Modeling tips

Does anyone have any modeling tips for a pony who doesn’t like to put her ears foward and is reluctant to jog? Thank you in advance.

Yes. Find out why she doesn’t like to put her ears forward and is reluctant to jog. Be more concerned for her well-being than for modeling (whatever that means – I assume it is about looks).


Ask the mods to move this to the hunter jumper forum.


The OP is referring to an in-hand class/phase in which the pony hunter is judged on conformation, suitability, presentation, etc. Getting a horse or pony to move to move and respond properly to its handler for these ground classes takes specific training. It isn’t easy. A totally sound horse or pony that is highly trained in its discipline and performs flawlessly under saddle and is a solid citizen on the ground for all general purposes can absolutely also lead/show in-hand like a cranky constipated feral donkey. The skills don’t generalize, if that make sense. Looking forward to some COTHers with model experience to chime in with some good advice!


I believe Laurie Pitts is a member here on COTH, not sure of her screen name. She would be a great person to give advice on handling for the model. Among the other impressive lines on her resume, she has spent a lot of time working with Junior Johnson, who is probably the best horseman showing in breeding and in hand classes right now. (Since Kenny Wheeler has passed.)

1 Like

@freshman’s post below explains what I was posting about. I am 100% sure my horse is not in any pain.

(edited for clarity)


@modifiedequitation, what have you tried so far?

Back in the day when I was still young enough to catch ride ponies, I had a couple rides who I had to try a bunch of different tricks on to reliably get their ears up. Of course, there’s the standard “crinkly mint wrapper,” but if you have one who doesn’t like mints - or in contrast, likes them TOO much and will step forward wanting the treat - that doesn’t really work. Sometimes it’s a question of novelty more than a specific thing; something that makes a noise they’re not used to, or smells a little interesting so they want to arch their necks and sniff it. Maybe it’s a box of Tic-Tacs that you can shake for a little noise (and give them one here and there for a reinforcement treat), maybe it’s a cat toy that jingles when you shake it a little. You’ll have to experiment at home, and then once you find some things that work, don’t overpractice with them so your horse gets dull to them.

As for the jogging, I’ve trained ponies to do that better by carrying a dressage whip with me, giving them a specific voice cue, and then a light flick with the whip to get them going, followed by immediate praise the moment they’re trotting. The more you do that, the less you’ll need the whip over time, and eventually, you won’t even need the verbal cue; they’ll learn from your body language that you’re about to start running and they should trot. But tons and tons of positive reinforcement while you’re doing it - make it fun for them to do it right, then they’ll want to do it more.


You have to practice and the child needs to take lessons from either her own trainer or somebody who actually likes showing and teaching in hand skills. No knock on trainer, some people just find it boring, don’t like it or never have to present one in hand in their divisions or teach a client to do it properly.

Off hand, particularly with Ponies and younger children, the kids dont know how to lead correctly, often pull on the bridle reins, turn around to face Pony and sometimes wave their arms in Pony face trying to pull it forward to jog. Course the Pony doesn’t think they have to move out and knows child cant make it move.

Kids and Ponies practice flat work and jumping and learning the rules 3-5 days a week. They practice presenting Pony in hand….ahhh….well…maybe a few weeks before the show or, worst case, 20 minutes before they have to jog???

Spend many years in a competitive AA barn including many Ponies. Trainer did like it and know how to teach it and they practiced it as part of their regular lessons, especially kids with Division Ponies. Ponies were also schooled by Pros who knew how so they could learn what to do and understand jogging was not optional. Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Find somebody to teach Pony and kid.

