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Ten Tips for Showing Halter Horses Successfully


You don't need to saddle up to succeed in the show ring. Halter horse competitions allow you to showcase your skill at grooming, training and conditioning your halter horse. AQHA judge and Professional Horse Services founder Mike Jennings shares his tips for showing halter horses successfully.

Conformation Matters - Proper conformation is the most important item to consider when selecting a halter horse. Judges will be looking for a well balanced horse with good feet and legs when they start walking down the line. Each judge will have his or her own preference in how they like a horse to be built and muscled, however they all will look to see how well the horse is balanced.

Top Condition - The judge's first impression can have a bearing on your class. Make sure your horse is show ready when you walk in the ring, with a shiny coat, good weight and muscle tone. "In a standard halter class the judges will want a horse to have extra muscling and carry a bit more volume than those horses that are showing in the performance halter classes, where they will be a bit fitter for their actual performance events," explains Jennings.

Slick & Shiny Hair Coat - Regular grooming is the best way to ensure your horse has a slick and shiny hair coat. Jennings suggests using artificial lights for 16 hours a day to simulate the amount of natural day light of late Spring and Summer. This helps keep the hair coat shorter. Feeding a high fat feed, such as Legends Performance will also help your horse have a shiny coat from the inside out.

Stand on Command - Ideally you should be able to set up your horse for judging by using signals from the lead shank on the halter. The horse should be able to move one foot at a time based on your cues. Teaching the horse to stand still with their legs square under them, will allow the judge to see the horse at its best.

Second Set of Eyes - Get help from a knowledgeable friend and determine the best hoof placement to best show off your horse. "To best show off your horse's topline, place the feet directly underneath the horse, not allowing them to go too far forward or behind square," explains Jennings.

Move Readily - When it is time to show off your horse's walk and trot he must readily accept your commands. Likewise he must do so in a straight line. Jennings remarks, "A wiggling horse will not look like it is tracking correctly and will not properly show off its confirmation."

Don't Block the Judge - After spending hours upon hours preparing your horse for competition you don't want to block the judge's view. When the judge is viewing your horse make sure you stay out of his or her way and position yourself on the opposite side of your horse.

Not Just for Pros - You don't have to be a pro to do halter classes. Weekend shows give owners an opportunity to try their hand a showing halter.

Make the Time - If you want to be successful, you have to make the time and put the effort into properly conditioning your horses. If you do your homework, in terms of conditioning and training you will be able lead your own horses into the ring and compete.

Observe & Take Notes - Whether you are new to the world of halter horses or a seasoned competitor, it's a good idea to visit a show and watch how the top professionals show their horses. Watching the pros show can be valuable, however getting assistance from a professional can help you to gain success more easily.


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