Horsemanship Definition

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    2006 Cherry Hill      www.horsekeeping.com

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Horsemanship - Which Ship are You On?

What is horsemanship? In the show ring, horsemanship is described (such as by AQHA) as a class "to evaluate the rider's ability to execute, in concert with their horse, a set of maneuvers prescribed by the judge with precision and smoothness while exhibiting poise and confidence, and maintaining a balanced, functional, and fundamentally correct body position." The horse and rider should work in complete unison; there should be subtle aids and cues. This type of horsemanship involves showmanship and hopefully, sportsmanship. Today, show ring horsemanship is primarily for exhibition.

When talking about everyday horse training, horsemanship takes on a different emphasis. Although the goal is the same as far as working in unison and subtle aids and cues, showmanship does not come into play although it is always good to have pride in your work - so clean tack, a well groomed horse, and tidy attire is appropriate in your back yard just like the show ring.

And although one should always be a good sport, sportsmanship is not usually part of horsemanship training because there is no competition or exhibition. Training horsemanship can include ownership, stewardship, and workmanship. If you own the horse you are training, the quality of care you give your horse is part of horsemanship. If you keep your horse at home, your stewardship of your horse, your facilities, and your land is part of horsemanship. And if you care for your tack, groom your horse, your workmanship will be evident and is part of your horsemanship.

When we work with horses, if we want to be good horsemen and women, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Be safe for your sake and the horse's.

2. Have the good of the horse at heart.

3. Know when to push, know when to quit.

4. Aim to have the horse be better when you quit than when you started so that next time you go to catch him, he will look forward to working with you.

5. Take time to master the basics.

6. Do simple things well before attempting more complex things.

7. If you find yourself in danger, frustrated, abusive, or plain just not having fun, STOP ! Get some good help or learn some techniques or a new mindset that will help.

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