Question: "Should we use the quarter system in a halter class while the judge is judging like we would in a showmanship class, or just keep it simple and stay on opposite sides?" You asked, we answered! Should exhibitors use the quarter method for showing horses at halter?
Answer: Alex Ross, AQHA’s senior director of judges and stewards, says that in showmanship classes, the quarter method is required by AQHA rules. The rules for halter classes do not mention the quarter method.
Most halter exhibitors show their horse in a way that best presents the horse's conformation and expression to the judges. While those exhibitors may change quarters when the judge is inspecting from the front view, none of the halter exhibitors change quarters when the judge is inspecting from the sides or rear. They are focused on showing their horse at his best and usually do it from the near side of the horse so they can use their left hand to ask the horse to perk his ears.
The American Quarter Horse Journal has more on the quarter method, for those interested in honing their showmanship skills:
The quarter method was developed as a means of controlling your horse in the show ring, while allowing the judge to inspect the horse. By utilizing the quarter method, you demonstrate an understanding of proper showmanship and handling of your horse.
You can think of the quarter method as two imaginary lines that make up four sections: one that extends outward across the horse’s topline, and another that extends outward perpendicularly to the first. These four sections are your guide when showing your horse in showmanship at halter.
As an exhibitor, you should always be in the section adjacent to the judge. This allows you to maintain control of your horse if he were to behave badly, and keep the judge out of harm’s way.
As the judge crosses the line into another section, gracefully move to your next location.
However, do not cross the line until the judge commits to a section. Some judges will stop on a quadrant line. Hold your ground and don’t cross over until the judge commits to the next section.
The proper placement is as follows:
Your goal is to be smooth and efficient with your steps, making your movement look as natural as possible. You can practice the quarter method at home with your trainer or a loyal friend to perfect your showmanship style.