Best Showmanship Practices – with World Champions Tony Anderman, Mallory Vroegh and Jennifer Michaels
Preparation at the barn plays a major role in determining show-ring success, especially in a class that requires exhibitors to nail every step of the pattern.
In showmanship, each movement and detail must be polished to perfection for you and your horse to top the judges’ scorecards.
So how can you ensure your time is used wisely as you prepare for this detail-driven class? We asked three showmanship stars and their trainers for advice on how to practice like a world champion. They shared these six keys to achieving success in showmanship.
1. Keep practices short and successful.
Although exact duration should be based on the horse’s training and personality, limiting practice time can help prevent burnout for both horse and exhibitor.
Mallory Vroegh, the 2017 youth world champion in showmanship, keeps showmanship drills with her horse, Krymsun Belle, between five and 15 minutes, depending on how well she responds.
“If ‘Belle’s’ being really good, then they need to be done quickly,” says Mallory’s mother, AQHA Professional Horsewoman Shannon Vroegh. “If there’s something they need to work out, then Mallory will take longer.”
With seasoned horses like Belle, spending too much time rehearsing the same maneuvers can actually have a negative impact. Tony Anderman, 2017-19 world champion in amateur showmanship with Solo Invested, has also found this to be true.
“When horses get truly broke for showmanship, you can actually over-practice them,” says the three-peat showmanship world champion. “I generally practice for 15 to 20 minutes.”
Like Tony and Mallory, Jennifer Michaels, 2017 Adequan® Select world champion in showmanship, has developed a strong partnership with her horse, PSU Willy Be Krymsun. Now that “Will” has mastered his showmanship abilities, Jennifer simply integrates a few minutes of practice before or after riding.
“He’s becoming such a machine,” Jennifer says. “If I over-practice, he mentally checks out.”
However, if she notices Will struggling with a specific maneuver, she won’t quit until he shows some improvement. Like Jennifer, Tony strives to achieve perfection every time he works on showmanship.
“I believe in the saying, not that practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect,” Tony says.
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