Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Entering Flat Classes Only

If your horse is green or if you aren't yet comfortable jumping around a course, you might be tempted to go to a horse show and enter only the flat classes. Are you allowed to do this?

The answer is: it depends!

If you are looking at hunter divisions, you are not allowed to enter the under saddle class if the horse has not completed at least one course over fences in that division. This means that someone, not necessarily you, must take the horse in a minimum of one class in that division before you can ride on the flat. Because hunters are judged on the horse, the rider for the over fences does not need to be the same as the rider for the flat, provided both riders meet the criteria for that division. The Amateur Owner division is a special exception because riders who have multiple horses in the division may use another amateur who is not an owner to show any extra horses on the flat.

ARTICLE G316 OTHER HUNTER CLASSES
1. Hunter under saddle: to be shown at a walk, trot and canter both ways of the ring; at least eight horses, at the judge's discretion, if available, may be required to gallop one way in the ring but never more than eight at one time (pre-green and green hunters not to gallop). Light contact with the horse's mouth is permissible. In order to maintain awards, horses must compete and complete the course in at least one over fences class in their respective division. Hunter under saddle classes must never be the first class of a division.

If you are looking at the equitation divisions, you are allowed to enter a flat class without entering the jumping class in the same division.

If you are looking at doing flat classes only, keep in mind that equitation divisions generally restrict cross-entry into other equitation divisions because they are divided by age or experience. You will be restricted to a single equitation on the flat class per horse show.

If you would like to enter multiple flat classes at a horse show without doing any jumping, you will have to either look for a show that offers a hack division or have another rider take your horse over fences in order to qualify for a hunter under saddle class.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Starting Your Jumper Course

There is a certain procedure that has to be followed before you begin jumping your course in the jumper ring.

You must not begin your course until the judge has rung the bell (or whistle, or buzzer, etc.). This can occur at any time after you have entered the ring; sometimes it is immediate and at other times it can take several minutes. Generally, on schooling days that are not expected to run long, the judge will allow the competitors a minute or two to introduce their horses to the ring before ringing the bell. If the horse before you has had several rails down, you can expect to have some time to ride around the ring while the jump crew goes to work. If the previous rider has gone clear, expect to hear the bell almost immediately.

Once you have heard the bell rung a single time, you have 45 seconds to reach the start timers. The start timers will be accompanied by flagged markers that read 'Start' or 'Finish' (in some cases they might just read 'S' or 'F'). Make sure that the white flag is on your left and the red flag is on your right.

45 seconds is actually a lot of time when you think about it; your entire round, going around the ring several times, is generally between 60 and 80 seconds. Don't rush yourself to get between those start timers, but do make sure that you don't go over your 45 seconds because if you do, the timing of your round will start before you reach the timers!

As you walk your course, make a plan for what you will do with your 45+ seconds. There is time to show your horse at least one spooky jump before you get going, and planning a specific path will allow you to maximize what you can show your horse in that time period.

If you ever hear the bell rung multiple times or for an extended time, it means that you should stop what you're doing. It is the signal that you have been eliminated, but it can also be used when you're starting your course to ask you to stop and wait. Sometimes, for example, the jump crew forgets to reset a jump and the judge will ring the bell without noticing it and then have to stop you from starting on course. In such a case, wait for the bell to be re-rung a single time before restarting.

Here are the official Equine Canada rules that apply to the beginning of a jumper course:

FEI ARTICLE 203 BELL
1. The bell is used to communicate with the competitors. One of the members of the Ground Jury is in charge of the bell and responsible for its use. The bell is used:
1.1. to give permission to the competitors to enter the arena when the course is ready for their inspection (202.1) and to signal that the inspection time is over;
1.2. to give the signal to start; after the bell has been rung, the competitor must cross the starting line in the correct direction within 45 seconds; the automatic timing equipment must show a count down from 45 seconds on the scoreboard or other display beside the arena, clearly visible for the competitor. If the competitor has not crossed the starting line in the correct direction when the 45 seconds expire, the time of the round will start at that moment. Disobediences, falls etc. occurring between the signal to start and the moment the competitor crosses the starting line in the correct direction, are not penalized. After the bell has rung, crossing the starting line in the correct direction for a second time before jumping the first obstacle is counted as a disobedience.
However, under special circumstances, the Ground Jury has the right not to activate the start or to cancel the starting procedure, give a new signal to start and restart the count-down.
1.3. to stop a competitor for any reason or following an unforeseen incident and to signal to him to continue his round after an interruption (233);
1.4. to indicate to him that an obstacle knocked down following a disobedience has been replaced (233);
1.5. to indicate by prolonged and repeated ringing that the competitor has been eliminated.
2. If the competitor does not obey the signal to stop, he may be eliminated at the discretion of the Ground Jury (240.4.5) except where specifically provided for under article 233.2).
3. If, after an interruption, the competitor restarts and jumps or attempts to jump without waiting for the bell to ring, he will be eliminated (240.3.14).

FEI ARTICLE 204 COURSE AND MEASURING
[...]
9. The starting and finishing lines may not be more than 15 m or less than 6 m from the first and last obstacle. These two lines must each be marked with an entirely red flag on the right and an entirely white flag on the left. The start line and finish line must also be marked with markers with the letters S (= Start) and F (= Finish).




Monday, April 26, 2010

Voluntary Withdrawal

There are some days when the worst thing for you and your horse to do is to continue on course. It could be that your horse has pulled a shoe, isn't listening to you, feels off or is just over-faced. In any of those cases, you may pull up while on course and withdraw yourself voluntarily from the competition.

If you choose to retire while on course, you will not be given a score and you will therefore not place in that class. If you choose to retire after you have completed the first round of a jumper class, you may still place in the class if there is a limited number of horses in the jump-off. Following EC rules, you will be placed behind any riders who attempt the jump-off course (including those who are eliminated during the jump-off):

FEI ARTICLE 247 ELIMINATION OR WITHDRAWAL FROM A JUMP-OFF
1. A competitor who is eliminated in a jump-off will be placed last of the competitors who have completed the jump-off.
2. A competitor, who with the permission of the Ground Jury withdraws from a jump-off, must always be placed after a competitor eliminated or who retires for a valid reason on the course. Competitors, who retire for no valid reason or who have themselves eliminated on purpose are placed equal with competitors, who have withdrawn from the same jump-off.
3. If before a deciding jump-off, two or more competitors decline to take part in the jump-off, the Ground Jury will decide whether this refusal can be accepted or must be rejected. If the Ground Jury accepts the refusal, the Organizing Committee will award the trophy by lot and the prize money will be added together and shared equally between the competitors. If the Ground Jury's instruction to continue is not followed by competitors, no trophy will be awarded and the competitors will each only receive the prize money and the lowest placing for which they would have jumped-off.

