Aged - A horse that is ten (10) years or older

Amateur/Owner - A rider/owner who does not receive remuneration for riding or training horses.

Canter - A controlled, three-beat gait. In western classes it is known as a lope.

Clean Round - When a horse completes the prescribed jumper course within the time allowed without incurring jumping faults. When more than one horse has a "clean round," a jump-off is held to determine the winner.

Combination - A series of jumps set at related distances apart and thus requiring the horse to take a set number of strides (1 or 2) between each obstacle. If the horse refuses the second or third obstacle in a combination, he must re-jump the entire combination.

Course - In each class over fences, competitors must negotiate the jumps in a prescribed order. Courses for each class are posted in advance near the In-Gates so that riders and trainers may memorize them. It is the role of the course designer to establish the degree of difficulty in the course. A mark of a good course designer is that he or she will gradually increase the course difficulty as the week proceeds so that both horse and rider learn as they jump in classes at the show. The grand prix is the highest level of show jumping competition so the fences are larger and the course is longer and more challenging. Grand prix courses are planned by accredited course designers. No two courses are ever the same. There are usually 12 to 18 fences on the grand prix course. Spectators who hear a course described as a "perfect course" (P.C.) have seen an event in which the number of riders who qualify for the jump-off is the same as the number of ribbons offered in that class.

Conformation - The horse's figure or build.

Equitation - Equitation classes are classes in which the rider, not the horse, is judged. The rider must demonstrate good seat and hands, and sufficient management of the horse to perform the required tests, either over fences or on the flat, in a smooth, controlled, and accurate manner. Riders are classified according to their age and previous winnings in equitation classes. Many of today's top riders were national equitation champions while juniors. Look for tomorrow's stars in today's equitation classes. Equitation classes are graded, with entrants restricted by previous winnings. The grading sequence from easiest to most difficult is: Leadline, Short Stirrup, Maiden, Novice, Limit, Intermediate, and Open.

Falls - A fall of rider or horse. Under F.E.I. rules, counts eight faults. The rider may continue. A fall eliminates the rider and horse according to A.H.S.A.

Fault - Penalty assessed in jumper classes for mistakes such as knockdowns, refusals, and exceeding the time allowed. In Table II classes, ("Timed 1st jump-off") touches don't count; knockdowns and refusals are penalized. There is also a time limit or "Time Allowed" to complete the course. "Time-faults~" are assigned for each second over the time allowed. All with clean rounds return for a jump-off, or in a "power and speed" format class, proceed to the "speed" portion of the course. In Table III classes ("speed classes") touches are not scored, only knockdowns and refusals, as contestants are timed in the first round. Except in the unlikely event of a tie, there is no jump-off. In the Table II(c) "Power and Speed" classes, all exhibitors who have gone clean immediately proceed through a set of timers to the "speed" portion of the course. In all jumper classes, falls and going "off course" (jumping the jumps out of order) result in elimination. Faults are scored as follows:

Knockdowns - 4 faults

1st Refusal or run-out - 3 faults

2nd Refusal or run-out - 6 faults

3rd Refusal or run-out - Elimination

Fall of horse or rider - Elimination

Failure to cross starting line within one minute after sound of horn - Elimination

Exceeding the time allowed - 1/4 fault for every second

Exceeding the time allowed in the jump-off - 1 fault for every second

F.E.I. - The Federation Equestre Internationale. Based in Switzerland the F.E.I. is the international governing body of equestrian sport. The A.H.S.A. Is affiliated with the F.E.I.; however, F.E.l. Rules differ slightly from those of the A.H.S.A. and are used during international competitions such as the Olympic Games or World Cup. 

Gaits - The different paces at which the horse travels are the walk, trot, canter, gallop, and varying speeds of each.

Grand Prix - From French origin, meaning Great Prize, it is the major individual class- at a show and normally carries the greatest prize money. It is usually the last class of a show. Used interchangeably with Stadium Jumping, it is similar to the Open Jumper Class and involves the highest obstacles (4 to 6 feet), the widest spreads, and often water hazards set on an elegant course.

Green - An inexperienced or young horse. A Green Hunter is in its first or second year of showing over obstacles 3' 6" or higher.

Grooming - Some of the jumpers in the grand prix ring have their manes and tails braided to enhance their appearance. A tail that is braided and then turned up so the hairs do not hang loose is called a "mud tail" and is frequently used in damp weather conditions.

