Today, I saw a video shared on Facebook of a Western Pleasure class, showcasing the typical, slow, three beat lope. There were a lot of rude comments on the thread, bashing the horses and the sport of Western Pleasure.
“Those horses all look lame!”
“That is so unnatural.”
“I feel bad for the horses.”
Now, while Western Pleasure is an event I have never competed in, I can still admire a well trained horse in any discipline. Are the gaits of Western Pleasure horses exaggerated? Absolutely. But, before we start pointing fingers and being judgmental, should we not take a minute and think about our own disciplines?
Are Reining maneuvers not completely exaggerated? Our horses are showcasing that they can stop hard, turn on a dime, and guide willingly – things that originated from using horses on cattle ranches way back in the day. Now, over many years, we have developed the sport of Reining, which, much like Western Pleasure, is a completely exaggerated example of what it originally was meant to showcase.
Cutting? A discipline that also is derived from the necessities of a good cow horse on a working cattle ranch. But much like Reining and Western Pleasure (and every other discipline), has the sport not changed over the years? It is still and will continue to change and grow as we produce better athletes.
Being a competitor in any equine-related sport, how can we be so quick to bash another discipline and not admire it? It may not be our cup of tea, but someone put countless hours into training that animal to perform one specific job.
Someone took their time and passion, carefully chose a stud to compliment their mare for that foal, and had high hopes that he would be a champion one day. Someone spent their hard earned money on entry fees and a training bill, was nervous to walk in the pen, and showed their horse to the best of their ability.
We have all been there, regardless if it’s a Reining, Cutting, Western Pleasure, or Dressage arena. Our sport of choice may differ, but our passion for the horse, the thrill of the competition, and the desire to do well is the same across the board.
I KNOW the hours that go into making a finished performance horse. I KNOW the sweat and the struggles you endure. It doesn’t matter what type of saddle you throw your leg over.
So, here’s to the 14 hand cutters, the long maned Barbie doll horse reiners, the lazy lopin’ western pleasure horses, the hunters, the jumpers, the Saddlebreds, polo ponies, Thoroughbred racehorses, and everything in between! May we always admire the incredible athletes they are and remember the long hours and dedication the trainers put into making them.
#showyourhorse #equineathlete #horseworldsupport
If you have something to say about a topic in the horse industry, email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com for consideration.