Make sure that you explain the situation to the in-gate person before leaving the area, however, to make sure that you will be allowed to withdraw yourself from the jump-off and to make everyone aware of your decision:

FEI ARTICLE 241 DISQUALIFICATIONS
1. Disqualification means that a competitor and his horse or horses may take no further part in a competition or in any other competition of the event.
2. The Ground Jury may disqualify a competitor in the following cases:
[...]
2.5. retiring, before a jump-off, without permission of the Ground Jury or without valid reason;

If you would like to retire while on course, you must let the judge know what you are doing. First, bring your horse down to a walk or halt. Look towards the judge's booth and either tip your helmet and/or put your reins in one hand and raise your free arm. The judge will interpret either of these signals as a voluntary withdrawal and you can then walk out of the ring.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Permitted Medications

Drug testing is required at all Equine Canada-sanctioned competitions, so to avoid a positive test you should familiarize yourself with the rules well ahead of your first horse show.

The full Canadian rules are available in the General Rulebook under Equine Medications Control (Chapter 11). If you are not from Canada, check your national federation's website or rulebook for the permitted medications in your country. The American rules are available here.

The Equine Medication Control Guide is an excellent booklet available for download from EC providing a summary of the rules, prohibited/banned substances and some detection times. For a more complete list of detection times, see the CPMA Schedule of Drugs.

The Equine Canada Drug Classification Scheme describes the classes of a long list of drugs and also gives alternate names for many of them.

Here are the most important parts of the EC rules for you to know (updated in 2013):

ARTICLE A1003 PERMITTED MEDICATIONS
Permitted Medications may be present in a horse during an EC-sanctioned competition.
1. Permitted Medications are the following:
a) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs approved for use in Canada for horses: flunixin meglumine, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone, or acetylsalicylic acid, subject to the restrictions below.
b) the anti-ulcer medications: cimetidine, ranitidine, or omeprazole
Please note that some Permitted Medications can alter the elimination guidelines contained in the Schedule of Drugs.
2. Only one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug may be administered. If more than one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is found in any sample, the test will be deemed positive. Samples found to contain a permitted medication may be subjected to quantitative testing.
3. Restrictions relating to permitted medication are as follows:
a) The maximum permissible plasma or serum concentration of flunixin is 1.0 microgram per millilitre.
b) The maximum permissible plasma or serum concentration of phenylbutazone is 15.0 micrograms per millilitre.
4. The rules of certain divisions/breed sports are more restrictive and in some cases allow no drugs or medications. See discipline/breed sport rules.

ARTICLE A1004 DRUGS
1. A drug is any substance included in the Canadian Pari-Mutual Agency Schedule of Drugs.
2. Persons Responsible, veterinarians, owners, trainers and riders are cautioned against the use of medicinal preparations, tonics, pastes, feeds, supplements, neutraceuticals or herbal products of any kind, the ingredients and quantitative analysis of which are not specifically known, as they may contain a drug, the use of which in competition is not permitted.

ARTICLE A1006 EXAMINATION, SAMPLE COLLECTION AND TESTING
2. On the recommendation of the chair or the chair’s delegate, the technician or the licensed veterinarian may select for sample collection and testing any horse entered in any class at an EC-sanctioned competition, including any horse withdrawn by an exhibitor within 24 hours prior to a class for which it had been entered, while the horse is on the competition grounds.
4. a) When a horse is selected to undergo sample collection and drug testing, the Person Responsible shall take the horse to the area designated for sample collection at the time and in the manner indicated. If a Person Responsible is unable to attend the sample collection session he or she must designate a representative to attend. The Person Responsible, or the representative, must witness the collection of the official sample, witness the sealing of the official sample container and sign the documentation that accompanies the official sample to the official laboratory. When the competitor is 18 years of age or under, the Person Responsible may be a parent/guardian who is not an EC or USEF member. The absence of the Person Responsible, or a representative, shall constitute a waiver of any objection to the identification of any horse tested and the manner in which the official sample was collected, sealed and shipped to the official laboratory.
b) If a horse is suspended as a result of a positive test, the suspension shall extend until all fines are paid.

ARTICLE A1010 VIOLATIONS
1. No person shall:
g) be in possession of any of the following drugs (i) injectable magnesium, (ii) gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or (iii) hydroxygamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA) at an EC-sanctioned competition;
h) administer or permit the administration by any means to a horse entered in an EC-sanctioned competition any of the following drugs (i) injectable magnesium, (ii) gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or (iii) hydroxygamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA); or
i) refuse the request of an on duty EC licensed official to provide for independent inspection and testing the equipment and materials used for the injection of a horse at an EC-sanctioned competition.
6. If an on duty EC licensed official (i.e. Steward, Judge, Technical Delegate) personally witnesses the injection or attempted injection of a horse at an EC sanctioned competition by an person the licensed official must inform the person that he or she was seen injecting or attempting to inject the horse and the licensed official may then request of that person that all the equipment and materials used for the injection such as but not limited to syringes, medications, vials, containers, cotton, etc. (the injection equipment) be turned over and provided to the licensed official for independent inspection and testing to determine whether any of the following drugs: (i) injectable magnesium, (ii) gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or (iii) hydroxygamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA) were present in or on the injection equipment. If, after being asked by the licensed official to provide the injection equipment to the licensed official, the person refuses or fails to comply, such conduct will itself result in a violation with the same sanction to be imposed as a positive analysis report for a class two (2) substance of the EC Drug Classification Scheme.

