Horsemanship is a delicate line between the horse and rider where they have to understand and maintain a connection in order to perform at a high level. The challenge lies from within, and takes time to develop the skills alongside a horse.
Roger Altman, who has served on the PtHA judges committee for over 30 years, understands the challenges and rewards of showing in horsemanship classes.
Altman began showing horses at 5 years old with a POA Pony, and then moved to showing appaloosas as a youth, he said.
“After showing appaloosas, I started to show more pinto and paint horses,” Altman said.
Altman began his journey with PtHA as he ring mastered at the PtHA National Show in Detroit in 1988, he explained.
“Later on in 1990 a customer asked if I would show a horse in western pleasure at a pinto show and I have been involved ever since,” Altman said.
When it comes to showing in horsemanship classes, the first important thing to remember is to know your pattern and begin to practice the elements, Altman said.
“I tell people just practice, keep practicing and more practice,” Altman said.
Practice looks different for everyone as for some horses it is better to practice the entire pattern and with other horses they work best when you only practice certain elements of the pattern, Altman added.
Horsemanship is all about the riders ability to ride and guide the horse through the pattern, Altman explained.
“Horsemanship is fifty percent the horse and fifty percent the rider and how well both of them do together completing the pattern,” Altman said.
The judges are looking for exhibitors who are harmonious with their horse, making the pattern one fluid motion with the horse, Altman said.
“It is important to know your limitations and your horse,” Altman said. “If your horse is not good at a maneuver don’t keep pushing.”
Everyone learns and processes information a little differently and that goes for learning riding skills and practicing horsemanship maneuvers, Altman said.
“Not everyone will learn the same way and the key is finding out how the people you are working with learn best,” Altman said.
Showing horses is fulfilling as people always walk away learning valuable life lessons, Altman said.
“With showing horses you experience success, defeat, and it teaches you dedication,” Altman said.
Altman has been involved with PtHA for over 30 years and applauds to see how the organization has grown and evolved over time, he added.
“The thing I love about PtHA is they have something for everyone,” Altman said. “It is a family- oriented organization and I am proud to be apart of it.”