MINI RAIL AND TESTS
2001 - Kevin Eltringham
is just to help and to try and get better uniformity among judges as we are
getting a lot of criticism. This
article is not to tell anybody how a rider should sit because that has been
covered in the judgeís exam. Maybe it would be a good thing that there should
also be a segment on tests, theory and practical.
ideal is to do a perfect test with impulsion and extreme collection, flexing
both ways, and virtually no aids visible to the judges. If it is done in this
manner donít say the rider is riding a machine, because the rider makes it
look so easy this is the ultimate and what we are all working for, so never show
your ignorance by making such a statement.
careful before asking for a test where the riders must ride without stirrups.
This can be very dangerous if a rider loses his balance and falls or pulls the
horse over backwards.
me a gag snaffle in an equitation class is a training aid and should not be
allowed. Offset stirrups or offset inserts are also training aids. An
extra piece of leather under the riders boot to stop the stirrup from sliding
should also be banned in equitation. If a horse has a nerve cord on the trainer
should be fined and the horse disqualified from competing even if he is on the
aids are fine if not abused, nothing looks worse than a rider clucking every
step and their face all distorted. Some riders are talking so loud saying ďup
boy, steady boyĒ that you can hear it a mile away, forgetting that a horse has
a much better sense of hearing and the riders and horses head are close
together. It also keeps the horses ears turned back listening to the rider. In
equitation the ultimate is to give aids so that you can hardly see. Surely
somebody talking should not get the same points as the rider who does it quietly
and with class.
think you should judge each segment separately and after the class your steward
can add them up. The reason I say this is because if a rider has a bad canter
you can score him low and it does not have such a negative effect on the rest of
rail work if the rest is good. If you wait till the end and then give him a
point that negative point always overrides all his good points, it is proved by
everybody always saying what mistakes the horses had that were placed in front
should be given for a rider that picks up his correct diagonal on the first
step, even though the rider that changes straight away is not wrong. Surely the
one that has practiced for hours and can do it right must get credit. The same
goes for the rider that takes his canter on the straight and asks to canter without
turning him at a 45-degree angle, neither is wrong but give the first rider
give a rider credit for riding a badly mannered or badly trained horse, that
rider must go and school his horse at home. Donít let them bluff you into
thinking they are riding the horse, the ultimate is to ride a horse with lots of
collection and controllable impulsion, your speed should stay constant. If a
horse jumps into or if he takes a step backwards before cantering, deduct points
or give the one who does it perfectly credit although neither is a major
mistake. That is why you have a mini rail so that you can see the changes of
a horse gets a fright and the rider handles that well then give him credit but
not for one that jumps into the middle or goes sideways because then the
pressure is usually too much for him. He is either one sided or the rider is
hurting his mouth and he knows the rider will release pressure on one or both
sides of his mouth. The same if a rider stops and the horse steps back - that
means the rider took too long to release the pressure in his mouth. Deduct
points for these mistakes and give credit to the ones that do it right.
A good test is one that incorporates straight lines as well as curves against and off the rail. Stops and walks are also very important because this show control. All the riders should be able to do the test, they must be judged on how well they do it.
It just as important that the judge walks the
test to pace off the different points. Donít just use the first rider as an
indication where the points are, what if his are all wrong ? The riders walk
the test at least three or four times after learning it - the least the judge can
do is to be prepared. It shows when the first rider does his test and he and the
judge are trying to keep out of each otherís way. How is he supposed to do a
decent test? Where a test asks for a stop your points list should say 5 points,
all your other sections should be out of 10 or 20 because you are taught to
work out percentages in school. You know 70% of 10 is 7 and times two is out
of twenty. If you can tell me quickly what it is out of 25 the one minute and
the next segment is out of 30 then you are a genius and you should not be
judging horse shows. Also if a it is out of 5 then 70% of five is three and a
half - you work with something which is not easy and practical. Try
and keep it simple so everybody has a far chance, including your fellow judges.
When trotting, your speed must remain constant, especially when doing circles. When starting to trot a circle, lets say to the left, the horse's head must face slightly left otherwise it takes a few paces before you turn. This is true especially if you donít start the first step on the correct diagonal - then it is not a perfect circle.
If you donít pick up your diagonal on the first step you have already completed a quarter of the circle, the rider must score lower points.
If the horse does not cross over on the starting point that shows the rider is not using his legs.
If the horse is not tracking properly or going around the circle with his head cocked to the outside that is an indication of a rider not using his legs and he must lose points. There is a misconception that a rider must not touch the horse with his calves otherwise he is riding standard seat which is absolute nonsense. Your legs are your first aid used for impulsion and used in conjunction with your hands to turn a horse.
