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Midstates Horse Shows specializes in English Saddle Hunter/Jumper events. A Hunter/Jumper "show" does not fit the traditional definition of the word "show". Most of us are use to going to a show that begins at a certain time and runs for a couple of hours. In the Hunter/Jumper world a "show" begins on a certain day and ends days later!

A Hunter/Jumper show consists of dozens of show segments known as Classes. There are three major class categories -- Jumpers, Hunters, and Equitation. Classes are further subdivided by rider age/experience, ponies/horses, and other criteria  The show schedule lists the time and date of each class, although the times are approximate since the numbers of entrants in each class is highly variable. Depending on the number of entrants a Class may be broken into several Sections. (See the end of this page for a glossary of horse show terms.)

The three major class categories are defined as follows:

Show Jumpers

In Jumper Classes, what counts is how
“faultless” and ultimately how fast!

One of the most exciting moments in sports for the spectators to watch is when the Jumpers go into action at a horse show. The sight of a great horse and rider combination competing over a demanding course communicates a great thrill. However, to derive the full measure of enjoyment from these events, the spectator should grasp the basics of keeping score.

The Jumper is the “athlete” of the show. His task is solely to jump, regardless of style or manner, and his score is based entirely on his performance alone. Scoring is based on a point system for “faults” in jumping [knocking a rail down or a refusal] or exceeding the specified time limit.

The winner is the horse with the lowest number of faults. “Time” is also a factor in deciding the outcome of an event. In the case of a tie after the first round [:Clean,” or equal number of faults], jump-offs are held over a shortened, and usually raised course, and the competitors must compete against the clock.

Designing Jumper Courses is an art form, with no two courses created the same. A diagram of each course indicated the direction and sequence in which each obstacle must be taken. Each jump is numbered and flags are placed to indicate the direction the obstacle is to be taken - the red flag is on the right and the white flag is on the left.

Working Hunters

In Working Hunter Classes, judge the horse
for manner and pace; a smooth comfortable ride.

The Working Hunter is representative of the type of horse used in the sport of Fox Hunting. He should possess manners, jumping ability, style, pace, and quality. The judges are looking for the horse that would be the most agreeable mount to “ride to hounds.” The number on the rider refers to the horse.

Ideally, the Working Hunter must be able to demonstrate his ability to furnish the rider with a smooth, comfortable, and safe ride, clearing all the obstacles in stride with a minimum of effort and a rate of speed he can maintain during a day in the hunt field.

The Working Hunter Courses are designed to offer a reasonable facsimile for the conditions a Working Hunter would meet on a hunt. Therefore, it goes without saying that the horsed, not the riders, are being judged in the Working Hunter classes.

In judging the Working Hunter classes, scoring is not based on the same mathematical process as the Jumpers. While judges will penalize a horse for a refusal or knock down of an obstacle, they may not fault for rubbing a rail, unless it is the fault of mediocre jumping. Penalties may also be assessed for poor or unsafe jumping.

Hunt Seat Equitation

In Equitation Classes, it is the Rider’s
form, skill, and handling that is being judged.

In today’s Hunt Seat Equitation, it is the Rider and not the horse who is being judged. The actions of the horse are important only as they reflect on the horsemanship of the Rider. Thus, it is possible for a Rider whose horse “acts up” to be placed among the winners, because in the judge’s opinion, the Rider met the problem skillfully. Conversely, a seemingly good Rider may mean nothing more than a placed horse carrying an unwitting passenger!

The Rider is always being judged in Horsemanship Classes whether the class calls for jumping or whether it is run “on the flat.” In judging Equitation Classes, the scoring is not based on the same mathematical process as the Jumpers. Judges are looking for style of riding, skill and accuracy, judgement in the use of the aids [suppleness of hands, seat, and legs]; a general impression of complete, quiet control.

In the description of Equitation Classes there is reference to “test.” This refers to the tests of Horsemanship which have been established by the American Horse Shows Association for the Recognized Horse Shows and is published in the AHSA Rule Book. Equitation judges choose from these individual tests [1 – 19] in judging Horsemanship.
Equitation Courses are designed to offer the challenge of skill and judgement. The jumps may be representative of those often seen in Show Jumping.

The winners of the AHSA Medal Classes and the ASPCA [American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] Horsemanship Classes are qualified for the National Finals in the Fall at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and at the National Horse Show in West Palm Beach, Florida, respectively.

Glossary Of Terms

USA Equestrian- The sanctioning body of equestrian events in the United States

Class – A mini-event within the horse show. Each Class is restricted to horses/riders meeting certain criteria (ponies, horses, riders in specific age groups, hunters, jumpers, equitation, etc.)

Clean Round - When a horse completes the prescribed course within the time allowed, without incurring jumping faults. When more than one horse has a “clean round” a jump-off occurs.

Faults - Grand prix jumping is scored by faults-or penalties accrued by horse and rider while they negotiate the course.

Scoring is determined as follows:
 First disobedience - (refusal to jump fence) 4 faults
 Second disobedience - 4 faults or disqualification at lever 5 or above
 Third disobedience - elimination
 Knockdown of an obstacle, standard or wing(touches do not count) - 4 faults
 Any foot in Liverpool, water or ditch, or on marker or tape on landing side of water - 4 faults
 Fall of horse or rider - elimination
 Exceeding the time limit allowed to complete the course -1 fault per second
 Off course - elimination

Gaits - The different paces at which the horse travels are walk, trot, canter and gallop, and varying speeds of each

Jump-Off - Generally horses that are tied for other than first place will remain tied and the prize money divided equally. Horses tied for first place after the first round much jump-off in a timed jump-off round. The winner of the class is the horse with the fewest faults and the fastest time.

Jumping Order - The jumping order or starting order is determined in a drawing before the event so that each has an equal chance of attaining a favorable position. Riders near the end of the starting order have the advantage or seeing how the first riders complete the course.

Knockdown - An obstacle is considered knocked down when a horse or rider, by contact, lowers any element which establishes the height of an obstacle.

MASCUP - Equestrian entertainment and marketing organization which promotes grand prix show jumping nationwide.

Off Course - A horse is considered off course if it deviates from the course as outlined on the posted diagram. (See Faults)

Rail - The wooden poles used on obstacles are called rails and must be a minimum of six feet in length and four inches in diameter. Rails usually measure about 12 feet on the average fence.

Refusal - When a horse stops before the fence or runs out to the side of the fence to avoid negotiating the obstacle it is called a refusal. The refusal is scored as a disobedience.

Schooling - Practicing or training before the competition.

Spread Fence - Consists of more than one vertical element taken as one jump.

Stride - The amount of ground the horse covers in one “step” is called the horses stride. At the canter the average single stride of a horse is 12 feet. The distances of the grand prix courses are set accordingly.

Time Allowed - A specified period of time to complete the course. If the time allowed is exceeded, time faults will be added to the horse’s score.

Vertical - A fence consisting of a single vertical element with no spread.

Voluntary Withdrawal - A rider makes the decision not to continue on the course and leave the ring, usually with a nod of the heard or tip of the hat to the judge. A rider may decide to withdraw because of a problem with the horse or trouble negotiating the course, or because the rider knows he or she has too many faults to place in the ribbons.

Walking the Course - Because riders and horses may not practice on a jumper course before the competition, riders are permitted to walk the course and check the fences and distances by pacing off the strides. Walking the course allows the rider to decided the proper number of strides between fences to assure a smooth ride with the fewest faults.

Water Jump - A shallow ditch from six inches to one foot deep filled with water. A water jump is 16 feet wide by 10 to 14 feet in spread.