Hand - A hand is four inches. Horses are measured from the ground at the front leg to the top of the withers, in hands.

Hunter - The word hunter does not designate a breed of horse but rather the job he performs. He is the horse used in the sport of fox hunting and is judged with this in mind. He must possess stamina, manners, jumping ability, style, pace and quality Knocking down a fence may be penalized but primarily classes are judged on form and the ease with which the horse encounters each fence. He should canter the course at an even pace in long even strides, without excessive motion. Faults include swerving before a fence, ducking, twisting in flight, uneven pace, jumping dangerously, jumping legs down and moving poorly or unevenly between obstacles. They are generally Thoroughbreds or part Thoroughbreds and originally were meant to represent the type of horse that provides a safe and pleasant ride on a fox hunt. Show hunters jump naturally-styled fences simulating obstacles which might be encountered in the hunting field. Both "working" and "conformation" hunter are judged on their ability and performance. However, the conformation hunter is also judged on its physical attributes and beauty. Green hunters are inexperienced horses in their first or second year of showing. Pony hunters are 14.2 hands or smaller in size, and are judged by the same criteria as other hunters. Hunter classes are divided according to several criteria--Age and Experience (Junior, Children's and Amateur Hunters); Size of Pony (Small, Medium, and Large Pony Hunter) or Experience of the Horse (First-Year, Second-Year, Regular, Green Hunter).

In and Out - A two-jump combination, with elements separated by one or two strides.

Intermediate - A second level jumper, between the preliminary (beginning) and open (advanced) stages of development in jumper competition.

Jumper Class - A class in which the horse and rider are not judged as to the style used over an obstacle, but whether the obstacle is cleared without knocking down any part of it. Tests ability of horse to take combinations or broad and/or high jumps. They need not be any special breed or size, nor do they need to be beautiful, well-mannered or stylish. Style doesn't count; jumper classes are purely athletic tests of speed and strength. Jumper courses are very demanding, calling for technical accuracy on the part of the rider and absolute obedience on the part of the horse. They are required to complete a course of approximately 16 obstacles ranging in height from 3'6" to 5' or more with spreads of up to 6 feet, depending on the division in which they compete. Preliminary, intermediate, and open jumpers are classified according to the amount of prize money they have won; they may be ridden by amateurs and juniors, as well as professionals. Amateur-owner jumpers must be ridden by amateur riders only. Junior jumpers must be ridden by riders under 18 years of age. The rules for particular classes vary according to the tables under which they are conducted (see table of faults under "Faults"). After each performance the announcer reads out the number of jumping and time faults earned.

Jump-off - All horses with "clean" first rounds jump a shortened course against the clock to determine the winner.

Jumping Order - The jumping order or starting order is determined in a drawing before the event so that each competitor has an equal chance of attaining a favorable starting position. Riders near the end of the starting order have the advantage of seeing how the first riders complete the course.

Jumps - The general types of jumps in competition are a straight or vertical fence and a spread (wide) fence or oxer. The degree of difficulty of a jump is determined by its height, width, construction, and its placement in relation to other jumps on the course. In competition a variety of fences can be used including walls, panels, gates, oxers, water jumps, combinations, banks, and ditches.

An oxer is a single fence composed of two or three elements to produce a spread.

A "square" oxer is one in which the front and back rails are of equal height, making it more difficult to jump. Types of oxers include parallel, ascending, descending and Swedish oxers.

A "triple bar" is composed of three fences which a horse must clear in one leap. This tests the horse's ability to jump both height and width. A water jump is another type of spread fence that can stretch 12 to 14 feet. The lathe or tape marker on the landing side designates the end of the fence and if the horse touches the marker upon landing it is counted as a penalty.

Combinations are a series of jumps, usually two or three in a row, set to challenge the horse's ability to jump successively after one or two strides. Another name for a combination is an in-and-out.

A ditch is a shallow depression dug into the show ring. . A ditch is designed to provide a visual distraction to test the horse's bravery.

A bank is an earthen mound which the horse must jump up onto or scramble over.

Obstacles are brightly colored both for aesthetics and to add difficulty to the course. Some course designers believe the colors and patterns painted on the obstacles affect the way the horses take the jump. The type of construction of a particular fence also determines its difficulty.

A fence that is composed of just a few rails, for example, appears more airy and is more difficult for a horse to negotiate than a solid looking fence.

Junior - A rider who has not reached their 18th birthday as of December 1 (last year).

