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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. 

September 2009
Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3 ........ 19

The USEF Equitation section has nineteen (19) riding tests from which a judge may choose when a class warrants or requires additional testing.  The tests have been developed over many years and are designed to illustrate the control of the horse by the rider.  Each equitation rider should be able to do each of the tests proficiently; not only because performance may be required in competition, but because each tests improves the horse and the rider.  The Pacific Coast Horse Association has produced an excellent DVD titled "Get Connected" which demonstrates the proper way to perform the USEF Hunter Seat Equitation tests. The DVD can be purchased at, Click {Buy DVD} link on lower left corner of home page.

The Rule Book states for Open equitation classes where the age is restricted to Juniors under age 14, Tests 1-8 may be required.  For Open classes where the age is not restricted or for riders age 14 or older, Tests 1-19 may be required.  Maiden classes may be asked to perform Test 1; Novice classes may be asked to perform Tests 1-7, Limit classes may be asked to perform Tests 1-7; Intermediate classes may be asked to perform 1-13.  Though additional testing is available for regular equitation classes, it is rarely requested.  EQ112.2-8.

In comparison, most "medal" classes whether local, regional or national, have a testing requirement.  The test(s) is either built into the original course or a designated number of competitors will be asked to test after the completion of the first course.

USEF Hunter Seat Medal; Two or more tests of the top four competitors are required.  Tests 1-19. EQ112.9.a.
USEF Pony Medal; Two tests, chosen from Tests 1-9, are required during the first round.  EQ112.10
ASPCA Horsemanship Class; the judge may require additional testing (Tests 1-19) after completion of the flat phase.  EQ 112.12
USEF Talent Search; additional testing may be required. EQ 112.13.  Though the Talent Search paragraph states "Judges may require any additional tests," in fact EQ113 "Tests From Which Judges Must Choose" would limit a judge to Tests 1-19.
WIHS Equitation; additional testing is implied but virtually never required.
WIHS Pony Equitation; additional testing, with Test 5 being preferred, is available to the judge but rarely requested. 
ARIAT/THIS - Two or more tests of the top four competitors are required. 
M&S - Two or more tests of the top four competitors are required.

1.    Halt (4 to 6 seconds) or halt and back.  Note that the rider should count silently to determine the length of time to hold the halt before proceeding to the next movement.  When asked to back, unless otherwise specified, the rider should back three full paces, halt and then move forward to the next movement.
2.    Hand gallop.
3.    Firgue eight at trot, demonstrating change of diagonals. 
4.    Firgure eight at canter, demonstrating a simple change of lead.  Unless specified, the change may be through the walk or through the trot. 
5.    Work collectively or individually at a walk, trot and/or canter.
6.    Jump low obstacle(s) at a trot. 
7.    Jump obstacles on figure eight course.
8.    Question(s) regarding basic horsemanship, tack, equipment and conformation.
9.    Ride without stirrups, riders must be allowed option to cross stirrups.
10.    Jump low obstacle(s) at a walk.
11.    Dismount and mount individually.
12.    Turn on the forehand.  This movement may be done from a halt or from the walk.
13.    Figure eight at a canter on correct lead demonstrating flying change of lead.
14.    Execute serpentine at a trot and/or canter on correct lead demonstrating simple or flying change of lead.  Unless specified by the judge, either method of lead change is acceptable.
15.    Change leads on a line demonstrating a simple or flying change of lead.  Unless specified by the judge, either method of lead change is acceptable.  Even number of strides between changes and crisp changes is the goal.
16.    Change horses (this is equivalent to two tests).  If asked to change horses, the judge may only ask a rider to perform tests which the original rider has already demonstrated on the horse.
17.    Canter on counter lead. (No more than twelve horses may counter canter at one time.)
18.    Turn on the haunches from the walk; note this movement is NOT done from a halt.
19.    Demonstration ride of approximately one minute.  Rider must advise judge beforehand what ride he/she plans to demonstrate.

Many a rider has won or lost a class because of execution in the testing phase.  Do your homework!