Horse Showing

Horse Showing Tip: Matching Your Outfit to Your Horse

June 29, 2016

Your show-ring apparel can make or break your score, so make sure you are complementing your horse.

Make the best impression in the show ring with an outfit that complements your horses coat color Journal photo

Make the best impression in the show ring with an outfit that complements your horse’s coat color. AQHA photo

By Jody Reynolds with Polly Vandall of Berry Fit

Whether consciously or subconsciously, judges are influenced by your “whole image,” which includes your color, fabric and design choices. If your show outfit clashes with your horse, you’re probably putting your total image at a big disadvantage.

While no outfit or color combination will compensate for a lack of preparation and practice, a perfectly planned outfit gives you the extra edge you need in difficult competition.

Read the rest of this entry »

Strategies for Riding a Winning Pattern

June 17, 2016

Mississippi State University instructors teach riders to have a mental plan to perfect their riding patterns at the AQHA International Horsemanship Camp.

By Kelsey Stangebye, 2016 AQHA international intern


From the left: Hannah Miller, Ashley Palmer, Samantha Miller, AQHA international intern: Kelsey Stangebye, and Ashley Shiffler

Over the last three weeks, Mississippi State University instructors and I have had the privilege of promoting the American Quarter Horse as we have traveled through Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and now Kreuth, Germany for the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camps.

The AQHA International Horsemanship Camps have been an incredible experience thus far, from which our greatest takeaway has been how the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps truly foster an environment of friendship, where riders reconvene annually to attend the horsemanship camps to develop their horsemanship skills and share their passion for their horses. This past weekend, the horsemanship camp in Germany was just as fulfilling.  We were hosted with tremendous hospitality, developed many new friendships, and had the pleasure of working with over twenty riders at the phenomenal Gut Matheshof equestrian facility in Kreuth, Germany; where the Federation of European Quarter Horse Associations’ European Championships is hosted annually.

The Mississippi State University instructors explained that practicing patterns is beneficial to both the rider and horse’s preparation because it serves as a way to “test” the horse’s training progress and allows the rider to develop their mental strategy for riding through patterns effectively. Additionally, the MSU undergraduates, Samantha Miller, Hannah Miller and Ashley Palmer shared some of their specific knowledge of the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations from their experience from the Mississippi State University Horse Judging Team, in which the 2015 team was the reserve champion team at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, third high team at the AQHA World Championship Show, and fourth high team at the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity.

Review the AQHA Rulebook for Pattern Class Descriptions

First, as a foundational introduction for perfecting a riding pattern, the MSU instructors delivered a “From the Judge’s Perspective” lecture,  in which they explained the AQHA Rulebook’s scoring system for pattern classes, the ideal presentation of the horse, and the correct position for the rider. Specifically, the instructors discussed the pattern class’ scoring systems and correct maneuvers for each class, as well as what constitutes minor faults, major faults, and severe faults. Read the rest of this entry »

Sort It Out

June 15, 2016

Ranch sorting grows in popularity as a horse-showing event among American Quarter Horse owners.

Ranch sorting requires a high level of accuracy and team work

Ranch sorting requires a high level of accuracy and team work. Journal photo

From America’s Horse

Two riders, two horses, two pens, 11 head of cattle – and only 60 seconds to work. Sound like fun?

Ranch sorting became an AQHA class in 2007, and it continues to grow in popularity. The class is offered in the open, amateur and youth divisions.

Ranch sorting begins with 11 head of cattle shuttled into two round pens connected by a narrow entrance. Ten of the cattle are wearing numbers 0 through 9, and one is unmarked.

Read the rest of this entry »

Five Riding Exercises to Develop the Correct Horsemanship Seat

June 8, 2016

 Mississippi State University teaches exercises to develop correct horsemanship position at the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp in Italy.

By Kelsey Stangebye, 2016 AQHA international intern


From the left: Francesca Romana-Faro, Ashley Palmer and Ashley Shiffler discuss horsemanship manuevers.

Ciao from the beautiful Bosco Mignolo Farm in Nepi, Italy! Mississippi State University, led by Ashley Shiffler and assisted by MSU undergraduate Ashley Palmer, conducted the AQHA international horsemanship camp in Italy. The horsemanship camp was hosted by Bosco Mignolo Farm, which is owned by Emanuela Stefani. Emanuela Stefani and her daughter, Francesca Romana-Faro, have had immense success with showing their Quarter Horses in Italy, as well as internationally at the European Championships and Francesca’s success at the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup.


Main outdoor arena at Bosco Mignolo Farm.

The Italian riders were interested in improving their horsemanship seat, so the MSU instructors discussed the fundamentals of the correct riding seat and used five riding exercises to assist the riders in improving their seat, leg position and upper body to perfect their horsemanship seat.

The Fundamentals of  Developing a Correct Horsemanship Seat

The instructors emphasized that whether the rider is interested in competitive showing or recreational riding, a correct riding seat is crucial for effective riding communication with their horse. Additionally, the MSU instructors explained that both novice and experienced riders alike should practice exercises to strengthen their seat, balance and leg position. Further explaining that these exercises will develop and maintain riding communication between rider and their horse. Read the rest of this entry »

Four On the Floor

June 3, 2016

Succeed in the horse-showing ring with these tips for a three-beat lope.