 Large Pony - over 13 hands 2 inches but not exceeding 14 hands 2 inches.

Liverpool - A spread jump set over water or a box designed to simulate water

Medium Pony - over 12 hands 2 inches but not exceeding 13 hands 2 inches;

Model - Glamour class, judged on conformation.

Open - Advanced divisions in which competitors are not restricted by previous winnings.

Oxer - A fence appearing as two vertical jumps placed several feet apart to test the horse's ability to jump a spread. Usually not as high as a vertical jump but may be.

Pony - A pony is not a baby horse. When full grown, a pony does not exceed 14 hands 2 inches in height (58") from the ground to the base of his neck. For purposes of hunter competition, all ponies are ridden by juniors and are divided into three categories:

Preliminary - A jumper at the first level of development, who has won less than $3,000.00.

Riders Attire - Breeches and boots, a ratcatcher, hunt coat, and hunt cap are all worn by the riders. Breeches are the tight fitting pants worn under leather boots. A ratcatcher is another name for the riding shirt worn under the hunt coat or jacket. It is common to see grand prix riders attire in a scarlet coat. A blue collar signifies that the rider has competed for the USET. Other hunt coat colors are blue, dark green or black. The hunt cap is a type of hard helmet worn by the rider. A rider may also elect to wear spurs or carry a crop, or stick, to encourage the horse over the fences.

Round - or trip; terms used to describe a rider's turn in each class.

Schooling - The warm-up session prior to each rider's round in which they jump practice fences in the schooling area.

Small Pony - not exceeding 12 hands 2 inches.

Sport Horse - Horse bred especially for competition in the disciplines of show jumping, eventing, or dressage based on the performance records in the lineage of sire and dam. This method of producing equine athletes has been practiced for years in Europe, and is beginning to take hold in the U.S., where many of our horses have traditionally come from the racetrack. Scores of horses of European sporthorse breeding, including Dutch Warmblood, Hanoverian, and Selle Francais, have been imported for competition and breeding purposes.

Standards - The various types of supports which hold up the rails of a jump.

Stride - The amount of ground covered by a horse in one "step" at the canter. The average horse's stride is 12 feet. Distances between fences are set accordingly by the course designer.

Tack - The equipment worn by the horse depends on the needs of the animal. The saddle and bridle are the staples. Other equipment may be added such as a martingale, which attaches to the saddle and bridle to keep the horse's head from raising too high. Horses may also wear boots or bandages on their legs for support or protection.

Sidesaddle - Style of riding for ladies that has been in use since medieval times. The rider is balanced with both legs on one side of the horse (usually the left). The saddles are designed with this specific purpose in mind (western, English, or jumping). The Ladies Sidesaddle Hunter Under Saddle classes are some of the most formal classes held at a show, creating an elegant picture of days gone by. 

Spread - Distance from front to back of an obstacle. In a water jump, that distance is often 14 feet.

Time Allowed - The time, determined by the length of the course, in which the competitors are required to complete the course. Those exceeding the time allowed are penalized 1/4 fault for each second over the time allowed.

Trot - A balanced, two-beat diagonal gait.

USA Equestrian - Formerly known as rhe American Horse Shows Association (AHSA). Founded in 1917, this body governs American equine sports.

U.S.E.F. - United States Equestrian Federation

Vertical - An obstacle consisting of two end poles called standards with several rails connecting the standards. It is a fence of height with no spread.

Voluntary Withdrawal - A rider makes the decision not to continue on the course and to leave the ring usually with a nod of the head or tip of the hat to the judge. A rider may decide to withdraw because of a problem with the horse or trouble negotiating the course, or because the rider knows he or she has too many faults to place in the ribbons and thus would rather spare his horse or save him for another class.

Walking the Course - The stepping off or measurement of the strides between obstacles allows the riders, according to their measurements, to learn the proper number of strides between jumps that will produce the smoothest round of jumping. Riders and horses may not practice on a course prior to actual competition, but they are permitted to walk out the route, pacing off the number of strides between jumps and examining the obstacles closely. It is a course designer's job to set up problems that will challenge the ability of exhibitors. Riders and trainers must determine what and where these are in a course and develop strategies accordingly.

Warmblood - Type of sport horse resulting from crossing heavier draft-horse breeds with lighter Thoroughbred-types. European warmblood breeds have been imported extensively into the US over the past decade. (See Sport Horse)