Western Pleasure is a horse show competition in which horses are evaluated for their manners and composure. The objective of the sport is to select a horse that is most comfortable, smooth, and is a pleasure to ride.
Though any breed can be exhibited in competitions, the highest level competitions restrict it to a single breed. But at lower level competitions, multiple breeds are allowed to compete against one another. Horse conformation and temperament are critical in selecting a breed of horse. Calm and quiet breeds that have soft gaits and strong muscles to sustain slow controlled movements have proved to be the most competitive.
In competitions, all the competitors ride at the same time, along the outer side of the track. The contestants are commanded by the event's judge to perform various tasks like, walking, jogging, loping in both directions, and alternately switch between standing quietly and moving. In some competitions, contestants will be required to perform extended gaits and hand gallops.
Competitors are judged based on, proper behavior, quality of movement, form in motion, and composure. More weightage is placed on horses that are balanced and willing, and appear fit and a pleasure to ride. Excessive speed or slowness, breaking gait, or incorrect head position are all considered as infractions and result in penalties.
- Dressage - riders and horses perform from memory a series of predetermined events.
- Reining — equestrian riders guide their horses through a precise pattern of spins, circles and stops.
- Pleasure Driving — a horse and carriage sport judged on a horse's manners, performance, quality and conformation.
- More Equestrian Sports
- Complete list of sports
- The Encyclopedia of Sports