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Last time, we told you a bit about the various kinds of shows. Today, a little bit more about what you might find at the show itself.

Show Basics – What Happens at a Show?

Schooling

Schooling is practicing for the classes you will be riding in at the show. Essentially, schooling is like a lesson at the show. It may be long or it may be very short, depending on the needs of the horse and rider. Some riders or horses are ready to go in the ring after they practice a few jumps and others need more practice and warm-up time depending on energy level, nerves, and experience. At a show that is more than one day, you will often have one day that is just for schooling, and then school again briefly before your classes.

Division

In each show, there are various divisions, composed of several classes and generally arranged by skill level. Each division has a champion and reserve champion – if you placed in a class, you receive a certain number of points, and the highest and second highest points are champion and reserve champion, respectively. A division is usually composed of two hunter rounds and a hack.

Warm-ups

Usually, in a division, you get to ride a warm-up round of jumps. A warm-up round may or may not receive ribbons, and it generally does not count towards your points in the division. The warm-up round is a great place to get rid of those show nerves and make all of your mistakes before you go in for the hunter rounds!

Hunter Rounds

Hunter rounds are your chance to show off your jumps! The number of jumps depends on the type of division you are riding in. For instance, a cavaletti or cross-rails division might have only four elements, while anything above 2″ generally will have at lease 8 jumps. Each jumping round is called a “trip” and will involve a variety of jumping obstacles.

Hack

While one might “hack” around the show grounds (meaning to just take your horse for a leisurely walk or short workout), the Hack (or flat class) is a class in each division where you get to show off your horse’s gaits. The hack is ridden on the flat (no jumping), and you ride in the class with everyone else in your division. If your division is quite large, sometimes the hack will be divided into two groups. The announcer will tell the riders when to walk/trot/canter and change directions; at the end of the class, everyone lines up in the middle of the ring, and the places are announced. At higher levels or in Equitation classes, the riders might be asked to do various other tasks, such as sitting trot, trot without stirrups, leg yields, etc. The hack can be tricky, because not only do you have to manage your own horse, but you have to look out for all of the other horses in the ring as well!