Belly pad girths should always have elastic on both ends so that each side can be adjusted to keep the girth centred (not centring the girth would result in the wider part of the girth potentially interfering with the front legs). Girths such as this with "double elastic" have more give to them than the more traditional "single elastic" girths, which can potentially mean sizing down. I find that double elastic girths usually stretch about one inch further (about one billet hole) than girths with elastic at only one end, so if your single elastic girth is already on the long side, size down for a belly pad. If, however, your single elastic girth is verging on too short, you should be fine maintaining the same size.
Elastic often requires some amount of breaking in, so you might initially be worried that the girth is too short until the elastic stretches out.
You can also purchase a belly pad attachment that slides onto a traditional girth, but I find that these tend to hang down and move around more than a dedicated one-piece belly guard girth.
Can you stay in the ring between hunter over fences classes?
If there are no other horses waiting at the ingate and you have cleared your plan with the ingate person before entering the ring, most judges do not mind a horse staying in the ring and completing all of their back-to-back hunter classes at once. If there are other horses waiting to go into the ring, most riders will not appreciate their timing being thrown off by one horse staying in the ring.
If you do choose to stay in the ring, keep in mind that your performance for each class starts from the moment you enter the ring, so ensure that you make it clear where one class ends and the next begins by coming back to a walk before setting up your entrance for the next course, and remember that you are being judged at all times. If you feel the need to shout back to your helpers to remind yourself of the next course, a better idea would be to simply exit the ring for a few moments to gather yourself before starting your next round.
How do you stuff a horse's ears?
Stuffing a horse's ears is a fairly common practice in the hunter and jumper rings to make the horse less reactive to distracting sounds. Jumpers can wear a fly veil over top to help prevent the stuffing from coming out (there are also some fly bonnets designed to muffle sound themselves), while hunters must be stuffed more carefully.
There are various types of "stuffies" available, ranging from fleecy pom pom types to foam plugs to basic cotton. Choose whichever you and your horse are most comfortable with, making sure that the colour is similar enough to your horse's not to stand out. Most products need to be placed fairly deep in order to stay put, but there will still be some part that's visible, especially if your horse shakes them loose at all. Practice riding with stuffed ears at home before attempting it at a show because some horses will object initially.
How long of a pelham shank can I use in the hunter ring?
While there is no set rule (though as always, double check your local rulebook), the shorter, the better. If a shank is so long that it draws your eye to it, it's probably too long. The judge might wonder why the horse needs such a strong bit, especially if you use a lot of curb rein, which could potentially place you below a horse that goes similarly but in a less severe bit. Most hunters that go in a pelham are using something in the range of a Tom Thumb pelham, which has the shortest possible shank length.
What does it mean to "break" a green year?
The horse's green status indicates at what heights it has previously competed, allowing it to compete against horses with a similar level of show experience. There are different green levels depending on horse height (horse vs. pony) and the spectrum of classes offered in any given area. Once a horse has competed at a height that is above what the rules indicate for any given green division, it is said to have "broken" its green status, requiring a higher division the following season. For exact heights and rules, check your local rulebook.