About Judging


1. Qualifications - To officiate a varsity equestrian meet, a person must be a recognized USAE judge for Hunter Seat or an AQHA Judge for Western Division.

2. A person may judge only one show per region per academic semester.

3. A judge may not officiate if he has had a professional relationship as defined by the USAE rules, but to include clinics with any exhibitor or member college, within 60 days prior to the show.

4. Responsibilities of the Judge - Good judging depends upon a correct observance of the fine points and the selection of the best rider under the conditions of the class. A judge serves three interests: his own conscience, exhibitors, and spectators. He should make clear to the audience that the best rider wins. The attention of Judges is directed to the difference in requirements between USAE equitation classes and varsity equitation classes. He is expected to be proficient in his Division and to possess a working knowledge of the Rules of the Association.

General Rules

1. In equitation/horsemanship classes, only the rider is being judged therefore no penalty should be assessed because of the horse's conformation, color or way of moving.

2. Falling off a horse results in elimination.

3. Three refusals by a horse results in elimination.

4. Any rider not having her mount under sufficient control shall be removed from the ring by the show stewards and shall be disqualified or remounted at their discretion.

5. If additional tests are desired and appropriate, the judge's instructions to riders shall be publicly announced.

English Rules

1. General - The rider should have a workmanlike appearance, seat and hands light and supple, conveying the impression of complete control should any emergency arise.

2. Mounting and Dismounting - To mount, a rider is to take up the reins in the left hand and place hand on withers. Grasp stirrup leather with right hand, insert foot in stirrup and mount. To dismount, rider may either step down or slide down.

3. Hands - Hands should be over and in front of horse's withers, knuckles 30 degrees inside the vertical, hands slightly apart and making a straight line from the horse's mouth to the rider's elbow. The method of holding reins is optional, but all reins must be picked up at the same time.

4. Basic Position - The eyes should be up and the shoulders should be back. Toes should be at an angle best suited to the rider's conformation, ankles flexed, heels down, calf of leg in contact with the horse and slightly behind its girth. The iron should be on the ball of the foot.

5. Position in Motion - At the walk and slow trot, a rider's body should be vertical, posting trot should be inclined forward, canter should be half-way between the posting trot and the walk, galloping and jumping should be at the same inclination as the posting trot.

Western Rules

1. General - The rider will be judged on seat, hands, and the ability to control and show the horse. Results as shown by the performance of the horse are not to be considered more important than the method used be the rider in obtaining them.

2. Hands - The upper arms are in a straight line with the body, the one holding the reins bent at the elbow. The position of the hand not holding the rein is optional, but it should be kept free of the horse and equipment, and held in a relaxed manner with the rider's body straight at all times. Some movement of the hands is permissible, but excessive pumping will be penalized. The hand is to be around the reins at all times. Except as noted below, only one hand is used for reining and hands shall not be changed. No more than one finger is permitted between reins when split reins are used, but none with romal. The rider may hold romal in their free hand provided it is at least 16" from the rein hand. The rein hand is to be carried immediately above or slightly ahead of the horn of the saddle. Bracing against the horn will be penalized. Reins should be carried so as to have light contact with the horse's mouth and at no time shall reins be carried more than a slight hand movement from horse's mouth. Two hands may be used only on horses designated by the show committee. It is recommended that these horses be shown in a snaffle bit or a hackamore. Changing hands on the reins from two to one or one to two during the class shall be considered a major fault.

3. Basic Position - Riders should sit in the saddle with legs hanging straight. The stirrup should be just short enough to allow heels to be lower than toes. The body should always appear comfortable, relaxed and flexible. The feet should be placed in the stirrups with the weight on the ball of the foot. Consideration in making this judgment, however, should be given to the width of the stirrup. Riding with toes only in the stirrups will be penalized.

4. Position in Motion - The rider should sit to jog and not post. At the lope, the rider should be close to the saddle. All movements of the horse should be governed by the use of imperceptible aids. Exaggerated shifting of the rider's weight is not desirable. The size of the rider should be taken into account.

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