Adding the 'Wow' in Performance Halter

So you decided to enter a performance halter class – here are 10 tips to get you in the top placings.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

The performance halter exhibitor’s appearance should complement a well-groomed horse with an air of professionalism. (Credit: Journal)

  1. Fit your horse to his frame. Performance halter is all about form to function, meaning bigger does not mean better. Don’t think you need to try to make a small-framed horse look like a big halter horse. 
  2. Dress clean and neat. In halter classes, it’s not necessary for the human competitor to dazzle the judge; that’s the horse’s job. The showman’s appearance should complement a well-groomed horse with an air of professionalism.
  3. Fit the lead shank to your horse. The shank will speak volumes to your level of professionalism, showing good horsemanship. 
  4. While you’re at it, outfit your horse in a properly fitting halter. A show halter should fit snugly; the noseband should be positioned halfway between the eyes and nostrils. 
  5. If you have a choice, go first or last in the order of go. This gives the judge a longer look at your horse, plus you get to choose your ground. 
  6. Know your dirt. Hard ground is not ideal for tracking your horse across (in other words, leading him into the show pen for inspection), but it is best for setting up a horse. 
  7. “Whoa” is your best friend when setting up. Teach your horse that “Whoa” means to stop and stand still, and you’re on the fast track to a quiet performance halter horse. 
  8. Watch your horse’s head all the time. If he’s going to move or cock a leg, he’ll generally cock or move his head. And make sure you keep the head and neck out straight.
  9. Practice for optimum expression. What you want to create is that “looking through the bridle” expression that draws the judges’ eyes to your horse. Tried-and-true attention-getters are peppermints, combs, small breath sprays, lighters and the end of the lead shank. 
  10. Always know where your judge is. But don’t stare at him (that’s just creepy, and not to mention bad showmanship). Watch that you don’t confuse the ring steward with the judge.

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