Equestrian Rider Guide – How Equestrian Sports are Judged

An equestrian rider is somebody who is skilled at riding horses or performing on horseback. Such skills are honed through competitions, games and races. An equestrian rider has to spend years of training to upgrade his or her skills to be able to join and excel in competitive equestrian sports. More than just trainings, it takes equestrian riders a lot of endurance and hardships as well as mental and physical intellects to succeed.

The demand on specialized skills from both the horse and the rider has increased, since the equestrian sports evolved. After horses stopped being used in combat, equestrian sports became popular and the skills were preserved. Equestrian sports are now entertaining crowds while preserving horsemanship. In this type of sport, control and balance, from both the horse and equestrian rider, are the key to success.

Equestrian sports have many different types such as horse racing, dressage, eventing, polo, reining, show jumping, vaulting, endurance riding, driving, rodeo, etc. In these competitions, both the horse and the rider are judged on their skills as well as on other significant factors. In a dressage competition, for example, horses are judged according to its level of impulsion, collection and obedience. In show jumping, events are timed and both the rider and horse are judged according to their ability to jump over obstacles.

Equestrian sports have a very wide scope, which makes judging difficult. Usually, different equestrian sports judges are hired to judge different equestrian sports. These judges are very knowledgeable of the specific equestrian sports they are judging. To be able to judge in a competition, one should be very familiar with the relevant rules and judging procedures.

Often, equestrian riders find it difficult to understand how equestrian sports are judged. One might be confused why a horse show class is placed or why a certain horse is ranked better than the other. To remove all of these confusions, you have to see the class from the judges perspective. Equestrian riders have to consider three things to better understand class placings.

First, you should remember that all the details needed in decision-making can all be seen by the judges. For one, the judges have the best vantage point, which enable them to get an up close view of each horse in the competition.

The second thing to consider is that each class has its own specific rules. For example, Arabian Mare halter classes are judged according to its type while the Arabian Gelding halter classes are judged with conformation.

Rules can change from class to class, as the rule book dictates. Each class has its own specifications. The judges evaluation should vary according to horses class.

Finally, you should bear in mind that excellence is one of the most important factor when judging a horse show. A mediocre horse with perfect performance can still be outranked by an excellent quality horse, even if it commits minor mistakes. You, as an equestrian rider, should also be concerned about the fact that gait, frame and overall elegance are rewarded.

Author Lisa Blackstone is an equestrian and judges horse show competition. She received her license to judge horse shows in 1994 and continues to judge competitions in the United States and abroad. For additional equestrian rider guide, please go to Train a Horse and How to Train a Horse .
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