Written by: Randy Roy

Randy Roy is a senior international judge, course designer and author. He owns and operates Hunters Glen Show Stable in King, ON, with his daughter, Ryan Roy.

Thumbnail for Ask the Judge: dealing with spooking, losing a stirrup or rein and more

You are having a good round, but coming to the last line your horse spooks. Are you better off circling and sorting it out, or just continuing?

My advice is to continue, as you have no idea how the rest of the class has been and you could still be eligible for a ribbon.

How many strides is too late for a lead change?

In Palm Beach and indoors, probably one stride past the ideal spot on the diagonal or in the corner could be noted. I would say three strides past that point would be noted as a minor fault.

When jumps are moved for a flat class, should rails and gates be left leaning on the standards?

No – it is now a USEF rule that the rails and gates need to be laid on the ground out of the way. Placing them up on the standards is spooky and could be dangerous if a horse runs into them.

In a derby, in the US they jog before the class, and here they jog after the class. How do you feel about that?

I really like that they jog before the class, because if a horse is lame, then it’s a no-go and the horse saves all that work and effort.

How serious is it in a hunter class when a rider loses a stirrup or a rein?

Serious – it distorts the whole picture and looks sloppy and incorrect. Even though I am judging the horse, the rider has to be doing the right things, and that is feet in the stirrups and hands on both reins.

Do you penalize a hunter that jumps too high?

Absolutely not – as long as they hold their form. I love this – there is lots of time to get lower and it will be placed ahead of a horse that has no airtime.

How do you feel about a rider clucking going to a jump or on take-off?

Silence is golden. I do not like it, so save it for the schooling ring. This is real – no noises.

In a handy class, do you allow the riders to walk the course?

That is a decision for the show management, but I would say no. The posted course has all of the distances on it and the route is marked, so there is no real reason to walk it.

What is the minimum number of jumps required in a recognized hunter class (other than a derby)? Is there a maximum number?

The minimum number of jumps required is eight. There is no rule with respect to the maximum number, but I would say that anything over 10 would be too many. For me, the maximum number would be nine.

In a handy hunter class a trot jump is called for and going down from the canter a horse walks. How serious is that?

The horses need to come down to the trot – no walk or halt – so that would be a serious error.

Does the rider have the option of not going when the water truck or a drag is going on in the next ring?

That is up to the in-gate person, trainer, and management. I understand why they wouldn’t want to go, but it does hold up the class, so it is ultimately up to them.

Where tack is concerned, even if legal, what do you not want to see?

• Leather stoppers on reins for a running martingale

• Converter attachment on the noseband

• Buckles on the bridle facing out

• Loose nosebands

• Reins too long – especially on ponies, as they can get caught

• Long, flapping stirrup leathers

• Too much sheepskin on the girth

• Running martingales in the hunter ring

• Running martingales hooked up as a standing martingale

• Gag snaffle bits