I have a young horse that I plan to start hauling to some small shows this summer to get used to seeing the sights. I thought showmanship might be a good introduction to competition since it’s in-hand. I have watched many showmanship rounds but have never done it and have no idea how to teach a horse to set up, pivot, etc. and don’t have easy access to anyone that can teach me. Are there any good online video resources for teaching showmanship basics? I’ve done some looking on YouTube but have not found anything that breaks it down enough.
I know I watched a lot of this guys video when I was learning. However, I also quickly discovered that I definitely needed an actual trainer to get hands on with me… I’m not good at learning by watching videos.
If these videos don’t help, might be worth messaging some people about virtual/zoom lessons.
I feel like Holly Hover has said in the past that she did virtual… but you’d have to ask.
I come from a hunter background, and now that I show Paints I’ve had to learn showmanship. It was completely foreign to me. And I also had a green horse, so we were both learning at the same time. Needless to say, I understand where you’re coming from.
There are some good sources online, both through the AQHA and a few YouTube videos. Here are just two examples:
If you don’t have a coach who’s nearby who can help, see if there’s a local 4H with a horse program. They do showmanship at their competitions and some of those kids are very knowledgeable. Also, when you do go to a show with your greenie, try approaching some of the other people in the showmanship classes and ask for some friendly tips. Most folks are happy to help out a fellow horse lover.
Remember your goal is to introduce your greenie to the hubbub of competition. Halter and showmanship classes are a wonderful way to start… just remember to have fun along the way!
I wish I could remember more than I’ve forgotten about doing showmanship! It’s been years since I’ve set foot in the ring for that class, though I used to be halfway decent at it.
Since your horse is young, the first things I would work on is having him (you didn’t say, so I’m assuming) is standing square. With any horse I’ve intended to show I always teach them to stand square, starting in the barn aisle when being groomed. Always start with getting the back feet square first. If you have to pick one up and put it where you want it for a while, that’s fine, but it’s best if you can try to get them to move their foot with the shank. Always try to do this keeping the head down. I hope I’m remembering correctly, if you need to move the left hind, move the horse’s head slightly to the right before applying any pressure or the opposite for the other. Then work at setting the front feet. Again you can shift the horse’s weight slightly by moving their head so they pick up the foot you want to move. I used to always keep them square when working with them so the get comfortable standing like that and not moving, which you don’t want them to do in a class unless asked. It’s also good practice for you setting them up over and over.
Another thing to work on is having them move by them following your body. Always move your body forward before you take that first step, the horse will learn to watch your body motion, so minimal clucking will be required the more they start watching you. The horse should always be right beside you, not ahead, or dragging behind. The same with backing up, but you’ll be facing their hind quarters of course. When you pivot, I’ve always aimed for keeping even with the horse’s eye, just behind it when walking or trotting. What you need to start doing is standing up straight when handling your horse, a tall posture, like you are so confident that you are showing the best horse on the grounds, or even the whole county! Keep your hands at about waist height, the end of the shank in your left hand.
This is about what I would start with for a bit, since both you and your horse are new to the game. In a couple weeks we can discuss your position and the quarters to follow when standing your horse for inspection.
If you have shows in your area to attend, then there are bound to be someone that you can find to at least get a couple in-person lessons.
Ask the people who put on the shows. Ask if they can direct you to someone who does lessons. Someone always knows someone.
The thing you are missing with online-only is feedback.
Are you applying pressure in the right way?
Are you releasing the pressure when you should?
The timing and feel can’t be found online, and that where someone in-person can fill in the blanks.
For sure, I could not have learned showmanship without my trainer and tips from the kids at the barn who are hotshots at the national level in showmanship.
My horse wants to square up naturally, so he made that part easy. And once we both got the concept of pivoting, that came pretty quickly, too. He’s just kind of a slug at times and jogging off is not his forte. We’re working on that. After a year, I either nail the showmanship pattern or make a mess out of it. There’s no middling ground with me. Fortunately, I have kept a sense of humor about the whole thing!