Sunday, January 16, 2011

Champions and Reserve Champions

You might be wondering how champion and reserve champion ribbons are awarded at some shows. Knowing how the recipients are determined can make it easier for you to know when to stick around for an award presentation or a tie-breaker.

There are a lot of rules relating to the awarding of championships, most of which I've posted below from the EC rule book. First I'll give a basic summary of the most useful information.

Championships are determined by adding up the points associated with each horse's placings in each of the classes of a division. The points are awarded as follows (even if the ribbons are awarded past sixth, no points will be given to those awarded a seventh place or lower):

1st - 7
2nd - 5
3rd - 4
4th - 3
5th - 2
6th - 1

The gap between first and second puts an emphasis on winning.

In a small class with consistent winners, the champion and reserve champion are likely to be those who are placing first and second in each class. In a larger class with a greater variety of horses placing (for instance in jumper divisions where a different set of horses might excel in a speed class), the champion and reserve champion are most likely to be the horses that have good results in most of the classes, even if they are not all top results. In some instances, a single first place ribbon can earn you a reserve championship.

If there is a tie in points, it is most likely to be resolved by a coin toss. In such a case, a representative of the rider will need to be present for the toss. The winner of the coin toss receives the ribbon. In the case of a tie for the championship, the winner becomes champion and the loser becomes the reserve champion.

Championships can only be awarded in divisions that have at least three classes.

For hunter championships, only the top four horses from the over fences classes (combined points from all of the classes) are eligible for the championship, although points from the under saddle class are added to finalize the placings. The prevents a spectacular mover from receiving a championship based on that movement rather than on the all-important jumping ability.

Here are the EC rules:

1. Except as noted below, a competition may award hunter championships in each EC recognized hunter division providing there is a minimum of two over fences classes and one under saddle or hunter hack class in each division. If a competition offers more than one under saddle and/or hunter hack class in a division, only one may count for the championship unless the under saddle and/or hunter hack class is divided by height, age or breeding. If no under saddle class is held then one hunter hack class shall count and vice versa. The competition must specify in its prize list which full point and which half point classes in each division will count.   
2. The following classes do not count towards nor make a horse eligible for a championship: breeding, local, maiden, novice, limit, pairs, teams, miscellaneous classes.
3. Points for championships shall be awarded on the following basis:
1st 7
2nd 5
3rd 4
4th 3
5th 2
6th 1
4. The champion and reserve titles shall be awarded to two of the four horses which have accumulated the most points performing over a regulation hunter course required in the division in which they are being shown. In addition to these points, only these four horses shall receive half points for ribbons won in a model class and full points for ribbons won in one under saddle class or one hunter hack class.
5. In the case of a tie the championship and/or reserve shall be awarded to the horse that has accumulated the most points over fences. If there is still a tie, the tied horses shall be shown at walk, trot, canter and gallop (pregreen and green hunter not to gallop) to determine champion and reserve. Tossing a coin to break the tie is permissible if all participants agree. This competition shall be judged as an independent hunter under saddle class with conformation, quality, substance, soundness and performance to count as prescribed throughout the appropriate division.
6. In the event that all tied horses are declared unsound, selection of the winner amongst such tied horses shall be left to the discretion of the judge(s).
7. No classes shall count towards a championship unless all horses in the division have an equal opportunity to accumulate points. Any class that limits horse and/or rider should not count towards competition championships unless offset. This does not apply to sweepstakes or classics open to top qualifiers.
8. Points will be awarded for horses in hunter classics. In mixed classes (i.e. junior/amateur/children’s/adult), points shall be counted in their respective divisions (e.g. If the top-placed junior is 6th, he receives 6th-place points).
Classics in which juniors, amateurs and professionals are combined do not count for points.
9. Points won in one division do not count towards or make a horse eligible for the championship in another division.
10. To maintain awards won in a model class which is included in a division offered at a competition (e.g. conformation hunter), the entry must complete the course in at least one over fences class.
11. When a championship is offered, current standings must be posted at all times.
12. If there are several classes which are split but some with 50 or less entries which are not split, then the points won by the horses in this unsplit class shall be applied to their respective flight class for the calculation of championships. Separate championships must be offered when a majority of classes are divided.
13. If a class is split according to the "California split" (see Article G402) when reckoning championship points, the top eight horses that receive the most points over fences are awarded points in the under saddle/hunter hack/model class(es). The championships are awarded as follows:
Horse with the most points Champion #1
Horse with the second highest points Champion #2
Horse with the third highest points Reserve Champion #1
Horse with the fourth highest points Reserve Champion #2
14. At competitions where a separate championship class is held, horses must have been shown and judged in the qualifying classes.