List of Drugs

Part 1
Any substance and any preparation, metabolite, derivative, isomer and salt of the substance,
(a) that is labelled for veterinary use under the Food and Drug Regulations during a period of 240 days, calculated from the day on which the drug was assigned a drug identification number (D.I.N.) under those Regulations;
(b) that is not labelled for veterinary use in Canada under the Food and Drug Regulations;
(c) that interferes with an analysis for any drug included in this schedule; or
(d) that is included in the following list (which includes substances that are labelled for veterinary use in Canada):
Acepromazine
Acetanilide
Acetylsalicylic acid
Aconite
Aconitine
Alphadolone
Alphaxalone
Aminophylline
Antipyrine
Arecoline
Atipamezole
Atropine
Azaperone
Belladonna
Benazepril
Benzocaine
Betamethasone
Boldenone
Butacaine
Butorphanol
Caffeine
Camphor
Carbachol
Carfentanil
Carprofen
Chloral Hydrate
Chlorpheniramine
Clenbuterol
Clomipramine
Cromoglycate
Dembrexine
Deracoxib
Desoxycortacosterone
Detomidine
Dexamethasone
Dibucaine
Diethylstilbestrol
Digitalis
Digitoxin
Digoxin
Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO)
Diphemanil
Diprenorphine
Dipyrone
Doxapram
Droperidol
Enalapril
Ephedrine
Epinephrine
Ergonovine
Ethanol
Etorphine
Fentanyl
Firocoxib
Flumethasone
Flunixin
Fluocinolone acetonide
Fluoxetine
Fomepizole
Furosemide
Guaifenesin
Hydrochlorothiazide
Hyoscine
Hyoscyamine
Imidapril
Isoflupredone
Isopropamide
Ketamine
Ketanserine
Ketoprofen
Levamisole
Lidocaine
Lobelia
Lobeline
Mebezonium
Meclofenamic acid
Medetomidine
Meloxicam
Mepivacaine
Methapyrilene
Methotrimeprazine
Methscopolamine
Methylprednisolone
Methyl Salicylate
Methyltestosterone
Metomidate
Naloxone
Nandrolone
Neostigmine
Nicotine
Nikethamide
Nux Vomica
Penicillin G Procaine
Pentazocine
Pentobarbital
Pentoxifylline
Phenacaine
Pheniramine
Phenothiazine
Phenylbutazone
Phenylephrine
Pimobendan
Prednisolone
Prednisone
Primidone
Prochlorperazine
Propionylpromazine
Propofol
Pyrilamine
Quinine
Ractopamine
Ramipril
Resocortol
Romifidine
Salicylamide
Scopolamine
Secobarbital
Selegiline
Sputolysin
Stanozolol
Strychnine
Tepoxalin
Testosterone
Tetracaine
Theophylline
Thiamylal
Thiopental
Tobacco
Tolazoline
Tolfenamic acid
Trenbolone
Triamcinolone
Tricaine
Trichormethiazide
Trimeprazine
Tripelennamine
Vedaprofen
Xylazine
Yohimbine
Zeranol

Part 2
Furosemide - Quantitative limit 85 ng/mL in blood
Salicylic acid - Quantitative limit 750 ug/mL in urine and 6.5 ug/mL in blood

Part 3
Procaine - Quantitative limit 25 ng/ml in blood


To summarize:

Banamine (flunixin meglumine) and bute (phenylbutazone) are allowed but only in small amounts. Ask your veterinarian how much you can give per day of the particular container that you are using. One very important point is that you cannot combine NSAIDs. This means that you can give your horse bute or banamine, but never both at the same time. For this reason, it's very important to make sure that there is no contamination of feed because there are stories of horses who have tested positive after eating out of a feed tub that used to contain a prohibited drug. If you are giving your horse banamine at a horse show, make sure that there is no way for your horse to eat any bute at the same show!

Always check the ingredients of any supplement that you feed to make sure that it contains no prohibited substances. Certain calming supplements, for example, will test.

It's always a good idea to ask your veterinarian for an estimated withdrawal time on any medication that you plan on using. That will allow you to stop certain medications far enough before the horse show to avoid a positive test. It will also be very important if your horse has been on bute and you would like to give your horse a shot of banamine for a mild colic before the show.

If your horse is selected for drug testing, the tester will stay with you from the time you leave the show ring until you reach the testing area, which should be a nice, fluffy stall to encourage the horse to urinate. If your horse will not urinate, a blood sample can be taken instead after enough time has passed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Muck Heap

If you're stabling at a horse show, you will need to find out where the muck heaps are located. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but dumping your wheelbarrow in the wrong spot can block pathways, bother other barns or even prevent the manure from being removed if it's in an area that tractors can't access.

Step number one for finding a muck heap is to look for signs. Some shows will hammer signposts into the ground where they want you to dump and you're safe as long as you use a signed area.

Muck heaps are sometimes contained within walled wooden or concrete structures or metal containers, which makes them easy to find. Often, however, the muck heaps will just be on an inconspicuous open spot of ground.

Unfortunately, many shows don't bother with signage. In such a case, it's best to watch where other grooms in your stabling area go. Keep in mind that some people will disregard the official muck heaps and make their own for convenience' sake, so make sure that the location seems reasonable before dumping your own wheelbarrow there.

Here's a short checklist to run through to make sure that you're in the right place:
  • Is it in the middle of a road or aisle? If so, chances are it's just someone's lazy dumping spot rather than the official location. Dumping there will make it difficult for people to get by and to clean up, and could result in a fine.
  • Is there tractor access? If the only access is very narrow, chances are the tractor won't be able to get in there to clean it up.
  • How close is it to other barns? This one is tough because sometimes the official muck heaps will spread out to within a few feet of nearby stalls if they aren't compacted often enough (which is one very good reason to dump your wheelbarrow as deep into the pile as you can get). If the muck heap is on someone's doorstep, you probably shouldn't add to that one, anyway!
If you're still not sure whether you're dumping in the right place, keep your ears open for announcements made to the stabling area because the show office will usually try to correct any bad muck heap situations that way.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting White Socks Their Whitest

White socks look lovely when they're perfectly clean, but how can you make your horse's dirty socks look that good and stay that way?
  1. Clip them: Long hair, which in this instance includes summer-length hair, makes it difficult to clean the socks by trapping dirt under a thick pile of hair. Clipping the hair short removes old stains and makes it easier to get every last bit of dirt out. It also prevents dirt from getting trapped in the clean socks during your warm-up. Make sure that you clip them evenly because vertical lines will be quite visible on a very clean sock.
  2. Clean them: Do this on the day of your class to avoid overnight staining (you can wrap the legs to avoid higher stains if you must do it ahead of time). For best results, use a shampoo made specifically for white hair. Wet each sock thoroughly using a hose and then spread a generous amount of shampoo over all of the white. Scrub the shampoo into every inch of each sock using your fingertips, then rinse it off with the hose. Shampooing the socks fairly regularly at home will also keep stains from developing and make it easier to clean them at the show.
  3. Clean them again: Check each sock over after you've rinsed all of the shampoo off. If they're clean, they should look almost pink. Heavily-stained areas will often require a second scrubbing with more shampoo (you only have to re-clean the spots that still look dirty).
  4. Dry them: Use your hands to scrape as much water off as you can (including any water above the socks that could drip down), then take a clean, dry towel and rub them to remove more water.
  5. Keep the horse on clean ground: Try to avoid putting the horse immediately back in its stall. Unless all of the shavings are fresh and the base is hard and clean, there will be some dirt in the stall that can stick to damp legs. If you have a clean cross-tie area, leave the horse there for a few minutes.
  6. Protect them: Just as the socks are at the point of almost being dry, I like to spray them with ShowSheen. I find that this helps to repel dirt and keep the socks white. Make sure that the ShowSheen is dry before the horse goes near any dirt since it will act like water and attract dust when wet.
  7. Optional: Some people like to apply baby powder or cornstarch to the socks to make them look even whiter. I don't feel that this is always necessary if you've done your job and gotten them perfectly clean to begin with, but it's something to think about if you have difficulties with keeping white socks clean while you warm up.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hay and Shavings: How Much Do You Need?

