Western pleasure has come a long way since APHA’s early days. Always a
mainstay at Paint Horse shows, Western pleasure has morphed from the 1960s, when
it was a class for novice horses to gain experience in the show pen. Today, the
class is a runway showcasing some of the best-moving Paint Horses in the
business and the industry’s latest fashions.
Nowhere else do style, movement, clothing and tack follow trends more closely
than Western pleasure. APHA breeder and trainer Ronny Stallings of Aubrey,
Texas, has been involved with Paints since 1968, winning multiple national and
world championships with a barn full of legendary horses, including Poco Fisty
Bars, Skippa Scotch and Linda Dolly Dee. Longtime breeder and Western pleasure
competitor Cindy Gattis of Sorrento, Florida, has admired and enjoyed Western
pleasure Paints since the late 1960s, too. She’s owned and ridden many great
pleasure Paints, such as Cajun Joe Jet, Hesa Investor and Special Invitation.
APHA Distinguished Service Award recipient, judge and past competitor Duke Neff
of Pleasant Hill, Missouri, has spent many years judging Paint pleasure classes,
and he’s owned top-notch pleasure horses like Amigo Patches and Stormy Amigo.
All three experts recently discussed the development of Western pleasure.
Take a look back over the last 50 years in Western pleasure to see how far we’ve
come—and where we might be heading next.