Straighten Up your Showmanship Lines

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Showmanship at Halter is most often the most popular class of the day at most horse shows – it is also one of the hardest classes to compete in! The winners of these coveted classes spend hours practicing and honing their craft to create the perfect pattern.

The key to success in Showmanship at Halter is simple – PRACTICE!

I always recommend working with a knowledgeable instructor that can help guide you along the way, it is always a benefit to have a set of professional eyes on you as you work toward earning that first ribbon in a Showmanship class.

However for many of us, it is not in our budget to work directly with a trainer every week – and the best way to move forward is to work on specific exercises to improve your skills.

typical mistake
A Common Issue is the Exhibitor ends up in the Judges line of vision – remember this class is about showing your horse to the Judge, not yourself!

It is easy to set up a pattern and complete a specific exercise versus aimlessly completing random maneuvers. You achieve the ideal results when you are actively running a series of movements, and when you do these exercises you can get both visible and measurable improvement that you can see yourself!

Today the focus of our exercise was improving our line to the Judge, remember we will ideally be showing our horse to our Judge – not ourselves.

Remember the true development of Showmanship at Halter is the act of correctly showing your horse’s conformation, movement, and performance to the Judge. It is the main FUNDAMENTAL of this class to make sure to get the horse to the Judge “Straight and True” so that we can show the Judge our horse’s quality of movement, soundness, and ease of maneuverability.

define straight
The Perfect Line – Our Horse works toward the Judge with a straight spine and neck.

The perfect line is created by traveling forward and directly into the Judges line of sight, think about it almost as if the horse’s spine is creating the line right to the Judges clipboard!

Orienting ourselves with a different point of center is the hardest part of learning to create a straight line to our Judge. Today we will work an exercise developed to build your confidence in creating that direct line to the Judge!

Now, before we begin discussing the exercise, you might notice that we are talking about “Straight Lines” – but our exercise is on a “Circle.”

What’s up with that??

Circles are the beginning of straight lines! Let me explain a bit more!

I find many peoples horses will create a “Shape” with their body as the handler leads them, often bowing away from the exhibitor. This is the opposite of our desired result, we want the horse moving forward on that imaginary straight line shooting out of the tip of the nose and the dock of the tail – remember we want the horse working on that line that goes right through the horses spine!

Without going into too much detail for today, working on a circle will create a connection between you and your horse allowing them to stay close and work forward during the exercise. As we build on this exercise you will find your horse traveling much straighter and truer through any shape and line!

Fear not, we will discuss circles and all the benefits of them another day!

Cone Setup
Set your cones up to complete this shape.


Let’s prep our work space for our pattern by placing three cones in a line. We need to keep enough room to complete a well-rounded circle during the workout. Don’t place your cones too close to a fence, make sure you have ample room to maneuver in your space.

You will be using the two outside cones as imaginary Judges – the object of this exercise is to learn to find your horse’s center. I encourage my students to think of their leading hand as the horses center line – working toward the Judge with the leading hand versus yourself. This will get you in line with the Judge correctly. You can practice this in both the walk and trot for maximum benefits.

Each horse and exhibitor team is different, just like each horse is trained differently. That is the beauty of this exercise, you will use the methods you and your horse are comfortable with – this is a great discovery exercise to develop that straightness to the Judge.


Figure out what method works best for you and your horse, you want to feel with your body and start making mental notes about what part of you or your horse should be working towards that Judge. I mentioned above that I encourage my students to work towards the Judge with the leading hand because when the leading hand is in the correct position right near your horses face it is very easy to control the horses body by focusing on driving that hand and horse right into the judges center. Some exhibitors might benefit more from thinking about pushing the horses chin into the Judge, or instead of that thinking about your position headed to the Judge – it is all about interpreting spacing, and what works best for you might not work best for your friend. Play with it and experiment!

The demonstration video is Lacey working with Dubs – they are a beginning showmanship team, and they learned a lot from this exercise!

Keep working the exercise for around 20 repetitions – you will want to do what I call a self-check to see if you have gained anything from the exercise. To do a self-check, just step out of your circle and create a straight line to one of your cones from another area in the arena. You will want to see yourself having a better idea of what to work towards that imaginary Judge, and your horse should travel more willingly and straighter!

Not only is this exercise a great help for learning to work straight, it has the added bonus of working the setup as well. Repeating the stop and set up will also greatly improve that aspect of your pattern performance as well!

Enjoy working this exercise at home, or use it to warm up at shows – remember the key to success is PRACTICE!

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Winter Riding Academy Special Offer!

We are offering a Winter Special for all new clients!

If you set up your Free Intro Lesson and schedule your first Riding Lesson on or before January 31st we are offering a FREE BONUS LESSON for you to use in February!

The lesson will be based on the program you choose, if your student rides for Half-Hour Lessons you will receive the equivalent – Hour Lesson Students will receive a free Hour Lesson.

You can schedule your FREE LESSON during February on any of our normal lesson days – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday.

What a great gift for giving your child the reins to life!

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The Riding Academy at Wilson Hill Stables

We have lots of young horse crazy riders who come to Wilson Hill Stables to learn both English and Western riding styles.

We teach beginners the basics with a safety based program that builds skills steadily each week. We aim to keep students safe by progressing the lessons to the individuals riding level and skill set, keeping the rider comfortable and confident.

Abby and Kelly

WHS Riding lessons are always set up as one-on-one private lessons, we are happy offer two lesson packages for our students to choose from.

Half Hour Private lesson each week for the Month – this package is $108 Monthly.

