Different levels of Equestrian Showjumping and Hunter Jumping?
I would like to get into showing, but I'm not exactly sure on how it goes. What levels are there, what is the requirements and restrictions for each level? Do you have to qualify for the next level, or do you just move up when you think you and your horse are ready?
I've had years of lessons, and I used to have an OTTB just for general riding. I am about to buy another horse, this time for showing rather than just pleasure, but I would like to know more about showing.
Also, if anyone lives in the Auburn/ Seattle area in Washington State, how is the horse world there? It's right by Emerald Downs, so I'm assuming that inspired a large horse community. I am moving there soon, and would like to start my showing career there.
What kind of showing are you looking to do?
Hunters or Jumpers
The levels start off at 18" crosspoles then move up to 2' verticals, then to 2'3", to 2'6", etc. It keeps moving up in 3 inch increments. Some classes can have 2 different heights in them like 2'9"-3'. And depending on what grade show you are doing (schooling, C, B, A) the classes can have different names. In a schooling show 2'3" classes are called Novice but in a C show 2'3" classes are called Primaries. You don't have to qualify to show the next level, it's just whenever you're ready to go to the next level. You can also show one level lower than the highest level you've shown. Example, if the highest you've shown is 2'9" then you can still show at 2'6", but no lower. I hope this helps =]
Here's actually what a show form looks like. It's a form from one of the barns I used to ride at:
The first decision you'll need to make about horse shows is what level show you'd like to attend.
There are unrated/schooling shows that, while often run in accordance with USEF rules, are not governed by USEF and therefore there is more variability in the standards that the horses will be held to, the judging and course design will be held to, etc. If you have a good local circuit for unrated shows, these can be a great way to get experience as you and your horse are learning the ropes.
Then there are rated shows (rated by USEF and the USHJA), which can be rated B, A, or AA. This rating is based on the amount of prize money available, and as you move up in the ratings there is, of course, more prize money, but also typically more difficult competition and higher expectations about performance. Shows also become much more expensive as you move up to higher rated shows. At rated shows, not all the divisions themselves are rated divisions. So you can be at an AA show, showing in an unrated division. Unrated divisions are not nationally governed, and therefore there is more variability between zones regarding what these classes entail. Unrated divisions never have prize money. Most A/AA shows will have a division called "pre-child/adult hunters", which is an unrated division. These horses typically jump 2'6", but again as this is not a rated division, it's up to show management, so they could jump 2'3" or 2'9" instead. There are also C rated divisions, such as the Children's hunters and the Adult Amateur hunters, which go at 3', and A rated divisions, such as the Junior hunters and Amateur Owner hunters, which go at 3'6".
Another important distinction between classes is who is eligible to compete in them. "Open" classes, such as the High Performance hunters (A rated division), Baby Green hunters (unrated), are, as the name implies, open to anyone. They are often considered 'pro' divisions, however, because it is usually pros who are competing and winning in them. Then there are classes restricted to amateurs, with the name "adult amateur" always denoting a lower level than "amateur owner". Finally, there are classes restricted to Junior riders (under 18), and again a "Children's" class will be a lower level than a "Junior" class.
Often, people who are just starting showing, will go to unrated/schooling shows first, until they gain a level of competency where it makes sense to spend the time and money to go to a rated show (rated shows also run for a longer time than unrated shows). There are certainly classes available for people just started out at rated shows, however. People will typically only start out at rated shows if they ride with a show barn and their trainer exclusively does the rated shows, IME.
I'm on the east coast, but I think you should be (relatively) close to Thunderbird Park for shows, and depending on your goals/budget/etc you are probably within a reasonable drive of Spruce Meadows, if you wanted to trek into Canada. It would be worthwhile making a trip up there just to see the competition, actually! That'd be a great place to get the feel of really upper level competition, although they do much, much more jumpers than hunters.
I hope that answered your questions, rather than made things more confusing! Happy to clear anything up if you'd like more information, or I was unclear!
Oh gosh, I don't know how to edit my posts properly..so just added an extra note to say, T-bird park might actually be in Canada too. I know a lot of people in PWN show there though, and have said it was a reasonable drive. But then, that's all relative! I'm lucky to be in a horse-y area, but some people are happy to have "only" a 5+ hour trip to a rated show!
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