Training for showmanship?
I have very limited experience with showmanship. I know the basics of how it's supposed to go and what maneuvers the horse is supposed to be able to do, but I've no idea how to go about teaching it. I'd like to start and end each ride with a little ground work to start working on some of the basics (squaring up, pivots and walking/trotting off). Any tips to help me get started?
Showmanship is a great way to teach something new to your horse and also improve their ground manners. There are a few basic maneuvers in Showmanship that you can practice. An actual Showmanship class combines these maneuvers into a pattern.
1. Leading your horse - you need to be able to lead your horse at the walk and jog, keeping your horse the correct distance away from you and keeping his jaw / poll line with your right shoulder.
2. Stopping your horse - when you stop, your horse should stop and calmly stand beside you.
3. Set-up - when cued, your horse stould square up and stand with their back feet together and their front feet together, positioned squarely underneath their body. Once you can get your horse to stand still, start working on getting your horse to move one foot at a time based on your cues with the lead rope. I start with getting the back feet set and practice in a stall backing them into the corner. Once they get the back feet, you can work on the front feet.
4. The back-up - Work with your horse to get them to back on cue without having to put a lot of pressure on the lead rope. If your horse doesn't want to back staright, practice next to a fence. Once they can back straight, practice backing them in a circle or semi-circle.
5. The pivot - this is probably the hardest maneuver in Showmanship. To begin, I lift on the lead rope (to help elevate the left shoulder) and use a small bat crop to tap on the horses left shoulder as I walk towards their head. Only ask for 1 good step to start out and praise your horse if they give you one cross-over step. As they start to consistently give you one good step, ask for 2 good steps and increase the number of steps until they can complete an entire circle.
I hope this helps. Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense. Start out with the Stop and the Walk / Jog before you move on to the other things.
I disagree, i think the set up is the hardest part. It takes the longest for a horse to learn. You can teach a horse to pivot in about 4 days if you know what your doing.
No matter what your doing with your horse on the ground be sure that when you stop your horse to stand still for anything (grooming, tieing, saddling, etc) ask your horse to set up. That way he will learn quicker
On the set up I use two different cues. To move the back feet I move the chain forward and back ward horizontally. The front feet the a down ward bump.
A very basic, yet important, thing to start with is getting your horse to give to the pressure of the chain. Pull downwards on the chain and release when your horse gives. Another really neat tip I got was that when you first start to move (walk or jog) always lead with your right foot...because its closest to your horse he will see it faster and eventually this movement will cue him to go without any other pressure.
Most has been covered for training the horse.
Think about your cues though when you're training, and how you want it to be when you're showing.
Mine, vocally know to set up and recognize "front" and "hind" when I say it during the beginning stages. I slowly wean them off the voice command, and they start setting up from me just looking at whichever hoof. It's crisper.
Lots of practice, and what everyone else has said. I prefer not to practice without a chain, so I suggest always practicing with it. I want it to be how it be will in the show ring. No surprises.
The hardest thing to get down is the set-up in my book. If done right with clear, consise cues, your horse will start to do it automatically.
When I start my babies I always do a little walk/trot work, If your horse is just learning it you have to be over exaggerative for them, just like teaching them in the saddle.
At the walk I teach them the correct area to be in, hand by their jaw and my shoulder about their poll I believe it is. At first I make click noises for each step, like a metronome, so they learn to jog with my beat. When I slow for a stop, I let out a big whoooosh, so they know I'm stopping. I stand for a moment, then turn to them.
Always teach the back feet first. YOUR own feet will tell theirs to move. Face them, slightly on the left hand side, and pick up your right foot and take a step into them. They should slide their left hind back. If they don't get it, over exaggerate--large, high, long step. Give them time to think, tap on the lead as you do it so they know you mean move. Eventually it should be you stomping your foot, then just picking it up, then just shuffling your foot.
Your HANDS move the front end. Face them, slightly to their left. Your hand on the left hand side of their face means move the left front foot. When you put your hand under their jaw, that means the right front foot. A slow, even pull on the lead and leaning into them will mean "move back." eventually it becomes just a miniscule lift of the lead and they will set up.
I've had stubborn horses who sometimes you will have to put your toe on their front foot to get them to "un-glue" it. Sometimes I have to point at a foot and yell "MOVE IT" to my filly and then she goes, oh yeah.
Practice makes perfect :) Every movement you make will move another part of the horses body, so even the handler needs practice to be clear and fluid, without hesitating or shuffling. When you do, your horse does, and you lose composure.
I Hope this helps!! If you need advice on more advanced manouvers like the forehand and backhand pivots, let me know (: I'll gladly help.
Everyone has some great suggestions!!! I have used this article before with tips on different maneuvers. Always practice and do the same body movements everytime.
Success In The Show Pen: Training the Showmanship Horse (Updated)
You've gotten great advice thus far. I also agree that setting up takes more time than teaching a pivot. Showmanship is by far my favorite class to show in as well as judge. My lesson kids occasionally refer to me as the "Showmanship Nazi".
Aside from the other stuff, ground tying is a great tool to have in your bag with an in-hand horse. You can have a great pivot & perfect set-up but if you have a horse that wants to move when you switch sides or won't stand still everything else doesn't matter.
Just a random hint for showmanship, make sure your halter and lead are clean and you and your horse are clean and well groomed. I was working gates at a local show for a friend and saw horses walking into the ring in beautiful silver plated halters that were filthy or the riders were wearing beautiful show suits but their hair was a mess, just a word of the wise
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