Ask the Expert

Medal Finals

Yes, you absolutely can if you provide a copy of the results to the Member Support Manager. Even if the show isn't CHJA approved, medal points can count toward qualifying for our medal finals.

Points

If that show is CHJA approved, then yes, you could accrue CHJA points at an out-of-state show. Just check our show list to ensure that we have the show you plan to attend listed.

No. If the show is CHJA approved, then we will receive the results and be able to award you applicable points. We do often have issues with Horse/Owner/Rider names being different at Group I (USEF/USHJA) shows than the names that we have in our CHJA database so please ensure that your CHJA names are correct.  You also need to make sure your USEF number is in your profile, and the horse's USEF number is in the horse's profile on chja.org.

Judging

Kay Beard, ‘r’ Licensed Official

The question has been raised often in recent times regarding a horse showing expression in the Hunter and Equitation rings.  The good news is here has been a shift in perception around  judging hunters that allows for a demonstration of physical enthusiasm on course.  But let's explore this deeper in order to answer the question by first defining expression as it pertains to horses showing in the hunter and equitation disciplines. 

Expression shown by the horse in the Hunter and Equitation classes may come in a variety of forms -  positive or negative.  For example, a horse that has its ears pinned to his head, is wringing his tail, and showing a reluctance to go forward would be demonstrating negative forms of equine expression.  The horse is certainly “telling” spectators how it feels through its physical movements that are generally considered negatively charged motions. 

A positive form of expression may look like a horse purposefully marching into the show arena, with his ears at attention, and offering a willingness to move forward around the course.  With this explanation, it is important to differentiate forwardness and speed on course.  Judges are often looking for the horse showing interest in its task at hand, yet, not wanting to watch a horse that runs around the course with unnecessary speed. 

Undoubtedly, as with judging any subjective sport event, judge’s opinions will differ and they should.  Any official comes to the ring with their own set of experiences, preferences, and points of view.  These things all play a role in any individual’s perception of a performance.  While one judge may view a horse tracking the course with a forward pace, another may view that same round as the horse being quick.  However, almost any judge will differentiate between an enthusiastic pace and dangerous speed.   

With animal welfare considerations in mind, the USEF and USHJA have made an effort to educate judges to no longer penalize horses the show positive energy on course.  This may look like a horse with an energetic pace, a keen interest as he approaches each fence  making a great effort at a fence, and landing with a playful swing of its head.  In today's times, measures have been made to encourage allowance for this form of a horse's eager expression around a hunter course. 

In both Hunter and Equitation classes, the movement of the horse, with the inclusion of his athletic behavior or expression, must be rhythmical.  Manners and suitability are primary considerations for all divisions.  In other words, an athletic and energetic performance in a professional division may be rewarded.  While this same performance in a beginner riders class may be penalized should the judge sense that the rider could be in a compromising position.  Thus, the context of that same performance is a consideration when a judge pins a class. 

Getting back to the basics, a horse rushing toward fences or bounding away from fences is not a mannerism hunter judges should reward.  Here’s why. In the hunt field with uneven terrain and potentially limited traction, a horse must demonstrate proficiency at being sure footed. Moreover, a horse kicking out on course is never a behavior to reward as this action could result in injuring one of the hounds on the hunt field.  Bucking is also considered perilous as the horse could easily lose its footing and result in injuring himself or the rider. On the other hand, expression of a horse’s head and neck more laterally can be deemed a positive thing so long as it is not excessive. 

Next trainers, riders, spectators, and officials are now confronted with examining the word, excessive.  To reiterate, this is where the subjectivity of judging enters and judges will diverge on what is excessive in a person’s viewpoint.  Nonetheless, a judge should differentiate between an athletic performance and a precarious performance.                

Diane Carney, a notable licensed official in the industry, says, “ In our sport today an athletic hunter is appreciated, a horse with expression is appreciated, a good pace without tension in rhythm is appreciated.  That is ideal.  The brain and the body of the horse, along with the balance of the rider in sync galloping relaxed and really jumping beautiful jumps is a great performance.”  Ms. Carney goes on to add, “That is horse training, not just horse showing.”

An important point to consider for sure.

By Kay Beard, ‘r’ Licensed Official

Many equitation competitors have raised the question, which seat should I ride in while on course in an equitation class? There are four types of seats used in the American Forward Style of Riding, those include the full seat, light seat, half seat and driving seat. Each of these seated positions in the saddle has a time and a place for its use. Confusion has arisen regarding which seat should be used on course in an equation class.

To adequately answer this question, a rider and their trainer must know their horse and the particular challenges that are presented on the assigned course. In order for the rider to execute the equitation course successfully, a variation of the four seats in the forward riding system may be required for any given horse. While it may be most appealing to the judge to be in a light seat, if you have a horse that you know to be spooky at certain types of jumps, a driving seat may be required to get the job done. Equitation is not only a harmonious ride and seamless aids, it is also a matter of being an effective rider.

A half seat and a light seat are used for galloping and jumping. Thinking back to the roots of our sport and its origination on the hunt field, a light seat is suitable for the rider to stay with the motion over fences and ride away from the fences with ease. This is the most comfortable for both horse and rider across uneven terrain for long periods of time. With the evolution of our sport being adapted out of the field and into an arena, the ideal remains as if a rider was performing in an open field.

