A Judge's Perspective: Showmanship

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

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Showmanship is a class that requires a wide variety of talent from both the horse and the exhibitor, says AQHA judge Holly Hover of Cave Creek, Arizona. “It’s a test of elegance, it’s a test of footwork, of concentration, of thought process."

All of these traits were exemplified in Sydney Scheckel's performance in the showmanship finals at the 2015 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, Holly adds. The five Ford Youth World showmanship judges scored Sydney and A Perfect Pleasure a 99.5, 98, 99, 99 and 99. At AQHA world championship shows, the high and low scores and dropped, and the three middle scores are tallied. With this scoring system, Sydney and A Perfect Pleasure earned an incredible 297 out of 300 possible points, good for the 2015 AQHA youth showmanship world championship.

In the video at left, Holly Hover, who judged the horsemanship finals at the 2015 Ford Youth World, dissects Sydney’s winning run. Watch Sydney’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, trot corner to judge
Hover: “To begin with, she does a walk transition to a brisk trot, a tight corner straight to the judge. She proceeds excellently. The pace was beautiful.”

2. Halt, no set-up, 1-1/4 turn
“She moves into her turn-and-a-quarter. You can see she’s natural. Her step is balanced, it’s a moderate speed. She completes her pattern, the horse is balanced.”

Sydney Scheckel and A Perfect Pleasure are the 2015 AQHA youth showmanship world champions 

3. Walk, trot, walk, trot triangle
“She now moves into a tight triangle of a walk, trot, back to a walk, a tight corner again at the walk, emphasizing guiding. Moving into a brisk trot, back to a diagonal line straight to the judge. 

4. Stop, set-up for full inspection
“She’s then setting her horse up. We look for all four legs to be square underneath her. She’s absolutely perfect. Again, watch her flow, where she’s very natural. The horse is pleasant.”

5. 360 turn
“She’s now going to move into her 360-degree turn. Her step is fluid – it’s not rushed, it’s not artificial. Beautifully done, matching the horse’s footwork. She completes it exactly on the mark.” 

6. Walk, trot, walk, trot triangle
“A little bendy line into a straight-line walk, we’re going back into a triangle, moving up into the same pace of a brisk trot, back to the downward transition to walk the corner, and again we’re asking her to move forward into the trot, back into a second diagonal line.” 

7. Stop, set-up (no inspection), back, 3/4 turn
“Here she’ll pause, set the horse up for a second time, with a hesitation, direction by the steward to complete the pattern. Her backup is phenomenal – it’s athletic, it’s rhythmical, it’s beautiful, it’s not too much. She finishes with an outstanding turn.”

8. Exit at a walk or jog
“Again, her footwork, her style, her grace – this girl has all the components.”

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.

Sydney Scheckel and A Perfect Pleasure are the 2015 AQHA youth showmanship world champions