Halter Showing Tips – 2

Part two of a series on showing at halter. Read the first segment here. 

This series by judge Mark Sheridan will help people who are showing their horses in halter competition. The new class of Performance Halter has hit most of the breeds over the last few years. In addition, versatility ranch classes and various competitions require showing your horse at Halter for breed and open shows and there has been a major increase in people exhibiting their horses in Halter and Conformation classes. The tips in this five-part series will help make your experience in Halter more enjoyable and more competitive. Most importantly, it will give you the tools that will make it easier for the judges to place you closer to the top of the class.


On the class procedures it is extremely important to walk your horse to the judge. So often, when an exhibitor walks to the judge, the judge has to step to his left to see the horse track because the exhibitor walks straight to the judge putting the horse a few feet to the judge’s left. It is important for the judge to see the horse track at the walk and trot, and if he cannot see them track correctly, he will have to either re-track the horse or move into position to see the horse track. In most of the breed and open shows there will be a cone where the exhibitors should track toward at the trot and then make a left turn, showing the judge the profile view at the trot giving him the opportunity to evaluate the horse’s movement and to detect any unsoundness. If you make a nice sharp turn and continue with your trot to the left and then line up under the direction of the ring steward, it allows the judge to properly assess your horse.


This leads to two more important tips, the first one being: make sure that your horse is broke to trot and leads well, and able to make the sharp turns and make it easy for us to judge him. Keep in mind that if a judge cannot adequately view and inspect your horse, he must place them accordingly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first time weekend horse show or a five-time World Champion halter horse at the World Show; if we can not properly view and judge them, they have to be placed with that in mind. Years ago, halter horses could bounce around, kick out and misbehave and still win, but those days are long gone. It is important to train your Halter Horse just like you would a Performance Horse. Make sure that you set your horse up every day or as often as possible. The best way to do this is to set them up, or square them up, when you take them out of the stall, and again when you are finished working with them before you put them back into the stall or paddock. Horses are creatures of habit, and if you do your homework and practice often, they will square up fast and correctly at the show all the time. Get your horse broke to set up without handling his feet and legs. It’s fine to help them learn where their legs are supposed to be with your hands when setting up while first teaching them, but work to get them to set up without handling their legs at the show. I have a simple theory when teaching horses to square up; I teach them to start with the outside right hind first, then the hind left, then the front feet last. Remember to adjust their weight accordingly to be able to move their feet.  If they are leaning on a leg, they will not be able to move that particular leg. Horses are easy to train, if you just do your homework, be consistent, and spend the time.


The second important tip is to make sure that you space your horse with enough room to make it easy for the judge to walk around him. This cuts down on the chance of horses kicking and, more importantly, allows the judge to have enough space to get a good view of your horse from the front and back. Use common sense; in a stallion class, for example, one must obviously give more room between the horses for safety issues. In a smaller arena the ring steward will most likely instruct you where to line up. Always keep in mind: To place your horse we must be able to see your horse. A pet peeve of mine that is relevant to these two tips is to make sure that you do not put your lead behind your back and reach back to set up a leg. This always drives me nuts! We all have our likes and dislikes, but this one is very improper and very unsafe.


1 thought on “Halter Showing Tips – 2”

  1. I am interesting in showing in Performance Halter, but after reviewing the AQHA rules it states that only horses that have earned enough points and acquired a ROM are eligible. I am sure I read it correctly but wonder if you could give your insight.

    Thank you.

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