Horse Showing

A Good Fit

July 17, 2013

Using a slinky is a great horse-showing strategy, but it has to fit correctly.

The blue slinky on top fits the horse well, while the patterned slinky on bottom is too large for the horse. AQHA Professional Horsewoman Margo Ball shows you how to properly fit a slinky on your horse. Journal photo.

The blue slinky on top fits the horse well, while the patterned slinky on bottom is too large for the horse. AQHA Professional Horsewoman Margo Ball shows you how to properly fit a slinky on your horse. Journal photo.

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Margo Ball with Christine Hamilton in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Chances are good that you’ve either used a slinky on your horse or have at least considered using one. AQHA Professional Horsewoman Margo Ball has more than 25 years of experience under her belt and knows what to look for when fitting a slinky.

“I like to band my horses’ manes the night before I show so I’m not so rushed the next morning,” Margo says. “But that strategy only works if you can keep those bands protected. A big part of keeping the bands in place is having a slinky that fits and is comfortable to your horse. The most common mistake I see people make is using a slinky that is too large.”

When the slinky is too long for the horse’s head, it goes too far down the muzzle and is usually not snug against the face. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit your fingers under the noseband. The wider the elastic, the more comfortable it will be for your horse.

Get ready for show season by adding “Showing to Win: Showmanship at Halter” to your DVD library. Listen and watch as real AQHA judges walk you through typical showmanship maneuvers, scores and penalties and offer advice on planning how to execute patterns. You will also get a chance to score and place four runs and then see how you match up to these expert judges’ opinions. By knowing what the expectations and standards are for the class, you will set yourself up for a winning show season.

Eye holes should be large so that they don’t rub the horse’s eyes. Likewise, the ear holes should be large enough that they are not pulling on the horse’s ears. If the slinky is too large or too long for the head, the ear holes will tend to pull on the backs of the horse’s ears.

Check the throatlatch. The slinky should fit snugly against the horse. If you can see loose fabric or large, floppy wrinkles below the throatlatch, your slinky is too large.

Wrinkles in the slinky on the horse’s neck tell you that the slinky is not going to do its job. It won’t hold your bands in place because the fabric is not snug enough. A good-fitting slinky will have no wrinkles over the crest, and it will be nice and smooth down the sides of the neck.

The band around the girth should be nice and wide. You want the band to be snug enough to stay in place, but not so tight that it leaves a mark. When you take off the slinky right before a class, you want to leave a good impression with the judge. He doesn’t want to see residual slinky marks around the girth.

Have you ever wondered what the judges are looking for when they place a showmanship class? “Showing to Win: Showmanship at Halter” illustrates the standards for the class and provides you with the information you need to practice, plan and successfully perform a showmanship pattern. Using unique graphics and video technology, this video also defines the scoring system and explains what AQHA judges look for in this class.

The slinky should stay up about mid-way on the shoulder. A slinky that comes down too far on the shoulder is another clue that the slinky is too large for the horse.

Margo prefers using a slinky with a zipper because of the benefits the zipper provides.

“A slinky that doesn’t have a zipper is fine,” Margo says. “But when your slinky does have a zipper, it can be less of a hassle when you’re headed to show. You can unzip the slinky from around your horse’s face, put on your show halter, and leave the slinky around the mane until you’re ready to show. It especially helps if your horse has a problem mane; you can leave it on until the last second.”

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