Horse show season is in full swing, and as we near the next MegFord Schooling Show, we thought we’d de-mystify some of the more common horse-y vernacular regarding the showing process for those of you who are new to it.
USEF, USHJA, WTHJA: The governing organizations of our sport. The United States Equestrian Federation (www.usef.org) regulates riding competitions in the United States that include dressage, endurance, eventing, reining, vaulting, combined driving, hunter/jumpers, saddle seat equitation, etc. The United States Hunter/Jumper Association (http://www.ushja.org/) governs hunter/jumper competitions and creates the rulebook. The West TN Hunter/Jumper Association (http://www.wthja.com/) is our local show organization.
Hunters: The discipline of show hunters evolved from fox hunting. An ideal hunter has smooth, ground-covering gaits, calm temperament, even strides, and a good jump. Hunters are judged subjectively, primarily on the horse’s way of going, soundness, suitability, and manners; various classes may take into account things like performance, brilliance, or conformation. Jumps are often meant to evoke natural obstacles that one might see in the hunt field, such as brush jumps, coops, stone walls, etc.
Jumpers: Jumpers are all about speed and clean jumps. Jumpers accrue faults for each pole they knock down or each second they take over the time limit. The horse and rider pair with the least number of faults wins. If multiple riders go clear (no faults), there is a jump off, and the rider with the least number of faults or, if no faults, the fastest time, wins. Jumper courses tend to be more technical than hunter courses – they ask harder questions of the horse and rider.
Equitation: Equitation is judged subjectively on the rider’s form and style. The courses are more technical than a typical hunter course, and the riders are expected to exhibit a higher level of skills and flexibility. For instance, at the upper equitation levels, rider may be asked to take a jump from a trot, ride a course without stirrups, or ride a competitor’s horse.
Rated: Rated shows are run under the auspices of the USEF and can be rated AA, A, B, or C. “AA” shows tend to be the largest shows with more class options and prize money; they also tend to run for longer periods of time, while “C” rated shows are often more local or regional. Horses and riders in rated shows or divisions must be registered with the USEF and are ranked on a regional and national level.
Non-rated/schooling: Non-rated, or schooling shows, are not affiliated with the USEF and are often run on a local level. Many people use them as practice or warm-up for rated shows, and they are often only one or two days long instead of three days to multiple weeks. Our local schooling show series is the MegFord Schooling Shows.