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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.

May Newsletter
Metrication of the USEF

Metrication in the United States is the process of introducing the International System of Units (SI) to replace customary units of measurement that are common in the United States." "Metrication in United States." Wikipedia. 13 Apr. 2009. 21 Apr. 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States.

Confused?  Even the Jumper Committee has not yet gotten all of its rules converted to metric.  (See JP121.1, JP122.11, JP124.1)  But don't feel stymied.  The US government passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 "to coordinate and plan the increasing use of the metric system in the United States."  The expected time of conversion was ten years - the U.S. Metric Board was disbanded in 1982.  But given the love of all things "European" in the horse world, metric jumper classes are likely here to stay.   

The new show year brought a new scheme for the Jumper classes to measure their fence heights.  Instead of Levels (which had been a very popular change from the previous free-for-all division names), the jumper classes now are described by meter heights.  As part of this process, all the heights for various divisions have had to be modified.

It may be helpful to remember that 1 meter is equivalent to 39" (3'3").  The USEF jumper table allocates 2" increments for every .05 m.  You might suspect that most USEF horse shows have standards based on the customary 3" increment and you would be right.  With this in mind, JP120.4 allows a course to be set within a two-inch (5 cm) variance. 
Here is the table from the USEF rule book:

At all heights, to qualify as a spread fence, the fence must be 5 cm (2") up to 15 cm (6") wider than the height.  JP 120.2.b.

Matching the new height list with class specifications takes some finesse.  For example, in most area the Child/Adult Jumper was at 3'6" or Level 3.  Now Zone 4 requires that Child/Adult Jumper be set at at 1.10m to 1.15m.  1.10m is equivalent to 3'7".  In Zone 4, riders are not permitted to jump at the same show above 1.15m (or what was Level-4 3'9").  If a rider/horse combination competes at 1.15m or higher, the combination may not show in a Child/Adult Jumper class offering $2,500 or more for thirty (30) days thereafter.

Fence height is also very important for the Junior/Amatuer-Owner Jumpers which now have two sections "Low" and "High."  High JR/AO Jumpers must have courses set at 1.35m or1.40m.  Classes offering $10,000+ or $5,000+ with 30 or more entries may be set at 1.45m.  JP 117.1.c(1).    Low JR/AO Jumpers are classes with a fence height from 1.15m to 1.30m (classes set below 1.15 will not be counted for JR/AO Jumper HOTY points regardless of class description).  JP117.1.c(2).

Pony jumpers have no minimum height, but in Zone 4 for a class to qualify for ranking for the Pony Jumper Championships, only classes of 1.00m (3'3") or higher will count.  A Pony Jumper rider may not compete in any class at the same show (except Children's Jumper) with fences higher than 1.10m (3'7'). 

Trying to get all the various organizations and class specifications to be consistent with the new Metric scheme is an ongoing process.  For Junior Jumper Championships (PA), a rider must have competed at 1.40m with 4 faults or less.  For Young Rider Championships(NAYRC), a rider must have competed at 1.45m with 4 faults or less.  Standings are based on money won for classes at 1.40m or higher (whether JR/AO or Open) and all USEF Grand Prix classes.  For Junior Rider Championships at NAYRC, a rider must have competed at 1.37m or higher with 4 faults or less; USEF does not set forth a class specification of 1.37m meaning effectively that the rider would compete at 1.40m.  Standings are based on money won for classes at 1.35m or higher (whether JR/AO or Open) and all USEF Grand Prix classes.

Wikipedia allows for definitional changes; so does USEF.  The changes are sure to secure another US Olympic Gold in 2012.