Hey SunnySD, neat blog post riding the Western Pleasure lesson horse. I'm linking it up here, so the folks who don't frequent your blog can see. It reminded me of a short story from championships that's worth retelling.
We were outside after the awards ceremony. A lady was sitting on her horse near me and Harley, a higher-level rider/horse pair than us for sure. Another gentleman was riding a gorgeous paint horse in an arena just beside where we were, warming up for an Open Show in another arena at the showgrounds. The paint was toodling around at a western pleasure lope, as the rider was gently guiding her off his leg and the bit in small circles. The horse would give to the bit and leg, collect up, and he'd release the horse down the rail. It looked relaxed, slow, and fun to ride. The horse's eyes were alert, ears looked happy, and I didn't see the slightest sign of tail-swishing in frustration.
The lady barked to me, "I hate how they ride those horses! They torture them to make them go that slow. Worst riding style ever. They make those horses do awful things to make them go that slow. Look how he's banging on her with his spurs!" I glanced over, and noticed the rider gently rolling his spurs up the horse's side, and the horse lifted its back quietly in response.
I responded to the lady, almost laughing, "No worse than the rollkur dressage crap. There's torture in every horse competitive field, with bits, with spurs, with stupid riders. Don't act like we're so exempt."