British Equine Collectors' Forum

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Western Pleasure

What is 'Western Pleasure'? - A Basic Guide to the Class & Tack Required.

Brief Description of the Class

Western Pleasure (also known as Western Ridden) is a riding class where the horse is judged on performance and manners. The gaits performed are different from the English equivalent and are as follows

  • Walk ( a relaxed 4 beat walk)
  • Jog (a slow relaxed trot)
  • Lope (a slow relaxed canter).

Gaited breeds (like Tennessee Walking Horse, Saddlebred etc) perform their unique gait instead of the jog. These are performed on a reasonably loose rein in both directions and are judged on consistency of gaits, obedience and conformation. The horses head is generally carried quite low but not over bent although this does vary slightly depending on the breed. Overall a western pleasure horse must be a pleasure to ride and his tack must be well fitting.


  • A Western or Stock Type saddle is required without tapaderos (the large leather 'covers' that cover the stirrups) and with a saddle pad.
  • The saddle may be plain or decorated with silver and may be either square or round skirted.
  • Rear cinches may be used but must have a connecting strap to the front cinch.
  • Breast plates are optional.
  • A Western type bridle with a browband, 1 ear or 2 ear styles are allowed either with or without a throatlash.
  • A curb bit with a curb chain or strap (which must be flat) is required except for horses of 5 years and under when snaffles, hackamores or bosals are allowed.
  • Reins may be split or romal. Romal reins are more usual in Arabs, Morgans and NSHs.
  • With split reins, reins enter at the top of the hand and fall on the same side as the rein hand (Usually the left)
  • Romal reins are held so the reins enter at the bottom of the hand and run upwards with the end of the reins falling on the opposite side to the rein hand and are held against the riders thigh with the other hand (usually the right)
  • Riders use only 1 hand unless using a bosal, hackamore or snaffle when 2 are allowed.
  • Split reins may not be knotted or attached to one another.
  • Nosebands are not allowed except on MFT (for whom its usual)
  • Martingales, tiedowns of any sort and any types of boots or bandages are also not allowed.
  • Whips and crops are also not allowed, neither are slip or gag bits.



Western boots, a long sleeve shirt and a western hat are required and are worn with jeans (usually) or trousers which are worn outside the boots. Vest, ties, scarves, jackets and sweaters are also permitted. Shotgun (fitted) chaps, spurs, belt and gloves are also permitted.


The rider must sit down in the saddle regardless on pace with their back straight and with the knee and toe in a straight line. Knees and feet must be turned straight along the side of the horse with the heels down.

The rein arm elbow must be bent and close to the riders side. The rein hand wrist should be turned slightly inward and the free arm held free and straight down with the palm flat and lightly touching the leg. The head must be turned straight forward.