If you've never stabled away from home before, you might be wondering how many bags or bales of shavings and hay to pack or order.

As far as shavings go, you will have to have enough to bed the stall down initially and then more to replace the dirty bedding. How many bags you will require will depend on the base of the stall and how deeply you like to bed. On grass or dirt, you can use fewer bags because the ground will soften as the horse moves around in the stall. On cement or asphalt, you will need to bed more deeply in order to create a base and prevent scrapes.

My general rule of thumb for packing or ordering shavings is about four bags per stall to begin with. I will usually put three bags in each stall and then make a decision a few hours later about whether to add another (depending on the base of the stall and the size/fluffiness of those bags of shavings). I usually estimate that I'll need to add in another third to half of a bag to each stall each day after mucking out.

As far as hay goes, it will depend on the size and quality of the bales, as well as how easy or difficult your horse is to keep. I find that estimating about 3/4 of a bale per horse per day works quite well, but it's best if you keep track of how much you use at home and then bring a bit more than that, just in case. One of the most convenient aspects of ordering from the show is that you can underestimate the amount and then just order more later!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jumper Tack: Hackamores

A hackamore is an alternative to a bit that uses pressure on the horse's nose instead of pressure on the mouth. They can be quite useful on horses with sensitive mouths, and the odd horse will actually respond better to a hackamore than to a bit. Hackamores do not, in general, offer the same degree of precision as a bit does.

Hackamores and other bitless bridles are not permitted in the hunter or equitation rings, so you may only use them in jumper classes.

Hackamores are generally not used with nosebands because of their location on the horse's face.

Some horses are extremely sensitive to the pressure exerted by a hackamore while others can ignore it quite easily. Be careful with these less sensitive horses as it is all too easy to maintain a heavy pressure on the nose when riding them, and this can restrict breathing or bruise the nose. Adjust the hackamore as high as you can to avoid restricting breathing or damaging cartilage (basically put it in the highest location at which your horse will still listen to it).

There are two types of hackamore that are seen in the jumper ring:

Jumping hackamore - The jumping hackamore looks quite similar to a regular cavesson noseband. It is made of very stiff leather and has attachment rings for the reins right on the cavesson. There are no shanks to create leverage, so in the right hands it is very mild.

Mechanical hackamore - The mechanical hackamore differs from the jumping hackamore in that it has shanks to produce leverage. The piece over the nose can be made of various materials (the material will, in part, determine the severity) and the curb strap can be made of either metal chain or leather (leather is milder). The length of the shanks will also alter the severity, with longer shanks exerting more leverage for increased stopping power. The hackamore shown here is often called a German hackamore and it's characterised by long thin shanks and a noseband that is usually made of leather or rubber-covered chain (softened by the addition of a sheepskin cover). An English-style mechanical hackamore has shorter, flat shanks and a noseband made of padded leather, usually adjustable in length. Some German hackamores are shaped so that they can be combined with a snaffle for horses that could benefit from both.




Monday, April 19, 2010

Hunter Tack: Cavesson Noseband

The cavesson noseband is the only noseband that you are allowed to use in the hunter ring. Since there is no option regarding its use, it might not seem very important. How you adjust the noseband can, however, change the look of your horse's head.

Adjusting the cavesson so that it sits too low will make your horse's head look longer than it really is. The longer the head, the coarser the horse will generally look.

My rule of thumb is to adjust the cavesson noseband so that it's about two fingers width below the jaw bone. Depending on the horse's conformation, it might need to go up or down a hole from there to make it look just right.

This photo is an excellent example of a cavesson that is set too low on the horse's head. The long, empty distance between this horse's eye and the noseband makes the head look even longer than it really is. There is room for it to go up at least a couple of holes before it reaches the ideal position.















You can compare the above photo to these next photos which have correctly adjusted cavesson nosebands, sitting right below the jaw bone:


Both heads look in proportion and complement the overall picture of the horse rather than detract from it.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Using Studs

Some horses go well with the added traction of studs (little cleats that screw into horse shoes) while others are happier on good footing without them. The decision to use them in the show ring should be made based on the advice of your coach, taking into account the footing, your horse's movement, your horse's confidence and other factors. 

The key to using studs is to be prepared. That means having your horse shod with stud holes in all of the shoes. Some horses are able to compete perfectly well barefoot, but if you choose not to use shoes, you will need to control the footing. I have seen horses slip and fall while competing barefoot on damp grass and I do not wish that upon anyone. If you compete only on sand, you will probably be okay going barefoot. If there are any shows on grass, however, be prepared to scratch for the day if the footing looks less than ideal.

I always trailer without studs in and then make decisions about using them when I get to the horse show. This keeps the horse safe on the trailer because he won't step on himself with the studs, and it also allows me to make a more informed decision about which studs to use by seeing and walking on the footing first.

It's a good idea to always bring a stud kit along with you to every show, whether you think you will need them or not. It's not always easy to predict bad footing and it doesn't hurt to bring them along just in case. You don't need to have every stud imaginable in your kit; having a few different size choices should allow you to get by in most situations. Make sure that your wrench fits all of your studs and bring along a cleaning tool (I like a wire brush and nail) and a T-tap to re-thread the holes if needed.

If you have never used studs before, it's a good idea to practice ahead of time since it requires a certain amount of technique and a good deal of coordination that are difficult to achieve the first time!

For a more in-depth description of the different studs and how to use them, see Studs 101.


Friday, April 16, 2010

On-Site Farrier

Imagine that, as you're warming up for your class, you feel your horse pull a shoe. Does this mean that your show day is over?

Thankfully, 'A' circuit shows have at least one on-site farrier for shoeing emergencies such as these. If you can find the shoe and bring it with you to the farrier, you should be back in action in no time. If you can't find the shoe, you will have to spend more time at the farrier, but you'll still have a chance of being able to return to your class before it finishes.

On-site farriers are not limited to the 'A' circuit. Some farriers do attend 'B' circuit and schooling shows but you cannot generally assume that there will be a farrier at those shows.

The prize list for an 'A' circuit show will usually list the name of the on-site farrier on the same page as the officials. To find out where the farrier is actually located on the show grounds, ask the show office. Sometimes they use a special tent, sometimes they use a regular tent stall and sometimes they use an aisle-way or grooming area in a permanent barn. To avoid wandering around the horse show for hours looking for him, it's best just to ask!

