Common Horse-Showing Mistakes

AQHA Professional Horsemen talk about the five errors non-pros make in halter. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

This is an example of a satisfactory amount of space between horse and exhibitor while showing. They are still a unified pair, but not over-crowded. Journal photo

When it comes to showing horses, we all make mistakes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pro or a novice amateur, you’re going to mess up every once in a while.

But if you know how to keep your eye open for mistakes before they happen, maybe you can prevent them.

The Journal asked a few AQHA Professional Horsemen what the top five mistakes are that most halter amateur exhibitors make, and how to avoid them.

No. 1 – Set Up the Horse Improperly

Know the conformation of your horse and how to show her so she will look her best.

    • For a long-backed horse, bunch the horse up a little bit in the set-up, which will round her back. Don’t set your horse up too wide, which also hollows out the back.
    • Don’t set your horse’s head too high. Look at where the neck comes out and present the horse’s head so that it doesn’t dip the back.

No. 2 – Lead the Horse Incorrectly

Walk and trot your horse properly to the judge.

    • Don’t pull your horse’s head to you. This will kick your horse’s rear end out to the side, and it will make your horse look and travel a little bit funny. This won’t give the judge a clear picture of how your horse travels.
    • Make sure that your  horse’s head is pointed straight and ahead. As the exhibitor, you should focus on the wall in front of you, rather than the judge as you lead the horse.

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No. 3 – Get Too Close to the Horse’s Head

If you stand too close to your horse’s head, the horse might want to start playing with your hand, biting on you or chewing. To avoid this, make sure your hand is away from your horse’s head.

No. 4 – Pay Too Much Attention to the Judge

Don’t lose focus on your horse because you are spending too much time watching the  judge. Always make sure that your horse is properly positioned, just in case the judge looks over at you.

If your horse is set up improperly, and the judge is coming, don’t be afraid to re-set your horse. If you just take a second and get it right, the judge will give you the time to set your horse up correctly.

No. 5 – Over-Show the Horse

Don’t let your nerves get the better of you and help you to make the biggest mistake of all: over-showing your horse.

Keep up your self-confidence, and you’ll find that you won’t make as many mistakes. Positive thinking is a must, as well as getting to know your horse.

The FREE AQHA Competitive Horse Judging Manual is a great book designed to give you an insight look on to what AQHA judges are looking for. Download today!

If you’re not sure what to expect at a show, go and watch it first. Going to lots of horse shows will calm your nerves and let you know what to expect.

And if you find that you get nervous at big shows, just treat that major show like it’s a weekend show. Slow it down and stay in your regular show routine, and you’ll do a better job of presenting your horse.

Final Tip

Remember that horse shows are to be enjoyed. Take your time, relax and enjoy it. Keep in mind the words of AQHA Professional Horseman Denny Hassett of Auburn, Kansas, “Your horse is ready, you’re dressed properly, and if you get it shown properly, you’re going to win a prize.”