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It's Not All John Wayne And Keep 'Em Rolling!

When most people think of Western horsemanship, images of John Wayne and the lonesome cowboy on the endless plain spring to mind. But according to Western horsemanship expert David Lloyd, nothing could be further from the truth. And in order to put us all right on the matter, he will be giving riding demonstrations at the Midlands Equine Fair taking place at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, on 8 and 9 March.

It is not about Hollywood stars in chaps, but rather schooling horses to move under weight transference and away from leg pressure. The result is an animal that is supple throughout its head, shoulders, ribs and hips and that can be ridden one handed - it will still perform correctly and work with its rider as an harmonious team.

The training of a Western horse is based on the combination of leg pressure and the rider moving his or her weight to put the horse in the correct position to carry out a manoeuvre. In effect, the rifer is allowing the horse to work out what is required for itself.

Soon the horse learns that it only meets resistance when it does something wrong and that the resistance stops when this is corrected. This is the basis of the Western riding philosophy, which is to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult and to always reward the slightest attempt by the horse to act correctly.

In time and with patience the trainer will achieve a 'willingly guided' horse, and the rider will be rewarded with a horse that responds to the lightest rein contact and the smallest levels of control for any direction, speed or manoeuvre.

The show classes for Western riding consist of six elements:


This is the only halter class in which the horse is a prop. Most of the points are gained from leading the horse, posing it for inspection and the manner in which the handler presents the horse to the judge.


Riders are judged on seat position and their ability to show the horse


A good pleasure horse has a flowing stride that must be natural and neither too fast or too slow. The horse should be shown on a loose rein and should be responsive and smooth in transitions from one manoeuvre to another. It should also be balanced in it walk and back-ups. The winner is quite literally the horse that is the most pleasure to ride.

Western Riding

Competitors are required to ride one of five patterns as set out in the rulebook, which are selected by the judge. The class is designed to show the calm, easy paces of the horse and its ability to change leads at the exact place in the pattern.


This is an obstacle course that must be negotiated with ease and attitude. It includes a gate, side pass, backing, a walk, jog or lope over poles into a five or six foot box, followed by a 360 degree turn.


Here the horse and rider must ride on of eleven patterns chosen by the judges. Competitors are required to perform at the lope only and show speed control in fast and slow circles, flying changes, rolls backs (which require a stop followed by a 180 degree turn) and lope off, spinning on the spot to the left and right, and back ups. The judges look for and reward horses that are willingly guided.

Tickets for the Midlands Equine Fair are available in advance from Contour Exhibitions & Events by calling 08700 115007 and advance booking discounts are available. Further information and leaflets are available by calling 01884 841644, or by logging on at


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