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.
MAY 2010 Newsletter
Summer is on its way, but you are going to school, no Schoolin'
The rule book has had rules addressing schooling areas, but in recent years the Hunters, following the lead of the Jumpers, have expanded the rules for what equipment is to be provided in the warm-up area and what behavior is to be accepted. The adoption of these expanded rules are to enhance fair competition, protect horse welfare and increase exhibitor safety. The Equitation section of the rule book does not expressly set forth schooling rules. The broader Jumper rules are not addressed in this article.
HU 156 - Schooling "schooling is permitted in accordance with GR834, GR835, GR837 and HU Appendix A." Let's take a look at these rules.
GR 834 sets forth the requirement that Competition Management MUST provide for schooling areas at the competition. First is must be "sufficient." That is not a defined term and certainly the space needed in the winter for an indoor competition may not be sufficient for a Regular Hunter class held in a 200' x 300' all-weather ring. Most competitions would expect to provide a minimum area 150' x 150' with footing similar to the competition ring. Second, there must be a separate schooling area for each [competition] ring. Often this is accomplished by taking a large open area and marking multiple warm-up areas. Adequate lighting must be provided if warm up is required after dark or before sunrise for scheduled competitions. Just because you want to ride your horse at 5:00am in March does not mean that the show has to provide lighting in the warm up area.
GR 835 states that schooling in the competition ring is at the sole discretion of management. Schooling over obstacles in any area not designated by management or at any time not determined by management is prohibited. Some of your West Coast friends can tell you stories of "private" schooling areas between barns in years gone by. A trainer would bring his own personal jump equipment to use for warmup and schooling in an area of their choice; unless management chooses a very broad definition of the warm up area, that training method is no longer permitted.
GR837 sets forth the equipment management must provide for a hunter warm up area. The equipment must be at least a trot fence, a vertical and an oxer of materials similar to that found in the hunter ring. (i.e., no striped rails). A schooling area for ponies is to be provided separate from the horses; an area for hunters separate from other disciplines (i.e., Jumpers) is recommended.
A supervisor of schooling is to be appointed by the Competition if the area for hunter warm up is less than 22,000 sq. ft (an area less than 200 x 110) or if more than 500 horses are entered in the competition. A schooling supervisor must be in the schooling area for a Hunter class offering $10,000 or more in prize money.
A decision by the schooling supervisor regarding a schooling fence, tack or equipment is final. There are currently no specific qualifications for a hunter supervisor of schooling.
What can the exhibitor do in the schooling area?
NO manual poling is allowed.
No offsets of any kind are allowed (e.g., an oxer with the front rail higher than the back rail).
No Swedish Oxers for ponies, no Swedish Oxer with the high side more than 18 inches above the low side. (Jumper fence pictured, but note construction of oxer with rails at opposite angles.)
Guide rails (a rail on the ground perpendicular to the obstacle) many not touch the jump and on the landing side must be at least 9' from the jump.
Ground lines must be on each side or on the takeoff side.
Any material hung over a rail must be on the front plane of the obstacle.
No whip greater than 30" may be carried while jumping or competing (HU126); no whip greater than 45" may be carried in any event. Only one whip may be carried while handling a horse (GR803/HU126).
No one may touch any part of the obstacle while it is being jumped.
And do not forget that Junior riders must wear an ASTM helmet with harness at all times they are mounted; adult riders must wear an ASTM helmet with harness whenever they are jumping. GR801. GR801.2/GR801.3 While riding ANYWHERE on the show grounds, the rider must have footwear with a distinguishable heel. GR 801.8 There is no exception for the groom riding the horse back to the barn.
The schooling rules are designed to protect the welfare of the horse and to enhance the safety of the exhibitor. Like most things in life, a little common sense and courtesy to your fellow-exhibitor is the guiding principle. If you feel management has not provided adequate equipment or space for the schooling area(s), first, approach the Manager to determine if the situation can be corrected. If the Manager is not responsive, address your concern to the Show Steward. And if you still feel like the schooling area is not sufficient, you can plead your case by filing a protest directly with the USEF.