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The word "dressage" comes from the French word meaning "to train".  All disciplines of horse riding require the basic principles of dressage to be applied in order for the horse to be supple and obedient enough to perform the specific tasks asked of it by the rider.  A dressage competition seeks to find the rider who is best able to perform these principles in a competition situation before a judge.  Riders are given a set of movements which they are to learn in a sequence and then perform in an arena.  These "tests" are usually between six and ten minutes long and the arena is sixty metres long by twenty metres wide.


The required movements are broken down into separate sections and the judge gives a mark out of ten for each movement.  As well as for the movements, marks are also awarded for the horse and rider's overall performance in the test under the headings: Submission, Impulsion, Paces, and the Position of the Rider and effect of the aids.  The points for all sections are totalled and the rider with the highest total wins.  The tests are usually from a standard set and are themselves graded in difficulty.  The early tests only require basic control of the horse and simple movements while the more advanced tests require expert riding and extremely difficult movements.


All Dressage tests MUST be performed in a snaffle bit.  Dressage whips and spurs are allowed for Dressage.

Dressage Categories at Events


1. Beginners Led/AssistedNon competitive, participation ribbon and certificate


2. Beginners Unassisted2 Prep Tests

3. Novice Riders As per Zone Event guidelines


4. Championship ClassesAs per Zone / State Event guidelines


This type of competition involves negotiating a course of obstacles over which the horse must jump without knocking them down and in an obedient manner.  The courses vary, producing different types of competitions that may be aimed at making imposing and technically difficult courses (such as the Grand Prix), or may be aimed at finding the rider who can jump the highest in a Topscore competition.


Sometimes the competitions may be only for training purposes (eg. clear rounds).  Most require the ability to "jump clear" ie. with no penalties for knocking down a jump, and the ability to do it at speed.  This is not always the case, especially with the trend towards technically difficult courses where excessive speed will cause errors of judgement.


Pony Club currently has its own grading system for showjumping.   Beginners start at E grade which is about 45cm, to A grade which is about 105cm. When you reach this and are jumping well you can jump open competitions (eg. at shows), which begin with D grade at 45 cm.

Showjumping Categories at Events


1. Beginners Led/AssistedNon competitive, participation ribbon and certificate

2. Ungraded Unassisted Competitive within this group 


3. Graded Riders A to EWill compete in their Grade


More interest has developed in recent years in EQUITATION classes.  These consist of one round over a smooth flowing course over moderate height jumps.  They are judged much like dressage and points are awarded for the manner in which each jump is negotiated.  This way, the rider with the best style is the winner.  These competitions are very useful for training purposes as the riders are forced to ride at their best overall.  This must be ridden in a snaffle bit.  Dressage whips and spurs are allowed.


Sporting activities let riders compete in many different fun games-like activities that are run usually against the clock.  The fastest usually wins the individual events, however riders can be eliminated from events for various infringements such as knocking over a pole, missing a turn around a pole or marker, or stepping outside the lines.  At the end of the day, the rider who has won the most events is usually declared the overall winner from that age-group.


Some examples of sporting events are: Bending, where riders have to weave up and back along a line of posts and Keyhole, where riders have to ride up a narrow corridor marked on the ground, turn within a marked circle, and ride back.

Sporting Categories at Events


1. Beginners Led/Assisted - Non competitive, participation ribbon and certificate

2. Other Riders Will compete in their age group

One Day Events

One Day Events consist of three phases, dressage, showjumping, and cross-country.  By including these three phases, One Day Events find the horse and rider who are best all round rather than the combination of horse and rider which is best at only one of the phases.  One Day Event horses need to be fitter than horses used for other competitions as they must have the endurance to cope with the cross-country course, and then jump a showjumping round afterwards.


Dressage is always held first in a One Day Event as the horse must be sufficiently well trained to concentrate on the dressage phase of the test before doing the showjumping.  After the showjumping phase, the horse must be fit enough to complete a cross-country course.


The event is scored by first deducting the marks obtained in dressage from the total possible points (eg. if you score 130 points out of 210 in dressage, your score for the ODE will be 80).  After this, faults are added for the cross-country and the showjumping.  The winner is the rider with the least faults.


In Pony Club, One Day Events are graded in a similar fashion to showjumping, depending on the number of entries, these may be held over two days.  The Dressage phase must be ridden with a snaffle bit and no whip is allowed.  Showjumping and cross-country may be ridden with other Pony Club approved bits.


One Day Event Categories at Events


1. Beginners Led/Assisted - Non competitive, participation ribbon and certificate

2. Ungraded Unassisted Competitive within this group 


3. Graded Riders A to EWill compete in their Grade


Gymkhana's are competitions for hacking and are similar to shows.  Riders and their horses are presented at their best and ride around a ring with the other competitors before a judge.  There are different classes throughout the day and in them the judge chooses the riders that best deserve to win that class.  Class names are usually things like "Best Educated Mount under fourteen hands" or "Rider Thirteen years to Fifteen Years" (or "Longest Tail" for beginners and littlies).


When the riders are riding around the ring the judge selects riders who are likely to win or get a place and calls them into the centre.  All riders called out are asked to perform the same workout and from their performance in these the judge selects a winner and the placegetters.  At the conclusions of hacking a few sporting games will also be played.


One Day Event Categories at Events


1. Beginners Led/Assisted - Will compete within this group

2. All other riders Will compete in their age group 

Mounted Games

These are similar to the sporting events, except that riders compete in teams.  Usually all riders must complete the course and the time is recorded for for all riders to finish as a group.  No whips or spurs allowed.

The Jamboree

At the end of every year, all clubs in the zone attend a weekend competition and this is often the highlight of the year for many pony clubbers.  The 'Grand Finale' of the pony club year.  The jamboree is usually held on the first weekend of December.


During the two days there are about 18 events including hacking, sporting and showjumping.  Ribbons are awarded for each event in each age group and at the end of the weekend the overall age champion and reserve champions are awarded.  Trophies are also presented to clubs for the highest point scoring club, the highest average point scoring club, the top 5 riders from the one club and the grand parade and certificate work trophy.


However, the weekend is not merely a competition and is intended to promote friendships and understanding amongst all members.  Everyone is encouraged to camp overnight and join in group activities. 


Riders wishing to enter MUST have ridden on the same horse at three Rally Days to be eligible.

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