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aintnocitygirl 03-13-2010 12:18 PM

Pivot
 
I am wanting to train my mare for halter showmanship this year.

She is doing very well trotting beside me, stopping with me, backing up, & setting.

I'm just really confused how to teach her to pivot. I have no clue how to train her to pivot away from me as I walk towards her.

Any tips & techniques on how to train to pivot in halter showmanship? :-)

-aintnocitygirl

Nita 03-13-2010 01:55 PM

*cracks knuckles* Be prepared for a loooong reply haha.

I usually start the training by just having one hand on the halter, and hold onto the noseband of the halter, with the lead rope in that same hand. Then take your other hand and put it right in front of the shoulder, on the horse's neck. Your body language is what alerts the horse to what you want, so EVERY time you want him to pivot, point your belt buckle at his nose. Every time. Then he know the difference between that and you asking him to back. Then walk toward the horse and push on the neck and lift up just a tiny bit on the halter, while also pushing gently with that same hand. (Sorry if that was confusing... I don't know how to explain over the internet haha) As soon as the horse takes a step, release ALL pressure. I repeat, ALL pressure. That part is imperative. Let the horse think for a minute, then do it again. When you get to the part when your horse has to pick up a back hind leg to continue the pivot, which will take a while, make sure you give him a cue for that. For example, a little bump on the halter might mean "Okay, now you pick up that back leg." DON'T release pressure unless the horse takes the step you want. If you don't give him a cue for that, he might do it in the arena, he might not. If you give him a cue for it, then he'll do it whenever you give him that cue, so the timing lies in your hands, which is a better place for it than in your horse's mind haha. Eventually, you should be able to move your hand away from the shoulder and just use your lead rope. Good luck! Just ask if I was confusing or if you have any more questions! I love halter and showmanship... So much fun!

Nita 03-13-2010 01:56 PM

I usually start the training by just having one hand on the halter, and hold onto the noseband of the halter, with the lead rope in that same hand. Then take your other hand and put it right in front of the shoulder, on the horse's neck. Your body language is what alerts the horse to what you want, so EVERY time you want him to pivot, point your belt buckle at his nose. Every time. Then he know the difference between that and you asking him to back. Then walk toward the horse and push on the neck and lift up just a tiny bit on the halter, while also pushing gently with that same hand. (Sorry if that was confusing... I don't know how to explain over the internet haha) As soon as the horse takes a step, release ALL pressure. I repeat, ALL pressure. That part is imperative. Let the horse think for a minute, then do it again. When you get to the part when your horse has to pick up a back hind leg to continue the pivot, which will take a while, make sure you give him a cue for that. For example, a little bump on the halter might mean "Okay, now you pick up that back leg." DON'T release pressure unless the horse takes the step you want. If you don't give him a cue for that, he might do it in the arena, he might not. If you give him a cue for it, then he'll do it whenever you give him that cue, so the timing lies in your hands, which is a better place for it than in your horse's mind haha. Eventually, you should be able to move your hand away from the shoulder and just use your lead rope. Good luck! Just ask if I was confusing or if you have any more questions! I love halter and showmanship... So much fun!

My2Geldings 03-13-2010 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nita (Post 575970)
*cracks knuckles* Be prepared for a loooong reply haha.

I usually start the training by just having one hand on the halter, and hold onto the noseband of the halter, with the lead rope in that same hand. Then take your other hand and put it right in front of the shoulder, on the horse's neck. Your body language is what alerts the horse to what you want, so EVERY time you want him to pivot, point your belt buckle at his nose. Every time. Then he know the difference between that and you asking him to back. Then walk toward the horse and push on the neck and lift up just a tiny bit on the halter, while also pushing gently with that same hand. (Sorry if that was confusing... I don't know how to explain over the internet haha) As soon as the horse takes a step, release ALL pressure. I repeat, ALL pressure. That part is imperative. Let the horse think for a minute, then do it again. When you get to the part when your horse has to pick up a back hind leg to continue the pivot, which will take a while, make sure you give him a cue for that. For example, a little bump on the halter might mean "Okay, now you pick up that back leg." DON'T release pressure unless the horse takes the step you want. If you don't give him a cue for that, he might do it in the arena, he might not. If you give him a cue for it, then he'll do it whenever you give him that cue, so the timing lies in your hands, which is a better place for it than in your horse's mind haha. Eventually, you should be able to move your hand away from the shoulder and just use your lead rope. Good luck! Just ask if I was confusing or if you have any more questions! I love halter and showmanship... So much fun!