A true properly cadenced lope has three distinct beats Journal photo

A true, properly cadenced lope has three distinct beats. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal, with trainer Clark Bradley

Most horse-show competitors have seen it: the horse that appears to lope in the front and trot in the rear. Called the “trope,” the “shuffle” or just the “four beat,” it can be almost painful to watch. And once a horse learns to four-beat, it’s a habit that can be difficult to correct without proper training.

Judges agree a western pleasure horse should be a good mover and a pleasure to ride. However, just because a horse is a pleasure to ride doesn’t necessarily mean the animal is moving correctly. Despite the fact that a horse may be performing at the correct speed, relaxed and responsive to the rider, if he’s four-beating at the lope, he is not considered to be performing the gait properly. It can be easy to ride a horse that’s four-beating because it’s generally smooth. However, just because it is smooth does not mean it’s correct.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotta Have Rhythm

May 18, 2016

Developing rhythm will help improve your horsemanship.

reining horse rundown

Rhythm with your horse’s movement will not only allow you to ride better, but communicate better with your horse, as well. Journal photo.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Richard Shrake with Larri Jo Starkey of The American Quarter Horse Journal

Rhythm is the rider’s ability to feel the movement of the horse, and that comes from the horse’s feet. Each gait has its own rhythm, like different types of music have their own beats.

Learning to feel those different beats is a matter of learning to feel ripples of vibration from your horse’s feet through your seat bones and the stirrups. Read the rest of this entry »

Mane Pulling

May 11, 2016

This is a tried and true method to achieve a neat horse-showing look.

Knowing your stallion’s reproductive health is important to the success of any potential breeding program. Journal photo

When done correctly, mane pulling is an effective and simple way to clean up your horse’s show-ring look.  Journal photo

From AQHA Corporate Partner Farnam

A long, flowing natural mane is the desired look for some horse breeds and disciplines. In others, a shorter, thinned version is “in.” The traditional method to achieve this shortened look is by “pulling” the mane.

A neatly pulled mane helps make a good first impression, and it’s also practical, as it makes grooming easier. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Horse Shows Fun for Kids

May 4, 2016

How to help youth succeed in the horse-showing ring while having a great time.

Nothing goes together better than kids and horses. Journal photo

Showing horses is more than just placings. Teaching kids how to win and lose is all a part of the passion that drives them to keep going. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horseman Tom McBeath with Jody Reynolds

AQHA Professional Horseman Tom McBeath of Union, Mississippi, makes sure that showing is both fun and educational for youth. He sees to it that his youth riders get the most out of their horse show experiences, because he believes firmly in the benefits of youth showing. It builds character, confidence, leadership, responsibility, persistence and countless other life skills. Tom offers some tips on how to help kids succeed in their show ring endeavors. Read the rest of this entry »

Clipping For Success

April 20, 2016

A successful ride in the horse-show ring starts with a clean and comfortable horse.

clipping your horses bridle path

Randy Jacobs can guide you on how to slough off that winter coat for a great impression in the show ring, and your horse’s overall comfort. Photo by Christine Hamilton.

From AQHA Corporate Partner, Farnam.

A hundred years ago when horses were routinely used for work, a horse in winter was expected to have a fuzzy coat. It might take longer to cool him out after working, but that was simply part of a horseman’s duties.

Today, there are more horses in America than ever before and their primary use is recreation and sport – not work. When a winter coat interferes with work or detracts from appearance, out come the clippers. Keeping horses clipped and blanketed—or blanketing to prevent a winter coat from growing in the first place—is common. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Leggy

April 6, 2016

Follow these horse-showing tips to set your halter horse’s front legs just right.

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Kathy Smallwood demonstrates the “walking while trotting” technique at the AQHA World Championship Show. Journal photo.

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Kathy Smallwood modifies her strategies based on each horse’s conformation individually. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Kathy Smallwood of Pilot Point, Texas, says to stand up your halter horse based on his conformation as an individual.

Honestly appraising your horse’s assets and faults will help you do a better job of positioning him so that he looks his best to the judge. Here’s how to set the front legs: Read the rest of this entry »

Practice Makes Perfect

March 23, 2016

Want to fine-tune your horse and yourself before the big event? Put on a practice horse show!

Training horses requires durable and comfortable boots. Journal photo

Calm those pre-horse-show jitters and go into the ring with confidence by practicing before hand. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal, with contributions from Kristin Syverson

It can be tough, especially in this economy, to afford all the big-time shows you want.

To get the most for your money, you probably want to find a way to fine-tune your performance before you hit the circuit. If you need a chance to knock off your winter rust, head to a practice show. Read the rest of this entry »

Penny Wise

March 2, 2016

Tips to keep your horse-showing costs from breaking the bank.

aqha world show jumping

Get the most bang for your showing buck with these tips form the American Quarter Horse Journal. KC Montgomery Photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

The Shows

When a trainer takes a group of youths or amateurs to a big show, very little time is spent in the hotel room, so bunking together is a painless way to save money, says AQHA Professional Horsewoman Nancy Cahill. “We’re very communal.” Read the rest of this entry »