Showmanship Pattern:

Be ready at first marker.

  1. Trot to third marker. Stop.
  2. Back to second marker.
  3. Turn 270°; walk to judge. Stop.
  4. Set up for inspection.
  5. When dismissed, turn 90°; trot out.

Showmanship Challenge: To turn in a polished performance in a pattern that calls for a full range of maneuvers.

Showmanship Strategy: This pattern gives the judge a chance to watch you from the side and front. You’ll need to plan carefully and execute every step precisely; here’s how.

  • At the first marker, have your horse set up with you to his right, so that you won’t obstruct the judge’s view. You’ll lose points if you fail this first test of showmanship savvy.
  • At the judge’s signal, move around to your horse’s left side, then trot off immediately with your horse in sync with your steps and performing freely, without lead-shank pressure.
  • If two or more judges are officiating, a second judge may be straight ahead; trot right toward him. Otherwise, pick out a focal point on the far wall and head directly for it. Allow enough room between your line and the markers to execute the upcoming 270° pivot.
  • Stop your horse straight and square at the third marker, so the cone is either between his nose and throatlatch, or at his shoulder.
  • Turn to face your horse, then back him straight until his hip reaches the second marker; stop.
  • Hestitate, then begin the 270° turn. Focus on your horse’s expression, using peripheral vision to monitor his actions and foot placement; don’t keep looking down to make sure he’s planted his pivot foot. Finish with your horse facing the judge, and walk straight forward.
  • Stop, allowing adequate room for the judge to move around you, then set up your horse within 4 seconds.
  • While the judge inspects your horse, never obstruct his view. Cross to the appropriate side of him without being either early or late with your steps.
  • When dismissed, pivot 90° right and trot off immediately toward a focal point. Don’t keep looking back at the judge, or you’ll mar your excellent performance with a crooked last line.

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

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