Great post Nita. I'm also brand new with this. Looks like you're very experienced with this. Hope you keep an eye out on this section of the forum to help all the newbies out.

Cheers

aintnocitygirl 03-13-2010 02:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nita (Post 575970)
*cracks knuckles* Be prepared for a loooong reply haha.

I usually start the training by just having one hand on the halter, and hold onto the noseband of the halter, with the lead rope in that same hand. Then take your other hand and put it right in front of the shoulder, on the horse's neck. Your body language is what alerts the horse to what you want, so EVERY time you want him to pivot, point your belt buckle at his nose. Every time. Then he know the difference between that and you asking him to back. Then walk toward the horse and push on the neck and lift up just a tiny bit on the halter, while also pushing gently with that same hand. (Sorry if that was confusing... I don't know how to explain over the internet haha) As soon as the horse takes a step, release ALL pressure. I repeat, ALL pressure. That part is imperative. Let the horse think for a minute, then do it again. When you get to the part when your horse has to pick up a back hind leg to continue the pivot, which will take a while, make sure you give him a cue for that. For example, a little bump on the halter might mean "Okay, now you pick up that back leg." DON'T release pressure unless the horse takes the step you want. If you don't give him a cue for that, he might do it in the arena, he might not. If you give him a cue for it, then he'll do it whenever you give him that cue, so the timing lies in your hands, which is a better place for it than in your horse's mind haha. Eventually, you should be able to move your hand away from the shoulder and just use your lead rope. Good luck! Just ask if I was confusing or if you have any more questions! I love halter and showmanship... So much fun!

Thank you so much! Totally makes sense. :wink: I'm so excited to get out & try it with my mare. :D
Any tips on setting your horse to stand square? I make sure I stand her square when grooming & other times for practice. What I do is back her up until her back feet are even & then I move her front feet by picking them up & setting them in the right place.
How do you cue your horse to stand square when your actually competing?

shesinthebarn 03-13-2010 04:45 PM

I have not done showmanship since I was in youth (that was a while ago!) but for getting them square, I just asked my horse to stand square everytime we went to the paddock went in, before I let her go, before we went into the stall, while grooming etc. Start be doing just what you are doing. Eventually your cues will get less and less noticable as your horse understands what you want from her.
As for the pivot thing...ugh...it's so frustrating.

Nita 03-13-2010 05:20 PM

lol thanks my2geldings! I've done like 6 years of it. Some people have done about 20! ha, I just really like it and find it interesting to learn about. The little technicalities of it interest me. =) I LOVE training horses to do it. That's one of my FAVORITE things ever.

