getting the crisp look
What do you do to get your showmanship pattern crisp?
I started doing showmanship with April a couple of month ago. We have the raw basics down but I just want everything to flow and look nice and natural and be more able to hold our own in the show pen.
April is really good about setting up- I turn by body and toes to her and she will set-up 90% of the time without me pushing on the chain (we have shown halter for three years).
Trotting out is a bit sloppy- She is a bit laggy when I ask her to go
Stopping- once I get her in the trot and ask to stop she will typically stop reight with me but she loves to throw her nose out, she also does this while riding and would like to know an effective way to stop it
Pivot- I can get her to pivot but once I get close to the 270 degree I really have to help hold her otherwise she falls apart. I am still trying to figure out where my body position will work best for her. If I get too ahead of her head she backs out of it and if I am too far back she goes forward. I know her troubles with sticking it everytime has a lot to do with operator error :-|
backing- when I turn my body and look straight back she will back about 3 steps and after that I have to get after her
I welcome any help :D thanks a ton in advance
Trotting out - I occasionally carry a dressage whip and use it to cue the trot when Smoky is feeling lazy. After doing that once or twice, he usually figures it out and trots off like I want him to. To make him look good at the trot, I vary the speed. The important thing is for him to stay with me.
Stopping - Is her nose going out in front or to the side? If it goes to the front, work her a few times without the chain. You should eventually get her to the point where you don't have to touch the lead to cue the stop. When I want Smoky to stop, I pick myself up and lean back (very slightly). That tells him we're going to do something different, and he follows my lead.
Pivot - LOL,finding the right position is 3/4 of the battle. Have someone there to tell you what she is doing and keep your eyes up like you would in the show pen. As far as finishing a 360 or more, that's just lots of practice. When I started Smoky, he would just barely finish a 180 and then try to back across the pen. With practice, he's now finishing a 360. I'm trying to build him up a little past that, because I had one showmanship pattern that asked for a 450. Oh, and make sure you have her weight on the foot she's going to pivot on (as opposed to asking for the pivot when she's squared).
Backing - Practice. If you know she'll give you three good steps, ask for four. Keep building until she'll back fifteen or twenty in a straight line. Also practice backing around cones. (I had that come up in a show a couple times.) If she backs crooked, practice along a fence.
A lot of making a showmanship pattern flow is teaching the horse to read you. When I ask Smoky to set up, my toes are pointed at his offside front foot. When I ask him to back, my toes are pointed straight back, not toward him. This lets me tell him to back without moving his lead. When I want to move from a walk to a trot, I bend my knees just a little deeper and lean forward (again, very slightly) for a step or two and then jog off.
Don't try to make every part of every practice perfect. Just pick one or two things to work on at a time, and let her know when she does something right, especially in the beginning. The most effective method is to just let her relax for a minute or give her a short scratch. When you are getting ready for a big event, try to work on more elements at once.
It sounds like you are well on your way, and I wish you luck!
thanks!!! Looks like I have a few things to go off from now :)
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.
I thought I'd clip and paste a link to the winner of this year's youth World Show in showmanship. I don't know if you've seen it or not, but it's worth watching. Pay attention to Cheyanne when she moves. (Ignore the first time she trots off--she's running to get her award.) Watch her pattern towards the end of the video. Pay particular attention to her pivot. Look at how her feet EXACTLY match her horse's steps. I mean EXACTLY. Then, when she trots off, same thing. That's what I'm talking about. Mirrors.
There are a ton of little secrets to showmanship. It's so cool to watch when it's done correctly.
2010 AQHYA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SHOW - SHOWMANSHIP AT HALTER on Vimeo
Thanks for pointers- I was told once not to give verbal clues and it should be all in the body, but they do respond better with a heads up. One more show left this season and then a whole winter to work on things!!!
I have won many classes and circuits this year, top tens at the big national shows, and not only do I cluck and say whoa, I hiss when I pivot. LOL. Truly, the judges won't care. Just don't do it excessively and keep your voice low.
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