name WP trainer, often starts his colts with a thin twisted wire snaffle.

Among other things...
And I guess a lot of people have difficulty spelling his name correctly. It's supposed to be C-L-E-F-T B-A-L-L-S.

Anyways, I have to agree with what's been said about training slow before go. Two ladies (trainer and client) at my barn have an arabian horse that they train in western pleasure. Much of the time he's just being popped in the face if he even remotely tries to move out. The ideal that they seem to be aiming for is when he's chopping around in an LDR frame, ducking even deeper when he's asked to stop. However, I haven't seen them using any gadgets or horrid face contraptions, so at least I haven't had to pull out my draw-rein scissors or bad-bit hack saw.

Eliz 07-02-2010 11:28 PM

Hm, thats bad.
My trainer lets the horse figure out that he can "get away" with being lazy and making his gait slow. After that, they pretty much put their head down in a relaxed manner and they've sort of trained themselves.

I would say if anyone is pulling or yanking in ANY discipline, they aren't going to end up with a horse that wins nationals because he will be so sour.

mayfieldk 07-03-2010 04:52 AM

Sorry, but a little untrue about the pulling and the yanking.

Went to a university (will remained unnamed) that is HUGE in western pleasure. Run by several world-show trainers/judges. All we were taught was the spur and the 'check', which is just a nice word for 'jab him in the mouth at every stride'. Put the head down--the lower the better. After watching them bloody a few horse's sides with spurs and my colt that i was training (mouth and his sides), I packed up and drove 600 miles home.

I have been fighting to improve western pleasure/hunter under saddle ever since.

There's an article somewhere... wish I remembered where. Someone went to the Quarter Horse Congress Show (biggest AQHA show, ever, period.) and watched the warm up rings. They were appalled at the lack of harmony, lack of finesse, and blatant yanking and spurring. They had a video, too.

If that's the 'top levels', then don't even bother to give any credit to the lower levels. They're worse.

mayfieldk 07-03-2010 04:54 AM


Originally Posted by dressagexlee (Post 678971)
Among other things...
And I guess a lot of people have difficulty spelling his name correctly. It's supposed to be C-L-E-F-T B-A-L-L-S.

Haha, indeed. The worst part? He's still training horses. :(

Eliz 07-03-2010 01:26 PM

Dang, :(

But I still love WP & HUS

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