Showing “in hand” or in halter can be a fun way to start your show weekend. Halter classes are often in the morning before the other ridding classes. Showing in halter allows you closer contact with the judge and a little glimpse into how that judge may be making their decision. There are two ways to show in halter, general “in hand” halter class and a showmanship halter.
In-hand and general halter are used to judge the horses confirmation and looks. Each breed has a different standard and each horse is graded based on that standard. For hunter/ jumper or sports horses the attire and bridle is English style. For the western style horse and rider a show halter is used. For gaited horses, Morgans and Arabs, a show bridle or show halter are used. The horse must be very clean and reflect the breed standard. Usually with this type of show the horses are judged on a standard, so its behavior, head carriage, attitude, are all set by the individual breed. Horses that excel in an in-hand class are often bred to maintain that appearance and standard.
The Showmanship Halter class is a little different. In this class it is the rider's ability that is being judged. How they handle, present and show their horse is what is looked at and graded. In some showmanship classes the horses and handlers are asked to do a basic pattern, in western shows the horse must be able to turn on the hind away from the judge when asked by the handler. Each show and group has different rules and regulations on their showmanship halter class. What remains the same is the horse must be clean and presentable. The tack should also be clean and in good working order. Many people when showing in showmanship observe the “Quarters”, that is to move according to where the judge is around the horse. As with anything, showmanship differs between disciplines and riding styles.
Check with the local show you are going to, to make sure you are prepared for what halter class it going to happen. Showing in halter is a fun and rewarding experience, everyone who shows should try it at least once.