Trainer's Paddock- Why Show Your Horse At Halter?
Some people’s thoughts on showing a horse at Halter (Showmanship, In-Hand, Model, Bella Form,etc.) is that it’s a class that only benefits breeders.
However I believe it can be beneficial to other horse owners and their horses. For the young horse that may have just begun training, schooling for this class can give them a solid foundation to build on. Even though many people refer to it as “ a beauty contest” or “ lead and feed”, what you teach a horse when training him for this class carries over to all his future training. Showing in this class will also expose the young horse to all the distractions of a being in the show ring and that is a lesson that he will carry with him too.
Training for halter class teaches basic ground manners. You are teaching your horse to lead properly and quietly, as well as to stand patiently. You are teaching them to be well mannered around other horses. You are also teaching them to move out on your command. All of this carries over into saddle training as well.
One example of the benefits of training and showing a young horse at halter is one of the mares I trained. Although her owner did not want to breed the mare, I started her training in preparation for a halter class. This mare was four years old when she came to me. She was a lovely mare, but she hadn’t been handled much at all, so even though she was four she wasn’t mentally ready to begin her saddle training. I was looking for something that required her to be handled several hours a week and would build her confidence. Halter training seemed to be the perfect choice.
We started her out slowly, just walking her around the arena a few times. I also taught her the basics of lounging - walking and trotting her on the line. As she became more confident her handler began encouraging her to trot a little on the lead line. Gradually she became very comfortable with what we were asking her to do and we began to encourage her move out at the end of the line and be more animated. This mare seemed to enjoy her training sessions and the attention she was receiving .
The next step was to teach her to stand to be judged while maintaining the position required in an Arabian
class. That took slightly more time and effort since this mare wanted to stand close to her handler, but after a few sessions she began to understand what we wanted her to do.
We started this mare’s training in June and she was shown that September at a class A show. By the time her training had been completed she was no longer timid or apprehensive about humans, in fact she became one of the most confident horses I ever trained. What she was taught that summer carried forward into her saddle training that fall, making her a pleasure to train. Showing at halter also built up her handler’s confidence as well. Horse and rider bonded in the training process and it made them a better team in the saddle. So it was a benefit to horse and rider in this case.
Today this mare is a truly lovely riding horse and if her owner wished to she could easily be shown under saddle.
Each breed has different requirements, but the basics are generally the same. You can contact USA Equestrian or your Breed Registry to find out the requirements for showing your breed of horse in this type of class.