In the case of Hunter/Jumper shows, it refers to a show that is not recognized or pointed by the USEF. We are a recognized AHJA Category II show.
For those riders in their first years of showing, it is a little intimidating to go into the ring by yourself and ride a course, even if it’s only once or twice around.
That fear or insecurity is felt by the horse and often results in a refusal or worse. If the rider can go in with a group first, their confidence is raised and they are ready to focus and relax a bit for their over fences classes.
You’ll notice we’ve only done this for the Walk-Trot through Student Hunter divisions.
Equitation classes are judged on the riders form, as it relates to Hunt Seat. “Form follows function” so it’s not just about how you look while riding.
Here’s an example:
If your heels are down but your foot comes out of the stirrup over a fence—or any time—then your form isn’t really functioning, is it? It’s really not about “heels down,” it’s about putting your weight in your heels with a relaxed ankle so that you are more likely to stay in the tack (saddle) rather than out of the tack (oops! That’s not very affective, is it?). A lucky byproduct is your calf is flexed and tight, more likely to be felt by the horse as an aid. If your horse is not performing correctly, then again, either your form is not effective or you need more work on your ability. So yes, the rider’s performance counts.
There’s more, but I’ll take off my instructor’s hat for now. Hopefully, these short explanations of the most general aspects of showing help you enjoy your experience here, and help you be your child’s biggest fan.
CSHS is a Hunter and Jumper show, and each are judged differently.
Jumpers are judged objectively on their ability to jump a course (7-10 fences) quickly without knocking down a fence. If they knock down a pole or do not complete the course in the time allowed, they receive “faults” (or penalties). The horse with the fewest faults is first, etc.
Clear Round – Blue Ribbon is a jumper class that is exactly what it says it is; if the horse doesn’t knock down any poles (he had a “clear round”), he gets a blue ribbon. Time is not a factor.
Hunters, historically at least, judged on the criteria that you would want in a “Field” Hunter. As in Fox Hunting. I won’t get into any details here, but that is why these horses jump in a slower, calmer fashion than “Jumpers”. Get it? You’d rather ride a quieter horse for 4-5 hours. You’d be galloping, stopping, crossing creeks, jumping ditches, stone walls, picket fences, in and out of paddocks, etc. A “hot” horse would not be a pleasure to ride, and your horsemanship would be questioned for choosing one, or creating one.
So, Hunters are judged subjectively; the quality of their gaits, the quality of their jump, and how they manage the before, after, and in-between jumps.
Divisions at our shows are typically comprised of 3 classes: two O/F (“over fences”) and one U/S (“under saddle”) with a couple of exceptions. We like to have two divisions at every level if possible. One where the horse is judged, and one that the rider is judged (equitation).
This helps the riders in a few ways:
We offer many different levels of classes, because we want Copper State Horse Shows to be a fantastic show for students of all levels. All horsemen, even professionals, continue to learn, making us all students of horsemanship.
Riding boots with a heel and an ASTM-approved riding helmet are mandatory for riders. USEF rules will be followed for horse equipment. Exception: wraps or boots are allowed. Martingales are prohibited in non-jumping and hunter hack classes.
A rider who can canter at the horse barn can't necessarily manage cantering at a show. A strange ring with other horses cantering at the same time - it's a BIG difference. You might feel find driving on the freeway on Saturday at Noon, but what about Monday at 5pm? Showing can feel a little like rush hour to a novice rider.
That quiet, dependable horse at home is at least slightly more alert at a show. He might not twitch an ear at a loud noise at home, but a strange place is entirely different. Do not be surprised if your child is showing at a lower skill level than he or she is practicing in lessons.
And so, at some of the beginning levels, we saw the need to offer classes that helped students progress to the next level without advancing too quickly, which could compromise their safety.
For example, before we offered or Mini Crossrail division, a student had to progress from trotting over poles once around on the ground (Walk Trot Division), to cantering (or trotting) small fences twice around the arena (Crossrail Division). That's a huge difference in a skill set. The fences and turns come up much faster and they have to get the horse to go past the gate AND jump four (4) more fences. Not as easy as these riders make it look. They've worked hard to get to that level. And that's just the jumping classes.
The flat classes can be even more challenging for the novice rider than the jumping. They must keep their horse away from other horses ("eyes up, y'all!") by cutting across the ring or passing at a safe distance. And AT THE CANTER! No wonder the ponies get big hugs and special treats on good days.
So, the Mini Crossrail division is once around the smallest possible crossrail, and in the flat class, they canter one at a time, usually in only one direction. It's a nice "in-between" for both students and trainers - and prevents many potential mishaps.
We also saw a need for the many riders who were too old for a traditional Lead Line class but were not quite ready to ride on their own at a show. So, we introduced the Pre-Short Stirrup classes. As long as they are 10 and under, and do not canter or enter any jumping classes AT THAT SHOW, they are eligible. We do allow an adult in the ring with them, and the adult can even use a leadline if that keeps them safe. It's all about the experience at this level.
Everyone, including us, want to finish up the day at a reasonable hour. But sometimes, we have to "pause" one ring. One reason is because trainers need to watch each of their students show. A trainer may have riders going in both arenas at the same time. No matter what any of us do to help accommodate that, sometimes we just have to wait. This is a common challenge at any show that runs multiple rings.
We'd love to! It would be so much easier! But we can't predict how big a turn-out we are going to have, and our experience has been that by 4pm, everyone is very cranky and telling us we need two (2) rings.
It's simply part of the horse show experience. We hope you will visit the concession or our vendors, bring a comfortable chair, plenty of drinks & snacks, maybe a book or something to occupy you until it's your child's turn - and wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
Finally, get ready to be proud of your child. More than anything, riding is a character building experience, and one they'll remember the rest of their lives.
Okay, this takes a little explaining...it has become customary for a judge to hold "open" cards when there are back to back "over fences" (Hunters) or jumping classes. This decreases the wait time for trainers, riders and horses - especially when there are large classes. The show runs faster because they can do all of their over fences and jumping classes while their horse is warmed up and ready.