10 Smart Showmanship Tips

Courtesy AQHA

No matter what level you are competing at – 4-H, weekend breed shows or the AQHA world championship show – success in showmanship comes down to three things: presentation of the exhibitor, presentation of the horse and performance.

It’s that third piece that calls for a horse and his exhibitor to work in harmony, like longtime dance partners.

Be on your way to showmanship success with these 10 tips.

  1. Aim for telepathic communication with your horse. The ultimate goal in showmanship is to get your horse to setup almost without being told. It shows a communication you have with your horse that is almost telepathic.
  2. Keep pace with your horse. In showmanship, your pace should be equal to your horse’s pace – that’s what gives the pattern a natural look. If you know your horse’s rhythm, it makes it look like you’ve done your homework.
  3. Practice rhythmic and precise turns. Your horse should turn with some speed and rhythm in a showmanship pivot. Executing a turn too slowly decreases the overall flow of the pattern. But executing a turn too fast can sacrifice accuracy, especially on the “shut off” at the end of the turn.
  4. Back with a light touch. The natural reflex of all horses is instinctively to oppose pressure instead of yielding to it. Since backing your horse is a common maneuver in showmanship classes, it’s important to do it correctly and seemingly effortlessly.
  5. End each practice with something you and your horse do easily. This could be as easy as walking or cross-overs as you set, but whatever it is, always be sure to end each practice on a positive note.