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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.   Please note that every effort is made to ensure that all rule citations are current and correct as of the publishing date, however, USEF and other organizations continuously make rule changes throughout the year and with each new year. 

2013 January Newsletter


New USHJA Zone Awards for Equitation


This issue will have more editorial comments than most; my apologies in advance. Pam


It has a rule number, GR1131.11, and it is in the 2013 Rule Book, but it did not go through the rule change process because "it is a new awards program, not a rule change." Why this USHJA Awards program is different than others that are not in the rule book, or all the other language in the Rule Book that has to go through extensive Rule Proposals, we don't know. But the result is more awards being available to exhibitors. We are told by a USHJA representative that all the Zone Committees but one thought it was a good idea so USHJA proceeded.


USHJA now offers Zone Rider of the Year Hunter Seat Equitation Division Awards in four age groups: Equitation 14 and Under, Equitation 15-17, Adult Equitation 18-35 and Adult Equitation 36 and over. Any classes restricted in any other way (e.g. Children's Equitation, Pony equitation, Amateur-Owner Equitation) are not eligible for points. But the four age groups can be combined as needed at the horse show and points will be credited to the appropriate section. GR 1131.11.e .does not specify, but the language implies that a minimum of 3 competitors must complete in order for a class to count for points. See GR1113.2


The rules are intentionally "loose" to accommodate the variety of Equitation specs being offered across the country; generally the age-group equitation was dictated by the prevailing state/local association rules. GR 1131.11 references EQ112.4 and Eq 113.11; it seems an error to reference these subrules, but that is how the USHJA/USEF Board adopted the language put in the rule book. Eq 112 sets forth the course requirements for a Hunt Seat Equitation class. In particular EQ 112.2 states "Classes for under 14 years, jumps cannot exceed 3'. USHJA tells us that Age Group 14 and Under should not exceed 3' relying on this languge, yet the language is not consistent - Under 14 years is NOT the same as 14 and Under. GR112.4 limits the heights for "Open, Medal and Classes for 14 to 18 years" to not exceed 3'6". There is no description in EQ 112 or EQ 113 for Adult Equitation so USHJA tells us they think it should be not to exceed 3'3 arbitrarily relying on the specs of the US Adult Equitation class which is the reference to EQ113.11 in GR1131.11 Offering Adult Equitation at 3' is fine according to staff; just don't look for it in the rules.


There are lots of course requirements with which, since they now impact year-end awards, Competitions, Judges and Course Designers should be diligent in complying. For example, combinations are to be numbered as a single obstacle with A and B or A, B and C on the diagram. EQ112.8. Courses for classes for riders 12 years of age and older MUST include (1) at least one change of lead, (2) a combination including an oxer, (3) 1/3 of the obstacles must be oxers, and (4) three of the following five features a. bending line; b. narrow jump; c. roll-back turn; d. end-fence, or e. long approach to a single jump. EQ112.11


There is now a Hunter Seat Equitation Increment Chart:(base points are the same as the Hunter Increment Chart for comparable ratings)



Rating            C             B*

1st                 10            20

2nd                  6            15

3rd                   4            10

4th                   3               6

5th                   2               5

6th                  1.5             4

7th                  1                3

8th                    .5             2


*A rated horse shows only earn "B" points. See GR1131.12; implied by printed chart. Points are determined by adding one point for each entry per class to the base points listed on the increment chart. Champions (in conflict with EQ 113.17 which requires a Champion for the Equitation Section be awarded on a competitive basis, not cumulative points) will be awarded 2.0 times the total 1st place point value plus one point for each entry reported; section reserve champions will be awarded 1.20 times. The rule does not say, but we infer that  the first class of age group equitation is the base for champion and reserve. Equitation does not require the first class be over fences. Is it the lowest number or highest number reported by the Competition which will be the basis for the Champion/Reserve? Are points awarded evenly among classes or are flat class points awarded only to the top four over-fences holders? Points are awarded to eight places even though this is in conflict with the language of GR1113.3 which says "credit will be given for the first six (6) placings only, regardless of the number of ribbons offered." No exception for the new awards was added to the rules as was for the Hunter Divisions.


USHJA staff, after seeing our questions had three clarifying comments. First, it is the intention that the Equitation rules mirror the hunter rules in most respects: e.g. At least two over fence and one flat class for a champion, a minimum of three must be placed in order for points to be awarded. Second, there are areas where the appropriate Committee needs to provide guidance; e.g. does the first class offered provide the basis for the champion/reserve points, or does the first class over fences provide the basis for the champion/reserve points; are points from all classes added together or are flat class points awarded only to the top four over fences? And third, there needs to be clean-up in the rules to many existing rules to provide consistency with practice and language while ensuring that all exhibitors understand the program without requiring assumptions and intentions.


We like equitation classes. We like award programs. We do not like poorly constructed, incomplete language added to the rule book for an awards program that provides no consistency with existing rule language, with no clear description of standards for what classes are to be counted. We do not like award programs which are in direct conflict with the overall division rules. How many classes can a particular show offer and have the class points count? Must there be a flat class held in addition to some minimum number of over fence classes in order for a show champion/reserve to be earned? How many classes must be held for a show champion/reserve to be earned? One, three, nine? Too many assumptions were made when this incomplete "rule" was added to the rule book. It is nice USHJA has such excess resources it feels it needs to add another awards program, but would it be too much to expect an awards program be thoroughly vetted, carefully crafted, designed consistent with the existing rules, and clearly communicated to potential participants? In the mean time, enter the age-group equitation, you may get a nice prize and ribbon from USHJA at the Zone Banquet.