Your quick guide to classes for horse showing –
MOUNTAIN AND MOORLAND
Ponies eligible for Mountain and Moorland (or M&M) classes include the Connemara, Dales, Fell, Highland, Welsh Sections A, B, C, and D, the Dartmoor, Exmoor, New Forest, and Shetland. Whether in-hand or ridden, the judge seeks a ‘true to type’ animal, displaying inherent breed characteristics.
RIDDEN SHOW PONIES
These classes are split into sections governed by pony height and rider age. Usually of finer substance than its native counterparts, the ridden show pony is of fine breeding, with excellent conformation. He demonstrates free movement and elegance, with the manners to carry a child rider. In Lead rein classes for riders aged under seven, a handler leads the pony.
The riding horse has excellent conformation, with emphasis on the quality of the limbs, which must be hard, flat, and free from blemishes.
His neck should be of a good length and he should have a sloping shoulder, for a comfortable ride. Obedience, self-carriage, and calmness are key.
SPECIFIC ‘TYPE’ CLASSES
Cobs – the lightweight or heavyweight cob stands between 148cms -155cms; Maxi Cob classes are for horses exceeding 155cms. The show cob has ‘bone and substance’ and is capable of carrying a substantial weight. The Cob – a type rather than a breed – should be well mannered with the attributes of a good hunter: low movement and a comfortable ride.
Ex-racehorse classes – an increasing number of classes now exists, predominantly run under the auspices of the Retraining of Racehorses Tattersalls Show Series. (From 2018, the first two placings at each RoR qualifying show will go forward to the championship at the Hickstead Derby Meeting. There will also be a prize for the highest placed Veteran aged 15 years or over. From 2018, in ten RoR Tattersalls Show Series Qualifier’s, there will also be a prize for the highest placed amateur.)
SHOW AND WORKING HUNTERS
Show hunter (or ridden hunter) classes are aimed at animals that ‘could give their owners a good day’s hunting’, that are of a heavier build than the riding horse. There are lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight classes, dependant on the size of bone just below the knee. These horses must work with a long, low stride that covers plenty of ground, and be extremely responsive. In working hunter classes, horses need to have all the attributes of the show hunter, plus the ability to jump rustic fences in a calm and balanced manner.
Working hunter pony classes follow the same format, but are usually categorised by height rather than weight.
Bitting for showing
Ponies in Leading rein classes must be shown in a snaffle. (You will find over thirty types of snaffle at retailer World Wide Tack). Snaffles are also preferred for In-hand classes. For ridden classes, some people use a snaffle, although Pelhams are perhaps the most popular bit – again, the Pelham range at World Wide Tack is extensive). Double bridles are also often used in show classes.
Dress and turnout
The following guidance is edited from the dress and turnout code for ridden hacks, cobs and riding horses, provided by the British Show Horse Association. It relates to county shows and day-time international shows.
Dress code (ridden hacks, cobs and riding horses):
Plain fawn or buff coloured breeches – not white.
Plain black or brown boots.
Garter straps. Points must face outwards.
Spurs should be worn by exhibitors and must be high on the heel of the boot, and horizontal – but they may be dummies.
Any form of leather or string gloves.
Plain malacca or leather cane, not to exceed 32”.
Collar and ordinary tie. Tie must be pinned down.
Ordinary shirt. No earrings to be worn.
Turn out code: (hacks and riding horses):
Manes plaited, tails pulled and heels trimmed.
Double bridle or Pelham. (Snaffle bridles may be worn in Novice Classes).
Saddles should be reasonably straight cut.
Horses’ shoes of light steel or aluminium plate.
Numnahs, if worn, should be as small as possible.
Stirrup irons should be sufficiently large to accommodate judges’ feet and have adjustment in the leathers for short and long length.