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English Pleasure

The newest addition to the list of USEF recognized disciplines, English pleasure can trace its roots to the bygone era when horses represented the primary mode of transportation to and from town. Society members prided themselves with showing off their elegant and finely-trained saddle mounts as they rode through the parks and into town,[...] dressed in their finest hacking attire. These horses exemplified smooth-gaited movement, impeccable manners and superior tractability, making them a true pleasure to ride.

In today’s show ring, English pleasure is divided into three distinct categories: hunter seat, saddle seat, and driving. English pleasure horses can be of any breed, but all horses must exhibit impeccable manners, obedience, and suitability as a pleasure riding or driving horse. Transitions from one gait to another should be smooth, prompt, and effortless. Emphasis is placed on a true flat walk with special consideration being given to those entries that represent a true recreational type, general riding mount or driving horse. Entries should not exhibit extreme motion, speed, or resistance of any type. Horses must stand quietly and back readily in the line-up.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What benefits does this division bring to the Federation?

    The English Pleasure division provides an opportunity for all breeds to participate in English pleasure classes (previously English Pleasure classes are only offered through the various breed restricted divisions). The division also provides a route for entry level type exhibitors to move up the ranks from Opportunity classes to an official "Division" that is properly suited to them. By providing this ladder for exhibitors to move up, those exhibitors will be provided with an avenue to participate in the USEF Horse of the Year awards program.

  • What awards will be offered for this division?

    Initially, the program will begin slowly and add awards if growth occurs. Initially, three national awards will be added to the USEF Horse of the Year program. In order to be eligible for these awards, horses must be officially recorded with the Federation.

    • English Pleasure Saddle Seat
    • English Pleasure Hunter Seat
    • English Pleasure Driving
  • Don’t we already have a way to offer these classes? Why did we need a new division?

    Yes, competitions can offer English Pleasure classes currently. However, because we had no division rules for "OPEN" English Pleasure (meaning open to all breeds), competitions were required to hold these classes according to General Rule 305 as "unrecognized" classes providing a separate entry blank. Obviously, an additional entry blank increases the cost and work for the competition. Often, competitions fail to realize they are also required to provide class specifications in the prize list so the exhibitors may not have the information they need prior to the class. A new division would place the rules in the USEF rule book for all exhibitors, managers, judges, stewards, and spectators to utilize and save the competition from using the extra entry blank and space in the prize list.

  • Can’t we just hold these classes as "Opportunity" classes per General Rule 821?

    Yes. However, the competition is limited to 10% of the classes or 20 maximum. The competition may want to use opportunity classes for other areas in the class list. Also, opportunity classes do not count towards the USEF Horse of the Year program. Even though English Pleasure has been added to the USEF rule book, the competition still decides if they want to run their classes as regular classes or opportunity classes. This option is still be available if that is the best choice for a particular competition.

  • What if the classes we currently hold as Open English Pleasure classes don’t match the exact specifications as written for this division?

    As per General Rule 902.2, competitions are not limited to classes listed in the Rule Book. If a special class is offered which is not included, the prize list or competition web site must furnish detailed specifications. For example, this new division does not provide for Walk/Trot classes. However, if a competition wants to hold a Walk/Trot English Pleasure class, it may do so by including the class specifications in the prize list. This class would be a recognized but unrated class and would not count towards any horse of the year program award. Another example would be if a competition is not large enough to hold separate Hunter Seat and Saddle Seat classes (per the new division specifications). In this case, the competition could combine the class by holding an English Pleasure class open to Saddle Seat or Hunter equipment and attire but the competition would be required to include the class specifications in the prize list, etc. as mentioned in the above example.

  • Is there an English Pleasure judge’s license? Who can judge and steward these classes?

    No, there is not an "English Pleasure judge’s license." The English Pleasure rules allow judges currently licensed by USEF to adjudicate these classes on the following basis:

    • Saddle Seat Classes may be judged by any USEF licensed judge who holds a current license in any breed that includes a Saddle Seat or English Pleasure section.
    • Hunter Seat Classes may be judged by any USEF licensed judge who holds a current Hunter license or a current license in any breed that includes a Hunter or Hunter Pleasure section.
    • Driving Classes may be judged by any USEF licensed judge who holds a current license in any breed that includes a Pleasure Driving section.
    • In addition, the proposal of this new division also includes a rule to allow guest judges to officiate alone at A, B, C, or Local competitions.

    C1 and C2 Stewards will be allowed to officiate any of the English Pleasure classes without additional licensing requirements.

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