Standing a horse up in hand so a judge can assess his conformation is an important part of all showing classes, however it's all too common for competitors to pay too little attention to it.
The in hand section can often confirm a judges opinion or even, become a deciding factor if two horses are fairly evenly matched.
A judge's time is very limited when assessing your horse - you must get it right!! They don't want to see a fidget who won't stand still, nor will they get the best impression if you allow your horse to go to sleep, rest a hind leg or stand him up on unlevel ground making one end look considerably higher than the other.
Standing Your Horse Up: the judges inspection in the show ring is not the same as coming to a square halt in the dressage arena. The judge wants to see all four limbs, from each side, in a balanced frame, so the legs need to be slightly apart.
Walk your horse forwards and ask him to halt in his natural stance whilst you are alongside him rather than making the common mistake of coming in front of him and stiltling the halt.
If one foreleg is in the wrong position, push his shoulder on that side until he steps back. Don't pull him forward as he's more likely to stand stretched out or even encourage him to walk on again.
The final part of perfecting the picture is to get the horses attention and make him look alert - no need for stick waving, titbits or grass waving here - keep a crisp packet or a few TicTacs in their pot in your pocket and use these to grab his attention at the appropriate time.
I find the best way to teach a horse to lead up correctly at home is to practise using a fence alongside. This doesn't need to be in arena - the field is fine and more "real" to a show ring situation.
Carry a schooling whip in your outside hand - it's important that you look up and focus on a point straight ahead of you and your horse is more likey to follow suit. Use a click of the tongue to encourage him to walk forward (you should already be one step ahead here if you lunge as part of your horses' usual routine) if he is tending to lag behind give a tap with the schooling whip.
It is essential that you keep your horses' head straight - if you pull his head to the inside then this is when he will have a tendency to move sideways.
When teaching a horse the trot up - I will always do this in the direction of the gate - horses are always inclined to move more forward when heading for home!! Again use a click of the tongue as you move off looking straight ahead on your focus point and back up with a tap of the schooling whip if necessary.
The overall picture can be complimented by you practising to match your stride with your horses' rhythem - you'll know you've perfected this through practise, practise, practise when you can match your right stride with your horse's right foreleg coming forwards and the same with the left.
Always remember in the ring once you have walked away, to walk straight for a few strides before you pick up trot.