Friday, August 13, 2010

Western...pleasures?

If I had to pick an industry that irked me the most, it just might have to be the WP industry. Why? Mostly because I have to see it most days I ride at the barn I do. It is the one industry where all its competitive riders are training and riding their horses poorly. I might not agree with most dressage riders' habits (particularly with world-class examples such as Helgstrand and Anky to 'show us the way'), however at least there are still some dressage riders doing it right and winning. I can't for he life of me imagine an actually correct-moving WP horse winning its class however!



Trojan Mouse recently commented on this video and she is absolutely correct. You know what I find most amusing? That the comments were disabled to this video. Oh, and the fact that the least-incorrect-moving horses were used to slow-mo demo 'correct gaits'. I was silently (well, relatively...some laughter may or may not have been stifled) watching the above AQHA video and a co-worker happened to look over my shoulder. "What's wrong?" he asked. Bewildered, I looked over at him. His eyes were locked on the video on my laptop, brow furrowed in confusion. I couldn't help it. I laughed my ass off. Hard. Even someone with absolutely no knowledge of horses could tell these horses were moving poorly!!! He thought something was wrong with the horses!!

Tips for the WP industry: in the trot, the legs should be moving in diagonal pairs. Two beats. The canter should be THREE BEATS. Yes! Three! I know, shocking, right!! Pause the video during the trot and canter demonstrations and you will see what I mean - diagonal pairs that are not moving together, that are not parallel to one another.

I like how they say the horse is pushing off from behind and is moving off the hind end. I almost snorted tea on my keyboard. Is that why it looks like it is loping down a hill?? Ah! I see now!! I won't even get into the obviously fake tails. And that walk, in the clinic?! I find it highly amusing the clinician has to ask the one guy to move his horse into a more forward walk...and I can't even tell at first which horse he is referring to! At first I thought it was the first horse the video was trained on at that moment (the dark horse with the two socks), but then it moves to something moving worse! As if that were possible!! Natural rhythm and cadence? Where?? The horses all look so tense and robotic - their walks are far from the free-flowing and loose walks I want to see in my working cow or reining horses. The clinicians are right, WP should be the foundation to reining, etc. But it isn't. I like Mr. Tips: "Many times, when a horse is left alone, and let walk, they're gonna have better expression." Uh, yeah. Because you haven't messed with him and screwed with his poor head.

I am tired of seeing these horses yanked, cranked, and spurred into a frame that is not only uncomfortable, but detrimental to his well-being and incorrect. I am tired of seeing our kids taught to train and treat their horses as such. Learn to ride, and learn to train, WP industry!!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on this matter. Most winning western pleasure horses just look wrong when they move. Heck, if I ever saw my horse loping like that, the first thing that would go through my mind is 'Is she lame?' It's almost painful to watch those horses. WP definately needs to change it's rules and reward some natural looking horses for once.

Anonymous said...

You're so right! I watched the video and thought, what crap these trainers and judges are putting out there. If you look closely when Mr. Tips says the cues should be non-existent, you can see the rider spur-stop the horse. So much for non-existent cues. It's an atrocity what the AQHA has turned into.
I had old-school, foundation QH with pages of points and none of them looked like this-THANK GOD.

horsemom said...

Yes!! I still remember commenting on the first "real" WP horse at a barn that I boarded my two horses. "That horse is lame." I told another boarded, also a WP rider. She came unglued at me, "that's how they move, they are suppose to look like that!" Yikes, I thought, note to self to keep my mouth shut. I guess she was right, though. The horse sold for $20,000 a week later.