Learning More About Equestrian

Equestrian Glossary of Terms

A short whip used in horseback riding used only as an aid to re-enforce the rider's leg.

The correct posting, up/down motion, of the rider in sequence with diagonal movement of the horse's legs at the trot.

In riding competitions, this indicates that riders are being judged on their ability to control the horse while maintaining the correct riding position. Riders have the added challenge of riding an unfamiliar horse that they draw in a lottery system just prior to their class.

Equitation / Horsemanship
In competitions, this indicates that the riders are being judged on their ability to control and show the horse while maintaining the correct riding position.

Equitation Over Fences
An individual performance where each rider shows a horse over 8-10 jumps of varying heights. Riders are judged on their ability to position the horse correctly at the jumps and avoid interfering with the horse?s balance, while maintaining the correct riding position and producing a smooth polished performance.

Figure Eight
Two circles connected by a change of direction, most often seen in reining patterns.

Thee ways, canter/lope, trot/jog, or walk, by which a horse can move by lifting the feet in different order or rhythm.

The command for stop.

Refers to a class of Western riding in which the rider is judged on maintaining correct position and controlling the horse in a pattern.

Hunt Seat
The category in which English riders compete in either over a series of jumps or in a general equitation class.

The English stirrups used in riding.

They are determined at the canter/lope by which front foot is leading. Correct leads have the inside foreleg reaching furthest.

Lead Change
Done at the canter/lope to change which front foot is leading.

Natural Aids
Subtle or imperceptible body signals from the seat, legs, hands, and voice are allowed to communicate commands to the horse and in addition exaggerated shifting of the rider's weight is not desirable. The resulting performance shown by the horse is not to be considered more important than the methods used by the rider in obtaining them.

On the Rail
Both riding disciplines compete in this manner, in which the riders enter the show arena and show collectively at all required gaits on command form the judge.

In these classes, the most advanced Western riders perform an individual, pre-assigned pattern from memory, demonstrating a variety of stops, turns and figures at various speeds. The emphasis is on precision and technical application of the rider?s ability to handle unfamiliar horses.

Roll back
A turn performed in equitation over fence class to show control of the horse and rider's ability to maintain a position throughout a turn. A tight turn performed between two fences. In Western reining, a rollback is a 180-degree pivot with speed after a halt.

Practice time before the classes, is not allowed for intercollegiate competitors.

Sliding Stop
A smooth stop from the lope, in which the horse is supposed to balance on its back feet while the front feet continue to move.

Stock Seat
The common Western division, where the goal of the rider is to maneuver the horse through a herd of livestock to rope, move or control.

A single coordinated movement of the four legs of a horse or other animal completed when the legs return to their initial relative position. In the hunt seat fence classes, proper striding between two jumps in a line is required. Ex: If you need to have six strides down the diagonal line and five strides on the outside line.

The equipment worn by the horse (saddle, bridle, etc.).

Two-Point Position
Performed in practice to learn the proper leg position, balance and strength. The position is done on the flat and requires the body to be positioned forward just out of the saddle. This is the forward position used over fences.

Walk, Jog, Lope
In Western, these are the gaits that the horse travels in.

Walk, Trot, Canter
In English, these are the gaits that the horse travels in.


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 movement.

2. Falling off a horse results in elimination.

3. Three refusals over jumps by a horse result 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. Riders must remain on the same mount throughout all phases of an equitation or horsemanship class until the judge requests a change.

6. Riders are allowed minimal preparation time with their assigned horse.

English Rules
General-- The rider should have a workmanlike appearance, seat and hands light and supple, conveying the impression of complete control.

Western Rules
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 by the rider in obtaining them.


The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association serves as the governing body for equestrian. The IHSA has a total of eight zones with 23 regions comprised of 268 schools across the United States. Equestrian is an emerging NCAA sport for women and is sponsored by 37 universities nationwide. There are 10 Division I programs, five Division II and 22 Division III schools. It takes 40 schools for a sport to be granted an NCAA Championship.

The IHSA designs its competitions to allow student riders of any skill level or economic background to compete at their own levels of skill and experience. There are classes designed on specific experience levels, from Beginner Walk-Trot Open, in such disciplines as hunt seat, equitation over fences, western horsemanship and reigning.

The Western discipline in equestrian is judged using both rail and pattern work. The reining is scored using any one of nine approved patterns. Hunt seat classes consist of flat work and some patter work. There are also three jumping classes.

Individual Scoring -- Riders advance through the skill levels by accumulating points at the horse shows. First place is worth seven points, second place is worth five, third is worth four, fourth is worth three and so on. Once a rider has accumulated 35 points, that person advances to the next level. Once riders qualify at the horse show, winners compete at the regional finals. The top three winners from regional competition advance to the IHSA Zone finals. The top two individuals from zones advance to nationals.

Team Scoring -- In addition to qualifying individual riders for nationals, each team strives to be the high point school representing the region at the National Horse Show. This is accomplished in the same manner as individual competitions. However, the coach of each school designates the "point rider" in each division. At this time, the "point rider" is not only competing for himself or herself but they are representing the school as well.



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