In addition to replacing lost shoes, the on-site farrier can also drill threaded holes into your horse's shoes for studs (it's best to have your regular farrier put stud holes in your horse's shoes in advance to avoid such emergency farrier visits). He can also put new shoes all around on your horse or do a reset, but beware that most farriers will charge a premium for regular farrier work done at a horse show. In some cases, having your horse's feet done at a show can give you the opportunity to use a particularly good farrier who does not travel to your area, so you must weigh the pros and cons.





Thursday, April 15, 2010

Grooming for Yourself

For those of us who show on a tight budget, hiring someone to groom for you is not always feasible and it's not always possible to have a friend help you out. Is it possible to do everything yourself?

The answer is a definite yes! It will be tough, and you and your horse might not end up looking as spotless as you might like, but you can get away with doing everything yourself if you work hard and plan ahead.

Hold your horses

If you ride in the jumpers, you will probably have more problems with timing than you would in the hunters because you need to walk your jumper courses. On days when the order of go is sign-in rather than posted, this isn't much of a problem. You will learn how much time you need to get ready after walking the course and put yourself later in the order to accommodate that. If your horse doesn't roll in tack, you can often put everything on except the bridle while you go and walk so that there is less to do when you get back.

When it comes to posted order, you are likely to run into the occasional problem. Odds are that you will sometimes be put near the beginning of the order, requiring you and your horse to be at the ring and ready to go before the course walk. If you do have a friend who is willing to come out every so often to help you, ask him to come out on the days when you are likely to be under posted order so that he will be available to hold your horse. You can also ask other riders from your barn who show in other divisions to hold your horse for a few minutes. One of the least stressful ways of dealing with going early in a posted order is to check whether any of the earlier classes in the day are using the same course as yours. If you can walk it ahead of time, you can ride your horse during your own class's course walk.

Keeping clean

One of the most difficult parts of grooming for yourself is not getting dirty! When you're doing stalls, bathing and grooming your horse, you're bound to get some dirt on your clothes. The obvious solution is to change into your show clothes at the very last minute, but this isn't always possible  If you can, do the dirty chores early in the day when you can wear jeans. This includes bathing and grooming your horse. Hopefully your horse will stay clean until your class and then all you will have to do is pass a towel over him to remove dust, keeping your clean breeches free of flying dirt and hair. Some riders wear sweat pants over their breeches to keep them clean, but that can get hot in the summer.

I suggest not putting your field boots on until the very last minute. I put mine on just before I bridle my horse. Walking around in a stall will put dust on your boots, so minimizing that will keep those boots as shiny as possible. Try to have a towel waiting near the mounting block so that you can give the lower part of your boots a quick wipe right before you get on. It's always a good idea to clean and polish your boots during a quiet part of the day so that you have one less thing to worry about when getting ready for your class.

I also keep my jacket off until the last minute, usually right after I put the bridle on (as long as I have somewhere clean to put it near the stall). If you're grooming for yourself, you probably won't have the luxury of having someone hold your jacket for you while you warm up.

Your horse

Luckily, horses tend to stay pretty clean in the barn. I find that if I groom all of the horses first thing in the morning, most of them don't need much more of a grooming before they head out to the show ring. I always run a towel over them before tacking up, though, because a lot of dust gets kicked up in the barn.

The earlier you can oil your horse's hooves, the better it will stay on. Dried hoof oil won't attract as much dirt as wet hoof oil and therefore won't need to be re-applied as frequently. This is easiest if you have some sort of grooming stall or cross-tie area where your horse can stand on clean ground.

If your coach is willing, hand him or her a towel before heading off to the ring so that they can give your horse a quick cleaning at the in-gate. Make sure that you always apply plenty of fly spray at the barn since there won't be anyone at the show ring to put more on if the flies are worse than expected.

Your warm-up

Before going to your first horse show, make sure that your coach is comfortable setting jumps alone in the warm-up ring. Some coaches like having one or more grooms to do that dirty work, so it's best to know ahead of time what will be expected. A considerate coach should be willing to set the jumps unaided.

If you are showing without a coach and have no one else on the ground with you, you will need to ask another rider if you can share their jump. Be polite and be prepared for them to potentially say no; another horse could slow down their warm-up or disrupt their routine, especially if they like to take the jump back and forth.  

Grooming for yourself is tough work. The days will be long (the professional grooms will give the morning feed between 6 and 7 am and your horse will expect to be fed then, too) and you will need to be very organized, but don't feel that you need to hire a groom. You can do it!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jumper Course Diagrams

Understanding the course diagram is very important because it tells you how the class will be judged as well as which jumps you should take. I will walk you through a typical course diagram and explain what everything means.

The course diagram is a single piece of paper that is posted beside the in-gate at least half an hour before the start of the class. Most of the paper will be taken up by a diagram of the ring, showing all of the jumps. The jumps that will be used in the class are numbered and have arrows indicating the direction in which they are to be jumped.


The rest of the space on the page will be devoted to a list of information, which should include most or all of the following:

Class name: This lets you know that you're looking at the correct course diagram.

Article: This tells you how the course will be judged.  Examples include FEI ARTICLE 236 TABLE A and FEI ARTICLE 239 TABLE C. Check the rule book of your national federation to learn the names and descriptions of each article.

Course length: This will be a distance in metres, measured by the course designer walking an ideal track around the course with a measuring wheel (or calculated by a computer program).

Speed: This is the speed that the time allowed will be based on, usually around 350 m/min.

Height: The height at which the course is set.

First round: The numbers of the jumps in the first round, such as 1-13.

Time allowed: In seconds, it is calculated based on the course length and the speed. It can be adjusted after the first three riders in the class have gone, so pay attention for any changes. Going over it will result in time faults.

Time limit: This is the maximum time that you may take to get around the course before you will be eliminated.

Jump-off or second round: This section will list the jumps, in order, that constitute the jump-off. An example would be 1-3-11a-11b-12-6-13.

Jump-off length: This is the length, in metres, of the jump-off course.

Jump-off time allowed: This is the time allowed, in seconds, of the jump-off course as calculated by the distance and the speed. Going over it will result in time faults.

Jump-off time limit: This is the maximum time allowed before elimination from the jump-off.

Course designer: The name of the course designer, which you should take note of so that you can remember that course designer's style when preparing for the next show that they will be at!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Hay and Shavings

If you're staying overnight at a horse show, you might want to order hay and shavings from the show office rather than packing them in your horse trailer, taking up room that you might not have to spare. Ordering from the show is also convenient because you can order small amounts every couple of days rather than having to find somewhere to store one or two weeks' worth of hay and shavings.

Keep in mind that there will be a significant mark-up on the products sold at the horse show. Expect for hay and shavings to cost at least $6 to $8 per bale/bag.  

When you order from the horse show, your hay and/or shavings will be delivered right to your stalls. If you want to have them waiting for you when you arrive at the horse show, make sure that you order them ahead of time on the stall request form (there should be a section for it or an additional form).

