A Judge's Perspective: Horsemanship

AQHA judge Holly Hover dissects the 2015 AQHA youth horsemanship world championship pattern.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

With nearly 200 entries in horsemanship at the 2015 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, just to make it to the class’ semi-finals, then finals is a feat in and of itself.

Coming out on top this year was Harley Huff, riding GW Jack Bar. The team claimed the youth horsemanship world championship August 4 in Oklahoma City.

In the video at left, Holly Hover, who judged the horsemanship finals at the 2015 Ford Youth World, dissects Harley’s winning run. Watch Harley’s winning run, scroll down to view the pattern and read why the AQHA judges found this go worthy of the gold trophy.

1. Walk 15 feet
Hover: “Beginning with a walk, then transition to lope right lead, her position is good, the horse’s frame is good. She’s relaxed, heels down, line good.”

2. Right lead lope, change leads
“Moving into a lead change at the center of the arena, the horse stayed straight, she drove him through, following through with her leg.”

3. Left lead building into a lope with speed
“Moving up into the extended lope circle, I really appreciate her position; she’s challenging the horse, she’s not losing position, her eye is good.”

4. Change leads, collect to a lope
“She comes back straight, maneuvers through the lead change, to our downward transition to a slowed lope, and then into the difficult transition from the gallop to the lope to the extended trot, which she has done very well.”

5. Extended trot
“You’ll see her eyes are very good, her body is good, there’s very little motion  in her seat, she stays very close  to the leather.”

6. Lope right lead, stop
“She is continuing through her circle with the right lead lope, heading in a straight line down the center toward the judges, where she’ll stop and do her 360-degree turn to the right.”

7. 360 right, 1 1/2 left
“You’ll see she’s in good position, square in her saddle. She looks, she taps, she asks with her hand, who yields willingly. Very nice turn. Her second turn to the left is a difficult maneuver. She continues through that turn quite well, feet in good position, eyes good, remaining extremely quiet in her hands, her feet. She’s a very thoughtful rider, a very balanced, relaxed rider.”

8. Lope left lead
“Her left lead around the corner is very nice, very elegant.”

9. Jog, stop and back
“Slowing to a beautiful transition to the jog where she’ll come down to the area of the cone. We’ll see her do a stop and a back. And again, her horse is soft and responsive.”

10. Exit at a walk or jog
“She’s absolutely the right combination of skill, aggression and real physical strength through her leg, her arm, her back and her eyes.”

Do you compete in showmanship, horsemanship or hunt seat equitation? AQHA judge Holly Hover gives her opinion on how to improve your score in the show ring.


Harley Huff won the 2015 AQHA youth horsemanship world championship aboard GW Jack Bar (Credit: AQHA Journal)