Beautiful example of a correct head set and poll level.

Photo Credit: Palomino World Show

As a rider we try everything we can to show our horse to the best of our ability but sometimes things just don't go as planned and these faults may happen at the most inopportune time. Here are just a few faults a judge will dock points from a competitors score. 


  • Excessive speed or excessive slowness at any gait
  • Being on the wrong lead
  • Breaking gait
  • Head carried too low or too high
  • Excessive nosing out or over-flexing such that the horse's nose is carried behind the vertical
  • Excessive opening of mouth
  • Stumbling
  • Quick, choppy stride
  • Being overly canted at the lope
  • Touching horse or saddle with free hand
  • Use of spurs forward of the cinch
  • If a horse appears sullen, dull, lethargic, emiciated, drawn or overly tired


Western pleasure has its lovers and its haters just as any discipline and sport does. The one thing every equestrian strives for is the connection between horse and rider the can take them anywhere. It's the hours spent practicing over and over again till you can do it in your sleep. The late nights preparing for a horse show, making lists and checking them over and over. You get to the show you have done all you can to prepare and when we all enter that ring knowing we have the best horse and are the best whether it's a local show or the world show! We all have the love of the ring and love of horses! Let's cheer each other and encourage each other even if it's a sport we don't agree with we all share the same love! #twoheartsonedream



Do's & Don't Of Western Pleasure

Western Pleasure has become a very popular event at the all around events and breed shows. Riders are drawn to the discipline because of what it offers both their horse and them as competitors. Western pleasure is all about the ability to have your horse stand out in the ring, making sure you are in the judge's eye and showing what a pleasure your horse is to ride. Everything from the transitions to the gaits themselves are judged on the quality of the movement and the responsiveness to each cue given to the horse by the rider. A judge is looking for a broke quiet horse, soft and smooth transitions and a responsive horse all while having a loose rein or light contact!

 The judge will ask for the walk, jog, and lope both directions and may even ask the riders to lengthen or extend their gates. The judge is looking for each gate to be collected and have impulsion (driven from the hind end). They also like to see symmetrical and equal lengths of stride while keeping cadence. A horse must keep their head slightly in front of the vertical line from the pole to the ground and their necks must be parallel or slightly above parallel (poll level with or slightly above the withers).

Another reason to love western pleasure is all the beautiful outfits.   Photo credit QH Journal

By: Jona Lane

The Main Ring