Once you're at the show, you can order additional hay or shavings at the show office. Find the hay and shavings order pad (different shows use different forms so it's best to ask the secretary for it) and fill it out with however many bales of hay or bags of shavings you would like, the date and your barn's name (make sure that it is the same name that is on the stabling map). If your tent or barn has an identifying number or letter, include that on the order form to make things easier for the delivery person. Also write down the stall number where you would like the bags left. If the order is for a specific few horses rather than the entire barn, mark those horses' names on the form so that only they will be charged for them.

Once you have filled out the form, ask the secretary what you should do with it. Usually, there will be two copies. One will go to the secretary so that the order can be put on your bill. The other copy is for the delivery person to reference. At some shows, the secretary will take care of both copies while at others you will need to attach the second copy to something like a clipboard. Ask the secretary what the show's policy is so that your order doesn't go missing!

If you order late in day, you might not receive your hay and shavings until the next day, so try to keep on top of things in order not to run out before the delivery. The show office will often have a policy posted about delivery hours.




Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bath Time

If you own a grey horse or a horse with any white on its body, you will have to spend a lot more time cleaning it than you would if you owned any other colour! Unfortunately, it is all too easy to tell when a white-haired horse is anything but perfectly clean and entering the show ring with a yellow-tinged horse will give the judge a negative first impression of you.

Thankfully, cleaning a grey horse is far from difficult and will just take a bit of extra time and scrubbing.


Would you believe that the very clean horse in the photo above got that way through a shampoo bath alone? It doesn't take any special tricks!

Preferably, you will bath your grey horse the morning of the show rather than the night before. If you bath the day before, you will end up with some dirt on the coat even if you blanket most of the horse. Bathing the morning of the show ensures that your horse will be as clean as possible, unless you are unlucky enough to have your horse lie down after its bath!

I like to use a whitening shampoo on grey horses. There are lots of different kinds out there and which one you use will just depend on personal preference.

To give a good shampoo bath, first get the horse completely wet using a hose. If your horse has a yellowed tail, massage some shampoo straight from the bottle into the tail and let it sit while you bathe the rest of the horse. Pour some shampoo into a bucket and then fill the bucket with water.  Use a sponge to cover the horse with soapy water, rubbing it in as you go. Once you have covered the entire horse (how much of the head you can do will depend on the horse), use the hose to rinse all of the soap off, making sure to rinse it out of the tail, too. Once you have rinsed everything off, check the horse over for any stubborn stains (the legs and belly tend to be the worst). If you find any, pour some shampoo straight from the bottle into your hands and scrub it into those areas.  

If it is cool out, bring along a cooler to the wash rack and put it on your horse right after the bath to keep him warm.

Towel off the legs and try to let them dry as much as possible before putting the horse in anything more dirty than a stall full of clean shavings. Wet legs will attract dirt! If your horse likes to roll, consider tying him safely or keeping lots of hay available.

If your horse lies down after his bath and you don't have time to give him another one, you can remove the dirty spots in a few different ways. One option is to wet the area with a sponge and then scrub in a drop of shampoo before rinsing it off with the same wet sponge. Some grooms swear by diluted alcohol for removing spots, while others use a commercial spot-remover. Figure out what works best for you and stick with it!

That's all that you need to do to make your horse sparkling white. There's no secret product or method; clean hair is clean hair!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Your Ringside Kit

If you will be paying a professional groom to help you at the horse shows, you don't really have to worry much about what you will need to have ringside. If you are having a friend help you or if you will be grooming for someone else, it's important to prepare a ringside kit to be brought to the warm-up and show rings.

Obviously, what you decide to include in that kit will depend on your own needs and preferences. I will tell you what I like to bring in order to give you some ideas.

You can use whatever container you'd like to pack things in. Small buckets, bags and grooming totes all work well.

Here is a basic list of what you might want to include:
  • A towel or two: This is the item that I use the most and never go to the ring without. The towel provides the finishing touch as the horse is about to enter the ring. First, wipe off the rider's boots to remove any slobber or splashed mud, and then run the towel over the horse to smooth the hair down and remove sweat, slobber and dirt. Be sure to wipe the horse's mouth, too, and bring a large enough towel so that you are always using a clean section.
  • A lead shank: Leather looks best, but anything that looks respectable will do. You can use it to lead a horse to and/or from the show ring, or use it for holding a horse for a course walk. You can lead a horse using the reins, but it's much easier and faster to just clip on with a lead shank, especially when the horse is wearing a running martingale.
  • Treats: A nice reward upon exiting the show ring for a job well done. If you plan on feeding any treats before the class, try to stick to white peppermints or anything else that won't create colourful slobber!
  • A stiff brush: This is very useful on muddy days when there is just too much dirt on the legs for a towel to handle. Brush the mud off and then finish with a towel.
  • Spurs: If you aren't using spurs, you might want to bring a pair along anyway so that they're at the ring if you need them. If you already have spurs on, bringing along a smaller or larger pair can be handy if your warm-up doesn't go as planned.
  • A whip: If you don't start off with one, consider bringing one just in case you need it. Some riders like to have a couple of different sizes available, too.
  • Fly spray: It can come off with sweat so some horses will require a second application. Horses not wearing fly veils might need an extra spray near the ears if the flies are worse than expected by the ring.
  • Hoof oil: Try to do one coat as you're tacking up (the more time it has to dry, the better it will stay on). For the best turnout, especially in the hunter ring, re-apply at the in-gate.
  • Studs: Some riders like to have a stud kit at the ring in case there is an unexpected change in the footing. I, personally, don't like changing studs ringside, but it's something to consider if you do use them often.
  • A spray bottle of water and alcohol: Useful to clean the saddle area of hunters that will have to jog soon after competing.
  • A cooler: Put on the horse after competing on cold days or use it in the warm-up ring to make a spooky practice jump.
  • Any spare tack that you might want to use
Also remember to bring along anything that the rider might need to wear if he or she doesn't leave the stabling area fully dressed up, as well as water on warm days. Check to make sure that the jacket and number are on to avoid having to run back to the barn for them later!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Warm-Up Jumps

There are many rules dictating which warm-up jumps are legal and which are illegal. Familiarizing yourself with these rules ahead of time will allow you to formulate a warm-up plan without running the risk of having to use a different routine at the show after intervention by a steward.

