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Showing the American Saddlebred

Over the years American Saddlebred competitions have continued to expand and diversify the types of classes offered to professional and amateur exhibitors. The most common classes include:

English and Western Pleasure, Equitation, Three-gaited, Five-gaited, Fine Harness and Pleasure driving.


Beginning To Show

Bluebonnet Farm has many great beginner horses available to lease for show. This is a great opportunity to test your new riding skills in the ring with others of similar experience and skill. Many local shows offer an Academy division which divides riders by age and skill level into entry level classes. It is not necessary to own a horse or custom riding attire to compete in the Academy division.


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FIVE GAITED horses are shown with a full mane and tail and judged at the walk, trot and canter plus two man-made gaits, the slow gait (a four-beat gait with high front action) and rack (a gait with all-around action and speed). They should have a springy movement and extreme brilliance. Classes are generally divided by the gender of the horse. Five gaited pleasure classes combine both mares and geldings, though stallions are prohibited from showing in the pleasure divisions.



The FINE HARNESS horse was the "Sunday-go-to-meeting" horse three generations ago. These horses are shown in light harness and overcheck bridle with a regulation show buggy. They are shown at an animated walk and a brisk, showy park trot. Movement in these gaits should be springy and free with high front and rear leg action. This horse always carries a full mane and tail, though long tails are secured to the show buggy for safety reasons.


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SHOW PLEASURE horses have a natural mane and tail carriage. They are shown in both a three gaited division and five gaited division.  The three gaited Show Pleasure horse is shown at the Walk, Trot and Canter.  Five Gaited Show Pleasure horse is shown at the Walk, Trot, Slow Gait, Rack and Canter.  Easy ground covering movement is desired. Manners and suitability as a pleasure mount are paramount in this division.  The horses are expected to flat foot walk, stand quietly in the line up and back as requested.  



This very popular and speedy Hackney measures below 13 hands and shows at three separate trotting speeds: the jog, the road gait, and at speed. The Hackney Roadster ponies are the speedsters of the Hackney breed. They are shown to a two-wheeled road bike with their drivers wearing racing silks.



THREE GAITED horses perform the three natural gaits: walk, animated trot (a two-beat diagonal gait) and canter. The trot of the three-gaited horse is slower and more collected than that of the five-gaited horse. The mane is roached or trimmed to show a long fine neck. Three-gaited classes are divided by height rather than sex or age, with classes over 15.2 hands and under 15.2 hands. The trot is the most emphasized gait, it should be true, high in action, well collected and animated.


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The Park Horse is a bold showy horse that has more power than the show pleasure horse but not quite the refinement of at three-gaited trimmed horse.   Often these horses switch between Fine Harness and Park.  


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Show Pleasure Driving horses are shown at the walk, trot, and extended trot.  Like the under saddle pleasure horse, the Show Pleasure Driving horse is expected to flat foot walk, stand quietly in the line up and back as requested.  Manners are also paramount in this division.


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Western pleasure is a western style competition at horse shows that evaluates horses on manners and suitability of the horse for a relaxed and slow but collected gait cadence, along with calm and responsive disposition. The horse is to appear to be a "pleasure" to ride, smooth-moving and very comfortable.


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