The horse must
also stop on the
exact point where it started and not do three quarters and then start slowing
down too soon, expecting to stop. That shows lack of impulsion and
pre-empting a stop so the rider must be penalised.
a rider asks for a stop and he kicks his feet foreword or stands in the saddle
before stopping, these are bad mistakes because the correct way to stop is to
sit deeply in the saddle and then pull lightly on both reins, as he stops you
release pressure on the reins otherwise he will step back, pull the reins out of
your hands and flip his head. If a horse does any of these then points must be
deducted. A horse must stop dead and must stand squarely on all four feet with
his head set for three seconds. Some riders donít stop at all or cannot stop,
they must get nil points. You cannot say that he tried so we will give him 2 out of
5, that will mean he gets 40% for not stopping! Remember all the riders should be
able to do the test. You judge how he does it and should not give points for not
getting it right.
horse starts cantering with his hind leg so if he crosses it is the riderís
mistake for not preparing the horse properly - deduct points. If a rider cross
canters without realising it, that is a major mistake. If they take the correct
lead and stop because they thought they were wrong before taking the correct
lead that is also a big mistake. Remember donít give a rider credit for doing
it wrong as he should do it correct, it is how it is done that decides on the
points he is going to get.
a canter on a straight line is asked on the left lead then the horse should stop
dead, the aid given, wait two seconds for the horse to adjust his weight behind
then step into a canter on the first step with collection from step one and in a
straight line tracking straight. If he steps over and stands at an angle, deduct
a point because the one that does it right must get credit even though they both
took the correct lead. Remember if he is standing at an angle the first part of
his line will have a loop on it and he would not track properly. We are judging
horses, not crabs. If he jumps
into the canter or canters at an angle then these are mistakes.
If you asked for a circle to the left and the rider turns the horses head to the right to make him shift his weight and step over and then canter, firstly his hind quarters are in the circle and his head is outside the circle and only his front legs are right so he is going to make a V shaped piece on the beginning of the circle which is all the riders fault and is a major mistake. Also a horse that takes a step backwards or jumps into a canter is the riders fault . If he just gave the aids correctly and waited till the horse was ready and not throwing the reins away and kicking the horse into a canter this would not have happened.
asking for a back, the horse must be flexed and then take one step back leading
with one back leg then wait for the next command to take another step leading
with the other leg then back again, then walk three steps forward keeping in a
straight line and stopping.
often see riders making a horse back by turning his head from side to side - this
normally makes the horse step to the side, and not straight back. Remember if a
rider turns a horses head left while standing his hindquarters always move in
the opposite direction. The horse will also move to the side if he is one sided
or the rider does not use his legs. Some horses back, leading only with the one
back leg. If the rider does not have the horse collected and he pushes his neck
out and runs back it is also wrong. All these are mistakes and must be penalised
in varying degrees.
When a turn is asked give credit for those doing a turn on the forehand, which means the horse pivots around his front legs, or a turn on the hind, when he pivots around his hind legs. These turns require good hand leg coordination and are difficult to do. Why give the rider full marks if he just turns the horseís head to one side forcing him to step over, more often than not stepping on himself or stepping past the centre line?
a horse is backing out of the bridle, and refusing to take a gait immediately.
This you see a lot of when asking for a slow gait. You also see it when asking
for a walk and the horse stops or drifts sideways towards the middle.
flipping their heads. This is a sure sign of a horse not being mouthed properly
or the rider hanging on the bridle.
not setting means that the horse is not collected. It can be a bad mouth or if a
horse's front feet or legs are sore.
flopping a front leg can be caused by lameness, being shod wrong or hitting his
elbow. More often than not, it is caused by the rider holding his head skew or
lack of collection.
Lame horses are out. Why do people think that because it is an equitation class it is acceptable to show lame horses? Pull them in and let the rider have another chance on a sound horse. It is cruel to allow a lame horse to carry on riding. What about the public and the SPCA?
horse pulling the reins out of the riderís hands when he stops.
Remember it is not the judge's job to diagnose a problem, but if he sees it he must discriminate by taking points off.
the above counts for the gaited horse as well. One of the most common mistakes in these
classes are that some of these riders trot at a speed slower than in a three
gaited class with little or no collection and nobody is penalising them
all it is a gaited class. I know some of these horses are older than the riders
but that is not the judgeís problem. Just because he is old does not mean he
must not be collected. Another problem is the horses that are hopping behind.
Discriminate because it is usually the riders fault. If the horse is lame, or
one sided, he should not be there in the first place, so donít feel sorry or
give him credit for riding a lame or badly trained horse.
If a horse is a bit pacey it affect the riders seat and leg position so he will lose some points, I donít think he should get a zero because he is not doing one of his gaits. If you are going to be tough on them be consequent and discriminate on the horse that is soft trotting too. (horses not doing a two beat trot).
in the test when ask to do a slow gait, the speed should be constant and you should
see the difference when they rack, if not, deduct points.