Far as the ears…nothing beats a peppermint wrapper discreetly squeezed. Would do this at home only, with enough practice, Pony will learn how to pose on cue when asked anywhere. Again, get some help, none of this is hard but you need a good coach to specifically spend time on this regularly, not just a few tines.


we had one horse who could Hear a peppermint being unwrapped from at least 300 yards, another Loved a Dr Pepper, all that was needed was for someone outside the ring to hold up a Dr Pepper can…she would follow that can intently


Pony is 16 and has been modeling for a very long time, went to pony finals and scored 12th place. However less seems to faze her, which is why she is a bit lazy to jog. I haven’t tried the mint wrapper yet, and Tic Tacs seem like a good idea. I have tried throwing a bit of footing up in the air and that worked for about 3 seconds. The dressage whip/voice cues sounds great.

I am the one modeling. I am planning to practice once a week. My trainer is helping me by acting as a’judge’ to improve mine and the pony’s skills.

1 Like

Check the show to see if they have a course map posted, when our daughter was preparing her horse for such a class there was course she had to take the lad through…we built a similar course for them to practice on… we just did not have the potted plants which kind of took his interest


Something with a course map sounds more like FEH/DSB (with a triangle, which is harder to jog than you expect) or horsemanship or a breed-show thing than a model class. Model classes usually run pretty much like the HB classes I’ve done–stand them up for the judge, jog straight down and back.

With a young horse doing Hunter Breeding, we did a lot of practicing in small bits. I’d practice trotting in hand 20 yards or so before getting on each time, for example, not just drilling. Or we’d do some groundwork, walking in hand over some poles, around some cones, then jog one side of the ring. Always always always focused on stepping off promptly when asked and trotting poltiely beside the person. I always carried a short jump bat, and after a tap behind the shoulder the first time or two, she figured out trotting off promptly quite quickly. But she was a young TB, not an older pony :wink: so you might need to emphasize the forward more than the quiet/polite.

Jogging nicely in-hand is incredibly useful skill for a horse to have, because you never know when you’re going to have to jog it for the vet!


yes, it was a triangle pattern… it was a sport horse suitability in hand national class

To him the whole class was a big game, however he was always an easy going horse

I’ve been told there is no course, we are just lining up head-to tail then we will be called to jog one by one then return to the line.

If its USE/USHJA Rated Hunter division requiring a jog theres no pattern. Go in, line up, present, jog, return to line.

Always found working on Model ( or Halter in breed shows) skills into your regular riding/ schooling routine or even on days you just groom them or turn in/out is more effective and better retained by horse/Pony then a formal model alone session once a week.

It takes two minutes to jog in hand before you get on or take them out to turn out, another two minutes when you get off or bring them in to set them up…in other words, set it up for success by practicing jogging when they are fresh and setting up when they are tired. Obviously, if they are too fresh or too tired, its not going to soak in as well, common sense.

You still want a solid Model/Halter practice session weekly to polish and teach patience but working that skill set in to regular routine a few minutes every time really smooths it out and removes the novelty of…well….asking for good ground manners. These skills are not just to look pretty, leading correctly is safer as is standing still and square and understanding Whoa means just that whether in hand or allowing rider to mount.

That, to me, was the biggest difference between Western and Hunt Seat…ground manners are expected in one, lack of them too often tolerated in the other.


Yep this is what I’m doing.

Bumping this thread to reiterate this last point, after I spent a few minutes trying to get a decent model shot of my pony and nearly getting eaten alive because all I had were those Mrs. Pasture’s cookies, which he’s a total hound for. Make sure you find something that they like, but not something that they like SO MUCH that keeping them standing where you want them is difficult. You can see in this picture that he was leaning for them so much that he made himself look over at the knee, which he isn’t in actuality:

When I was showing him, I think I used mint wrappers, but I also would carry something like a few pine needles or something that I could gently poke his chin with so if he got too excited about the prospect of a mint, I could lightly remind him to stay where he was. I know at least one time, I used a small rubber duck and squeezed it so he got an air poof on his nose, which made him arch his neck all cute.

@COTHers who followed my blog - that’s my Sly pony. Any guesses how old he is now? :thinking:


My goodness, he must be 20 or so now! That’s a recent picture? He looks fantastic.

Thank you! Pine needles is interesting, and so is the rubber duck!