Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
in Time for the International
Rule Tips for Riders
It wasn’t hard
to decide what this column should be about. KMSHA exhibitors,
responding to a request for constructive feedback, have answered the
call and asked questions that are just in time for improving
everyone’s performance at The International to be held in October at
the Lexington Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky. If you pay attention
to the answers to these questions and then ask a few of your own,
you will have far fewer surprises with the equipment steward and
during actual competition. Think of this column as a “heads-up” for
A KMSHA member
writes: “The intentions of my letter are to bring up a few issues I
noticed at the Springfield and Kentucky State Championship shows and
to sincerely benefit the KMSHA organization and the future young
horsemen and women. I noted that the judges were missing errors. I
know that it can be difficult to be a judge and catch everything.
Judging is long hours and an unappreciated field of employment.
Perhaps, too, that’s why I am a rule hound. I am not complaining
about the judges; they are all honorable in my sight. My point is we
need to encourage the youth by improving a more proper show ring
etiquette and insisting that all the exhibitors follow all the
I couldn’t agree
with this writer more. In the absence of a steward at shows, judges
are required to police the rules and regulations at the same time
they are tying the performance elements of horses. During a class,
they can miss tack and attire rule violations and they do.
As one judge
recently said, ”When you come to a horse show, show management
expects you to know the rules and abide by them, but I think that
show management and the exhibitors should also be expected to know
the rules and to follow them. I’m not supposed to be out there in
center ring as the “entry police”.
As Tevye said in
Fiddler on the Roof, “He’s right and he’s right. How can they both
be right, rule hound and judge?” But, in fact, they can.
have the responsibility to know and to follow the rules of the KMSHA
when they come to the horse show. This includes determining which
class is the appropriate class for a particular horse or rider;
knowing the tack and attire requirements; knowing the gait
standards; understanding the qualities which are penalized and the
qualities which are prized.
There is nothing
that makes a judge more unhappy than to have to tell a junior rider
in an equitation class, for example, that she has been eliminated
because she doesn’t have on her mandatory gloves. The judge isn’t
responsible for that loss; the exhibitor and the parents are
responsible for not knowing, or failing to follow, the requirements
of the class. If a judge does place an exhibitor who fails to have
on mandatory gloves, he is responsible for the loss suffered by
another exhibitor who was properly attired. This is not acceptable.
When a steward
is present on the grounds, think of this person as the guardian
angel of the rules. A steward should catch the lack of gloves, the
absence of tie downs, the whip that is too long, or the incorrect
reins and send you back to your tack room to get your necessary
gear. Don’t complain to the steward when she finds you in violation.
Be glad that someone noticed what you overlooked and took the time
to tell you.
steward, however, judges do the best they can in the ring to make
sure that the tack and attire, as well as the performance
requirements, are met. It’s a job to keep track of gaits and gear.
When judges fail and miss something, be thankful for the rule hounds
who keep us honest.
KMSHA and the
judges want each exhibitor to leave the show with the awards they
earned. If a rule violation has gone unnoticed by a judge and
results in placings that are incorrect, exhibitors may, and should,
quickly file protests at the show office, citing the rule violation.
The class placings will be corrected before the judge leaves the
grounds if the protests are upheld. Self-correcting systems must
also be self-policing. The protest system allows for immediate
correction of mistakes but only if exhibitors know the rules and use
them to file protests.
Now let’s turn
to the specifics of the letter from our self-described rule hound.
1). “In the
western classes there is much emphasis in the rule book regarding
the way western split reins are to be held, see page 118 equipment,
second and third paragraph. There were juvenile riders showing with
knotted/tied together reins and riders holding the bight of the
reins on the opposite side with the free hand.”
If you show
western, go back and reread your rule books, please. Knotted
reins or tied together reins are not allowed. You may not hold
the bight of the reins. The free hand must either hang by the
side or may be held at chest level but it may not interfere with
the reins or with the reining hand, which once selected may not
be changed. Look, too, at how the one finger allowed between the
rains is to be used. If you are using your fingers to guide the
horse through a quasi-direct rein method because your horse
doesn’t really neck rein, expect the judges to find you out and
to penalize you severely. Western riders are also reminded that
western horses are to go on a light/loose rein. A rein with a
visible U shape is highly regarded. Riders who have a death grip
on their western horses and horses whose mouths gape in western
classes will not be placed above appropriately gaited horses who
are also handled in accordance with the western rules.
are holding the reins in an interesting fashion for equitation. Some
of the riders are holding doubled over reins, just like the
Thoroughbred jockeys ride at the race track. Doubled over reins have
no bight falling on the right side and some riders also have large
knots in the reins. I thought part of the skill and practice
involved in equitation was the skill of steady hands, giving and
gentle hands, holding the reins in the manner of a trained
equestrian as a learned skill.”
right. Equitation classes are intended to demonstrate both form
and function while riding. The artistry of correct riding leads
to a better ridden, better performing and more maneuverable
mount. Doubled over reins are not allowed in equitation classes.
