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Equitation by Rob Daniels

Equitation refers to classes where the rider's style is judged. In an equitation class, your horse doesn't have to be the smoothest jumper in the world, or the most elegant mover, the rider is the one being judged, and the horses' movement is irrelevant to some degree.


Equitation divisions range from beginner walk-trot through open equitation. In the flat equitation competition, riders are judged on how well they handle riding skills, such as walking, trotting, and cantering. Riders should be able to show precise handling of their horse at the walk, trot, and canter while maintaining proper equitation and control.


A knowledgeable equitation rider establishes a straight line from his/her elbow, through forearms and reins to the horses mouth. Shoulders are another common area for equitation faults. Some equitation judges will ask riders to answer questions on anatomy, tack, and equitation.


There are three types of equitation saddle seat, hunter seat, and stock seat. In hunt seat equitation, riders compete over fences and in separate classes, and at the walk, trot and canter on the flat.


Unlike the more common hunter classes, hunt seat equitation judges the rider rather than the horse. Riders will receive penalties if their horse refuses a jump. Certain fundamentals of equitation are rigidly observed in judging. In general in a hunter equitation class as long as the horse clears the fences in a jumper competition it does not matter what it looked like. Saddle seat equitation may include a pattern to be ridden, often at different gaits with several changes in direction. Stock seat equitation is a western discipline.


Jackets are required in all equitation classes, with the exception of hunter equitation classes where jackets are preferred but not required. The rider must remain on the same mount throughout all phases of an equitation class until the judge requests a change.


In equitation classes, only the rider is being judged therefore no penalty should be assessed because of the horse's conformation, color or movement. Many riders compete in specific divisions where they earn points in Equitation classes, the points count for class year end awards.


About the Author

Rob Daniels has been an equestrian rider for 25 years. He has studied various disciplines additional articles are available at: Riding Stable - http://www.riding-stable.com and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net