That's a good start, aintnocitygirl. It depends on what you want to do. Some people like to train with verbal commands. I personally don't because when you're in the arena, the judge is watching you closely and the more effortless you make it seem, the better. If you tell your horse to "Set" and the judge knows you did and the horse doesn't do it, you're SOL. Again, always try to have the same body language. If you're aware of it at first, then eventually it'll become second nature and you won't have to watch for it later. I stand at a 45 degree angle to the horse's shoulder. Point your boots at her shoulder, basically. Pretend there's a line drawn directly under her nose, and that's where you put your toes. It's alright to start the training by moving her feet with your hands, but after a while you'll need to quit doing that because you can't touch your horse in showmanship. In a HALTER class, you can, but your horse is being judged on his confo in a halter class. I've read that you should try to walk a horse forward to set him up, but I've never actually been able to get that to work. Supposedly if your horse has bad confo it helps to walk him forward rather than back him up but I struggle with that, so I usually just back my mare up. It doesn't matter if you set up the hind or the front first, just be consistent. Again, the pros say you should do the front first, I think... But as long as whatever you do, that's how you always do it, it shouldn't matter. I do the back first because I find that the hardest. So you get into your position, and say set... if you want to. To make your horse move a left hoof, tip his nose to the right. That takes some weight off it, and tells him which side you want. And vice versa for the other way. Look at the hoof you want him to move. I don't know why, but that helps. If your horse is young, just get it as close as you can. However, if your horse is old enough to focus for longer, accept nothing but perfection. If you let him get away with only setting up correctly sometimes, he probably won't do it in the show ring. Once the back is set up, do the front. It'll take a while, but like shesinthebarn said, whenever you get a chance, do it. As soon as the horse does it right, release all pressure again, and let him think. The key is letting them realize that if they are standing square you'll leave him alone. Square him up before you feed him. Before you let him go. Before you saddle, before you bridle, after you groom, when you get in the trailer, when you get out of the trailer. Do it EVERYWHERE. Then he learns that he can stand square anywhere, and that when he's square, he DOES NOT move. Then when you're in the ring and you're stepping around him while the judge inspects, he won't move. Once when I was showing a banner on the rail came off, because it was super windy. It was right behind the lineup of horses, and they freaked out. I had just set my horse up for inspection and while the judge tried to regain order (there were horses bolting and rearing. I was amazed that no one could control their horses in such a situation...) my mare and I didn't move. She was scared, but she'd been trained that when she was squared up, she wasn't allowed to move, so she didn't. We won the class, haha. But the point is, show your boy that when he's square, he can't move until you say. And repetition is the key. shesinthebarn is right, the more you do it, the better you get!

Oh, and I meant to tell you, make sure your horse is pivoting on the correct leg. Which is the right one, if you're on the left side, and the left one if you're on the right side. You should teach your horse to do every manuveur from both sides because I've had judges ask me to switch sides of my horse. It's surprising how many people don't train at all on the right side of the horse. It's rare for a judge to ask that, but you never know!

Oh, and one other thing... While you're standing in the lineup, waiting for your turn, make him stand square, but don't make him stay entirely attentive with his ears up. Save that for when the judge is walking past the lineup or when you're doing your pattern. Eye appeal is EVERYTHING in showmanship. If your horse is forced to keep his ears up and be pretty while in the line, he'll be sour for the pattern. And the judge is watching that, trust me. To make him put his ears up, just jiggle the halter rope a little and talk to him, through your smile. Click your tongue or something, but don't let the judge see you making him be attentive. You want it to look like you and your horse are both just SO glad to be there and you are gorgeous and AWESOME! haha.

Whoa, I went a little overboard ha. I love showmanship so much though!

aintnocitygirl 03-13-2010 07:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nita (Post 576074)
lol thanks my2geldings! I've done like 6 years of it. Some people have done about 20! ha, I just really like it and find it interesting to learn about. The little technicalities of it interest me. =) I LOVE training horses to do it. That's one of my FAVORITE things ever.

