I have already written an article about the Riding Horse class over at Equine Trader but thought I would cover it here as well. The more information that's out there about this new class, the better chance competitors have of understanding it and being able to enter the class confidently.

I know that there has been some debate over whether this new class is necessary in New Zealand. However, I have seen plenty of horses in both hack and hunter line-ups that don't fit the mould for that particular class but would make stonking Riding Horses. Hopefully, this additional class will give these competitors a chance to get out there and hold their own.

So far, the following shows have decided to hold Show Riding Horse classes for the 2009/10 season (that I am aware of). If you know of any others, let me know
  • Hawkes Bay A&P
  • Warkworth A&P
  • Kumeu A&P
  • The Royal New Zealand Show (Canterbury)
  • Manawatu A&P
  • Waikato's World

Here is a guide to the Riding Horse that was kindly given to me by the British Show Horse Association


In the UK, the Riding Horses are divided into two sections: Small and Large. A Small Riding Horse is anything exceeding 148cm (14.2hh) and not exceeding 158cm (15.2hh). A Large Riding Horse is any horse over 158cm (15.2hh)


It is often said that the Riding Horse is somewhere between the Lightweight Hunter and the Show Hack, and that it does not have the substance and strength of the hunter, nor the elegance and daintiness of the hack. A far better description is that it has the stride and gallop of a quality lightweight hunter combined with the obedience, manners and schooling of the Hack.
A good riding horse need not only perform in the show ring but has the bone and substance to be found in the hunting field, or going cross country, three day eventing, or merely taking its rider for an enjoyable hack round the countryside.


The Riding Horse should have plenty of good quality, flat bone, be deep through the girth and have strong powerful second thighs and a well rounded backside, lots of muscle and strength, short across the loins and with the length of back concentrated on the quarters, so that you have a powerful engine. They need to be able to gallop. A very sloping shoulder is excellent, so there is plenty to sit behind and the horse is able to have a long stride, with a neck coming out of the top of the withers and a good length, narrowing elegantly behind the head so that the head and neck are not restricted by a fat thick structure. The horse needs to be able to flex and bridle happily and comfortably, and be able to breathe easily while being ridden in collection.

The body should be in proportion and foursquare, the legs, especially viewed from the front should not appear too close, or too wide. The horse should move straight, without dishing or plaiting and stand straight on all four legs on good well shaped feet.

A good looking head is very desirable, but there is quite a lot of variation; from a dished slightly Araby head, to a longer straighter, more thoroughbred head, what is not wanted is a tiny pony head or anything with a common cobby aspect, Roman nose or bumps between the eyes!

Way of Going:

When watching the go round judges look for a horse which is walking with a long and easy stride, covering the go round well, swinging its shoulder freely and tracking up well. They want to see a longer rein walk, not a horse pulled in with its head scrunched up to its chest. The horse should be swinging its head slightly in time to the walk and have its head in front of the perpendicular, ears pricked and a happy, calm look.

At the trot they look again for a long swinging stride, the tail carried easily and swinging from side to side – the sign of a relaxed, swinging, working back – and a comfortable easy head carriage, with the bit held quietly in a wet mouth, no open mouths or grinding teeth – a particular hate. The head should be straight and in line with the direction, not tilted or crooked. They look especially for a steady rhythm or cadence, showing that the horse is working from behind and is carrying itself – not having its nose pulled in by the reins and kicked along all the time.

At canter it’s much the same. Judges look for a smooth slowish, steady canter which gives the impression the rider is totally at ease and the pair could swing along all day in superb comfort.

When gallop is shown ideally the horse only needs to show some definite lengthening of the stride and lowering along the long side of the ring, sliding into an easy gallop and out without fuss. Sadly this is not often seen; quite often they rush about with fast short strides. Galloping is not about racing or jumping off the corner as in a gymkhana, but showing lowering and lengthening – (this used to be called ventre-a-terre) in just half a dozen strides and a calm return to slower paces.


Show Riding Horses are traditionally shown in brown tack with a coloured browband, although the browband should be more discreet than what a Hack or Riding Pony would wear. Double bridles or Pelham bits are used. However, a snaffle is acceptable in novice classes. Saddles should be straight-cut to show off the horse’s shoulder. Manes should be plaited, tails pulled and legs and faces trimmed.

Riders usually wear a tweed jacket, with shirt and matching tie, buff/canary coloured breeches, a navy hat and black long leather boots. Show canes are generally carried.

The latest RAS rulebook also includes an explanation of the Show Riding Horse class.

The photo at the top of this post is courtesy of Carol Bardo, owner of The Philanderer. The Philanderer (known as Phil to his friends) is a fantastic example of a Large Riding Horse. At only seven years of age, he was first and champion at the British Horse of the Year Show 2008. He was also Supreme Ridden at the Royal International Horse Show 2008. Other championships include Supreme PUK(S) champion, East of England, Towerlands and he was Sidesaddle winner at Royal Windsor.


Welcome to New Zealand Horse Tales. I started writing this blog as I am passionate about horses, and particularly showing. I find it difficult to pick a favourite class- Show Hunter, Hack, Riding Pony, Mountain & Moorland, Cobs..I love them all!

I wanted somewhere to share horse and showing news from across the world, and to occasionally include my own updates and views.I hope you enjoy following my posts. Feel free to comment or drop me a line whenever and on whatever subject matter you choose.

Happy Showing!


I have been keeping an eye on this story over the past few months. It has really shaken up the UK showing scene and there will be a few no-shows at the Horse of the Year Show in October because of it.

Basically, a vet in Essex (my home county....ahem) has been accused of granting life height certificates to over-height show horses and ponies. So far this year, the Joint Measurement Board (JMB) has recalled 62 horses and ponies for remeasurement and word is that more are pending. Last year, a tiddly 20 were recalled.

The owners of 23 of the horses have chosen not to re-present their animals...this means that their height certificates are now invalid.

If these horses and ponies are indeed over height, think of the implications. This means that a large number of worthy competitiors may well have missed out on picking up their HOYS qualifying ticket. You know- that prize we truck our horses all over the country for. That ultimate goal that keeps us dragging ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn, plaiting up in the dark and spending endless amounts of money on entry fees, sparkly browbands and special shampoos. And it's not like the situation can be rectified either. It would be an impossible task to track down every individual that entered a HOYS qualifying class and was second to a horse that was actually over-height. They have fundamentally been cheated out of their precious HOYS ticket.

Many of the animals recalled have been found to measure as much as 5.80cm over what their certificates stated. Are we supposed to believe that their owners were not aware that they were that much taller than the rules for their chosen class specified?

It's all very dodgy and a sad reflection on how some people regard the sport of showing (i.e. it's all about the ribbon, no matter what) It's good to see that over-height animals are finally being clamped down on though. Fingers crossed we start seeing a bit more honesty and fair-play in the show ring from now on.

Keep up with the story over at Horse & Hound