casual observer, Western Pleasure and Western Equitation
classes look the same. In both, riders in Western attire
work each way in the arena at a walk, jog and lope. The
difference is in the way the class is judged, and that means
that competitors must understand what is being judged and
In a Pleasure
class, the horse is the focus of the judging. The judge
is assessing quality of movement and behavior as the horse
performs. The Pleasure horse should have smooth, pleasant-to-ride
gaits, a quiet way of going and be pretty to look at. He
should preform a 4 beat walk, 2 beat jog and 3 beat lope.
He should move easily from one gait to the other on light
cues, and in general appear to be a "pleasure"
to ride. The rider is very important, as no horse will work
properly if his rider isn't contributing, but the rider
is not specifically being judged in the class.
is the skill of riding a horse, and in Equitation and Horsemanship
classes it is the rider's performance that is being scored.
While it certainly helps the Equitation rider to have a
smooth, well behaved horse, it is how the riders sits and
handles the horse that earns points. Good Equitation includes
strong, effective legs and quiet hands, with correct balance
on the horse being most important. The rider should be sitting
centered, with legs underneath them as opposed to pushed
forward or too far back, and head and eyes up. In more advanced
Horsemanship classes, the riders is judged while performing
more complex manuvers such as figure 8s or spins. It takes
a great deal of practice to develop championship quality
between Pleasure and Equitation demand a different training
focus for each. Many horses and riders do both, but often
it is specilized. All show classes require riding skill,
but the exacting precision of Equitation competition is
not enjoyed by everyone. For riders who are just starting
out, some Equitation training is vital -- it makes us more
effective riders no matter what sort of riding we do --
but deciding what classes are the most suited to our own
personal style, and our own horse, helps make showing fun.
Doris Eraldi of Eraldi Training in Potter Valley specializes
in Pleasure horses and Equitation riders. She can be contacted
at 707-743-1337, or by e-mail email@example.com.
Read Doris' previous article