According to the American Paint Horse Association rule book, in judging western pleasure, credit is to be given to the horse that under light control and without intimidation goes forward with comfort, self-carriage, confidence, willingness, and a balanced, fluid stride. To evaluate these things a judge should look for these six characteristics: cadence and rhythm, top line and expression, consistency and length of stride, in that order. Cadence is defined as: The accuracy of a horse's footfalls at any given gait. Rhythm is defined as: The speed of those footfalls at any given gait. The Topline: The head and neck should be carried in a relaxed natural position, compatible with the horse's conformation. The head should not be carried behind the vertical, giving the appearance of intimidation or be excessively nosed out, giving a resistant appearance. Expression should have a pleasant look with clear, bright eyes and a willing attitude. Consistency is defined as the ability to maintain the same top line, cadence and rhythm in each gait throughout the class. Length of stride should be of a reasonable length in relation to that horse's conformation with a full extension of the limbs. The winner of any western pleasure class should be the horse that best combines these six characteristics. Cadence and rhythm should always be first and most important in evaluating a western pleasure horse.
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