The ETRC 4H held a Showmanship and Ranch Riding clinic on March 5. The clinic was open to any rider who was in grades 4th through 12th. It was a cold, windy and cloudy day but that did not keep a good group of 4Hers from attending. While it did not rain during the clinic, it had rained during the night and puddles were standing in many places in the arena. Riders, instructors and horses soon had muddy boots or hoofs and the mud covered boots and pant legs up to the knees and horses' legs, no matter what color the horse, were soon red half way to the hip. All of this, though, did not keep the kids from listening and doing what they were asked by the adult leaders.

A second showmanship and ranch riding clinic will be held on April 16. Invitations will be sent out to 4H groups near ETRC

Showmanship is an event found at many horse shows. It involves a person on the ground leading a horse, wearing a halter or bridle, through a series of maneuvers called a pattern. The horse itself is not judged on its conformation. Rather, the exhibitor is judged on how well he or she exhibits the animal to its best advantage, with additional scoring for the grooming and presentation of both horse and handler.

Showmanship began as a component of 4-H competition for young people, to teach them how to present a horse in-hand. Over time, it expanded into most breed competition at regular horse shows as well and has become a highly competitive event with exacting standards at the highest level. Yet, it also remains a standard competition in 4-H and other schooling shows for beginners.

Most showmanship classes in the United States use western style horses, clothing and equipment; however, English styles are also seen, depending on the breed of horse. In some breed and open competitions, both English and Western handlers may appear in the same class.

The horse must be trained to respond instantly to any command by the handler. It must lead off promptly at a walk or trot, and stop immediately when asked. It must back up straight and quietly and learn to turn in a very tight circle from a walk and trot. The horse is also taught to "set up" -- to place its feet in a position, usually square on all four legs, that best shows the conformation of its breed. Often the horse also needs to learn to hold its head and neck up in a certain flattering position as well. The horse has to learn to accept standing in the setup position for long periods of time without fidgiting or falling asleep, as showmanship classes often are very long, due to the fact that exhibitors work the pattern one at a time

Showmanship in action

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The purpose of the ranch riding class is to show a working horse's: versatility, attitude, and movement

In this class, the primary considerations are the horse's quality of movement and overall manners and responsiveness while performing the required maneuvers. The class should allow the horse to show its ability to work at a forward working speed while under the control of the rider. A horse being shown with light contact should be rewarded.


No horses younger than 3 years of age
Each horse will work individually, performing both required and optional maneuvers:
Required maneuvers: walk, jog, lope both directions and the extended jog and lope in at least one direction as well as stops, turn to change directions, and back.
Optional maneuvers: side pass, turns of 360 or more, change of lead (simple or flying), walk, jog, or lope over a pole(s), or some reasonable combination for a ranch horse to perform.
The maneuvers may be arranged in various combinations with final approval by the judge.
The overall cadence and performance of the gaits should be those described above with emphasis on forward, free-flowing, and ground-covering movement at all gaits. Transitions where designated should be smooth and responsive.
There is no time limit.
One of the four prescribed patterns may be used; however, a judge may utilize a different pattern as long as all required maneuvers are included plus three or more optional maneuvers.
A horse that fails to perform a required maneuver will be placed below all other horses that perform all maneuvers.
The use of natural logs is encouraged.
Posting at the extended trot is acceptable; touching or holding the saddle horn is also acceptable
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The unexpected on a well planned day

Marcus led the horse in showmanship and even rode in ranch riding, but the puddles were just too much to ignore. A splash or two couldn't hurt and then, of course, it just gets better if a friend or two joins you. Uh oh, time to leave the puddles and head out of the arena.

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Then there's the horse that decided he just wanted to stay a little longer with the new friends he had made and just wasn't going in the trailer. First it's a try with a leadline and a broom, but no go. Then it is a leadline and a couple of men picking up from the rear. Still no budging. Maybe if he backs up and then is tempted with grain. Hey, it might work, but no. Finally David, our trusted farrier, comes not on his white horse, but in his red truck and with a small whip and the horse decides he is ready to go home. Hey the day is over and everyone had a great time.

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