thanks!!! Looks like I have a few things to go off from now :)
Also, don't be afraid to use a verbal WHOA (softly uttered) and a cluck. I find that if I start clucking BEFORE I actually want to trot, nine times out of ten, my horse and I step off in perfect unison. (That's such a cool feeling!) When I get the judge's nod, I do not turn and then
cluck--I start clucking before
I turn so that my horse knows--uh oh, she's gonna want me to be trotting when she's faced foward. Better be ready or I'll get in trouble.
Also, a WHOA (again, softly uttered) has helped our stop tremendously. My horse just about slid stops these days the minute I say WHOA. This helps for our under saddle classes, too. A good whoa comes in handy.
Also, pause for a brief moment between your moves. Don't rush through the pattern so that everything blends together. Pivot. Pause. Back. Pause. Trot off. Halt. Pause. Set up.
Speaking of the back, it's important to remember that simply turning to face your horse's rear is NOT the cue for backing. If you train that, you'll run into trouble when you move around your horse for inspection. Face your horse's rear when you want to back, wait for it, then take a step. The minute you move your foot, your horse should move his foot, too. We've spent hours and hours backing ten steps, pausing, backing five, pausing, backing around a turn, pausing.
I like to think of showmanship as pairs figure skating. You and your horse should exactly mirror each other. Steps should match up--I mean literally match up--watch the world level exhibitors and you'll see what I mean. Stops should match up. You should get your set up within two moves--fewer if possible--and that is
possible if your horse is smart enough to learn to stop square.