Class Descriptions

Types of Horses and Events Present Each Year at RVHS
(Class refers to a breed of horse - each maximized for their respective event.)
Photograph By SayItOnTheWeb
The American saddle horse has been hailed as the world's most beautiful horse and also one of the most versatile. It was developed by early pioneers who desired a utility horse of beauty, easy gaits, good disposition, and stamina. The ideal American saddle horse is beautiful with much quality and fineness. It averages from 15 hands to 16 hands in height (hand is four inches) and averages in weight from 1,000 to 1,200 pounds. It should have a well-shaped, finely chiseled head, large bright eyes, small ears that are short, dainty, and used alertly. The neck should be long, fitting onto the head with a small throat latch, and fit into a sloping shoulder. Prominent withers, a short and level back, long sloping pasterns, and well-formed feet are desirable. American saddle horses are shown in three major divisions: five-gaited, three-gaited, and fine harness. They also are shown as pleasure and many of them have made excellent hunters and jumpers.
The five-gaited horse is the aristocrat of the show ring and is considered spectacular and exciting in a horse show. It wears a full mane and tail and is shown wearing quarter boots to protect the horse's front feet when performing. Five-gaited horses are shown at the three natural gaits of the breed --the walk, trot, and canter and the two man-made gaits --the slow gait and the rack. The trot is a two-beat gait that should be square and bold, with natural high action. Speed is desirable if done in form. The canter should be slow, rhythmic and done with rocking chair smoothness and executed on the correct leads (left lead when going to the left; right lead when going to the right). The slow gait should be a high methodical gait, done very slowly, and with high action particularly in front. The rack is a four-beat gait and free from any lateral motion or pacing. The knee and hock action should be snappy, and speed is desired if done in an elastic step-promptly and alertly. Classes for fivegaited horses are segregated as to sex, age, amateur, ladies', juvenile, open, and stake or championship events.
A fine harness horse carries a full mane and tail and is judged at the walk and trot for action and general brilliance of appearance. This horse should have free movement of the shoulders and high knee action, as well as high hock action with legs well under the horse. It is driven to a light buggy designed to carry one person. Classes for the fine harness horse are designated by sex, age, amateur, ladies', open, and stake or championship events.
The three-gaited horse performs the three natural gaits --the walk, trot, and canter --and is judged on action, conformation, animation, manners, and soundness. Shown with clipped mane and tail, the three-gaited horse should execute gaits in a slow, collected manner with high action. Head should be carried high, with an alert ear, and an overall air of brilliance. The walk should be prompt, showy, and done cheerfully at about four miles per hour without any dancing. The trot is the gait most emphasized and must be true, high in action, and well collected. Excessive speed is not desired. The canter should be slow, rhythmic, and done on the correct leads. Classes for three-gaited horses are designated by size, age, amateur, ladies', juvenile, open, an stake or championship events.
The versatile American Saddlebred has proven to be the ideal pleasure mount. This division is open to mares and geldings shown by an amateur. They wear a full mane and tail which must be carried naturally and arc shown in three-gaited, five-gaited, pleasure driving, country, western, and pleasure equitation classes. Manners and suitability as a pleasure mount are paramount.
The roadster is the speed horse of the show ring. It is usually of the Standardbred breed, noted for speed at the trot and pace. However, in the show ring, the roadster is shown only at the trot. Two types of roadsters are for show --those suitable for bike and those suitable for buggy.
Occasionally one horse is suitable for both classes, but usually the buggy horse will have more scale and weight than the bike horse. The roadster should have an attractive appearance, balanced conformation, speed and action at the trot, and safe manners.The chief gait of the roadster is the trot. It trots at three different speeds --the jog, road gait, and trot as speed. At all speeds, it should work in form, with straight and true action. Animation and show ring presence should characterize the road horse, especially at the jog and road gait.
Roadsters should enter the ring in a clockwise direction at a jog. They are usually asked to road gait, then turn to a counterclockwise direction and jog, road gait, and trot at speed. They should go at full speed both ways of the ring and should stand quietly when lined up.Roadsters are judged on performance, conformance, animation, manners, and soundness. Class specifications for the roadster horse are either bike or buggy events and classified open, amateur, speed, and stake or championship events. They are also shown under saddle and asked to perform at the same gaits and worked in the same manner as when driven.
Equitation or horsemanship is a division open to riders who have not reached their 18th birthday and are amateurs. All classes are judged solely on the rider's style and ability to control the horse. The horse is not judged or rated in this division.
Certain fundamentals of equitation are rigidly observed in judging. Riders are required to post with the action of the horse's front leg which is next to the ring fence. They are also required to canter the horse on the correct lead. Riders are sometimes asked to work individually. There are several tests a judge may choose. Some of those most frequently used are: pick up reins, dismount and mount, figure eights using correct diagonal and canter leads, ride without stirrups, and change horses. Some judges ask riders to answer questions on anatomy, tack, and equitation.
There are three types of equitation --saddle seat, hunter seat, and stock seat. These classifications can be broken down into designated classes by age, medal class, and stakes or championships.
The Western Horse is not necessarily one breed of horse, although the Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, and Paint dominate the classes. It is known for being levelheaded, moving with suppleness, and offering easy comfort for the rider. The pleasure horse should perform on a loose rein and have a long, slow stride.
The performance horse classes are designed to show the agility and athletic ability of the Western Horse. It must have a sudden burst of speed, a quick stop, and an easy turn on its haunches. The reining horse and working cow horse particularly exemplify a special talent of making successive 360 degree turns while remaining in position.
