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Getting Your Horse Ready for Competition

horse trainingThe Western Pleasure competition is one of many Western competitions.  This particular challenge entails many horses and riders competing simultaneously in one arena.  The contestants stay along the edge of the arena.  The judges will pay close attention to the horse’s pace – which is either a walk, jog, or lope – depending on the pace that the announcer has called out at the time.  The judges will also determine whether the horse changes from one pace to the next smoothly and judge the horse’s attention and focus on the challenge.

A professional trainer can best help you and your horse prepare for a Western Pleasure competition.  You want to make sure you are training your horse properly for when he gets into the arena so that he is well prepared.  One of the most important factors the judges will notice is whether your horse is comfortable, relaxed and void of any nervousness or spookiness during the competition.

There is no particular breed that is more highly recommended than another for Western Pleasure.  All breeds can be trained to do participate excellently in the competition.

To get ready for the Western Pleasure, your horse needs to be able to keep the same gait for a while and heed your commands immediately.  Also, you need to prepare your horse to switch from one gait to another without getting confused.  Most horses lose points in Western Pleasure competitions because they cannot transition from one pace to another smoothly.

Again, the three paces/gaits needed for this competition are as follows:

  • Walk.  When your horse is asked to “walk,” he should do so energetically and not lazily.  Each step should have a rhythm and be the same distance apart.

  • Jog.  Again, the jog needs to be energetic but not overly so.  There should be no jerky movements.  The whole jog needs to flow.

  • Lope.  This is a quicker gait that should have the rhythm of three beats.  The horse should show purposeful movement while loping.

Remember that there will be plenty of other horses and riders in the arena and your horse can get lost in the crowd.  Do not let that happen because the judges will not notice you.  You and your horse both have to appear that you are enthusiastic and having a great time.

Stay away from other horses that look like they could be problematic.  When you first get in the arena, avoid those horses when choosing your spot.  Also, find a location where it appears you and your horse will have the most room away from all other competitors.

If the other horses get too close during the competition, ride close to the edge along the entire corner of the arena.  The other riders will tend to cut the corner.  This gives you the opportunity to create more space between you and the others.

Western competitions can be a lot of fun and a great way to bond with your horse.  If you are interested in training for a Western Pleasure challenge, contact a trainer today to get started.