Making A Show Of Yourself Part 3 – Class Format


Format of a ridden flat class

All riders enter on right rein in walk. Steward will instruct to trot on and canter on in a group. Steward will ask to come back to trot and change the rein. Steward will ask for canter on other rein and steward will invite to extend canter / gallop down long side.

Return to walk and steward will call horses in to stand in line.

For horse classes,

The judge will ride the horse. The stewards will advise what format they are taking for the judges riding the horses. In some classes, two judges will ride each horse. In some, just one will. The judge will expect the horse to be mannerly, well-schooled, suitable to type, to ride off the rider’s aids and be enjoyable to ride. When the rider dismounts, leave the stirrups down. Sometimes the steward will measure and adjust the stirrups. If they don’t, you can adjust yourself – look at the judge are they a lot smaller or taller than you and gauge from there. The judge will either be legged up by the steward or mount from their own step. Rider or groom should hold the horse by the curb rein while the judge mounts. The horse should stand and may be marked down for not doing so. Equally the horse should willingly leave the line when asked to by the judge. The judge will usually ask how old the horse is.

In horse classes the next step is the in hand piece. The horse’s saddle should be removed and reins taken over the head. The groom should give the horse a quick once over. The rider will bring the horse over to stand in front of the conformation judge. The horse should stand still, front legs evenly, hind legs with one out behind to allow the judge a view of all four legs. The judge will view the horse on each side and in front and behind. The rider should move around the horse accordingly to allow the judge to see everything. The horse must stand, if they refuse to it is very hard for the judge to check them over.


Once the judge is happy they will ask you to walk away and trot back. When walking away, hold reins about six inches below the bit and walk on with horse at your shoulder. When turning, veer left then turn right so that when you turn you are straight for the judge without them having to move over. Ensure to turn right – the judge wants to see the horse not you! Once you turn, trot on with horse at your shoulder, trot straight at judge (they will move) and trot on beyond this back around the line to your space.

This in hand piece must be practiced at home and it is awful to do badly at this stage because the horse will not stand or will not trot on. At home, the two weeks before the show, every time you finish working the horse, dismount, remove saddle, stand, walk on, trot on. This should become habit for the horse. Both horses I show will stand at my shoulder when I stop walking, this is simply the result of repetition – they are used to standing while I remove the saddle and put it in tack room, when I adjust a fence, when I put down poles etc. Use the voice command ‘stand’ and reward each time they do it. If a horse is reluctant to trot on, train using the voice aid ‘trot’ and back up with the flick of a whip. In short time the horse will trot on off the voice command.


For pony classes

The judge will rarely ride in pony classes and instead the riders will be asked to ride an individual show. There is a fairly standard show piece used in IPS which I will put below. Some judges will specify exactly what they want, some will leave it to the rider. The show piece should start with a walk away and trot back in a straight line and this replaces the in hand trot up piece in pony classes.

Riders should think about their use of the space provided, try not to end up galloping downhill and avoid galloping up the back of the line too close to the other horses. Riders should complete their show by returning from gallop to trot and then halting in front of the judge.

In all classes, once the individual work is complete, riders will walk out on the right rein in order and the judge will choose the winner and placings. Riders will be presented with rosettes and prizes and head off on right rein in lap of honour

Standard pony individual show for Irish Pony Society Show classes:

Start by walking straight away from judge, veer left, turn right, trot back in straight line. Trot to corner and across diagonal


Pick up canter on right rein, canter around and come back across diagonal. Come back to trot at X (the centre)


Pick up left canter, extend / gallop on long side, back to canter then trot then halt in front of judge.


Note – in some pony classes such as specific ones for Connemaras, there may be a very specific show piece that must be performed (there definitely is for Connemara performance in RDS) and there may in some classes (again usually Connemara specific classes at Connemara shows) be an in hand piece so practice this.


Standard Format performance hunter:

Riders enter arena and approach the judge. Judge will greet, ask questions and look at horse/pony. Judge will ask for individual show piece (the one above is perfect). The rider then proceeds to jump the course of rustic fences (usually approx. 8 fences). The rider completes their round, returns to judge and leaves arena.

Judges will be judging based on horse’s way of going, willingness to jump, style of jump. Horses and ponies should ride in a forward jumping canter and jump out of this canter in a fluid stride without hesitation, knocking or disobedience.

The judges will decide and announce winners and placed entrants.


Standard Format Working Hunter:

Rider enters the arena and approaches the judge who will look at horse/pony. Rider completes course of rustic fences. Judges wait til everyone jumps and then call back in the riders they want to see again, riders come back in same tack as before but remove boots if horse/pony was wearing any.

Riders ride as a group as instructed by judges and stewards.

In horse classes, judge will ride the horse as in horse flat class. Rider may also be asked to strip horse and trot up in hand. See details of ridden horse flat classes earlier in document for details on judge riding and in hand show piece.

In pony classes the rider will be asked to ride an individual show (see detail on this earlier in the document).

Riders will all be asked to walk out together and judge will decide result and have steward call riders back in. Prizes are presented and lap of honour on right rein.



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