Showmanship Pattern:

  1. Enter arena and walk to marker 1.
  2. Stop. Turn and jog diagonally across the arena, and set up with the rest of the class.
  3. When called, walk halfway to the judge.
  4. Stop, and do a 360° turn.
  5. Jog to the judge, and set up for inspection.
  6. When the judge has finished, back your horse into the lineup.

Showmanship Challenge: Showmanship is all about straight lines and details, and this pattern tests both.

Showmanship Strategy: You’ll need to stay on your toes, because I may ask for a few things you don’t expect. Good preparation is the key: If you’re well prepared, you’ll be able to perform any pattern and respond to any request, all while projecting a positive attitude.

  • When you enter the arena, I may walk alongside you for 10 feet or so. This generally surprises exhibitors, hyping them up for the class-but don’t let it rattle you. Your attitude throughout should be, “Look me over, but don’t overlook me.”
  • After you’ve jogged to the ring steward and set up along the rail, stay focused on me while you wait for my signal. When it’s your turn, walk halfway to me. I’ll be watching to be sure your horse is straight, and that you’re positioned at his throatlatch, with your body facing me. (Tip: If you’re forward of your horse’s throatlatch, you’re pulling him. If you’re behind it, he’s pulling you. I’ll mark you down for either leading error.)
  • Stop straight, and begin your 360-degree turn without looking back at your horse. Rules of the American Quarter Horse Association currently give preference to a right-hind pivot, but in other competition, I’m happy to see a good pivot on the left hind.
  • When you finish the turn, jog to me without hesitation, and set up your horse for inspection. I’ll be checking details-your horse’s halter fit, his bridle-path’s trim, even how well you’ve groomed his dock; you’ll lose points if he’s not spotless.
  • If you keep your horse straight in the long back-up to the line, you’ll impress me for having done your homework.

At the end of the class, I’ll call the top six entries out to line up head to tail, facing the gate. You should be prepared to do this immediately. Then I’ll ask each of the six to tell me his or her number; those who can’t will move to the back of the line. Knowing your number is a mark of professional courtesy in showing?especially if you expect to receive a prize.

This article first appeared in the July, 1997 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.

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