Friday, February 1, 2013

Open show Western Pleasure

Have a Gypsy Vanner you want to show in a hunter class?  What about that braided Thoroughbred you'd like to show Western?  Or how do you explain the molded on halter under your arena trail horse's bridle?

Ask these questions to any performance shower, and without exception, the answer will include the words "open show."  Open shows are the model horse performance shower's get out of jail free card.  Almost any scenario, no matter how unlikely, can be explained by those two little words.

And it's true, open shows do in fact feature looser rules and greater entrant variety than national level breed association or USEF shows.  Today's post looks at the Western Pleasure classes held at the 2013 National Western Stock Show's Open Show.  For comparison, please refer to my earlier post on AQHA Western Pleasure

By definition, there are no breed restrictions at an open show.  However, the vast majority of the horses showing in the Western Pleasure classes at this year's NWSS Open Show were stock horses.
Quarter Horses... 
and Paints were by far the most common,  
but there were also a couple Appaloosas,
a few Arabians,
and other light types. 
Additionally, there were a small number of generic backyard type horses that defied easy classification.  
No matter what type of show, all Western Pleasure classes follow a similar format.  The horses compete in a group, on the rail at three gaits--the walk,
the jog, 
and the lope. 
Horses may also be asked to halt... 
and back... 
and move out at an extended jog. 
Although many of the horses at this show had level...
and above level head sets...
most of the winning horses moved out in a lower frame like this... 
and this. 
Tack rules tend to be fairly lenient at open shows.  It's not unusual to see horses competing in bosals or snaffles regardless of age, and I've been to shows (not this one) where protective boots were allowed in all classes. 
Although most of the horses competing in this division were dressed in silver laden, light oil Western Pleasure tack, all types of Western tack were represented including work type bridles...
and barrel saddles!
One of my favorite entrants of the day was this chap-less boy who rode his relatively high headed horse in older style dark oil tack.  Despite the decidedly un-trendy turnout, he and his horse performed very well and placed second in a large youth class. 
Unfortunately, that was about as diverse as it got in the top placings.  None of the light breed entries I saw placed well, and most of the winners slow moving, low headed stock horses.  This may have been an open show, but it was judged like a Quarter Horse show.  That was kind of disappointing.  I was really hoping to see a silver dapple tovero with sabino roaning Morgan/Clydesdale/Chincoteague cross win a ribbon in Western Pleasure!


  1. Hah, I'd like to see that horse you just described in person!

    The "diverse" horse also had a "diverse" rider, I noticed. Good for him. And the horse is lovely, so they deserved whatever they won.

    I feel bad for the badly underweight light chestnut/dun that girl is riding. He needs some groceries badly, poor thing.

    That is a very charitable description of the white "backyard" horse! Glad somebody loves him, but it sure ain't for his looks.

  2. I'm certain there is a model horse that looks *exactly* like that somewhere, and its owner has probably shown it in Western Pleasure!

    I really liked that boy on the chestnut horse. His equitation wasn't showring perfect, but he handled the horse very well and they made a nice team. I was glad to see the judge reward that effort.

    Not sure the dun was so underweight as he was a long skinny type. Honestly, I bet he's about the same body score as Rev, and Rev is very definitely healthy. Personally I think they'd both look prettier with more fat on them, but not sure that would actually be better for either horse.

    And you know I thought that little white horse was cute!!! He reminded me of a couple similar little white backyard horses from my past, one of which was literally kept in a backyard! I hope his owner had a fun day with him despite their low placings!