With the ideal of carrying a light seat, there are certainly suitable times to use varying seats during an equation course. For instance, a full seat most often would be the most effective ride for a tight rollback turn, where a higher degree of balance and control is required. In addition, if a rider anticipates a horse to balk at a certain obstacle, a driving seat may be necessary for the rider to accomplish their task. Another time on course a rider may choose a more open hip angle (or a deeper seat) to a fence could be to a vertical in which the rider feels they may need more balance and push off the ground to help the horse jump clean. If an element of the course requires a hand gallop to a fence, a half seat would be an appropriate position for the ride to that fence.

In conclusion, there is no “one seat fits all” answer to this question. Depending upon the circumstances of a course diagram and a rider’s knowledge of their horse, there is a time a place to use each Forward

Seat Riding System position effectively. The ideal end result is for a rider to demonstrate an effective, harmonious ride with invisible communication while competing in an equitation class.

Showing

Celia Thomas

Although it feels like only yesterday that the show season ended, we are already gearing up for the 2018 season! I have been asked to discuss warm-up ring safety and protocols as well as checking in with the people who run the back gate at shows.

When you first arrive at the show, you and your horse will be coming to the show ring to practice over the jumps and get a feel for the ring. This is perhaps the scariest part of your day, but it need not be if everyone works together! Remember, you are NOT the only one in the ring and it is your responsibility to be aware of everyone around you.

Now is not the time to be a mouse, you must use your biggest outdoor voice and call your jumps ( ask your trainer if you are unsure what that means!), alert other riders of your intended path and watch for cross traffic! Always keep one ear open to your trainer and the other listening for other riders. Everyone does not have to be in the ring at one once, be safe, take turns and be efficient with your time in the ring. Jump your jumps and leave the arena, it is not social hour!

Next is checking in with the back gate person. Just because you have picked up your number from the office does not mean you are checked in to ride! Ask your trainer when they would like you to show and then come see the back gate so that they may get you on the list. You will be placed in a rotation of riders consisting of three to four people. For example, if there are 12 people in your division, there may be four rotations of three riders each. Ask the gate how many trips are ahead of you, multiply that number by two (the average number of minutes per trip) and that will give you a rough idea of how long until you show. Keep an eye on the schedule and keep checking in with the gate person.

When you come into the warm-up ring to prepare for your class, the same rules apply as the morning practice. Eyes and ears open, call your jumps and whether you want the inside or outside track. Safety first at all times, and please remember you and your trainer do not own the warm-up jump.

Sharing is a good thing!

Last but not least, be nice to your back gate person. Their job is to keep the ring moving, and to make the day go as smoothly as possible. Help them help you by getting to the ring on time or by communicating any delays you may encounter. Your course has been posted since early morning, know your course before you get to the in-gate!

Need help? Just ask, we all want you to have a successful day!

Now, tighten those chinstraps and I will see you at the shows!

Meg O’Meara

It’s show season! You are practicing at home without stirrups, cleaning your tack after every ride and finally getting those stubborn manure stains off your horse’s legs. But, are you ready for the show office? Let’s take a few minutes to cover some horse show office dos and don’ts and answer some commonly asked questions.

Horse Show Office Dos

  • Renew your CHJA membership before your first show. Remember if you are showing in the hunters or jumpers, the owner of the horse must be a CHJA member as well in order to accrue points.
  • Send your entry in on time. This helps the show manager adjust the schedule to make the rings run as smoothly as possible and avoids late fees for you. As a courtesy, call the show secretary if you are scratching from the horse show.
  • On your entry form, be sure to complete the rider, owner and trainer information. It is also important to put CHJA numbers on the entry form.
  • Come with a blank check when you pick up your number. Most shows will not let you pick up your number without a check. Some shows accept credit cards, but don’t count on it. If you want to pay with cash come with smaller bills as the office might not be able to make change.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to check in at the show office, the line is always longer when you are in a hurry!

Horse Show Office Don’ts

  • Add or scratch classes at the in gate. Please send someone to the show office. Some horse shows will charge you for classes if you do not come to the show office to scratch.
  • Come into the office to make changes to an entry without knowing the show name of the horse, rider name and class numbers.
  • Text message pictures of your show entry to the secretary unless specifically asked to.
  • Answer your cell phone while you are in line or are checking in, the show office can get pretty noisy!

Other questions that are commonly asked in the horse show office:

  •  “I want to ride in the medal, but I am not sure it will fill. Should I enter it now or wait to see if others enter?”  This situation happens all the time at the horse show and it unfortunately leads to classes not filling. Please enter classes you want to go in so others know there is interest in the class. If you know you are no longer going into a class, please scratch the class in the show office so management can make arrangements if there are no longer at least three competitors in a class.
  • “Do I need to have my CHJA number on my entry form? Isn’t it in a database?” Yes, it is your responsibility to put the CHJA number for horse, owner and rider on the entry form if you want to accrue year end awards. Different show managers use different horse show software which might not have your information stored in it. There is not always internet at each horse show to look up numbers, so store this information in your phone or on a piece of paper in your tack trunk.
  •  “What time will my classes start?” A great question that is challenging to answer! Often times the horse show office is the last to know about the flow of the show at the rings. Please speak with the starter at the in-gate of the ring your classes are being held.
  •  “Will the horse show manager or other exhibitors pay for my classes if I am filling a class?”  This is a case-by-case decision. You should assume that you are responsible for any class you compete in unless a show manager or other exhibitor has already contacted the show office to move the class charges to the appropriate payer.

Now you are horse show office ready! If you have more horse show office or horse show entry questions, please e-mail or call me. When in doubt about a show specific question, be sure to contact the show manager. Good luck this horse show season!

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