Part of a series of emails to our exhibitors in an effort to provide helpful information about their interaction with the show office and other staff at the show. If you have a particular question you would like addressed, please feel free to make a suggestion.
Back to School, Schooling that is
The USEF Steward or designated Schooling Supervisor is the final arbitrator of what schooling fences, tack and equipment are permitted in the warm-up area. GR1035.3.r; GR 837.5; JP103.6. Even if the Steward tells you not to jump a fence that you have jumped numerous times before, do not jump it again at that show. Ever had a teacher demand you put your full name on your paper or give you an "F?" It doesn't matter that every other teacher at your school accepts a paper without your middle name.
Show management must provide a sufficient schooling area for each separate competition ring. USEF GR834.1 Of course, "sufficient" is a subjective adjective. What is sufficient for a show with an average class size of ten is probably not enough for an average class size of thirty. One of the facets of the schooling area requirement is that each competition ring have a separate area. This does not mean that each schooling area has to be fenced, rather the areas must be marked so that they are distinct. A hunter schooling area with less than 20,000 square feet (e.g. 200' x 100') must have a schooling supervisor. GR837.3 A horse show offering hunter classes and with more than 500 horses competing must have a schooling supervisor. GR837.3 A show offering jumper classes must designate a schooling supervisor. JP 103.2
Schooling area for hunters must include a trotting fence, a vertical and an oxer. GR837. Schooling area for jumpers must include a trotting fence, a vertical and an oxer with standards marked at 4'3" and 5'3"; and breakaway cups or breakable jump cup pins. JP 103.2
Schooling over obstacles is permitted only within clearly identified areas designated by the Competition. Schooling over obstacles in the ring may be permitted, if at all, only at the times designated by the Competition. USEF GR835. At RMI shows, absent weather or other unusual constraints, schooling in the show rings is permitted at the completion of the show schedule, subject to the crew's need to build for the next day's classes. Riding on the flat, but never jumping, in the show rings is generally permitted in the morning up to one-half hour before the first scheduled class. Schooling is always at the exhibitor's risk. However, during scheduled classes or controlled/ticketed schooling there is a medic on duty.
Just recently the USEF has adopted schooling rules for Hunter exhibitors. The Hunter schooling rules are fewer than the Jumper rules, but similarities are obvious. When schooling a horse in preparation for equitation classes, many show managements will impose the Hunter Schooling rules. The schooling supervisor or Show Steward can expand these rules if he/she feels it appropriate, but barring activity that raises safety concerns, exhibitors competing in hunter classes are free to use their judgement except:
i. No manual poling.
ii. No offsets of any type. (An offset is a spread fence where the front rail is higher than the back rail).
iii. If schooling a pony, no Swedish oxers. If schooling a horse in preparation for hunter classes,
Swedish oxers are permitted but must be no more that 18 inches higher than the low side. A Swedish oxer is a spread jump made of opposing diagonal poles. But don't be surprised to see this configuration in the jumper show ring; it is an acceptable fence for the course designer to use.
iv. Guide rails must not be touching the obstacle being jumped. (Guide rails are perpendicular to the jump).
v. If only one ground line is used, it must be on the take-off side.
vi. Coolers (towels, or similar items) may be placed on a vertical or on the front side of a spread fence.
HU-Appendix A paraphrased.
The jumper schooling rules have been developed over many years influenced greatly by the schooling rules of the FEI. Standards in the jumper schooling area should be marked at 4'3" and 5'3"; no jump may be set above 5'3", and as described below, numerous restrictions and conditions come into effect when a rail is set above 4'3".
i. All rails must be in cups or totally on the ground except one end of a cross rail may rest on the ground.
ii. No one may touch a rail or standard while it is being jumped.
iii. Coolers (towels or similar items) may be placed on a vertical or on the front side of a spread fence. It does not necessarily need to be placed on the top rail.
iv. Jumps in the schooling area may not exceed 5'3"; for Pony Jumpers, jumps in the schooling area may not exceed 4" above the maximum specified height in the upcoming class.
v. Any jump 4'3" or higher must have a minimum of two rails in cups on the take off side, regardless of whether a ground line is used and with the lower rail below 4'3".
vi. Ground lines are not mandatory - but if used, must be placed on take off side directly below the front rail but no more than 3'3" from the front rail.
vii. If a ground rail is on the landing side, there must be a rail on the take off side and the landing side rail may be no further out than that of the take off side.
viii. If a placement rail is used, the jump may not exceed 4'3" high by 4'3" wide (vertical or oxer is acceptable with a placement rail); the front placement rail may not be closer than 8'2"; the back placement rail may be no closer than 9'10". (Placement rails are parallel to the jump).
ix. If guide rails are used on the landing side, the closest part of the rail must be a minimum of 9'10" from the jump. (Guide rails are perpendicular to the jump).
x. If a rail is placed on the lip of a cup, it must be placed on the far side of the cup.If at an oxer, placing the rail on the cup must not cause the front rail to be higher than the back rail (i.e., creating an offset).
xi. There may never be more rails on the back of an oxer than on the front; the lower rails on the front and back must be of equal height.
xii. A cross rail may be a set as a vertical with no horizontal rail. A cross rail may be below a single rail lower than 4'3". A cross rail may be used at an oxer if (a) the overall height of the fence is lower than 4'3"; (b) the minimum distance between cross rails is a minimum of 4" and a maximum of 12" (i.e., the cross rails cannot be touching nor can they create an overly wide front element); and (c) the highest point of the cross rail is NOT higher than the highest point of the back rail.
xiii. Horses may not walk over cross or slant rails. (Slant rail is a single pole set at an angle with both sides in cups).
xiv. Walk jumps may not exceed 12" without ground rails and may be built with one end resting on the ground. The competitor must approach and depart in a straight line.
xv. No Swedish oxers.
xvi. If using a liverpool, the front of the liverpool may not be behind the front plane of the jump. The back of the liverpool may not exceed the front plane of the jump. If used at an oxer, the front of the liverpool may not be more than 3'3" in front of the jump.
xvii. If a water jump is available, it may be used only in the following manners: (a) with a take-off box; (b) with a take-off box and single rail not past the center and not to exceed 3'3" in height or (c) no take-off box with a vertical made with two rails not past the center and not to exceed 4'3".
xviii. Combinations may be built using correct distances. (It may be for one or two strides, but not outside reasonable measurements; probably 22'-27' for a one stride and 34'-40' for a two stride; the height of the elements and the quality/size of the horse would dictate what is reasonable.) Bounce jumps may be used only with verticals and not to exceed 3'9". (A bounce of 11'-12' would be considered standard.)
xix. At management's discretion, bamboo offsets may be permitted in designated schooling areas. Manual poling is NOT permitted.
JU-Appendix A paraphrased (FEI Rules differ; check USEF and FEI Rule Book).
The rules may seem extensive, and in some cases overly specific, but the general philosophy is to encourage the safety of the horse and rider while allowing horsemen to educate and refine their equine athletes. Think of the Steward/Schooling Supervisor as the Recess Monitor; as long as you do not get carried away, you will not be sent to the Principal's office.