Talk the Talk
A Guide to Hunter & Jumper Terms
Hunters are judged
on the horse’s movement, presence, manner of going and jumping
Equitation classes are judged on the rider’s
position, ability, and poise.
Jumpers are judged on speed, time, and athletic ability
over fences. Faults are given for time or knocking down a pole, not
jumping, or not clearing an obstacle.
Divisions are the different categories of hunter or
jumper classes. They can be based on a horse or rider’s age and/or
number of years showing, a rider’s age and status (amateur vs.
professional), a horse or pony’s height, or (for jumpers) amount
of prize money won.
Over Fences describes a class in which a horse or rider
is judged over a course of eight or more obstacles.
Under Saddle describes a class in which a horse or
rider is judged at the walk, trot, and canter, going both ways of the
ring. Multiple riders compete at the same time in the ring during the
Under Saddle class.
Hunter Classic defines a class of two jumping rounds
with the scores added together to produce the final pinning (awarding)
of the class. Each horse does one round which is scored; then the top
fifteen horses with the highest first-round score are invited back to
ride a second round.
Hunter Derby defines a class of two jumping rounds
with the scores added together to produce the final awarding of the
class. The first round requires a minimum of ten obstacles, including
one in-and-out, one bending line, and one unrelated distance. Obstacles
should resemble those found in the hunt field, such as post and rails,
brush jumps, banks and ditches or water obstacles. The top twelve horses
are invited back to perform a “Handy” round, which may include
a walk or trot fence or opening a gate, in addition to emphasis being
made and more points being given for successfully negotiating tighter
turns or taking more direct, or “handy” routes from one
jump to the next.
Rated/recognized shows are shows run in accordance with United
States Equestrian Federation (USEF) rules and regulations and at which
winners’ points are tallied and accumulated towards end-of-year
high score awards. Shows are rated from AAA to C depending on the number
of points that are given.
Local/unrecognized shows are shows operated on a local
or regional club level or by independents. They may be sanctioned by
such a club (such as the Baltimore County Horse Shows Association)
or by no club at all.
Levels refers to the height of the jumps in a jumper
class. For instance, Level 2 is 3’3”. In general, levels
increase by 3” increments.
Tables refer to the way a jumper round is scored. For
example, Table II, Section 1 is called a “Time First Round”
class where there is only one round with the fastest fault-free round
winning. For a complete list of Tables, visit the Hunter & Jumper
Blog on equiery.com.
The USEF defines its competitors as:
Adult or senior: an individual who has reached his
18th birthday as of December 1 of the current competition year (except
for dressage or combined training).
Junior: an individual who has not reached his 18th
birthday as of December 1 of the current competition year. Persons born
on December 1 assume the greater age on that date.
Classes for specified individuals (instead of specified horses)
are: Children’s and Junior classes, although both for individuals
under 18, vary in the height of the jumps, and riders in the Children’
s divisions many not cross-enter into the Junior divisions at the same
Amateur classes are restricted to amateurs as defined
by the USEF. Amateur/Owner classes require the rider to be the owner
(or member of the owner’s family) of the horse. Leased horses
are not eligible for Amateur/Owner classes.