Starting to Show: What you Need to Know (Jumping Edition)

By Real Riderz

Our team has been on the circuit for years: local, rated, and international. This is the basic guide to what you need to know.

For starters: your purpose. You may not know exactly what you want from showing now, but most people have a goal in mind. Some want to go from local to rated, or qualify for finals. Others may want to give their green horses (or maybe even themselves) a different experience. Whatever it may be, think about this, but avoid dwelling and doubting. Showing is supposed to be fun.

In the American system, there are three main levels to horse showing (hunters, equitation, and jumpers*): C, B, A, and AA rated shows. The rating in based on the amount of prize money given (primarily). You will also see an increase in entry fees and competitiveness as you go up these ranks. These show are part of a governing body (biggest one in America being USEF and USHJA) Some shows are not rated at all, but these are usually in-barn shows. In addition, the judges have to be at a certain level to judge A and AA shows. These are usually R rated judges (the highest level in USEF).

*Hunters are classes judged on the horse’s style and way of going. Equitation judges the riders position and control of the horse. Jumpers is based on speed (how fast can you go without knocking any fences down or having refusals/falls/runouts AKA faults). There are more detailed explanations about each, but for now, this basic information is all you really need.

Rated shows have rated divisions (which are split into classes). You can go to an A show and jump 2’6 schooling class which would be considered C rated. This is the tricky part because you need to be at a certain level and in a certain division in order to actually compete at A divisions. For example pony hunters (2’ for smalls and 3’ for larges) can be A divisions and they are part of the classes that give prize money. Some goes for junior hunters and etc.

Now, the next level from here are FEI (international) shows. The lowest level is CSI1* where the course is set at a minimum of 1m height. The highest level is CSI5* where courses can be set anywhere from 1.50m to 1.75m. In other countries, the system are different (in Germany there are M rated shows, but more on that later).

Well enough is enough, most of the above (and more you can find on the internet with a quick click. So what do you actually need to know about showing?

Well for starters, it’s expensive. This is why I had you determine your why right away. If you are looking to qualify for some finals in the future, or even go international, you are looking at ways to go up the ranks. However, don’t skip out on the schooling (C) shows. This is the place to learn and make mistakes before you dive into national level shows. Schooling shows are also a great place to test your skills at a certain level, and they are much cheaper than the bigger shows.

Why are local level shows cheaper? For starters, they usually only last one day. That cuts costs for stalls and hotels. Of course, do note that it may take time to get fully used to the experience of a bigger show. This is because it is so much more immersive. You need to ship in, and then make your horse feel at home for a week (and actually sometimes several weeks at a time). There is an art to this, but as long as you have the riding part down, you can focus more on getting accustomed to the sort of strange world called “A-rated.”

Published by realriderz

Many riders coming together to make our horses' (and our own) voices heard

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