Hour Private lesson each week for the Month – this package is $216 Monthly.

We offer a free introductory lesson that introduces safety, grooming, tacking up, leading, mounting, discounting, riding lesson routines and vocabulary of the riding arena. This is perfect for taking some of the pressure of the first meeting and helps ease in new experiences. It also gives us a chance to develop a conversation with a new student to help ease nervousness.

Maura, Emma, and Jessica at the All Horse Parade 2014

We not only offer Riding Academy Style Packages but we also offer our students an opportunity to experience showing a horse! We are very proud of all of our students who work hard at the shows, but one of our best moments of 2014 was watching Jessica win the coveted Delaware County 4H Fair Versatility Championship! Other highlights from 2014 include Emma winning High Point Beginner Exhibitor, Maura earning Reserve Champion Hunter Under Saddle, Evan winning the Champion of Champions Showmanship, and Ellie was a point earner at an Ohio Pinto Show in Showmanship at Halter – All the kids worked so hard for their victories, and they were well deserved!

Most of our award winners have been students at Wilson Hill for the entirety of their career in riding. Proud to say we helped to develop and build these riders from the ground up!!

Maura’s First Riding Lesson – approximately 2007
Maura’s First Championship Win in Hunter Under Saddle in 2012

WHS Students will usually take lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings – along with Saturdays.

Let us help “Give your child the reins to life!”

Call or email today to set up a time for your intro lesson

Lauren – 614-395-5119

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What Horses Teach Us

I guess you could say Horses and Humans have had this curiosity for each other for centuries…it is a magical experience when you really think about it; the bond that can be created between horse and rider. Horses are animals that have this spirit inside of them, they challenge you and make you build a mutually beneficial relationship based on respect. When you work with Horses you have to become intuitive, thoughtful, and steady to earn their responsiveness to your cues. You have to be aware and in the moment to stay safe, you have to read the emotional state of your horse, and you have to build your leadership skills to succeed. Riding Horses is the ultimate character building activity, the traits developed while being an active Equestrian spill over to every aspect of life!

Lauren and Doublestuff at a Fun Show around 2009.

In my life, horses have taught me many things. The biggest lesson that I have been lucky enough to learn is that with hard work and dedication ANYTHING is possible. This is the main thing I try to stress to my students; it may not be easy, pretty, or simple but dedication will pay off!

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Merry Christmas – I got you the Flu!

Don’t Say I Never Got You Anything!

We have been bundled up, aching, hacking, and in general misery at WHS.

We have some great moments from the Ranch Horse Pleasure Clinic that we still need to download – but don’t worry, we will totally share it here!

For now I am relegated to the bed, but my adorable Jack Russell “Tater” is right on top of making sure I am ok, literally…

 Nurse Tater

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I <3 Your Wraps

The Wilson Hill Stables Tack Room is home to about 9,583,549 sets of Polo Wraps owned by Horse Crazy Kids.

What is a Polo Wrap you ask?

We use these soft fabric rolls to support our horses legs during a workout, the application of these wraps is specific and must be done correctly as to not cause harm to the horse. The WHS girls have perfected the wrapping techniques over this past year, and love to express their personalities with the colorful wraps.


Just a little nugget of hairy cuteness for your Saturday Morning, brought to you by “Misty!”

“Misty” is modeling Jessica’s Neon Green Set during a Workout with Maura

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Love the View from my American Paint Horse!

I was scrolling around my Facebook photos looking for some inspiration for my first blog entry, and noticed that I have quite a collection of photos from the back of my Paint mare “Abby!”

Envy and Abby enjoying a workout in the Fall of 2013 at WHS.
Envy and Abby enjoying a workout in the Fall of 2013 at WHS.

“Abby” was a new addition to the barn in the Fall of 2011 – a mare out of the great HBF Iron Man and a Halter Mare with a show record, she was purchased with hopes of being transitioned into a lesson horse.

Watching the show at the Marysville Fairgrounds during a Summer Sizzlin' Circuit - one of Abby's First Shows with WHS.
Watching the show at the Marysville Fairgrounds during a Summer Sizzlin’ Circuit – one of Abby’s First Shows with WHS.

I had always been in love with HBF Iron Man since I was younger and showing on the Ohio Paint Circuit where he was also showing. I remember warming up at the Ashland County Fairgrounds just admiring him trot around the track…it was just my Horse and I, and him, he was beautiful. I remember thinking, it would be so cool to have that special show horse that just captivates people, when you are in the presence of a truly special horse it somehow just stops time.

Abby watching the pole bending class at the Friday Night Fun Show at the Morrow County Fairgrounds.
Abby watching the pole bending class at the Friday Night Fun Show at the Morrow County Fairgrounds.

I was super excited to get a chance to work with this Mare, to make her into the horse I knew she could be for my program. Abby is a character for sure, we have had plenty of time to get to know each other, and every ride she improves. She is currently able to work with beginners in the walk-trot lessons, and is now doing lessons with an Adult walk-trot-canter.

Watching the Arena empty out before the Delaware County Open Horse Show in September 2014.
Watching the Arena empty out before the Delaware County Open Horse Show in September 2014.

Abby is a sweet and loving individual that likes to lick…your hand, your shirt, sometimes your face…a true personality. We have super high hopes for Miss Abigail in the show ring in 2015, we will stay positive and work toward improving her show career!

The beautiful Paint Mare "Abby" aka Keep Em Talkin.
The beautiful Paint Mare “Abby” aka Keep Em Talkin.

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