1 .Broke and Quiet
The most important quality that any ridden or halter horse should possess is the ability to be broke and quiet.
2. Soft and Smooth
A soft and smooth horse is one that hits the ground light and soft on all four feet and travels with drive and impulsion from behind with great rhythm.
3. Functionally Correct
A horse that picks up the correct gait and their leads when called for and not deviate from them throughout a class. Breaks of gait (both upward and downward) and wrong leads are evidence that a horse is not very functionally correct and is probably not a pleasure to ride. Horses that travel with their head and neck excessively low (for several strides) are also not functionally correct and should be judged accordingly.
4. Consistency and Quality
The consistency and quality is extremely important. A horse that shows consistency and quality is one who gives the appearance of being a “pleasure” to ride. These horses are expressive, natural, attractive and appear as though they are enjoying their work. They offer an overall pleasing picture when viewed on the rail and simply possess great amounts of eye appeal. The horse that is consistent in it’s quality of movement should be given credit.
Credit should be given to a horse that moves in a balanced, forward moving stride with a great degree of lift and flow. Likewise, a horse that is moving in an
excessively slow, unacceptably low head carriage which will cause unbalanced stride should be penalized.
Balance in a moving horse is the ability to keep itself properly positioned while in motion, thus giving an impression of stability in motion. This also
relates to stride length. The best way to visualize this is to draw an imaginary line down the center of the horse. A balanced horse at the jog and lope should take the
same length of stride forward of the line as they take behind the line. Quite often, horses will be forced to shorten their stride in an attempt to make them move at a slower pace. Most of the time (this can be seen especially at the jog), the horse will then begin to move in an unbalanced stride. Sometimes, these horses will be called lame because they are moving longer with a leg on one side of the body than they are with the other.
6. Lift and Flow
Lift is a period of suspension or an elevated carriage, and flow is to move smoothly,
easily and to be fluid.
7. Self Carriage
Self Carriage is a term that includes all three Balance, lift and flow.
Without the components of balance, lift and flow, self-carriage cannot be achieved. Balance and flow cannot be achieved without forward motion and the proper cadence. When a horse lacks forward motion or cadence, balance is sacrificed and flow is lost. This horse is not comfortable.
There is one particular problem, that can happen if the horse lacks forward motion – “low head carriage”, which will put the horse on the forehand.