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Teaching a showmanship pivot

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  • Teaching a showmanship pivot

    I'm trying to teach my horse to do a western showmanship pivot. And I just can't figure out how to. He knows how to square up but then I don't know what to do from there. I have looked on youtube but haven't really found a video that helps me.

    If you know how to teach a horse to pivot or have any tips/tricks on it they would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    A corner is your friend -- it teaches them to pivot because they can't move anything else other than their front end. Work with a spotter to help you visualize what the legs are doing.

    Back the horse into the middle of a corner and let him square up. Push back on the horse at the halter just enough to rock the weight over that back hip above the foot that needs to plant (right hip). Ask for a few steps, making sure that the neck remains straight. You might need to add your hand at their shoulder to give your horse the idea of stepping over if he's not sure what you're asking for -- don't guide him that way once he does know. Here's where the spotter comes in handy -- if he's planting it for the two or three steps, stop and praise mightily. If he doesn't, stop the procedure immediately and set him back up (you don't want to reinforce the wrong thing). You're always going to rock his weight back over that hip and keep his neck straight no matter where you are in this. If he gets bendy through his neck he'll most likely step out of the pivot with the planted leg.

    (You can limit your need for a spotter after you can visualize what that pivot hip looks like when you watch it and he does the movement correctly.)

    Once he's able to do three or four steps in the corner consistently (ie, he's completing 45 degrees of pivot), start him so he's parallel to the wall while still in the corner (completing 90 degrees of pivot). Then pull him away from the wall and ask for 90 without the wall as a guide. Then ask for a 180, then a 270, and finally a 360, making sure the prior pivot angle is consistent before moving onto the next. While teaching this, go slow -- you can increase the speeds once he knows what he's supposed to do.


    • #3
      What helped me the most was to remember that the pivot is a FOREWARD maneuver. I used to back my horse up to shift her weight, then pivot. My pivots improved 100% when I remember to pull her head slightly foreward and down to the right.

      To start from scratch, I walk circles to the right, I want the horse to start getting used to stepping out of my space as I step towards them. I actually make the circle smaller and smaller, until I get one crossover, then I quickly jog foreward. Teaching them when they are moving seems a bit easier to me when they are first getting the hang of it.

      Later, from a stop, I will step towards their poll, while holding the halter to keep them straight. You might need to push their shoulder over with your hand if they do not move over. Just try for a step or 2 at a time, and go from there. If they want to move that pivot foot trot foreward.

      I've heard there is a showmanship video supposed to be coming out, I'm very eager to see it!


      • #4
        Try looking for one of Richard Shrake's. They're awesome.
        Equine Photography in the Northeast