That's a good start, aintnocitygirl. It depends on what you want to do. Some people like to train with verbal commands. I personally don't because when you're in the arena, the judge is watching you closely and the more effortless you make it seem, the better. If you tell your horse to "Set" and the judge knows you did and the horse doesn't do it, you're SOL. Again, always try to have the same body language. If you're aware of it at first, then eventually it'll become second nature and you won't have to watch for it later. I stand at a 45 degree angle to the horse's shoulder. Point your boots at her shoulder, basically. Pretend there's a line drawn directly under her nose, and that's where you put your toes. It's alright to start the training by moving her feet with your hands, but after a while you'll need to quit doing that because you can't touch your horse in showmanship. In a HALTER class, you can, but your horse is being judged on his confo in a halter class. I've read that you should try to walk a horse forward to set him up, but I've never actually been able to get that to work. Supposedly if your horse has bad confo it helps to walk him forward rather than back him up but I struggle with that, so I usually just back my mare up. It doesn't matter if you set up the hind or the front first, just be consistent. Again, the pros say you should do the front first, I think... But as long as whatever you do, that's how you always do it, it shouldn't matter. I do the back first because I find that the hardest. So you get into your position, and say set... if you want to. To make your horse move a left hoof, tip his nose to the right. That takes some weight off it, and tells him which side you want. And vice versa for the other way. Look at the hoof you want him to move. I don't know why, but that helps. If your horse is young, just get it as close as you can. However, if your horse is old enough to focus for longer, accept nothing but perfection. If you let him get away with only setting up correctly sometimes, he probably won't do it in the show ring. Once the back is set up, do the front. It'll take a while, but like shesinthebarn said, whenever you get a chance, do it. As soon as the horse does it right, release all pressure again, and let him think. The key is letting them realize that if they are standing square you'll leave him alone. Square him up before you feed him. Before you let him go. Before you saddle, before you bridle, after you groom, when you get in the trailer, when you get out of the trailer. Do it EVERYWHERE. Then he learns that he can stand square anywhere, and that when he's square, he DOES NOT move. Then when you're in the ring and you're stepping around him while the judge inspects, he won't move. Once when I was showing a banner on the rail came off, because it was super windy. It was right behind the lineup of horses, and they freaked out. I had just set my horse up for inspection and while the judge tried to regain order (there were horses bolting and rearing. I was amazed that no one could control their horses in such a situation...) my mare and I didn't move. She was scared, but she'd been trained that when she was squared up, she wasn't allowed to move, so she didn't. We won the class, haha. But the point is, show your boy that when he's square, he can't move until you say. And repetition is the key. shesinthebarn is right, the more you do it, the better you get!

Oh, and I meant to tell you, make sure your horse is pivoting on the correct leg. Which is the right one, if you're on the left side, and the left one if you're on the right side. You should teach your horse to do every manuveur from both sides because I've had judges ask me to switch sides of my horse. It's surprising how many people don't train at all on the right side of the horse. It's rare for a judge to ask that, but you never know!

Oh, and one other thing... While you're standing in the lineup, waiting for your turn, make him stand square, but don't make him stay entirely attentive with his ears up. Save that for when the judge is walking past the lineup or when you're doing your pattern. Eye appeal is EVERYTHING in showmanship. If your horse is forced to keep his ears up and be pretty while in the line, he'll be sour for the pattern. And the judge is watching that, trust me. To make him put his ears up, just jiggle the halter rope a little and talk to him, through your smile. Click your tongue or something, but don't let the judge see you making him be attentive. You want it to look like you and your horse are both just SO glad to be there and you are gorgeous and AWESOME! haha.

Whoa, I went a little overboard ha. I love showmanship so much though!

Awesome! Thank you! You didn't go overboard... I know what it is like talking about your most favorite thing... you can go on forever. :wink:
I'm very excited to get started with my mare.
I'm planning on showing in western... should the lead chain go over or under? Does it matter?

Juniper 03-13-2010 08:00 PM

That was very easy to understand advice. When you say make sure your horse knows he has to stay squared up, do you mean, if he moves put him back in that position? Or this there something else you should do if he moves?

Nita 03-13-2010 10:19 PM

Um, you'll have to check your rules. Some small shows won't let you have the chain touching your horse, in which case you should just double it through the ring at the bottom until it's the length you prefer. If that happens, at all costs, DO NOT let the chain touch the horse. Judges are looking for ways to make their job easier and if you even barely touch the horse with the chain, they'll DQ you. But other than that, I usually put it over. I don't think it matters, though, just a personal preference, unless I'm not understanding what you mean, which is also highly possible lol.

Juniper: Yes, I mean put them back. It's not meant to be a punishment, though, just a reprimand like,"Hey, I want you to stand like this. Don't move, please." Eventually, the horse should realize that if he stands like that, you leave him alone, and pretty much all horses find that as a reward. You might keep a treat in your pocket, if your horse learns better that way. You know your horse better than I do. =) Don't make him stay that way for too long though, at first. A few seconds the first time, then gradually increase it. And thanks. :D I try to make it easy to understand but sometimes I don't think I succeed lol.:?


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