Some Key Answers to Some Common Questions About Showing Your Horse
At most shows you'll find classes in these divisions: Equitation classes are judged on the riders position, ability as a rider, horsemanship, and overall appearance/performance. Diagonals at the trot and leads at the canter are an important part of an equitation class. This class is not judged on the horse and his way of moving and/or gait is not taken into consideration unless he 'acts up' or becomes out of control or moving incorrectly due to rider error. Both English and western equitation classes are offered.

In Equitation classes the judge will be looking for:

The Hunter division is judged on the horse's movement, brilliance, presence, way of going, overall quality and jumping ability. The hunter division is a strictly English division. Hunter classes can be judged either on the flat or over fences.

The rider is not judged at all UNLESS he interferes with the horses performance.

Ideal hunters have a low, long, and ground covering stride and he is expected to be pleasant, well balanced, and mannerly. Over fences, hunters are expected to maintain an even pace, meet jumps on even strides and jump in proper form.

In Hunter classes the judge will be looking for:

In the jumper divisions the only things that are being judged is the time of your round and the number of faults you acquire during that round. Style, conformation, rider position, and other factors are not taken into consideration. Once again this is an English only division.

Now for the pleasure division. Pleasure can be done either English or western and for the most part the judge will be looking for the same things though the horses frame will differ for each discipline.

The judge will be looking for:

Horsemanship classes are much like equitation classes except they are ridden to a designated pattern that is posted before the classes. Most horsemanship classes are walk/trot/canter and can be performed either English or western.

Trail is the 'fun' class. You will be asked to maneuver your horse through various obstacles at different gaits and will be judged on the horses willingness and ability as well as yours. Trail is most often done western but can be done English as well. A good trail horse should be relaxed and willing.

Halter and Showmanship are often confused. In both classes the horse is shown in hand (you are leading him) and he is shown at a walk and jogs and may be asked to pivot. Halter, however, is judged on the horses conformation and how closely he resembles either his breed standard OR how well his conformation suits his discipline. Showmanship is judged on the handler, their ability to present their horse, appearance, grooming and overall 'showmanship'. Either of these classes, though more popularly done in western garb, can be performed English as well.