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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. 

May 2011
So you want to ride a pony.  Who, what, when?

Speedy Gonzales with John Rush, circa 1968

In the good old days, any junior rider could ride any pony in any class and only a junior rider could ever compete a pony hunter at an USEF competition.  The judge would consider suitability and the seventeen year-olds won lots of classes.  Now, there are lots of rules.  Here is a refresher.

An adult may show a pony (including in the Adult Amateur Hunter), but if so, then the pony may not compete in any rated pony division (e.g. Pony Hunter, Green Pony Hunter, Children’s Pony Hunter, Pony Jumper).  EXCEPT, an adult may show a pony in the Pony Hunter Breeding division and the animal remains eligible for other rated divisions. HU110.5, HU110.10.

A Green Pony Hunter may be ridden by a junior rider of any age. HU110.4.

No junior over 12 years of age  may compete a Regular Small Pony.  HU110.1
No junior over 14 years of age may compete a Regular Medium Pony.  HU 110.2

Except, any junior rider may compete a pony of any size IF riding for an exhibitor who has more than one entry in the Under Saddle class or in the Model class.  HU110.3 So if fourth-grader Susie jumps Little Bo Peep in the Small Pony, big sister can ride in the under saddle IF Susie has another entry in the class but may not ride in the under saddle INSTEAD of Susie.

No rider may show more than three ponies in any green pony hunter height section.  That means any  junior rider of any age can show three Small Green ponies, three Medium Green ponies, and three Large Green ponies.

No rider may show more than three ponies in one height section and two ponies in each remaining section at an AA competition.  So if Susie is really lucky and has an opportunity to show three small ponies, two medium ponies, and two large ponies, she will need more than her sister to help her in the under saddle.  At an A competition a rider may show up to three ponies of each height section, so lucky Susie can bring two more ponies with her.  HU110.8

But not if the junior rider competes in any class where fences may be set (whether they are or not, e.g., USEF Talent Search) higher than 3'6.  EXCEPT a junior rider can ride a regular pony hunter and show in Children’s Jumpers, USHJA International Hunter Derby, Junior Hunter Classics, or Pony Jumpers.  HU110.9. This limitation is not applied to riders in the Green Pony division. 
Children’s Pony Hunter is established by Zone rule.  Here is the scoop for Zone 3 and Zone 4, if you are competing outside of these zones, be sure to carefully review the entry restrictions:
Zone 3 -   No restriction of rider competing in any Regular or Green Pony division.   Rider of a Pony may not show over fences exceeding 3' at the same competition.  This is more restrictive than HU110.9 and there is no exception for cross-entering Pony Jumper.  Pony Jumper starts at .95m which is 3'1".  JP118.4.f.
Zone 4 - Riders cannot cross enter into any class where fences exceed 3'3" except Pony Jumper (this is more restrictive than HU110.9).  If a rider shows in Regular Pony or Green Pony, he/she is limited to one pony in the Children’s Pony division, even if it is split with two heights sections.  And in case you are wondering, while the same pony may be cross-entered in the Regular/Green Pony classes with another rider, the exhibitor in the Children’s Pony classes may NOT ride that pony in the Under Saddle, even if the over fences rider has more than one entry in the Under Saddle.  The rider may ride someone else’s pony in the Regular/Green Pony under saddle however if only showing one pony in the Children’s Pony division; go figure.
A junior of any age can compete a pony of any size in the pony jumpers.  JP118.4.  But the rider may not compete in any class at the same competition in which they are required to jump higher than 1.10m (3'7") except Children’s Jumpers. Zone 4 - Children’s Jumpers may be set to 1.15m (3'9").  If an adult competes the pony, it may not compete in the Pony Jumpers.  JP118.4.a.  Junior riders may show stallions in the jumper division but not in Pony Jumpers.  So if you have a Pony Stallion, you will need to compete in an open division or the Junior Jumpers.  JP 113.2.  If the number of ponies per rider is to be limited, it is at management’s discretion and must be stated in the prize list.  JP114.2.

So if you want to show a pony, you can probably find some class in which to compete at an USEF competition, but keep in mind it may restrict what else you can do at the show, and it may necessitate competing in a class that is open to horses and ponies. Enjoy your pony ride!

For example,
Zone 3 - Children’s Jumpers are set at 1.05m (3'5") to 1.10m (3'7") however the highest money class may be offered at 1.15m (3'9").