Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waltzing In The Ring For Halter

Today I wanted to throw out a post on a subject that I ask other judge's all the time and end up with as many different answers. It really comes down to preference and that's it. The showmanship 'dance' in halter classes. I'm not talking about the dance for showmanship but using that dance in halter classes.
In halter classes, I find the dance rather annoying. If you exhibit a horse in a halter class, your job as the handler is to make sure the horse is presented in it's best position.....and then stay out of the way so as not to obstruct a judges' view of the horse. The judge needs to see a complete picture and by casually using the half method (staying on the same side as the judge), that is quite enough of the dance without being a distraction. When you are animating your steps, holding the lead like you're serving tea, faking a smile from ear to ear, changing sides every few steps, you're just a distraction and I may even have to hunt down your exhibitor number because you've been dancing too fast for me to catch it.
So my preference for halter, is that you focus more attention on setting up your horse and doing what you need for that horse to look it's best. Stretching the neck up, down, whatever is best for your horse; getting the ears pricked up; keeping them from falling asleep, etc are things you can do while keeping the judge in your peripheral vision. Stay on the same side as the judge but not obstructing the view of your horse. You need to exhibit your horse safely, yes but doing the showmanship dance in halter is not necessary.

On an extra note when presenting a horse in halter.... general stock horse rules, including 4-H, do require you to walk/jog/trot directly to the judge. The judge will move out of the way or instruct something else if they want a different view. This means, walk/jog/trot the HORSE directly to & away from the judge. NOT YOURSELF. I don't care if you paddle out or have a weak ankle. I want to see how your HORSE tracks & moves. Although you cannot see if your horse is directly at and away from the judge but if you offset yourself left of the judge when presenting, it's a good chance I'll see your horses' movement as opposed to yours.


  1. This is really nice to know.

    I've gradually moved around to being an all-arounder teen with my current mare, Halter classes included. I always forget if the quarters are acceptable in Halter or not, so I end up doing them half the class. lol

    I'll keep this in mind now - we've got a few season closer shows coming up that offer halter classes.

  2. LOL! I loved this post! The dance! I think you mostly see that with the stock breed people huh? Park horses don't go through that. Love the blog!


I am just one judge with one judge's opinion. Almost all of the classes I judge are based on the rules of USEF & AQHA. Judging a horse show is very subjective to the interpretation of the rules. Please keep this in mind when commenting.