SPORT HORSE IN-HAND SHOWING TIPS
Attire - our rules state 'conservative attire'. The unwritten rule that comes from the open division means conservative attire should be a white shirt and beige or white casual style pants. Some people prefer dark pants with light shirt, or dark shirt with light pants. Running shoes are advisable, but are personal preference. Also permissible are breeches and boots. Jacket, hat, vest and gloves are optional. If a whip is used, maximum length is 6 feet.
Appointments - snaffle bridles mandatory on three-year-olds and older. Bridles are optional for two-year-olds or two-year-olds may wear a plain leather stable halter. Stable halters are mandatory for horses under two years of age. The handler can lead the horse by a leather shank attached to noseband or chain through the bit, or exhibitor can show by holding the reins. If you choose to have the reins over the horse's neck, leading by a leather lead, it is suggested that you attach the reins through the last braid, to prevent them from sliding to one side or the other.
Braiding is optional by the rules, but well-done braids certainly finish the look.
The handler should stand the horse so all 4 legs are visible from profile view and leave the horse to carry its head/neck in a natural position. (NO "HALTER" POSING OF HEAD AND NECK POSITION IS ALLOWED.) It is traditional to have the horse's right front leg slightly back and the right hind leg slightly forward. When it is time to show the pattern, the handler should organize the horse for a straight line on the freest leadline possible (try to avoid a chokehold) and show a normal walk. It takes time and training for a horse to learn not to crowd the handler, which allows for a straighter line of travel for the horse. This is important because if the horse is crowding the handler and bent towards the handler, the flight of the feet, and the quality of gait in the walk and trot will be adversely affected.
As the horse moves away from the judge, the correctness of the gait is analyzed, but the relaxation of the back will be evident by the swing and gentle movement of the tail. When the horse is showing the base of the triangle the purity and quality of the gait is observed. Purity is the clear four beats of the walk and two beats of the trot. The activity or energy level of the walk and impulsion and suspension shown in the trot contributes to a higher mark. The overall quality of the gaits, or scope, is what nature has blessed the horse with. The muscles of the horse should be relaxed and loose, allowing for good reach. The horse should be well balanced.
The pattern used is the triangle. The judge will stand at the apex of the triangle and conformation judging may be completed before or after the pattern. When proceeding on the triangle, the handler should walk down the left side of the small triangle (clockwise direction), turn right and show an extended walk across the base of the triangle, turn right again and show a normal walk towards the judge. Continue around the apex, past the judge and begin the normal (working) trot down the left side of the triangle. A slight pause (half halt) before making the turn to the base of the large triangle to ensure both handler and horse are balanced to show the extended trot. Maintaining the trot around the corners needs practise so your horse doesn't run into you. Balance again to make the final turn towards the judge and show the normal (working) trot.
The judge will excuse you when your showing is complete.
Preparation for this class is important. Practise the pattern as well as random patterns of walking, halting, trotting and extending the gaits. If you remember to walk/run long, not fast, then your horse should mirror your actions. It is acceptable to build to the extended trot over 2-3 strides. If you turn and immediately run hard, your horse will probably blow.
The open position is new to most Arabian handlers. Allow the horse to stand with the open position - right front slightly back and right hind slightly forward, and allow your horse to show a natural head and neck position.
SPORT HORSE UNDER SADDLE
The purpose of showing our sport horses under saddle is to evaluate the quality of the three gaits, which are walk, trot and canter. The development of the horse's training is important as well.
The appropriate attire would be hunt seat or dressage type. This would suggest light or white coloured breeches, show shirt with choker collar or stock tie (gentlemen may wear a regular tie), field or dress boots, jacket, gloves and either a helmet or derby or top hat.
Spurs are also optional, as is a crop/whip. The maximum length for the whip is 110 cm.
(Or 43.3 inches).
The type of saddle should be hunt seat or dressage style. Breastplates are allowed but martingales are not. The bridle should be snaffle style with a snaffle or pelham bit. Kimberwicks are not allowed. Double bridles are not allowed.
The class conduct calls for walk, trot and canter, to be shown both ways of the ring. The judge may ask for a lengthened stride at any gait. In order to show a lengthened stride, the rider should ask for increased engagement from the hindquarters, allow for a lengthening of frame and more reach, while maintaining balance, and a light contact through the reins. The judge may also ask for the horses to back in the line up.
SPORT HORSE SHOW HACK
The purpose of the sport horse show hack class is to showcase our most talented and well-trained horses. Horses in this class possess natural athletic ability and their training has been developed very well.
Appropriate attire would be hunt seat or dressage seat. This would indicate light or white coloured breeches, dark jacket, boots, and gloves. Show shirt would have either a choker collar or stock tie. A helmet, derby or top hat would be suitable. Formal attire consisting of white breeches, shadbelly and top hat would be suitable after 6:00 p.m. or in championship classes or championship shows. Spurs and whip are optional. The maximum length for a whip would be 110 cm. (43.3").
Tack for the show hack horse can be forward seat saddle or dressage style saddle. Breastplates are permitted. Bridles may be snaffle or double. If using a snaffle bridle, a snaffle or pelham bit is acceptable. Converters are not allowed on the pelham bits. Kimberwicks are not permitted. If using a double bridle there are specifications for the bits. The inside diameter of the bridoon ring must not exceed 3.15". The lever arm of the curb bit (length below mouthpiece) must not be longer than 3.94" or 10 cm.
The class conduct requires the walk, trot and canter to be shown, with normal, collected and extended paces to be asked for. Hand gallop will also be called and horses should back readily when requested. It is important to understand the criteria of showing the three gaits well. The walk is a 4 beat gait, the trot is a 2 beat gait and the canter is a 3 beat gait. The purity of the gaits should be clear in all 3 paces. Collection is created by riding the horse from back to front - the rider asks for increased engagement of the horse's hindquarters, resulting in increased flexion of the hindleg joints, but then with a balanced seat and through the use of half halts, the rider asks the horse to lighten the forehand and take shorter, but active steps. It is imperative that the rider NOT restrain or constrain the horse through the reins. Extension is shown with engagement and power from the horse's hindquarters, a lengthening of frame, and increased reach of stride. Contact and an uphill balance should be maintained. Normal gaits should be active, supple and obedient. In all gaits, the muscles of the horse should be supple and loose.
The rein-back is a 2 beat diagonal gait, which should be performed in a relaxed manner, without shuffling.