Practice This Horsemanship Pattern

Kelly McDowall, an AQHA Professional Horseman and judge, offers 12 tips for riding this horsemanship pattern.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

When the pattern calls for an extended trot, Kelly says to show the horse that you have and make him look his best. (Credit: Journal) Scroll down to see this pattern.

Ask AQHA judges, and they’ll tell you that precision is paramount if an exhibitor wants to score well in any class, and especially so in the western class of horsemanship. And performing the pattern the way it is drawn is how they’d like to see that precision.

Kelly McDowall, an AQHA Professional Horseman and judge from Frankton, Colorado, says there are two things horsemanship competitors need to keep in mind. 

  • Show your horse in horsemanship, plain and simple. You get bonus points for showing off the horse you have.
  • Perform the pattern the way it is drawn and you will be rewarded.

Looking at the horsemanship prelims pattern from the 2014 Adequan Select World Championship Show, Kelly provided these tips. (Scroll down to see the pattern.)

Jog to Extended Trot (Maneuver 1)

  • Show the horse that you have and make him look his best. In other words, don't speed-trot on a horse with a bumpy trot. 

Stop, Turn and Lope Off (Maneuvers 2-3)

  • The pattern doesn’t read, “Turn around, hesitate and lope off.” To plus this pattern, just turn around and lope off.

Large, Fast Circle (Maneuver 3)

  • Contact with the horse’s mouth is required for a successful horsemanship performance. Horses shown on a draped rein in horsemanship make it look like the rider is just following along and that the two are not working as a team.
  • Contact with your lower legs to the horse’s sides is also necessary in horsemanship.

The Lead Change (Maneuver 4)

  • Avoid a drastic slow-down before the lead-change. Cruise into the lead-change and keep your flow. 
  • This pattern calls for a lead change, not a change of direction. Keep your hand quiet and stay straight. 
  • For a horse that is a green lead-changer, make a flat spot in your circle before the lead change and focus on the position in which the horse is landing.

Straight Lines (Maneuvers 4-6)

  • Stay strong through the second half of this pattern. Precision is key in this part.
  • Every time you have to do a straight line in a pattern, pick a spot on the wall and ride to it. 

The Walk (Maneuver 6)

  • This is where you can show your assertiveness. But be careful to not push your horse too hard  into a jog. Aim for a nice, strong, aggressive walk.

2014 AQHA Select World Show Horsemanship Prelims Pattern

Get more patterns to practice via our Pinterest board, Horse Show Patterns.