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.
USEF's Rubik's Cube
a/k/a combing and splitting divisions
There are now at least twenty-four possible rated hunter sections in addition to a growing list of jumper divisions offering year-end recognition and/or qualifying events.
With the growing list has come the tradeoff of offering (a) more variety and thus distributing more points and prizes or (b) awarding bonus points and bigger prizes to divisions that are supported by larger numbers of entries.
What a Licensed Competition must offer and how the offerings can be split or combined is also impacted by the overall show rating AND the specific division rating.
Generally, sections may NOT be divided if there are less than 40 entries. (Exceptions: Green Working, Amateur-Owner 3'6" and Adult Amateur Hunter sections.) HU112.1
Any section with 50 or more entries at the beginning of the first class MUST be divided. HU112.2 This would include unrated classes.
Any competition with an overall "A" or "AA"" rating must offer an "A" Regular Working Hunter Section. HU160.1.a. (as "clarified" by the USHJA Hunter Committee).
Currently, at any USEF competition (regardless of rating), if the Regular Working Hunter section is offered and it has less than three entries, it must be combined with the Green Working Hunter (with Second year if the combination results in three entries, with First and Second year if necessary to get a minimum of three exhibitors). HU112.6
As of December 1, 2010, "Regular" is being renamed "High Performance" Hunter. It appears that the combination of Green and High Performance will remain the same. The new Performance Hunter 3'6 and Performance Hunter 3'3 may NOT be combined with each other or with any other division.
If there are a total of 20 Green Hunters for an "A" division, and at least six are Second Year, Green Hunter must be divided and the offered prize money paid to each section. HU113.1
Competitions are encouraged to offer separate sections of Green Working Hunter (HU113.2), but unless offered separately, the division cannot be split unless all requirements of HU113.1 have been met.
Regular Conformation and Green Conformation (if both offered) must be combined if there are less than three in either section. HU114.1.
Amateur-Owner Hunter / Junior Hunter
For an "A" or "AA" rated Amateur-Owner Hunter 3'6", a competition must offer at least two sections; 18-35 and Over 35. HU115.1
To offer an Amateur-Owner Hunter 3'3" section, the show must offer Amateur-Owner Hunter ("3'6"). [HU115 as interpreted by USEF staff. ]
If there are more than 40 entries, then Amateur-Owner 3'3" must be split 18-35 and Over 35. It may not be offered as two sections and may not be split with less than 40. HU115.2.a.
If less than three entries in the Amateur-Owner 3'6 and the Amateur-Owner 3'3 sections, then they may be combined. If there are less than three entries in the Amateur-Owner and Junior Hunter Sections, they may be combined, with sections combined as necessary (e.g. a show may have a combined Small Junior and Amateur-Owner while keeping the Large Junior section separate), based on the sections with the lightest entries. HU115.1.c./HU118.5.
For Junior Hunter, if there are 50 entries, the competition must divide using one of three methods: (1) age of rider, (2) size of horse, or (3) if stated in the prize list, by every other number or California split. HU117.2.
A Junior Hunter section may NOT be split if less than 30 entries. HU117.2.
For an "A" rating, at least two sections (by age of rider or size of horse) must be offered. HU118.1 If there are less than 5 entries in either section, sections may be combined. HU118.1.b.
For an "AA" rating, at least four sections (by age of rider and size of horse) must be offered. HU118.2. If there are less than 10 entries in any one section, sections may be combined.
If there are more than 30 entries in a Junior Hunter Classic (distinct from a combined Amateur-Owner/Junior Hunter Classic or an Open Hunter Classic), then the classic must be split (pursuant to HU117.1) and the prize money to be doubled. HU146.10 as "clarified" by the Junior Hunter Committee.
At an "A" or "AA" horse show, Regular Pony Hunter must be offered as Small, Medium, and Large and the minimum prize money offered for each section. HU116.3a.
At an "A" or "AA" horse show, Green Pony Hunter must be offered as Small/Medium, and Large and the prize money offered for each section. Green Pony Hunter may be offered Small, Medium, and Large. HU116.3b. At an "A" or "AA" competition, if there are at least four entries in each height, the Green Pony Hunter must be held in three sections with prize money paid to each section. HU116.3.b.(1).
At a "B" or "C" show the Pony division may be offered as one height, however, if there are at least 10 small/medium and 10 large ponies, the sections must be pinned separately. If there are a total of 30 entries, then prize money must be doubled (paid each section). HU116.4.
If there are 50 entries at the beginning of the first class, it must first be divided by the size of the pony with prize money offered to each section (e.g. Small/Medium Green), if there remains 50 entries, then the section must be redivided (i.e., A & B section) and the prize money doubled. HU116.2.a.
If an Under Saddle class has more than 30 entries, it must be judged in two sections with one set of awards. HU116.2c.
At an "A" or "AA" competition, if there are 4 or more entries in each divided section, the sections must be held separately. HU116.3.a.(1), HU116.3.b(2). Conversely, if there are 3 or fewer entries in any section, the sections may be combined. Small/medium and large is preferred but any combination as warranted by the entries is acceptable. HU116.3.a(3).
Equitation requires that classes be divided if there are fifty or more entries at the beginning of a class. EQ103.2. Age group equitation may be combined as needed to meet minimum entry requirements
For the ASPCA and Talent Search, the rule provides that the "50" determination be made three hours prior to the commencement of the class. EQ 112.12/13. If the class requires a numerical score (e.g., Washington Equitation), the class must be divided using the "California split."
The USEF Pony Medal may be held as one class (minimum of six to complete) or may be offered split (each section meeting the minimum of six) as small/medium and large or small, medium, large. EQ112.10
The jumpers are slightly less complicated. No matter how large a jumper class is, the class is not split but rather additional placings are awarded. For classes offering prize money, money must be paid based on one place for every five commenced starters. E.g., a class with sixty-seven entries must place and pay at least fourteen exhibitors, no matter how many ribbons and places were indicated in the prize list (ribbons need not be awarded beyond eight places except in Grand Prix where places to twelfth are required JP150.5). The money awarded for each place in addition to that stated in the prize list must at least equal the starting fee. JP108.1
For classes with less than six entries, management may combine two heights with no more than 10cm difference. JP120.2.
Conclusion: You can ask show management to combine and/or split classes, but in many instances show management is highly limited by the existing rules, regardless of exhibitors' demands or willingness to "sponsor" more sections. In some instances exhibitors may want classes combined to reach the next point threshold, but that too is usually not at management's discretion. A horse show divided against itself cannot support all its exhibitors. Exhibitors and management must unite to ensure the best outcome within the rules imposed by (USEF) government. (Our apologies to Abraham Lincoln.)