You know, I don't have any idea why I'm getting involved in this, but I will, mainly because I am tired of all the bashing the western pleasure is receiving. It's not perfect, but it's not akin to the devil either.. First off, for my background. I am not a world champion western pleasure trainer - I have trained my own mare to top ten and top five placings at the world show, but not in western pleasure. Nor do I specialize in western pleasure. I am more of an English girl now, riding at a USEF barn, but still showing AQHA. But, I love a GOOD western pleasure horse. I bred my old broodmare to Passing in Along, a full brother to Barpassers Image (mare has had at least 5 foals to the world show, numerous placers, and year end award winners) in hopes of getting my GOOD western pleasure horse. Had her last two foals by him, one has the mind but not the movement, the other has the movement but not the mind to do circles. I could have pushed the good minded one to be a decent local western pleasure horse - he can jog all day long, but lope was so so. But to me, the decent western pleaure horses are not pleaurable. He ended up being a better Hunter :) To me, when you see a true western pleaure horse, they are a joy to watch. Horses like vital signs are good, One hot krymsun, a certain vino. Those horses are pretty movers to me, that other horses try to imitate, but often do look crippled because they cannot physically do it. That's why I won't force an okay mover to try and do what they physicaly can't.
As for training methods, you won't be able to get specific methods. A good trainer will adjust, and have a different way of doing things for many different horses in the barn. Trainers often take lessons or clinics with other trainers to keep up their knowledge, they ask for help at shows. When one method doesn't work, they try another. I know for me, when I am working with a horse in a western pleaure style, I have numerous ways of getting the horse to slow down, and rock back over their hocks while loping. And no, it doesn't include draw reins or complete spur stop. To describe all of them in detail would take over an hour, much less to go through all the things the horses need to learn how to do to travel properly in a western pleasure class.
I will admit western pleasure is not perfect - that's part of the reason why it is not one of my main classes. If I ever have a true western pleaure horse then I would jump in feet first. I think the class could be improved, but personally, I think the HUS class in breed shows needs a ton of improvement as well to keep up with how the other english classes are improving, but that's another subject all together. However, I do not feel western pleaure deserves the generalized bashing it receives on this forum. The class has improved over recent years, but no class will ever be perfect, and there is no way to have the class run, in any format, where all horse people would be happy. Remember, ask two horse people a question and get three different answers.