1. A Jumper Championship and Reserve Championship may be awarded at each competition. The horse accumulating the most points will be Champion and the horse with the next largest number of points will be
Reserve Champion. The Championship will be decided upon the basis of points won in three or more full point classes. See also General Regulations.
2. In the case of a tie in a jumper class, each horse will be awarded equal points. For example, if three horses were tied for second place, each would receive second place points. The next placed horse would receive fifth place points.
3. In the case of a tie for the championship there may be a jump-off after the last jumping class of the Competition. Exhibitors tied for Champion or Reserve may elect to jump-off or toss.
4. Classes for Championship must be listed by number
5. Points for championships shall be awarded on the following basis:
1st 7
2nd 5
3rd 4
4th 3
5th 2
6th 1   

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What to Wear to Your First Show (Rider)

The answer to what you should wear to your first hunter/jumper show will, of course, depend on what level you are planning on showing at. The attire at an in-barn schooling show can be quite different from that at a nationally-sanctioned competition, so it's important to find out which set of rules will be followed at each particular show.

If a show is advertised as being sanctioned, licensed or recognized by a national federation (in Canada these would be Bronze-, Silver- or Gold-level competitions), you will need to follow the national rule book. If you need to pay for a national membership in order to show, chances are that the show will be following the rules of that national federation. Most rule books are available online (go here for the Equine Canada Hunter/Jumper rule book and here for the USEF rule books) and will specify what is required in terms of dress. Failure to follow those rules will result in your elimination at the show.

At a recognized show, all you must do is follow the rules to be dressed appropriately for the show. When it comes to unsanctioned schooling shows, however, it is not always clear what is expected.

It is, of course, always safest to arrive at the show in full formal show attire (jacket, show shirt, beige breeches and appropriate boots), but it is not always necessary and can be more of a monetary commitment than might be desired by someone who wants to try showing for the first time.

The best way to find out what a particular schooling show considers acceptable is to contact the show organizers directly. If you are told that formal attire will not be necessary, the next step will be to find an outfit that is neat and appropriate. Here is a list of what you might want to consider wearing for an informal schooling show:

Helmet: Any approved helmet will do at the schooling level, although the more conservative the colour and design, the better when it comes to hunter and equitation classes.

Hair: If you have long hair, it should always be contained within a hairnet when you show. "Show bows", decorative hairnets that are meant to hang down your neck, are not generally considered appropriate in the hunter ring. Most hunter riders will flip their hair up under the helmet after putting it in a low ponytail to keep it neat and tidy. A regular hairnet should be used over top for long hair. If you are not comfortable putting your hair under your helmet, some riders will braid their hair and then tuck the braid down the back of their collar. For the jumpers, a ponytail will do but most riders will put their hair under the helmet instead to look as neat as possible.

For short stirrup riders or those riding small or medium ponies, putting the hair in two braids can be appropriate, along with a bow at the end of each braid.

Shirt: For informal summer shows, a tucked-in, solid-coloured polo shirt will be acceptable. In the winter, a tucked-in, solid-coloured turtle neck would also be appropriate. A collared show shirt would, of course, be best for a hunter or equitation class if you have one.

Jacket: In cooler weather, a fitted, solid-coloured sweater can be worn over your shirt. In the winter or if it is raining, a coat can be worn but the less bulky, the better. If you are on a budget and need to wear formal attire for a schooling show, a well-fitting blazer from a used clothing store can do the trick. Navy blue is the most classic colour for the hunter ring, but black, grey, brown and green are also acceptable.

Gloves: Riding gloves are not necessary but they do provide a nice finishing touch. Leather gloves are the classic choice but any type is acceptable. Black or brown gloves provide the nicest picture, while white gloves stand out too much and are not appropriate for hunter or equitation classes.

Breeches: Breeches should be beige or greenish-beige for showing. At very informal shows, darker breeches could be seen. At the schooling level, cleanliness and fit matter more than material or cut. White breeches are not appropriate for hunter classes. In the jumper ring, they are really only appropriate for big classes at the higher levels and therefore look out of place at the schooling level. Jodhpurs are acceptable for small children.

Boots: Black field boots (tall boots with laces) are the best choice, although any black or brown tall boot will do. Some federations allow the use of paddock boots with half chaps, but the rule is not universal so it is best to check your federation's rule book. In Canada, leather half chaps are acceptable as long as they match the paddock boots (this excludes FEI Children's classes). At the unsanctioned schooling level, most facilities are likely to allow half chaps.

Spurs: Spurs are optional. If you decide to use them, make sure that they are not pointed upwards.

The rule of thumb when it comes to hunter and equitation classes is really to go as conservative as possible. The judge should be given the chance to focus on your riding or on your horse, rather than on your clothing. If you are unsure of what will be expected of you in terms of attire, contact the show committee well ahead of the horse show (contact information should be provided in the prize list). Another way to feel more comfortable with your clothing choices is to find photos online of a previous edition of the show that you will be attending. Once you have an idea of what others have worn in the past, you can arrive on the show day with more important things to worry about!

Always make sure that everything you use, down to your spur straps, is clean and in good repair. Combined with well-fitting, conservative clothing, you'll be ready to make an excellent first impression on the judge.