This seems to be a fairly unknown type of showing on here, understandable, as most of you are from the US! It’s my main interest at the moment, so I figured I’ll tell you all about it :]
About the ASH
Australian Stock Horses are kind of like Australia’s version of the Quarter Horse. They developed from the horses used on the massive cattle stations in central Australia, so are hardy, with cattle sense, as well as quick and agile. They are generally lighter and have less bone than a QH, to enable them to have good endurance, as often cattle drives would take a few weeks, and horses would be required to work all day everyday. However, they still have substance, as they need to be strong and hardy. They generally have a large, well-muscled hind-end to provide explosive power and impulsion to make tight and sharp turns. Here is the picture of the standard of excellence, as well as a link to the written standard of excellence for those who are interested:
Traditionally, ASH have their manes hogged (roached) to prevent the mane getting tangled in reins, and to prevent excessive heat under the mane. This tradition has continued, and the majority of ASH that are shown have their manes hogged. Tails are left natural, as are forelocks. (One reason why I love my ASH, no plaiting!!!) Whiskers, feathers, and other hairy bits are normally clipped as per usual show-ring presentation. White socks may be clipped out, and hoof black is used. Make-up is sometimes used, but subtly. False tails are permitted but are generally only used in hack classes or if a horse has a particularly bad tail. Generally quarter marks are not used. Here is a horse presented for a led class:
Tack is traditionally Australian. There are actually two types of ASH attire: Australian and English. The Australian type consists of a stock saddle, traditionally a full skirt, but a fender can be used, and a barcoo bridle. A breastplate is normally used but is optional. Reins can be leather or cotton. All classes except some hack classes and some junior classes MUST be ridden in a snaffle bit (Another huge plus in my opinion!). An ASH saddle blanket is used for showing. The English style is used only for hack classes, and is an English saddle (normally dressage) and an English bridle with the ASH saddle blanket. Boots are allowed. The rider can wear beige moleskins or beige jodhpurs, a light coloured shirt (normally blue or yellow), a bottle green tie, and either a bottle green V-neck jumper or a plain coloured hacking jacket. Spurs are optional, as are gloves. Juniors must wear a helmet, adults may wear a helmet but generally wear an akubra or similar hat. Here is a picture of a horse and rider correctly presented in the Australian attire, they have taken off their jacket/jumper due to the heat. (normally the shirt would be long-sleeved):
Shows are generally held in country towns/cities at the general showgrounds. For an ASH specific show, I.e. A branch show (held yearly, I.e. Southern Highlands branch show, County of Cumberland branch show) the show will be a two day affair, with camping available for competitors. The ASH Nationals have been held at Scone for the past few years. ASH classes are also held as part of Agricultural Shows, also held yearly by most country towns (i.e. Bungendore show, Yass show). These can be one day or two day shows. The classes are generally run out in the open, inside large rings that are holding numerous other classes. There are no ring boundaries, the riders just have to judge and use the space they have. The rings are usually marked by some chairs, a number, and maybe an umbrella or marquee to allow the judge and penciller some shade. There is normally a ‘show office’ who take entries, take complaints, answer questions, and the announcer is normally located in the show office. Here is a map of Merriwa Showgrounds, a fairly typical set-up. The large ring in the middle is where all the rings will be located.
Pic was HUGE so took it out, lol.
(Most classes are judged on the ring, and then 5 or so riders will be called in to ‘work out’ for placings. I will only describe the workouts, as the ring work is usually fairly generic, I.e. Walk/trot/canter both ways, maybe a stop, etc.)
There is an ASH pattern book that contains all of the official patterns for hack, working, station hack and time trial classes. Most larger shows will use one of these pre-set patterns, allowing competitors to learn and practice the patterns at home. Smaller shows may allow judges to make up their own workouts on the day, combining common elements of the class.
As in any other breed, led classes judge individual horses against the ASH breed standard. Horse and rider are to be well turned out. A led workout will include some of the following: Walk, trot, stop, turns, standing square and presenting the horse. The horse is judged in the workout and in the line-up for conformation, temperament, way of going, obedience, etc.
Handler is similar to a led class, except it is the handler being judged, not the horse. A workout will be similar to a led class, but the judge will asses how the handler sets up the workout, handles the horse, carries themselves, sets up the horse, conducts themselves in the line up, etc.
This is something I have only ever come across in the ASH world. It is an incentive for juniors to learn how to judge a horse’s conformation and develop an ‘eye’ for a horse.
A number of horses of varying conformation are supplied for this class. A qualified judge will asses the horses, awarding them total scores out of 100 made up of scores for head/neck, shoulder, body, flank and coupling, rump, and legs.
The competitors in the judging are given score sheets and judge the horses under the same point system the qualified judge used. The scores are compared to those of the official judge, and the closest score will win. These classes are very popular and it is quite a sight to see the score of juniors in their matching uniforms and akubra’s with their clipboards judging the horses!
This is the main class people think of when thinking about an ASH show. It is the class designed to judge the ASH on it’s abilities as a working horse on a cattle station. The classes are usually split by sex, age and/or height, I.e. Working mare, under 4yo, 14-14.3h. If the show is smaller, the divisions will be broader, if a show is larger, they will be more specific.
