The Dreaded Showmanship Pivot...
Well, this year's my first year showing in senior showmanship at the fair. That means the showmanship pattern is going to include a 360* pivot.
My pony can't really do it at all. So far what I've been doing is halting him, backing him up a few steps, then I start tapping him on the shoulder with a crop, and basically just make him yield away from me and hope he crosses his feet over. I know his back foot isn't staying planted, though. He can't really do any more than 2-3 steps before it gets screwy.
How do you train them to do this?
When you halt him be sure his off hind foot is in a good position to keep planted for the pivot. Then ask him to barely rock his weight back. This helps anchor that hind and lightens the forehand. Practice this well, having him rock back, holding for a few seconds, then relaxing. I like to then face the throat latch and lightly tap both the area above the nostrils and the shoulder with my finger tips. I want the horse to remain straight in the body and move his outside front first, to the side, even if only an inch or so. It is then built on.
Pivots are easy. You should be able to nail a 360 once you get your basics down.
First off, you have to think of it as a forward motion, so do not start by backing your pony. Eventually, you'll want to right hind to stay planted, but when first starting to teach the pivot, just forget about what he is doing with the hind feet, that will come.
Turn like you are going to pivot and press or tap his shoulder until he crosses over. You want him to cross his left front leg in front of his right. Do not let him cross behind with that left front leg. If he steps forward to cross over, that is fine for now. Keep this up until he'll move away from you, crossover correctly and keep his body straight.
Then you can start watching the hide and trying for a step, then two, with the right hind planted. You just build from there. Make sure you aren't pulling him forward and out of the pivot or pushing him back into it.
Also, think about your set. Ideally, you want a two-step setup. It works well to just never move the right hind for the set. You set the left hind, then set the front. This will help you with your pivots.
I once was using a horse loaned to me by a friend for a Showmanship Clinic. I had never handled this horse before the clinic other than helping take her from her stall to her turn-out. When our turn came to present before the judge the mare and I walked to him, I took a quick look to see if she was set-up square and faced the judge. When he nodded for me to turn a 180 back to the line-up I pivoted on my right foot and at the same time I put light pressure on the lead rope with a slight back pressure on the lead rope to make a right turn. On the trot back to the line-up the judge called out to me to "stop" and do that turn again. I did as he asked and he exclaimed, "Look at that pivot!" To my knowledge the horse had never been shown in Showmanship. The first turn might have been a plain and simple fluke, but that second turn kind of made it not so. I think maybe that mare and I just clicked with one another.
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