Knotted reins are not allowed in equitation classes. Reins must
either be of a single piece construction or be held together by
a small buckle or stitching. The bight of the reins must always
fall to the right hand side of the neck. Here’s a tip: There is
a special technique in equitation classes called addressing the
reins. If you are an equitation rider, make sure you know how to
do this and practice it until it becomes second nature. You
can’t address the reins if the reins are knotted.
to the rule book there are to be no sort of rowelled spurs used on
horses. Page 108 1.g Whips and Spurs. Am I reading this correctly?
The majority of exhibitors I see with a spur are using rowelled
spurs. It’s a violation of the rules, yet it is rather commonplace.”
spotted. I noticed this myself at a recent show I attended in
Cynthiana, Kentucky, and when I brought it up to a KMSHA
official was told that prohibiting rowelled spurs wasn’t in the
rule book. It turns out that the prohibition is in the rule book
but if you look further, the rule book is contradictory. On one
page it says that rowelled spurs are prohibited but on another
page it says that rowelled spurs may not be filed or pointed.
After discussion, the presence of this contradiction in the rule
book means that rowelled spurs will be allowed at the
International but they may not be filed or pointed.
4). “Are you
allowed to use an over check attached to the saddle while
working/exercising your horse before exhibition on the show
are listed as a prohibited appliance in the rule book for
working or exercising a horse on the show ground. You are not
allowed to use an overcheck on the show grounds of a sanctioned
KMSHA/SMHA show, unless you are exhibiting your horse in a
driving class where such appliances may be used.
5). “Is a draw
tight cavesson the same as a crank cavesson?“
on who you ask. For the purpose of the International, however, a
draw tight cavesson may be used, while crank cavessons are
prohibited. The crank cavesson is a prohibited appliance because
it gives an exhibitor an unfair application of force for
control. The rulebook for the KMSHA is constructed to ensure
that manners are paramount and that the mountain horse retains
the true attributes of a pleasure horse. Items of tack that use
force to achieve the appearance of manners and compliance are
not in keeping with the philosophy of the KMSHA. If a horse
can’t be brought to a stop without the presence of a crank
cavesson (or the horse doesn’t hold a head set without being
worked the day of the show in an overcheck) it’s time to go back
to the training barn and do your homework. In KMSHA the
artificial is never to be rewarded over the genuine. Exhibitors
are reminded that it should be possible to put the width of two
fingers between the curb chain or the back strap of any cavesson.
If your curb or your cavesson is considered to be adjusted too
tightly, you will be asked to loosen the tautness.
Can bump pads be used on saddles in equitation classes? Can trooper
saddles be used in equitation classes?
equitation division is considered a saddle seat discipline, flat
saddles are required. Trooper saddles do not meet the
requirements of the division. There is no rule in the book about
bump pads and what is not specified or prohibited may be
considered to be allowed. However, as a matter of taste, bump
pads are frowned upon in equitation classes as they do not
present the correct “picture” of the immaculately turned out
rider and correctly fitting tack associated with the equitation
closes, “KMSHA is a fine organization. We have been through many
changes the last year — good and fine changes. Everyone is to be
commended on a great job with our association. I take pride in my
association’s well being and find it honorable to be able to
contribute my views on matters such as this. Thank you for your
time. I appreciate it very much.”
Not nearly as
much as I appreciate it, you may be sure. When exhibitors get
involved and start asking good questions about the rules,
enforcement, and judging standards, the only result can be
improvement in the breed and improvement in the way the breed is
shown and placed.
Good luck to all
at The International. May the best horses, presented in the best
manner, with the best sports as riders, win!
In the next issues of the KMSHA
magazine a regular column on judging issues will run. If you
have questions about the judging program, I'll be happy to answer
them within the column if the questions are of interest to the
broader audience or I'll send you a personal answer if your focus is
more narrow. Please direct your questions to the
Editor of the
magazine and they will be forwarded to me. To submit a
question I'll need your name and address and also the specifics
surrounding your question if it concerns a recent shows.
Meanwhile, you can help to build this
judging program by becoming proactively involved. Become
familiar with the rulebook and put your horses in the right
divisions. Know what separates mediocre horses from good
horses from great horses based on the Standard. Then, train to
the standard and look at your horse as critically as a judge will
look at him.
Be honest about your horse's gaits.
If you are over-riding so that the horse is pacing or slick pacing,
Use adherence to the standard as your
criteria for evaluating your own placings at the show as well as in
evaluating the judges.
Forward your comments, based on
specifics, not on general likes and dislikes, about the judges.
Use the evaluation forms available at the shows in the officer area
to give your educated perspective on what happened during the show.
In this inaugural season for the new
judging program, we begin the process of growing together. In
time, this program will stand as an example of how horse show
judging should be done. The goals are quality, consistency,
adherence to the rules, and fairness to each exhibitor. In the
final analysis, nothing else is or should be acceptable.