On the International Trail

Basics of the Showmanship Set-Up: A Breakdown of the Quarter Method

Oklahoma State University instructors demonstrate the showmanship quarter method at the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp in Denmark.

klahoma State University instructors Sarah Schobert and Natalie Baker provided an informative explanation on the showmanship quarter method. (Credit: Kelsey Stangebye)

Have you ever been confused about how to correctly show your horse during the showmanship set-up for inspection? For the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp in Denmark, Oklahoma State University instructors Sarah Schobert and Natalie Baker provided an informative explanation on the showmanship quarter method. Natalie and Sarah have had extensive experience and success with showing the showmanship. Additionally, Natalie and Sarah provided information to the riders about the AQHA Handbook of Rules and Regulations and what it has to say about showmanship. 

The Set-Up 

In showmanship, the exhibitor is required to set-up their horse for inspection and present their horse to the judge. The set-up is where the exhibitor asks the horse to square their front legs and hind legs in a position that is conformationally square for the horse.

For the set-up, the exhibitor should stand with their body angled toward the horse, so that the exhibitor is positioned between the horse's eye and muzzle. Sarah Schobert explained that the exhibitor should have their shoulders back and they should confidently present their horse to the judge. 

The Quarter Method

As required by the AQHA Rulebook, the exhibitor must use the "quarter method" when presenting their horse to the judge for inspection. 

The purpose of the quarter method is to allow the judge to inspect the horse. The exhibitor's body position should never obstruct the judge's view of the horse. The instructors explained that during the cross-overs the exhibitor should change sides of the horse promptly. Sarah emphasized that the cross-overs should look natural and effortless rather than mechanical. 

So you may be asking, "where do I stand when the judge is inspecting my horse?" Well, the answer depends on where the judge is standing in relation to the horse's body.

A simple explanation with the quarter method is that the exhibitor should never obstruct the judge's view of the horse. 

The instructors explained that the horse is divided by four imaginary lines, which splits the horse's body into four quarters.  The exhibitor should think about having an imaginary line dividing the horse between the horse's nose and tail, and across the right and left shoulders. In the photo below, there are cones that show how the quarters are arranged on the horse. 

Notice how the exhibitor crosses over whenever the judge passes into a new quarter. So as a summary, if the judge is inspecting either front quarters of the horse, the exhibitor will always be positioned on the opposite side away from the judge. The exhibitor will always be on the same side of the horse as the judge during the rear quarter inspection. 

More Tips

The exhibitor should spend time practicing the cross-overs, so the horse can be accustomed to their handler crossing over from side to side. The exhibitor should be prompt in their cross-overs but careful to not move their horse's head as they switch sides. 

To prepare for a showmanship pattern, the exhibitor should have a person on the ground to practice the set-up inspection. This will help the exhibitor practice their timing with the cross-overs and will also let the horse become relaxed with a person walking around the horse for the inspection while the horse stands still.  

Fun Times in Denmark

Thank you to the Danish Quarter Horse Association! 

In addition to a rewarding horsemanship camp, the OSU instructors and I had a full day to explore Scandinavian culture by visiting a traditional Danish viking festival. From beautiful country side to exploring Danish culture, the instructors and I had a lovely time in Hobro, Denmark, with our host and representative for the Danish Quarter Horse Association, Anja Pen. Also, the OSU instructors and I would  like to congratulate the Danish Quarter Horse Youth Team with their recent eighth-place at the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup in Australia! 

Up next, we will be traveling to Five Star Ranch in Germany! 

Find more horse showing pointers on AQHA's Showmanship at Halter Tips Pinterest board.

The Showmanship Set Up Quarter Method