How to - show a thoroughbred in halter

… but at a stock show, haha. I wasn’t sure where to put this, thought this would be my best bet.

I got suckered into agreeing to go to a fun-type show with my Western riding friend - I have a 4 yo thoroughbred. He owns some incredible western horses, but wasn’t sure how a thoroughbred is supposed to be “stood up” for a halter class. They do have the classes broken up into “stock type” and “non-stock type”.

Head level? Up a little? Bridle or halter? I assume I am to be in my english riding gear? Anything special? I am not sure I have ever done a halter class before, so the whole thing is new to me. I’m just going for fun, though I’ll probably braid because she’s never been gussied up before and it will be fun to see her all dolled up.

Note, her tail is trimmed at the top like an eventer, so we aren’t going to be able to hide our roots very well haha.

Thanks in advance!

Have you checked the prize list or rule book? That’s going to get you better answers than we will be able to.

Typically, halter is a western event - even if it’s a non-stock type horse, unless it specifies that it is an English or Sport Horse type Halter class. (Which I admittedly have never seen before, but again - check the rule book.)

At the open shows in my part of the world (English flat classes and Western flat classes all day) the halter and showmanship can be done in either Western or English turn out. Western was done in a halter and English was done in a bridle.

I do not show in halter so I have no idea if that is how it might be done anywhere else. Just tossing it out there.


I grew up showing TBs in showmanship and halter classes at 4H shows and county fairs (not to mention appropriate classes like hunter and sport horse in hand). Granted it’s been YEARS since I’ve done that, but at that time I presented them just like “everyone else.” Like, if it’s a western-type class, you prep and handle them like any other stock horse.

I am sure there are some good YouTube videos out there to help you learn how to handle a horse in a halter class. It’s not hard, but there are little nuances to learn, especially since it varies discipline to discipline. Gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve done it, I’d probably need a refresher!


Some of my friends are really into showing their young horses in halter at Paint and AQHA shows. From what I gather from their stories (and how they prepare):

The western halter horses are shown in leather halters adorned with silver bling. The English halter horses are in shown in traditional, plain leather halters. The English horses are stood up square, just like the western ones.

At the big shows the English horses are braided. And the handlers wear the full huntseat outfit, including tall boots and helmet. I doubt that you need to go to all that trouble for a schooling show, however!


My friend, who has shown at this schooling show many times, says there are english folk. I don’t think they would have a “non stock horse type” class if they didn’t. And… I don’t give a rip if I’m the only one out there englished-up. A $10 schooling show class is for the horse, not the ribbon. :slight_smile: There is no rule book or prize list, just a show bill. They even have a “training class” where you can put on martingales etc.

So, plain leather halter (can it have her name plate on it?), and me in hunt get out (which is going to be “close enough” because all I have is my dressage stuff lol). I do have a fitted pad if I want to get into a ridden class.

Thanks everyone for the tips!

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Make sure you know if you are showing in a HALTER class or a SHOWMANSHIP class. Much of what has been posted here is more applicable to SHOWMANSHIP than Halter —

Of course, checking the rulebook or rules if you can find them is the first step.

Then, clean horse, neatly turned out --same for you --should do it for a HALTER class. The judge will be looking only at the horse -not you. You need to present the horse “square” – the rest is much like a trot-up at a 3-Day --horse should not lag behind, nor surge forward. Eye should be even with your shoulder. As others said there’s a ton of YouTube video on what this should look like.

We did show our 3-Day horses at the county fair --amazingly (or maybe not) the 3-Day horses never placed in any halter class --English or Western. Both were flying Intermediate level; one was in top 10 scoring horses in the US for a couple of summers. And yet, as halter horses --never placed. But in all honesty --those two were sort of “naggy” looking out of their tack – breathtaking when doing the 3-Day stuff . . .


Oh its definitely a halter class. I’m not ready for showmanship, with all the changing sides and stuff! I’ll leave that to my friend. :slight_smile:


That’s what I was going to add. If it’s just labeled as “halter” in the prize list and the show has both English and western classes, then normally you can show the horse as appropriate for their type. If it’s a stock horse, show them in a western-style halter. If it’s a hunter horse, show them in a bridle.

But each show has their own culture and way of doing things, especially when it comes to schooling shows.

I used to judge local schooling shows and personally, if the it wasn’t made explicitly clear to me that halter was supposed to be a specific type/discipline, then I judged each horse in open classes against their ideals for their breed/discipline. Like I would pin whatever horse was best for their job highest (with turnout and presentation factoring in). But I haven’t judged a show in over a decade.


