Hi there. I have recently purchased a little solid appaloosa filly. She is 8 months old now, and I am hoping to show her in weanling classes next year. I am all about taking it slow with my horses, so if she is not ready, I won't push her. We're only going to do 1 or 2 if she is ready, just to expose her. I am fairly green at showing ( I have a four year old quarter horse who does very well in pleasure, and basically is natural at it-she will set herself up when she stands, carry her head low naturally, and she has a very smooth gait, that she collects by herself, so I had to do next to no training specifically for showing). I haven't the slightest idea how to start my new baby (cookie). So far she will backup very nicely, trot on a leadline (a little quick, but that won't take much to slow down), and she will turn both ways. I just would like some pointers on how to teach her to set up. I work with her about twice a day for about 5-10 minutes, just to keep it easy and not sour her, so some nice gentle ideas would be wonderful! Thanks for all the help!
There are a few different ways to teach a horse to square up, this is what has worked for me. First, you want to teach your horse to respond to your movements. Most horses with follow you, but many will not step away when you step into them.
The first couple of days are spent stepping away and into the horse, and asking them to respond accordingly. This should be done on both the left and rite sides.
As they become comfortable/confidant with that, I go into leading, walking/troting off together, stopping together, changing speeds at the walk and trot etc.
When they are responding to that, I then ask them to back each time we stop. (each foot should move the same # of times.) The SECOND the horse anticipates backing at a stop, you are done for the day!
This is where you need to make a decision, what hind foot are you going to set up to? The other hind foot will do the moving. Most of the time you will ask your horse to move back, hence the back at the stop. Set up the hind legs, then the front.
Reward for each small step. Go slow, and be consistent!!!
Some other small tips: (while facing your horse) bringing their head in towards you, it will make it easier for them to move their rite side, and push their head away from you will free up their left making it easier to move their left side. I hope this is what you were looking for, and good luck
also, for setting up , Square Up Your Horse | MyHorse.com
Okay. Wait. You said weanie classes, not showmanship classes. There's a big difference between the two. One is done by the handler using their foot as a guide and a hand on the withers (for the front legs), and the other is taught to the horse so that they move their legs on their own.
We have a weanling and I'm teaching him both ways since HALTER CLASSES require an exact square and SHOWMANSHIP classes don't. Honestly, I would teach it both ways. It's a great thing for a baby to learn to place their feet exactly where you tell them. Also, it's easier to teach then the gear shift method that goes along with showmanship, especially when you've got a baby with a toddler's attention span.
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Congratulations on the purchase of your filly! If she is 8 months old now, she will be considered a yearling next year (at least for breed shows). There are three classes you can show her in as a yearling. Halter, which PBritton covered above, is when the judge(s) score your horse's conformation. Part of that comes from their movement, so walking and trotting in a straight line is important. Teaching her to stand still is far more important than teaching her to set herself up at this age. I'm not saying don't teach her to set up, because it does come in handy, but focus on getting her to be still in whatever position you put her in, and to look alert. The second class you can show her in is Hunter in Hand. It is also judged on conformation and movement, but the emphasis is on movement. When you set up for this class, it is not square. You can also show her in lunge line, which I think has a conformation part at the end. The horse has to walk, trot, lope in both directions. The purpose of the class is to judge a western pleasure prospect. (I think)
You can find more information on these classes at Official Handbook of the Appaloosa Horse Club
Good luck with her.
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