The distances on a course diagram for the hunter ring are usually written in feet rather than in strides. This allows you to see which lines are set shorter or longer than others (those heading towards the in-gate will generally be slightly longer to account for the horses being more eager to head "home"). If you memorize the multiples of 12, or whichever stride length your division is likely to be set at, you can quickly convert a 60 foot line into four strides, 72 feet to five strides, 84 feet to six strides, etc.
What should you do with the string on a fly veil?
|A well-fitted fly veil with enough space |
behind the ears for the bridle to sit upon
If the fly veil has a sufficiently wide piece behind the ears for the crown of the bridle to sit upon, the long string provided to keep the fly veil tied in place should be cut off. Quality fly veils generally do not come with these strings because they aren't needed to keep a well-designed bonnet on the head.
If you wish to compete using a fly veil that comes with a string, try riding with the string simply tucked away and not tied. If it stays in place, you should be able to safely cut the string off without worrying about your bonnet flying away. If your bridle does not keep the fly veil in place on its own, I would suggest keeping that one just for schooling and finding a different bonnet for showing. There are no rules against wrapping the string around the throat latch to tie a fly bonnet in place, but I find it messy-looking and distracting (and not wrapping the string puts you at risk of tying it too tightly).
What should you do if there is a loose horse?
The answer will depend on what the loose horse is doing and how your own horse tends to behave. Many recommendations call for dismounting your own horse, but that could lead to multiple loose horses if your horse gets spooked and pulls away from you. My preference in a warm-up ring is to stay mounted unless your horse is behaving in a dangerous way that could result in a bad fall. The exception to this is if the loose horse is a stallion and you are riding a mare. The safest place for the rider of a mare when there is a loose stallion around is off of the mare's back, so ride as far away from the stallion as you safely can and then dismount. You should not attempt to exit an enclosed area if opening the gate would risk the loose horse also getting out.
If those on the ground are having trouble catching the horse and you know that your horse is well-behaved in close proximity to other horses, you may attempt to calm and catch the loose horse by riding slowly towards it.
In the show ring, a loose horse can be contained in the ring until it is caught, and there is usually little danger to other horses if there is only one horse in the ring at a time (unless the horse jumps out of the ring, which will simply result in the above warm-up ring scenario). If a horse becomes loose during a flat class, you should listen for instructions from the judge as you remain under the judge's orders.
If you hear a call of "loose horse" in the stabling area, be on the alert. Loose horses can charge down aisles without notice and without regard for who or what might be in their way.
Which horse shoes are legal for showing in the hunter ring?
As far as I am aware, there are no rules in Canada about shoeing for the hunter ring (though it is always a good idea to double-check, and to check any local rules as well). The judge is unlikely to notice what is underneath your horse's feet while you are cantering by, anyway, so if a horse requires special shoeing (for example, an egg bar shoe), it is unlikely to be a factor in a performance class. It's possible that in a class judged on conformation a judge might take unconventional shoeing into account if it indicates that the horse has problems, but that would be at the individual judge's discretion and you could simply avoid entering such classes if your horse is shod specially. In the US, light pads and bar shoes are explicitly allowed, but it is noted that such shoes might count against horses in Conformation classes.
Steel and aluminum are both popular materials; many hunters are shod in aluminum because the shoes are lighter and therefore allow the horse to move better.
Avoid using hoof boots for hunter classes. While I am not aware of a rule that explicitly forbids them, they could fall under the general category of boots, and are unconventional on top of that. Hoof boots have a very obvious look and sound that would be difficult for any judge to miss.