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HorseShowCentral > Riding Styles & Disciplines > Showmanship at Halter

Showmanship at Halter - Riding Styles & Disciplines

Halter class winning Quarter Horse profile, with handler. Showmanship at Halter Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below

Showmanship at Halter is a Western style class only available in the amateur and youth divisions. Showmanship at halter is not a class in which the horse is being judged, rather, the ability of the exhibitor to fit a horse, and to show a horse, is what is being judged. The horse is just a prop to demonstrate the ability of the exhibitor to fit a horse, to bring it in show condition, and to present that horse in the best possible way.


The judge will design and post a little pattern for this, asking for the horse to be led in a walk, a jog, or extended trot, in a straight or a curved line. Also in showmanship at halter, turn-arounds may be asked for, 90, 180, 270, or 360 degrees, plus a back-up. These turns should be executed by the horse pivoting on the inside hind foot. At some point during the class, the exhibitor must set up his or her horse so he stands square, like a halter horse, for the inspection of the judge.

The overall appearance of the exhibitor and the horse will make up half of the judge’s score, the other half being allocated to correct execution of the pattern straight lines, smooth and correct turns, prompt transitions of gaits are all important in the showmanship at halter class.

The attire must be appropriate for western classes, neat and clean. Especially for ladies there are fashionable outfits, but the attire should not be overly flashy. The poise of the handler, his or her confidence, position, attentiveness throughout the class will be evaluated as much as the appearance, and the appearance of the horse. Immediate, competent corrections of any faults the horse may make are what the judge will be looking for, as well as correct position, a businesslike attitude, straight and alert posture.

An important part of the performance is setting the horse up for inspection. In the Showmanship at halter class, one has much less time for this than in a halter class, as the focus of the judge is on the exhibitor all the time, and therefore immediately on the set up, which should be taking place in one continuous move, with as little correction as possible. It takes a well-prepared horse to assume that stance immediately when asked it takes showmanship.


The horse’s body and coat condition and overall fitness will be evaluated, how clean it is, how well-presented, but NOT his conformation, or his quality of gaits. It stands to reason, though, that any contestant in a Showmanship at halter class is in a better situation when showing a pretty horse. It does not have to be a halter winner, but it should be an attractive horse. Presenting an image to the judge that he likes is what showmanship is all about. It would make it hard for the judge to concentrate on the things he is supposed to focus on, when an ugly horse is presented, while the name of the game is showing off.

Part of what is entailed is a glowing coat, tangle-free mane and tail, a neatly clipped bridle path of proper length, well-trimmed hooves. In Showmanship at halter, if the horse is shod, it will also be considered how properly the shoes fit, and if the nail clinches are neat.

One of the foremost rules for the exhibitor is to never stand where he or she obstructs the judge’s view of the horse. They should show like they are at attention, respectful, intense, but with the least possible motions.

showmanship at halter line-up.
Photo shows a long line up in front of the judge.

Article © HorseShowCentral.com Submitted by Hardy Oelke and Photos © Oelke or Oelke Archive. Reproduction of any portion of this copyrighted website without written permission of the publisher is prohibited and subject to legal action.

Other HSC pages of information for those who involed in Western style riding:

Western Style Riding
Cow Horse 
Western Horsemanship / Western Equitation
Western Pleasure 
Western Riding
Western Trail Class
Cutting Horse 
Reined Cow Horse / Working Cowhorse 
Ranch Horse Competition
Calf Roping 
Team Roping 
Team Penning
Barrel Racing 
Pole Bending
Halter Horses

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