17 Jul 2011

Horse Show Terminology and Lingo

Everyone can use a brush up on show ring lingo. Things are easier when you understand them, so learning a little of the terminology before stepping into the show ring can help you win points.
The Basics


A young horse, green hunters are in their first or second year of showing.


Unit of measurement for a horse which is equivalent to 4 inches. Horse and pony measurement is taken in hands from the ground to the withers.


The amount of ground a horse covers in one canter step.
Horse running
Image from Thowra_uk


A rider who shows, but is not paid to ride.


A rider, either hunter or jumper that is under 18.


Riders who are paid to ride their mounts.


Come in all shapes and sizes. Difficulty is determined by the construction, the materials and the size.
There are several types of jumps and each one has several components.
Essentially these are vertical boards or poles.
Vertical Jump
Image from Andrew Pescod
These are wide fences sometimes square and sometimes uneven.
Oxer Jump
Image from Ned Trifle
Quarter and half rounds
Like their name they are rounded fences, either a quarter or a half dome.
Half Round Jump
Image from Andrew Pescod
Wooden poles used to create fences.
The upright structure that holds the rails of fences.
Copper Cap Detail on 3', 4', & 5' Schooling Standards


Part of the Olympic three, dressage tests the agility, flexibility and grace of a horse.

Cross Country

Part of the Olympic three, cross country tests endurance and speed.

Jumper Terminology

Part of the Olympic three, jumpers are judged solely on athletic ability over fences. The horses can be any breed or color so long as they can get through a course without faults.
A penalty incurred during a jumper class, includes downed rails, fence refusals or going over time limits.
Clear Round 
When rideing a course against the clock, a clear round means there were no faults (downed rails or extra time) incurred.
Falling off or going off course is generally grounds for dismissal from the class.
If more than one jumper achieves a clean round, a jump-off is held against the clock to determine the winner.
An advanced division which does not restrict riders by their previous winnings.

Hunter Terminology

Judged on style and ability. The fences used in hunter classes are more organic in form and generally smaller than fences used in jumper classes.
Equitation Classes
Judge the ability of the rider not the horse. Riders will be evaluated on form and skill. Usually classified according to age and skill level.

Universal Show Lingo

Jumping Order
The order of the class is determined by a drawing before the class begins. Riders later in the class have the advantage of watching previous rounds before attempting their own.
The riders turn to jump a course.
The prescribed order of the jumps in a specific class. Courses are posted in advance so the riders can learn them prior to riding their round.
Walking the course
Riders are allowed to walk out the course route on foot to examine the fences and pace out strides between fences.
Rider walking the course
Image from Robert Whitehead
More than one jump in a row.
If a hunter or jumper deviates from the prescribed course they are off-course.
If a horse (or rider) makes contact with a fence and subsequently a rail falls. This is only a knockdown if it lowers the height of a fence.
Horse knocking a rail
Image from flying_tiger


When a horse stops before (or avoids entirely) an obstacle.
Horse refusing a fence
Image from sskennel
American Horse Show Association
The National federation in charge of regulating competitions and judges.

Start Practicing For the Ring

Now you are armed and ready to hit the show ring, all you need is hours of practice and a good horse.

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