Halter and Showmanship: Pivoting & Standing Still
I show in 4-H and have a horse that I think would be really good in halter. He doesn't know how to pivot, so what would be the best way to teach him that? He also has this big problem... standing still. I think he does it just for his amusement! I will get him all pretty and squared up and then after a few minutes he moves and I try to stop him but he ends up turning. So then I have to take him out of line and turn him back around and square him up again. I think he did this atleast seven times in one class at my last show. It's not like he's fidgety.. it's almost like he gets bored. Like he will have his ears up and alert and seem calm but then he just wants to move. Then I have another problem: sometimes we are last to go out and he wants to bolt out, I guess because he doesn't want to be left alone. But if I could get him to stand still & pivot, we might just win and he won't have to be last out :grin:
To teach a pivot, I start from a square halt (usually the norm in most patterns anyway), and back the foot that the horse will pivot around a step back. For example, you're standing on the horse's left, back the right hind foot up a step. Push the lead under the horse's jaw and walk into the throatlatch. You can back up the cue with a verbal reminder, and depending on the horse, either a touch on the point of the shoulder or a hand in the air near the horse's eye to encourage him to step over. Speed and fluidity will come, but correctness is important from the start. You want the pivot foot to stay planted, and the front leg closest to you to step in front of the other. Start with only one or two steps, and immediately walk him forward to reward.
As far as standing still, I would square him up and let him stand. Before he moves himself, reward him and move him forward. Slowly extend the time that he's standing, but let him tell you when he's nearing the end of his patience. It takes timing and knowing the warning signs of an impending fidget. Practice at home, but I wouldn't be afraid to reposition in a lineup if the class is big and he starts thinking about moving around.
Good luck! :D
I actually use a hissing sound when I pivot. I find it's far less noticable than a kiss or a cluck.
Best advice I've ever gotten: practice, practice, practice. Fifteen minutes every day. I'll practice when I'm done riding (in my english bridle), or as I'm leading my horse to the wash rack, or when I'm headed to cross ties...ALL the time.
Everytime he moves, just put him back and make him stay. If he moves again, just put him back. Someone once told me never to circle your horse out of line because that teaches him if he moves, he wins and get's to circle. Don't back him up either, that shows frustration to the judge. Just set him up again. And again. And again. Like PB said, just practice practice practice! Everywhere, square him up and make him stand. Literally, everywhere.
As for pivoting, i've posted about this before, so I'm gonna copy and paste. Sorry if some of it isn't relevant, just disregard those parts.
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!
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