Why Showmanship is My Favorite Class
This week I’d like to talk a bit about showmanship. For those who don’t know what showmanship is, it is a class at horse shows where an exhibitor demonstrates their ability to handle their horse and execute a pattern. It is, essentially, an in hand equitation class. But there is much more behind showmanship than people think.
Let’s break showmanship down into two parts. One being the horse and one being the handler. The horse must have respect for it’s handler and be patient for each move. A simple 1/4 turn too far can set someone’s pattern completely off. Earning this respect from your horse takes hours of ground work. Teaching the horse to wait patiently while set (breed standards or discipline standards have you possibly pairing up all four feet evenly or only the front) is extremely important as well as executing a straight back-up, and trotting or walking in straight lines. This type of ground work is not only beneficial for the class but for all aspects of horsemanship. A well behaved in-hand horse is much more enjoyable than one who plows through you and drags you around.
The handler must have good posture and be timely with how they ask their horse to do something. It’s a great way to teach riders to think about how they ask their horse to turn, trot, halt and back. Cues need to be subtle and correct. I find that showmanship helps my equitation riders execute patterns under saddle more cleanly because they break down each part and take their time to do the maneuvers correctly.
I personally love to teach my horses showmanship because it makes their ground manners that much better. They are more patient and want to please their handler. I believe in the idea that if a student is not comfortable on the ground in asking their horse to do easy tasks then they will not be confident in the saddle. Even if you don’t compete, teaching your horses these maneuvers will be beneficial to your relationship.
Showmanship is my favorite class and because of this I am requiring my students to learn more showmanship this year as part of our “trying new things” for the new year!
Pictured is my student Iain with Just Kidding “Baxter” after a 10&under showmanship win at an Arabian show.