There is an excellent document that I believe everyone should look at showing the FEI warm-up rules very clearly with photos: FEI warm-up rules

Equine Canada deviates slightly from these rules:

GENERAL- SCHOOLING RULES FOR HUNTER, EQUITATION AND JUMPERS
1. All EC-sanctioned competitions must use current FEI schooling rules as listed. Refer to Chapter 9, FEI Rules, Article 244 EXERCISE AND SCHOOLING AREAS AND PRACTICE OBSTACLES. These rules pertain to all hunter, equitation and jumper classes and divisions at all EC-sanctioned competitions. Note exceptions below.
2. The prize list must specify that FEI schooling rules will be in force.
3. Stewards will measure any obstacle or distance that appears to be in violation of the rules.
4. When two or more rings are operating simultaneously, the competition must have sufficient stewards to monitor all schooling/warm-up areas. Schooling/warm-up areas that cannot be closely monitored simultaneously MUST have a steward for each area. The additional steward(s) may be recorded.
5. Equine Canada exceptions to the FEI schooling rules at all EC-sanctioned competitions:
a. Use of coloured sheets over the take-off side or under a properly constructed obstacle is permitted.
b. Flags on fences in the schooling areas are at the discretion of competition management. Steward may request flags be used when the schooling area is congested.
c. In Equitation and Hunter competitions and schooling rings, plastic cups or FEI breakaway cups are required. Steel pins are not acceptable. See Article G116.
d. Boot and bandage checks are not mandatory; however a boot and bandage check may be performed at EC-sanctioned jumper competitions.
e. Hunter Schooling only: A ground rail may be used on both sides of an oxer. Top rails may not be offset.

Here are some of the main points to remember about warm-up jumps:
  • The lower tape on the standard is at 1.30m (4'3") and the higher tape is at 1.60m (5'3")
  • If a vertical or the front rail of an oxer is at 1.30m or higher, you must use two rails on the take-off side
  • Never use an offset oxer (back rail lower than the front rail)
  • You may not warm up over a jump that is over 10 cm (4 inches) higher than the maximum height of your class
  • If flags are used, always jump in the correct direction.  You may switch the flags to reverse the direction of the jump if the steward allows it
  • If you use ground lines, you may not have one on the landing side only, and you may only use a ground line on the take-off side of an oxer
  • If you use ground lines on both sides of the jump, the take-off side must be the same distance or further away from the jump as the landing side
  • At an EC-sanctioned competition, you may drape a cooler or sheet over the take-off side of a jump



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trouble at the Ingate

Some horses do not enter the show ring well. In such a case, you might be tempted just to take a run at it, but you need to be very careful around the in-gate or you risk being eliminated or, worse, hurting someone!

It is forbidden to trot or canter through the in-gate unless you have been given permission to do so (and even then, you must leave the ring at a walk). If you feel that you absolutely must trot or canter into the ring, inform the in-gate person of it while you're still a couple of horses out. Not only will the in-gate person be able to allow you to enter the ring at speed, but he or she will also make sure that the in-gate area is kept clear for safety purposes.

As soon as you are on deck, start informing those around you that you have a difficult loader and ask them to clear the in-gate area. In the interests of safety, do not attempt to enter the ring until the area is completely clear.

If you have a difficult loader but would like to take it more slowly, you can have someone on the ground lead you into the ring. One of the safest methods of doing this is to have the ground person loop a lead shank through one side of the bit and lead from that so that no unclipping will be required once the horse is in the ring; the shank is simply allowed to slip back through the bit. This also allows the ground person to keep some distance from the horse should anything go wrong.

Even if you do not plan on trotting or cantering your difficult horse into the ring, it's a good idea to inform the in-gate that there might be a little scene when you attempt to go through the in-gate. Again, tell everyone around you when you're on deck that it's time to clear the in-gate to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

Some horses do better if they don't wait right at the in-gate. If you plan on keeping your horse away until the last moment, make sure that you have someone on the ground at the in-gate both to keep anyone else from taking your spot and to keep the in-gate clear.

The EC rule for entering and exiting the ring is the following:

ARTICLE G104 IN-GATE
In all classes, trotting or cantering through the in-gate without prior permission is forbidden. The penalty for contravening this rule is either a fine or elimination from the class, at the discretion of the judge. Under special circumstances, a steward or judge may give permission for a horse to trot into the ring, but not out of the ring.



Monday, April 5, 2010

Clipping

While most horses are perfectly fine in the summer months with their natural summer coats, some horses grow too much of a coat to be comfortable while working hard in the heat. In such a case, doing a full body clip is the best way to go. Clipping can also make a horse who sweats heavily look sleek and clean instead of wet and wavy.

There are many different patterns out there, but only two are appropriate for the hunters, as well as for ideal jumper turnout. The two options are the full body clip and the full body clip with a saddle patch.

In the full body clip, all of the hair is clipped from the body, legs and all or most of the head. How much of the legs and head you will have to clip will depend on how long your horse's natural coat is. If it is not excessively long, you should be able to clip the cheeks and under the jaw, blending the clip in with the natural hair where the cheek pieces of the bridle sit. If your horse has a very hairy face, you might need to carefully clip the entire face in order to prevent it from becoming drenched with sweat and to avoid an obvious clip line.

If your horse has very hairy legs, you will probably need to clip all of the way down each of the legs. If the legs are not excessively hairy, you might be able to blend the clip in with the natural hair somewhere along the forearm. As long as you don't end up with a blunt line, it should work. Your horse's colour will also play a part in determining how far you will need to clip. If the clipped colour is very different from the natural colour, you might not be able to blend the two together. Bays, especially the darker ones, are generally easy to blend because of their black stockings.  

If your horse has any white legs, clipping them will make them much easier to clean and keep white!

Some riders like to leave a saddle patch of longer hair on the horse's back to provide extra protection. If you choose to leave a saddle patch, make sure that it is small enough to fit under your show saddle pad without any of the longer hair showing. The patch is generally only under the seat of the saddle, rather than extending down under the flaps where the horse is likely to sweat. Keep in mind that this patch of hair will be visible if you need to remove your tack to jog in front of the judge.

If you have never clipped a horse before and you plan on showing, it is a good idea to hire a professional to clip your horse. Clipping is learned hands-on and even the best of beginners is likely to leave some unsightly lines after a first attempt. If you would like to learn how to clip, it would be best to learn either in the winter when you will not be showing or on friends' horses that will not be showing. When you're in the show ring, you want the judge to be focused on your round rather than on the quality of your clip job. The clip should look as much like a natural summer coat as possible and clip lines look anything but natural! 



Sunday, April 4, 2010

Option Jumps

In some jumper classes, usually schooling or speed classes, the course designer might decide to include one or more option jumps. When there is an option jump, you may choose either option that is offered to you after weighing the pros and cons of each.

Why might there be an option jump? First, when it comes to speed, you might have a more difficult but direct option and an easier but longer option. A more experienced horse and rider might choose the direct route while a less experienced horse and rider might decide to play it safe and take the slower route. The difficulty could be in the height, width or type of jump. A spooky jump such as a liverpool or a dry ditch could be used on the faster track while a straightforward oxer or vertical provides the safe option.

