An Introduction to Western Classes in the UK.
With links on tack fitting and societies.
(This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared in Arabian Link

By Chris James.

For those who need help with tacking up with a western saddle the following web-site gives clear instructions and photos.

The British Horse Society link below gives information about the different western associations in the UK many of which have interesting links as to clothing and western tack shops, who are always happy to give advice.

If however, you would like to try western riding for the first time in this country, why not visit below.

There has been a lot of spectator interest for these classes at Malvern and as an increasing number of shows are including them in their schedules, maybe this is the year for you to make a start.

All of this information and details of shows and clinics throughout the country can be found at the Western Equestrian Society website from which this was taken.

In this class it is the handler that is being judged. Conformation of the horse is not taken into account although grooming, condition and turnout is. The majority of the points are gained from leading the horse, posing the horse for inspection, and the general manner in which the competitor presents their charge for inspection.

This class requires horse and rider to negotiate a series of obstacles placed on the arena surface. The horse is marked on its attitude on approaching and dealing with each element of the course. Obstacles include a gate, walking, jogging or loping over poles and backing between poles or around cones. Other obstacles can be four poles forming a square of between 5 and 6ft in which the horse must turn 360 degrees, sidepassing over, in front of, or between poles in both directions, and carrying an object from one point to another.

Riders are judged on seat, hands, ability to control and show the horse. Results as shown by the performance of the horse are not to be considered more important than the method used by the rider.

A good pleasure horse has a flowing stride of a reasonable length in keeping with his conformation. He should cover a reasonable amount of ground with little effort. He should be shown on a reasonably loose rein, but still have light contact and control. He should be responsive, yet smooth, in transitions when called for. Maximum credit should be given to the flowing, balanced and willing horse which gives the appearance of being fit and a pleasure to ride. This class will be judged on the performance, condition and conformation of the horse, however, a minimum of 20 percent of the judging should be based on condition and conformation. Entries will be penalized for excessive speeding or being on wrong leads.

In an approved reining class, any one of the approved American National Reining Horse Association reining patterns may be used. One of these patterns is to be selected by the judge of the class and used by all contestants in the class. Each contestant will individually perform the required pattern – containing spins, stops, roll backs, circles, flying changes and a backup. To rein a horse is not only to guide him, but to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely – any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control. All deviations from the exact written pattern must be considered a lack of, or temporary loss of control and therefore faulted according to the severity of deviation. Credit will be given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness, and authority in performing the various manoeuvres while using controlled speed.

Western Riding:
Competitors are required to ride one of the three patterns set out in the Western Equestrian Society rule book. The class is designed to show the calm, easy paces of the horse and its ability to be correctly balanced at all times. Western riding is neither a stunt nor a race, but it should be performed with reasonable speed. The horse will be judged on quality of gaits, changes of leads, response to the rider, manners, disposition, and intelligence. Credit shall be given for the emphasis placed on smoothness, even cadence of gaits (i.e. starting and finishing the pattern with the same cadence), and the horse’s ability to change leads precisely and easily at the rear and the front at the centre point between markers. The horse should have a relaxed head carriage showing response to the rider’s hands, with a moderate flexion at the poll.


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