Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

Last post 12-27-2011 2:49 PM by Major. 5 replies.
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  • 12-14-2011 10:46 AM

    Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

    I'm not really new to the world of horses, but I am new to the world of showing. I enjoy working with my horses on the ground but have some nerves when it comes to riding, so a friend recomended showing at halter as a way to participate with my horses and gain trust and confidence with them. I have a couple of 2 year old quarter horse geldings, and I also have a 10 year old quarter horse gelding that I would like to show. So my question is: does anyone have any advice for preparing myself and my horses for a show? Training tips? Ways to get them prepared for all the action at an arena? Things to look for? What judges will be looking for? Etc... Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Thanks! :)

  • 12-14-2011 2:40 PM In reply to

    Re: Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

    Before you get ready to show make sure your horses are prepared for the show atmosphere: a lot of horses, an unfamiliar place, and unless you plan to show ALL of your horses at the same show and stable them together, they need to be comfortable with none of their buddies with them. That means desensitizing them to new situations, and teaching them that they don't need anybody but you to make them feel safe.

    The latter is done by making the horse-human relationship good, with you taking a proper leadership role through teaching them ground manners. That's crucial for the youngsters, but also for the older horse: they need to know that you can protect them from anything, they can rely on you for that.

    The former is just a matter of putting mileage on them. Take them to places that are new, like small schooling shows, other barns, even trail rides for the older horse and trail leads for the youngsters.

    Getting them ready for the show environment will take some time. As far as what judges are looking for, I do not own QHs but two WBs and a Lusitano, so I can't help you there.

    Of course, they need to be good at trailering, and have impeccable ground manners. The partnership with your horses will improve as you work on their ground manners, so you will be fulfilling two important factors at the same time.

    Good luck and have fun.

    "The horse you get off is not the horse you got on. It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better."


  • 12-14-2011 3:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

    Thanks for your advice!

    I have already started trailering my colts and making sure they are comfortable with being away from each other, and they take both like champs! The cold weather has slowed down the action at local arenas, but as soon as warmer weather comes I will start taking them around all of the action and getting them used to it. Both of my colts seem to take that stuff well from the few visits to the vet where there is always a lot going on, but my older horse seems to get nervous when we take him to busy places. I hope that more exposure will help all of them. I will also start fine tuning their ground manners. It was great to hear the reinforcement from your advice. Thanks :)

  • 12-27-2011 2:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

    I totally agree with the previous good advice. Also be sure they are able to be tied for periods of time as a lot of time is spent being tied to the trailer waiting for the next class. It's called teaching them "patience." Something some horses don't have. If you want to know what the judges are looking for, get yourself an AQHA rule book which would be available if you write to the quarter horse association and request one. You could also get a book from the library regarding grooming. Ground manners are very important and it's called practice, practice, practice. Practice every time you walk somewhere and stop...keep it varied and not always in the arena. You don't want to sour them for the show ring. This might be premature but if you ever go to a show that runs over a several day period and you have a stall for your horse, be sure and maybe cover the space between the stall walls so your horse has some privacy and is able to get some sleep. I have read (maybe in this publication??) where a horse was at a week show and was being fussed over constantly and the poor horse didn't get any sleep---he started to topple and the vet was called -- it was determined that the horse didn't get any sleep so the owners took him home for a well deserved rest. Sounds like a lot of fun and sounds like you have a head start! Good luck in the arena!
  • 12-27-2011 2:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

    Oh, about getting yourself ready.....there are some really good articles in this publication and also Horse & Rider that shows the person how to show at halter. There are also do's and don'ts for clothing/hats/boots/hair styles/gloves, etc. and how to hold the lead rope and how to attach it and how to adjust the halter ---all available in back issues. It might be of some benefit if you could look them up. Also too if you know of someone who does show, maybe you could talk them into giving you a lesson or two. A clinic on showing at halter would be good if there is one in your area. When showing at halter you make a "box" around the horse while the judge is looking.....of course I mucked up but then after a clinic I took I saw what I did wrong. Embarrassing. There may be some videos on youtube that demonstrate how to show at halter. These are just some suggestions. Happy showing!
  • 12-27-2011 2:49 PM In reply to

    Re: Advice for getting a horse ready to show at halter/showmanship

    One last thing, in this publication is an article on halters. There is a paragraph about light pressure halter training. You can teach your horse about pressure and how to respond to it...that way if he lifts his head and you put pressure on the halter, he will automatically drop his head. There are also ways to teach them to set their feet by pushing on their nose...even your gaze on a leg (pressure) would be enough to move a back foot. This will help in the riding area too. It's pressure and then when horse gives the response, release the pressure. I can move my horse's hip with "gaze" pressure. I look at his hip and he moves it. Watch some Parelli videos on youtube if you want some point of reference. It does work and would be much more subtle than tugging at the halter. Just practice! Whatever works for you is good. Again, have fun!

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