dog & horse books: breeding, training, showing, judging, performance
WINTER AND HORSES
Winter stall time is a good time to teach your horse to stand while having his whiskers, fetlocks and ears clipped.
The bridle path should be clipped to the
length of the ear.
Many horses object to having their ears handled. Take time during bad weather to teach your horse to accept this.
Showmanship maneuvers are like a dance. They will improve your horse's willingness, flexibility and ground manners as well as helping you and your horse to bond and work as a team.
Cold weather activities with your horse
Winter is here and the long, relaxing trail rides of summer mostly came to an end with the falling leaves and rainy days of autumn. You don’t want to miss the enjoyable hours spent in the company of your horse, but you may not have the luxury of access to an indoor arena. What can you do?
Showmanship maneuvers and presentation may seem like something that only the elite in the show world undertake, but in actuality showmanship training improves your handling and coordination skills, builds better communication with your horse and teaches her good ground manners and respect. Another benefit: it can be taught in a stall, the barn alley, or any small area. So, instead of looking at showmanship training as preparation for the horse show venue, try it as a way of building your relationship with your horse during inclement weather or when riding outside is not on your agenda.
The art of showmanship in halter is much like a dance. You must learn to move your horses right or left front, right or left rear, turn in a circle, and move in a straight line. You and your horse should move with ease and harmony at both walk and trot, stop smoothly, and turn without resistance. All of these maneuvers will transfer to a more supple and willing mount under saddle as well as on the ground. Your farrier and your vet will thank you for the improvement in ground manners. And perhaps most of all, you and your horse will operate as a team.
Showmanship preparation also includes other opportunities for working with your horse.
Before a show your horse must be groomed and clipped. Use your winter barn time to teach your horse to stand while you clip her bridle path, chin whiskers, and fetlock hairs.
Even if you don’t plan to clip for show, you never know when you may be called upon to clip around an injury. A horse that has never been clipped can be traumatized by the sound of clippers, especially around the head. Get her used to it now and avoid that possibility.
Showmanship horses have their manes and tails braided, are taught to wear a blanket and hood even in summer, and have their nostrils, ears, and face cleaned. Again, you may not plan to show, but any or all of these things might need to be done to your horse at some time in her life. I once had a sick horse in the winter. The vet advising keeping him blanketed during his recovery. He’d never worn a blanket before but he was generally gentle and agreeable. So I purchased a nice new blanket just for him, put it on, and after a few minutes went about doing other chores. All was quiet for a bit, then “all hell broke loose,” the blanket lasted all of five minutes before being torn to shreds, literally beyond repair, and the horse worked himself into a major sweat. Needless to say he had to recover without the added warmth and, to make matters worse, I never did get him comfortable wearing a blanket.
Practice during the winter to hone your skills when no or few shows are scheduled, or use stall and paddock time to accustom your horse to new thing like a blanket or a different piece of tack. You’ll find many helpful showmanship techniques in Texas exhibitor and trainer Laurie Truskauskas’ book Understanding Showmanship.