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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.