Western pleasure - is there cause for concern or is it all a fuss about nothing?
It starts with a guy recording a Western Pleasure class at Congress on his phone; he uploads it to Facebook. Before long, the footage is being shared worldwide. Why? Because the western pleasure class, it seems, is scrutinised more than any other western riding discipline.
Having followed the social media flurry of comments in 2017, we decided to ask Western Horse UK readers what they thought.
The results are certainly interesting but first let's be clear this isn't the most scientific study, 70 respondents are not representative of the feelings of the whole western community in the UK. There is likely to be some bias, as those most passionate about a subject are more likely to take the time to respond to a survey.
There are many saddles and saddle makers out there. I would like to explain how and why I make saddles, the way I do. I have ridden horses since I was 12 (I am now 36). I understand that every rider is different; has a different shape to their body, with his/her own style of riding, preferred riding position, meaning that some require a narrower seat or a wider one. For different riding styles, some people like a flat seat, others like a deeper pocket and higher front rise. Some prefer higher cantle, some others do not. When I make a custom saddle, I always ask as many questions as I can, to find out my client’s riding style and requirements to make sure that the saddle will be comfortable and functional for the purpose of riding. My clients can choose the horn size, seat length and shape, cantle size and of course, the type of the saddle they are looking for (wade, reining, roping, cutting, etc.).
Debbie Cocklin explains the craftsmanship of leatherwork.
Items made from leather have been found to date back to prehistoric times, when leather hides leftover from animals that had been hunted for food, were used as clothing and to form shelter against harsh conditions.
Over time people learnt that drying out leather prevented it from rotting and the early days of tanning were started, a process that changes the structure of the cells.
Various methods were tried and tested over the years to preserve leather including smoking it and even using urine collected from the locals!
Give your western pleasure horse a leg to stand on, says Tom Chown.
In today’s western pleasure, it is a sad fact that many horses are trained and shown with little regard for natural movement. They are forced to move uncomfortably causing them to appear laboured or lame. While we do have many great horse trainers that are doing an excellent job, and some amazing horses that look comfortable and happy doing theirs, there are many more that don’t.
The only way any positive change can come is through knowledge, and I want to share with you my ideas of good, natural movement.
Try to put a silhouette of a great horse moving around in the front your mind. Compare this to the ones that you see in the show pen today. That can be a problem if you have never seen a great horse move; you have no frame of reference, nothing to compare the ‘bad’ ones too. So the bad ones end up looking good, especially after they have placed or even won the class!
AQHA Professional Horsewoman Robin Gollehon gives the low down on selecting a western pleasure prospect.
The modern western pleasure horse must be balanced, attractive and very athletic looking. A steeper slope to his shoulder will make him less ground covering and will allow his neck to come out of his body leveller. A strong top line with withers higher than the hip will give him more balance when in motion. The angle of his shoulder will also help him to swing his legs from the top line, rather than bending at the knee, and the knee should be low to the ground.