Barrel Horse is a high-spirited, intelligent animal. No single breed is classified as a barrel horse, although Quarter Horses dominate the ranks. The barrel horse must be smooth in making turns, then deliver quick bursts of speed for the straight aways. The barrel horse may actually show less than twenty seconds in a class. Even though they show such a short time, the barrel horse must be in great physical condition, and have tremendous ability and awesome stamina.
The racking horse is a gracefully built, good-looking mount, with long sloping neck, full flanks, flat smooth legs, and finely textured hair. Small to medium size, it averages 15 hands in height and approximately 1,000 lbs. in weight. The racking horse is exhibited with no artificial appliances, no boots or set tails. This breed is shown at the show walk, the slow rack, and the fast rack. Show walk is a smooth, collected, slow and easy gait. It is a distinctive four-beat gait displaying both style and grace. The horse is alert and well-mounted in the bridle. Slow rack is a relaxed four-beat gait with both style and action, neither a pace nor a trot. The neck should be arched with head and ears alert. This gait should be straight and square at all times. Fast rack is in the same form as the slow rack displaying style, action, and speed. At no time is form sacrificed for speed. In each of the three gaits, the horse must be collected and presented will. The rider must be relaxed and smooth in the saddle. At no time should the horse exemplify a gait with animated hock action. The racking horse must exhibit good conformation.
A hunter is generally shown over a course of obstacles placed in the ring to simulate conditions encountered while fox hunting. It should go over the course at an even hunting pace, without hesitation, galloping with long easy strides close to the ground, land and move away, all in one motion. The judge looks for the finer points of smoothness, quality, and the general polish of the performance. It could be compared to judging an ice skater that performs smoothly with grace and poise. A hunter should also possess good manners. Hunters are faulted for any deviation from the above plus being faulted she same as open jumpers for touches, knockdowns, refusals, or falls.A Green Working Hunter is a horse of any age in its first or second year of showing. Horses in their first year arc shown over fences approximately 3'6" and in their second year over fences 3'9". Junior Hunter Classes are limited to horses over 14.2 hands, ridden by juniors who have not reached their 18th birthday. Fences are 3'6". Amateur-Owner Hunter Classes are limited to amateur riders over 18 years of age who own their own horse. In Hunter Under Saddle Classes, horses work at a walk, trot, and canter only, and do not jump.
Jumper classes are the most popular with the spectators because they provide thrilling entertainment. The horse's performance over the obstacle is all that counts. The horse's manner of jumping is not considered, nor is its soundness. If the horse negotiates the entire course of obstacles without touching any, does not veer from the prescribed course, or refuse to jump an obstacle, the score is perfect.If, after all horses have completed, there are two or more with perfect scores, they jump the course again, usually with the obstacles raised above their original height. This is called a "Jump off",and the winners are thus determined.Jumper courses are designed to test the handiness, agility, training, and temperament of the competitors, as well as their ability to clear heights. The layout of the course, the distance between fences, their angles to one another, and the distance in which turns are made are just as important as the obstacles themselves. In some classes jump offs may occur directly after a horse has completed a clean first round. It will be shortened course with the fastest time and cleanest round being the winner. For this reason, notice that riders may walk a course on foot before a class, planning a strategy of how to ride the course in the best way. They will pace the distances from one jump to another to plan the number of strides it takes between obstacles. The riders also examine the jumps to see, up close, the degree of expertise it will take to jump a clear round.The rider's form is a very important part of a jumper's performance. Notice that he will lean forward to help the horse in the air, as well as put his hands forward making sure that he will not hit the horse's mouth in flight. In some cases, though, the rider will turn a horse as he leaves the ground in order to land and proceed directly to another jump to the right or left.In every case, always notice the clock at the end of the arena. Not only must the winner of a jumper class jump clean, but he must have the fastest time.
All animals under 14.2 hands are classified as ponies and are eligible for pony classes unless there are other specifications. There are five-gaited and three-gaited pony classes where the ponies are judged at the same gaits and manners as the horses. Other classes in this division are for pleasure, roadster, and western ponies:
0ne of the oldest breeds in the horse kingdom, the Hackney is a carriage horse or pony which originated in England. Hackneys are the high steppers of the show ring, with extreme action both front and behind. They are shown with a vehicle called a viceroy, a miniature fine harness buggy. Hackneys should show much brilliance and show ring presence, but still give a picture of sheer daintiness and perfection. They are shown only at the trot but, in most classes, are judges at two speeds, the park pace and then the trot. Custom demands that they be shown with docked tail and mane braided close to the neck. At the trot, they should snap their knees and hocks, and their action should be high, straight, and true. Hackneys are judged on performance, conformation, animation, manners, and soundness. Hackney classes are classified as to age, height, ladies', amateur, open, pairs, tandem, gig, and state or championship events. The Hackney pony cannot be more that 14.2 hands.
The harness pony was originated by crossing three pony breeds: the Hackney, Welsh, and Shetland. The harness pony has the high action and gracefulness of the Hackney; the desired conformation, spirit, and style of the Welsh; and the manners and size of the Shetland. The harness pony cannot exceed 50 inches in height.Harness ponies arc shown to a viceroy, carry full mane and tail, and are shown both ways of the ring at the park trot and at a more animated or faster gait as drive on or at will. Harness ponies should show brilliance, show ring presence, and much the same trot as a fine harness horse, but with more snap to their knees and hocks. They are judged on performance, conformation, animation, manners, and soundness.