Plain leather halter (or you can use a bridle). I think it’d be better to not have the nameplate, but honestly for a schooling show I can’t imagine they’d be upset about it either way, so whatever your horse goes nicer in.

As far as headset, I’d do whatever shows off your horse the best. If he’s got a high set neck, then hold it a little higher, low set neck hold it lower, etc. Just make it look natural. It’s also OK to make a small circle and reset if your horse gets antsy (so long as the judge isn’t trying to do their walkaround of your horse).


My friend, who has shown at this schooling show many times, says there are english folk. I don’t think they would have a “non stock horse type” class if they didn’t.

Non-stock horse type typically means just that, NOT “non-western”. Non-stock horse type can be Arabians, gaited horses, draft breeds, whatever.

Tried to be helpful but it seems like you’ve made your mind up on what you’re doing and know more than we do, so good luck! :trophy:


I stated that my friend has been to this show before. He has seen, with his own eyes, english/HUS saddle horses in these classes.

It’s a schooling show. I have nothing to lose by looking like the odd duck, these aren’t my typical stomping grounds. I just want to have fun and get the young horse out to see the sights.


Still “change sides” in a halter class so the judge can see the horse. If they can’t see the horse they can’t judge it. You don’t need to get fancy with it, just step a little to the side so the judge gets a good view. Good luck, halter classes are my favorite!


If your friend has seen the class run, they will be the best source of advice for turnout.


He has seen them run, but not when the person has a TB. He’s in the HUS/WP world. I didn’t know if there was anything TB specific, but it sounds like its all conformation based. Her neck is set on the lower side, so I’ll show her that way.


I showed my TB and appendix in the halter classes when we did 4-H. Southeast regional hunter type gelding winner, lol. He was very typey thoroughbred. We showed halter classes in a bridle because that was most flattering to his face. Could also do a halter but it didnt look as good on him. If you do a halter, chain would go under the chin, use a leather lead shank.
We used to use a piece of plastic or cookie to keep his attention and get a little neck arch when the judge was looking. Square in front, jf you can square behind easily go for it (tacky to move their feet yourself but can do it unlike in showmanship). I typically didnt square mine behind because he was a little close set and that emphasized it. Try not to use the treat to the point they’re leaning over their shoulder to get it.

Male sure your horse will trot with you easily and not be dragged behind. You want a pace that will show off her gait and stride.

Look up some pony model class clinics like from pony finals.

We used to use vaseline or oil on the muzzle and just over the eyes and inside of ears. Not sure if that’s still in fashion. Make sure she’s clean and shiny.

If she wont stand just circle until it’s your turn to be judged.

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One of the things you said makes me question the class, and if i were you i would send a quick email to the show secretary to get clarification.

In my experience, i have never seen a WP/stock show have an English class. I have seen mixed shows, like a fair offer line classes that cater to both English and western. In these shows, they would have a stock type horse halter class, and an English type horse halter class. The stock type one was open to those who showed western and the English was open to those who showed English. In the stock type you wore western clothes, jogged, and wore a western halter. And in the English you wore English show clothes, bridle and had a big airy trot.

I own Thoroughbreds and have shown both English and western with them, the below statements are not to be taken as me saying a quarter horse is a better breed then a thoroughbred, just that they were built for different jobs.

I am assuming, from your brief description, the classes offered at your show are only western. One is for stock type horses like the quarter horse. The other is for non-stock types, like your Thoroughbred, who do western. A halter class is judged on the horse’s movement and build. A Thoroughbred who looks like a Thoroughbred will not beat a Quarter Horse at a stock type class. I feel like this class is offered as a way to judge the horses who would not be on the same level as a quarter horse and would have no hope at placing in a class with a bunch of quarter horses.

So that being said, show in western clothes, in a western halter, and band, not braid as you are going to a western pleasure show. Stand your horse up square, and in the way that will make it look best, you will also jog with your horse, not trot. You will need to move with the judge in a halter class, not just a showmanship class if you are stood for inspection.

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Here’s the show bill - it’s the same every time. In the ridden classes they have both english and western, but I will shoot them an email just in case.

This reads like the showbill of the local all-breed shows where I grew up (and showed). I showed my Morgan at them in halter and showmanship, and would use a leather halter in halter (and a bridle in showmanship). I wore english attire - breeches, boots, show coat…

I think you’ll be just fine in a leather halter and your english attire. No need to go out and get western clothes/western-style halter/etc.


I would enter the non stock type halter and show it like a model/line/conformation class.

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