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.