This class MUST be ridden in Australian attire.
Work-outs in this class are designed to show the working abilities of the ASH, as well as their calm natures. They ALWAYS contain a portion of fast work, and a portion of slow work. They may contain: Walk, Trot, Canter, Gallop, (collected/extended/fast/slow) Stops, rollbacks, haunch turns, flying changes, rein-back, whipcracking while moving at a walk/trot/canter/gallop, loose rein walk/trot/canter, and much more.
Generally, workout will start with a relaxed, loose rein gait, move into fast work and turns, then into a stop and rein-back, finishing with more loose rein walk/trot/canter. This is to show that the horse doesn’t get ‘psyched up’ by the fast work, will easily and happily come back to slow work, and will ‘stop and settle’ before moving off on a loose rein with no jigging. Any fast work, or gallop, must be performed at sufficient speed that the horse must work hard to maintain the circle.
These classes are very spectacular to watch, with the horse performing turns at high speed, and great stops, along with whip cracking. Below are some pictures of horses competing in working classes:
Similar to the English ‘hack’ – The horse a gentleman would ride from his home to the hunt, before changing onto his hunter. The horse should show good, even movement, obedience, softness, and work in a frame. Common inclusions in a hack workout are walk, trot, canter, extended trot, extended canter, simple changes, flying changes, and stops.
This class often attracts open show riders who happen to have an ASH registered hack – It has the highest percentage of ‘non-traditional’ stockhorses and riders. It may be ridden in either English or traditional tack, and the ‘showy’ riders will usually ride in English tack. Unless specified, double bridles may be used in this class.
This class is designed for the type of horse a station hand would ride doing their daily duties on a station. Can be similar to a working class, but normally contain extra elements that a station hand might encounter during a day on the job.
The class may include: Walk, trot, canter, gallop, simple changes, flying changes, rollbacks, haunch turns, stops, backing up, whipcracking, opening/closing a gate, carrying a rainjacket, jumping a jump, dismounting, leading, remounting, loose rein work.
The horse should be calm, smooth and obedient. When doing a gate, the riders hand must not leave the gate from opening to closing of the latch. This class is similar to a time trial, only the workout is not judged on time, but on style, accuracy and execution.
Similar to a hack class, but has more emphasis on more difficult movements and the horses willingness and obedience, as well as their technical performance of the movements.
May include: walk, trot, canter, gallop – Collected, working or extended, simple changes, flying changes, leg yields, stops, back up, etc.
This class is judged for the best ‘traditional’ stockmans turnout. The horse and rider should be attired as a stockman/drover would. They may carry/wear: rainjacket/drizabone (on the rider or rolled and fastened behind the saddle), stockwhip, saddlebags, halter, lead, flyveil, drinking flask, tinder and matches, a small lunchbox, a knife and a pouch for a knife, quart tin, etc.
A time trial is a timed obstacle course. It is similar to a western trail class, only done very, very fast! It should always contain a trot portion, to show the horse can do slow work calmly after completing the fast section of the course. There are hundreds of different obstacles and combinations of those obstacles that may make up a time trial. Common inclusions are: A gate, jumps (may be jumped multiple times by jumping-haunch turn-jumping the other way, or zig-zagging along the pole) a narrow chute made of jumping poles to go through forward or backward, poles/barrels to bend around, an object to pick up and carry/replace, tarps/water to jump/cross, etc.
Time penalties are incurred for things like knocking a jump down, touching the poles in the chute, taking your hand off the gate, breaking gait in the trot portion, etc. Time trials are very popular and are exciting to watch. They are done at unbelievable speeds and precision, and often placegetters are separated by mere milliseconds.
A challenge comprises of an initial round, normally consisting of a hack pattern, working pattern, and a time trial. These are all completed by every competitor, and the scores are tallied. A top percentage (usually around 10) of the competitors from the combined points will move to a final round which is usually cattle work. Some challenges don’t hold a final round and award prizes based on the combined points of the hack, working and time trial patterns.
The cattle work or cut-out portion is usually similar to the cow section of a reined cowhorse competition. A cow is let into the arena – the competitor must work the cow, showing control and some good turns, before running it down the fence of the arena. They must stop and turn the cow, running it the other way, and again stopping and turning it. Once two fence turns are made, the competitor must run a figure eight with the cow.
The winner is the competitor with the most combined points over the four events. Individual prizes are given for the winners of each individual event. These challenges often have big purses, drawing a lot of competitors.
Yes, we have futurities as well. 3yo Futurities and 4yo Maturities. I don’t know much about them as I have never had a horse to compete in them, but as far as I know they consist of a led class, hack pattern and working pattern. They may/may not have a cattle working section. There are winners in the individual sections and then overall winners.
Everyone on here gets really confused when I talk about the showing I do - I figured I should explain it all!
I missed the entries for the royal by a week - I thought you had to qualify! But I have been doing branch shows and such, and we are getting there - I won my working gelding class last weekend at our branch show which made my day!
That is really fascinating, thank you so much for putting all the effort into posting all that information. It is very enjoyable to learn about other countries and how they differ from us (and how many of us hold the same beliefs as I think you and I do). Thank you.