Showmanship at Halter

Showmanship at Halter: This text is taken from the Australian Quarter Horse Association official Handbook. (a) The Showmanship at Halter class shall be judged strictly on the exhibitors ability to fit and show a horse at halter. The horse is merely a prop to demonstrate the ability and preparation of the exhibitor. The ideal performance consists of a poised, confident, neatly attired exhibitor leading a well groomed and conditioned horse that quickly and efficiently performs the requested pattern with promptness, smoothnes and precision. The showmanship class is not another halter class and should not be judged as such. (b) It is mandatory that the judge post any pattern(s) to be worked at least one hour prior to the commencement of the class. Pattern(s) should be designed to test the showman’s ability to effectively present a horse to the judge, all ties will be broken at the judge’s discretion. (c) Showmanship at Halter Class Procedures: All exhibitors may enter the ring and then work individually or each exhibitor may be worked from the gate individually. When exhibitors are worked individually from the gate, a working order is required. The following manoeuvres are considered acceptable: lead the horse at walk, jog, trot or extended trot, or back in a straight or curved line, or combination of straight and curved lines; stop; and turn 90 (1/4), 1 (1/2), 270 (3/4), 360 (full turn) degrees of any combination or multiple of these turns. The judge must have exhibitors set the horse up square for inspection sometime during the class. (d) Scoring: Exhibitors are to be scored from 0 to 20 with 1/2 point increments acceptable. Ten points should be allocated towards overall appearance of exhibitor and horse and 10 points allocated toward performance.A) Appearance and Position of Exhibitor. (1) Overall Appearance of Exhibitor and Horse (10 Points): The exhibitor’s overall poise, confidence, appearance, and position throughout the class and the physical appearance of the horse will evaluated. (2) Performance (10 Points): The exhibitor should perform the work accurately, precisely, smoothly, and with a reasonable amount of speed. Increasing speed of the work increases the degree of difficulty, however, accuracy and precision should not be sacrificed for speed. The Showmanship at Halter horse should lead, stop, back, turn, and set up willingly, briskly and readily with minimal visible or audible cueing.

Training the Horse

Squaring your horse is one of the most imporotant factors in the Showmanship at Halter class. You cannot really start to work on your own position or do the pattern untill your horse is standing square. To teach your horse this you need to find a good flat area so that the horse will be comfortable, things to avoid are uneven ground both in training and in the show ring. Your horse won't appreciate it if he has to stand in a hole or on uneven ground. If you cross tie your horse on a good flat area such as a wash bay with a good secure surface this will make your job a lot easier. Find yourself a stick that you can use as a pointer, the fiberglass rods with a flapper on the end are good, they are nice and light. You need to correct the rear feet position of the horse, you can do this by tapping with your stick when the rear feet are out of position. If the horse gets out of square with its front feet you can tap the top of the coronet band with your boot toe untill the horse is in the correct position, at the same time point with your finger at the foot and say clearly "square" or whatever verbal cue you decide to use. Do not kick the horse or hurt the horse you do not want to instill fear in the horse. You want the horse to learn that by moving the foot itself you will quit tapping with your boot toe. It does not take long for the horse to learn this. You will not be able to touch the horse with your boot in the class so this is only a training tool, you will need to teach your horse to respond to the verbal command. A horse cannot stand alert all the time when a big Showmanship at Halter class is being judged, so let your horse relax, but in position, occasionally when you are certain the judge is not studying your end of the line up. Do not let your horse go to sleep, as you need to be ready to get your horse alert when the judge nears you.

Once you have your horse trained in squaring up you can then concentrate on its head. Don’t have it up too high, the ideal position is, when the eye is level with the withers. I train all my horse's the head down cue, gently hold downward pressure on the lead rope untill the horse drops his head to the desired level, you can also put a verbal cue to this, I use the words "head down". You can also practice this when the horse's head gets too high whilst you are leading. Remember! as soon as the horse drops his head the slightest bit from downward pressure give him release as this is his reward. For the Showmanship at Halter class your horse will also need to lead well. Lead from the near side of our horse with your right hand on the lead strap. I like to hold the lead about 12" from the halter. This stops you from pulling the horse's head towards you when you move out, which in turn makes the horse track off line. Your horse should walk the same pace as you are walking, they travel beside you don't drag or have the horse in front so that he is leading you. Hold the excess lead in a figure eight wrap in your left hand. This is a safety measure to prevent any coils tightening around your hand if the horse should take a fright and try to run away. Have your horse walk out at the desired position, I like to be halfway between the horse's head and shoulder so that I do not hinder the judges veiw of the horses head,leg and shoulder movement. I train the horse to walk in this position by teaching the horse to respond to my body position, this is how it works. Apply forward motion on the lead rope whilst walking forward, if the horse does not respond by moving forward lightly reach back with your left hand and tap the horse on the hip with your stick. It will not take long for your horse to start to associate walking forward from the cue of your body and lead pressure. Do not hit your horse hard you are only using a light tap if the horse does not move forward when you do. You can also use the verbal cue "Walk on".

While competing in the Showmanship at Halter Class remember to smile at the Judge and most important have fun

Embrace the Cowgirl Spirit! saddle up a horse and go riding!

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