In a schooling class, including option jumps might allow the course designer to provide opportunities for the more advanced horses to school over open water or something similar without requiring everyone to jump it.

How will you know if there are options in your course? First, look on the course diagram to see if there are two jumps with the same number in the course. There should also be "option," written between them. When you walk the course, look for jumps near one another that are both flagged and have the same number.

What happens if you have a refusal or run-out at one of the options? You are allowed to take the other option for your second attempt, although you must wait for the initial jump to be reset if you have dislodged it.

Here is the official EC rule for option jumps:

FEI ARTICLE 215 ALTERNATIVE OBSTACLES AND JOKER
1. When in a competition two obstacles of the course carry the same number, the competitor has the choice of jumping either one of the obstacles:
1.1. if there is a refusal or run-out without a knock-down or displacing of the obstacle, at his next attempt the competitor is not obliged to jump the obstacle at which the refusal or run-out occurred. He may jump the obstacle of his choice;
1.2. if there is a refusal or run-out with a knock-down or displacing of the obstacle, he may only restart his round when the obstacle knocked down or displaced has been replaced and when the Ground Jury gives him the signal to start. He may then jump the obstacle of his choice;
2. Red and white flags must be placed at each of the elements of this alternative obstacle.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Order of Go

After your hours of preparation and your perfect warm-up, the last thing you want is to arrive at the in-gate only to find out that there is a line of horses ahead of you and you'll have to wait half an hour for your turn! That's why we have orders of go. If you decide to get ready whenever you want, you risk not being able to go into the ring or, even worse, being eliminated for not following the posted order.

A posted order is a list of who goes when in the class, determined by the show office. Posted orders are generally used in the highest priority ring at the horse show. How faithfully the in-gate follows that posted order will depend on the horse show and on the particular class. You won't be able to move around in a big grand prix, but in smaller classes you will sometimes be able to change your order if you have a good reason to (trainer conflict, rider conflict, etc.). If you absolutely will not be able to be in the ring for your spot, talk to the in-gate ahead of time. The worst thing that you can do is to just not show up until later.

Classes like grand-prix, mini-prix, medals and hunter classics or derbies are generally run as posted order.

Sign-in orders are more casual orders of go that are created by the in-gate person. Before your class starts, you will need to go speak to him or her to put yourself in the order. Riders can choose any spot they want out of whichever ones are left (it pays to put yourself in the order early in the day so that most of the spots will be open). There is more flexibility in this type of order since spots might need to be opened up for trainer conflicts, so you might not end up being called into the ring exactly where you signed up, but it should be pretty close.

How do you know whether your class will be run as a posted order or as a sign-in? The best way to find out is to ask the in-gate person directly. There are, however, some clues that can give you a good idea before you ask. Check the exhibitor numbers on the class list (it should be posted at the in-gate and at the show office). If those numbers are in increasing order, chances are that you're looking at a class list rather than a posted order. If those numbers are random, chances are that it's a posted order. Sometimes the office will make the class list look like a posted order anyway, just in case the show wants to run it that way, so it's a good idea to check with the in-gate to make sure that you don't need to sign in. If there is a signature on the class list, it is most likely a posted order.

If you're riding in the hunters, you should familiarize yourself with some terminology before signing in. Because hunter classes are generally run in groups of two or three over fences at the same time, there is a difference between the number of 'trips' and the number of 'horses'. A 'trip' is a single class, whereas a 'horse' is two or three classes (depending on the schedule). Ask the in-gate specifically whether you are putting yourself in the order at a number of trips or at a number of horses so that you can plan your time accordingly.

Jumpers don't need to worry about this since only one class is run at a time, therefore the number of rides is the same as the number of horses. 


Friday, April 2, 2010

Walking the Lines

If you plan on competing in the jumper ring, you will need to learn how to walk the lines in order to plan out your round. Walking the course will allow you to measure out the distance between two jumps to determine how many strides to put in the line, as well as what length of stride you will need.

If you have never walked a set distance before, start at home by marking out twelve feet on the floor (masking tape works well). If you want to be really accurate, put a little mark every three feet.

Now, place one heel on the tape at the very start of your twelve-foot line.  


Take one big step forward with your other leg so that the heel lands on the three-foot marker.  


Now continue walking so that your other heel  lands on your six-foot marker, and continue like that until you have walked the full twelve feet. Keep walking back and forth down the line, making sure that your heels always land on the tape. Get a feel for how big that step is because you will be using those three-foot steps to make your measurements in the show ring.


Once you're consistently walking the line correctly at home, try the same thing in a sand ring at the barn. Place two rails twelve feet apart on the ground and walk between them until you are consistently getting four even steps. You should start by placing your heel up against the first rail and finish by stepping over the second rail with your heel just touching it. Measuring from heel to heel gives you a much more accurate measurement than using other parts of your foot. Chances are that you will need to make a slightly bigger effort when walking in sand because you will sink into it. Remember what that feels like; you will need to know how to walk in different types of footing.

Now you can try walking a line! Set up two jumps in a straight line, some multiple of twelve feet apart. The line below is 36 feet long.


Your average horse's stride in the jumper ring is twelve feet, which corresponds to four of your steps. Your take-off and landing will each take up about six feet for a combined total of twelve feet. This means that when you are faced with a 36-foot line, your horse should take two strides between the jumps.

In order to walk the line, you should stand at the center of the first jump with your heel directly underneath it. Now walk forward, using your three-foot stride, and count how many steps you get between the jumps, finishing with your heel directly underneath the second jump. Different methods of keeping track of the steps work for different riders. Some like to count how many steps they have taken and then do the math at the end of the line. I, personally, count with my fingers by sticking one finger out for every four steps that I take. At the end of the line, I fold one finger back down to account for the combined take-off and landing distance and the number of fingers that I have left sticking out corresponds to the number of strides that I should put in the line.

Always remember to take that take-off/landing distance away from your count. If you reach the end of the line and you have to put an extra step in to get your heel right under that second jump, the line will ride forward. If you reach the end of the line before finishing a twelve-foot set, the line will ride short.

You don't have to walk from the center of each jump for a straight line, but you do need to be consistent in where you walk from. Unless you plan on angling a line, you cannot count accurately by walking from the center of the first jump to the right side of the second jump. If you start walking on one end of the first jump, walk to that same spot on the second jump. For a bending line, walk from center to center (or whichever spot you plan on jumping from) and try to walk a line with the same degree of bend that you plan on using with your horse. Swinging out wide or jumping to one side will change the amount of ground that you need to cover.

This is something that you will need to practice a lot at home before going to a horse show because you won't be able to use tape markers or a measuring tape at the show!