Take the Western Pleasure Challenge with Dana Hokana

December 9th, 2015 1:32 PM | No Comments

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.16.21 PMWestern Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Western Pleasure…

For many years, western pleasure was an entry level class.  Because it was just rail work and required less complicated maneuvers, many levels of people could exhibit in it.  But then it got more specialized and trainers tried to develop that perfect pleasure horse.  In doing that, a trend started, that the slowest and lowest necked horse in the pen often won.

AQHA, APHA and NSBA did their best to try to encourage trainers to train humanely and fairly and the horses to be judged correctly, but that became a challenge due to a lack of specified criteria for judging, opinions of judges, exhibitors, and outside spectators.  I believe the western pleasure class became discouraging to many entry level exhibitors because not all people could attain “That Look” that was so popular in the class.  But that has changed and is continuing to change!  AQHA, APHA and NSBA are doing a lot of great and exciting things to evolve the western pleasure class into the beautiful event that it has the potential to be.

Many trainers, like myself love the event. I love a great mover and I love taking each individual horse with their own style and differences, and accentuating and helping to define their own natural styles of movement.  I have dedicated myself to educating myself on how horses move, understanding horses gaits and what parts of their body work the hardest when they are moving at their best, and how I can help the horse to be the outstanding athlete that he can be!

Many critics believe that our goal is “slow and low” but that’s just not true for me, and I, personally, know that that is not true for many top professionals.

My goal is to have my horse perform with lift and softness, fully extending their legs with each stride, carrying their head and neck in a natural fashion, suiting to their confirmation. Speed is secondary to true, correct gaits, and a steady self carriage with rhythmic strides.  A beautiful picture of a horse moving beautifully.  That is what western pleasure should look like.  And the exciting thing is not every horse will look the same.  Our job as trainers is not to make every horse look like exact cookies cut by a cookie cutter, but for us to make each horse look as excellent and individual as he or she can be.  No horse will look the same if we train and ride with this mindset!  I have taken my knowledge and done my best to duplicate this knowledge in the forms of DVD’s, videos, articles and clinics.  I know other top trainers have done this also.  So the information is out there! It is possible to refine your knowledge, and bottom line, “You can do it too!”  You can compete, exhibit and train in this wonderful class.

As fellow horse lovers, let’s all work together and make western pleasure the beautiful class it was supposed to be!  Let’s educate ourselves, take the challenge and jump in with our horses to improve them, define and refine them, into the best movers that they can be!  They will be happier, they will become more willing, they will become your team players!  They will excel in whatever event you compete in. 

How do you do this?

Click here to read the full article in this month’s issue of Show Horse Today.

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