How to train a show horse to park out

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Show Horse Parking Out
Show Horse Parking Out (Image: www.hoffmanstables.com)

A show horse is usually required to park out during competition. "Park out" is a stance that shows off the conformation of the animal and shows that he has good manners. Your horse will be standing with its neck and head held high and front and back legs extended, like in the picture. Train your horse to do this at a young age, after it is halter-trained as a yearling. You can still train an older horse, however. Make it something you do every day as part of your training routine. Here are a few basic steps to teach your horse has to park out with or without a rider.

Things You'll Need

  • Halter
  • Lead shank
  • Bridle
  • Saddle
  • Treats

Start with the ground training technique, meaning you are controlling the horse from the ground, either with a halter and lead shank or a bridle, without a rider.

Stand on the left side of your horse toward the front of its shoulder, and use the halter or bridle to raise its nose up, gently pulling its head forward at the same time. The idea is to get your horse to raise up and "stretch out," so it will have to move its front feet forward into the parked-out position.

While you are using your left hand to raise its head and stretch it out, put your right hand on its shoulder and put some pressure on the pasterns of its front feet with your own foot. The pastern is the spot just above the hoof and just below the fetlock. Use your foot either by tapping on the pastern or gently pushing it forward. You can use a training command here if you like such as "out." Do this with both its front feet, until the horse is in position.

Pet and coax your horse through this, to make it a pleasant experience. As soon as your horse gets into position, pet and soothe it with a calming voice. Gently coax its nose back down once it is stretched out, to put it in proper position.

Feed your horse treats while it in this position, to encourage it to stay there. Baby carrots or peppermints work well. Keep the pieces small, especially if your horse has a bit in its mouth. Your horse will have to park out and learn to stay in that position in the show ring.

Teach your horse to do this with a rider on its back, once the ground training technique is learned. You will be in the same position doing the same things in the steps listed above. Instruct your rider to tap her toes gently on your horse's shoulders as you ease your horse into the position. Use the same command: "out." At this point, your horse will have to get used to you walking away from it and staying in position for the rider. The goal, with a lot of repetition, is to have the horse park out simply by the rider tapping her toes on its shoulders.

Tips & Warnings

  • A horse may have to stay in this position for a while in the show ring. Make it all pleasant. Have your rider rub its withers and talk gently to keep it relaxed. Always practice this every time you train your horse. Do not take for granted that once your horse learns this position, it will always do it. This has to be part of the daily routine.

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