Showing the American Saddlebred Horse
The American Saddlebred horse carries himself with an attitude that some call class, presence, style or charm. Created in America with a registry dating back to 1891, the versatile Saddlebred is known for it's stamina and endurance. The breed was originally developed as a comfortable riding horse for large land owners that could cover a great distance quickly and smoothly. In addition, the Saddlebred was expected to wear harness and pull the family carriage when required. Today the beautiful and versatile Saddlebred competes under saddle, in driving classes and can also be found in various disciplines of equine competition. They are best known however, as the 'Peacocks of the Showring'. At the Show, they compete in the following types of classes: English and Western Pleasure, Equitation, Three-gaited, Five-gaited, Fine Harness and Pleasure driving.
Beginning to Show - The Academy Division
People taking riding lessons may decide that they would like to try showing a Saddlebred in competition. The shows have an Academy division which offers classes divided by age and skill level. Academy driving judges the skills and showmanship of the driver. Riding classes offered are Walk/Trot and Walk/Trot/Canter and Equitation are grouped by rider age so that newcomers can learn to show while competing in classes with other riders of similar skill level. It is not necessary to own a horse or custom riding attire to compete in the Adademy division.
As riders progress, they have options to lease horses to show and when comfortable with their skill level and division, many choose to buy a horse of their own. Its all about having fun, friendly competion and sharing a common interest with friends - the love of horses.
Having Fun and Sharing a Love of Horses

Learning the Divisions in which they Compete...
FIVE GAITED horses are shown with a full mane and tail and judged at the walk, trot and canter plus two man-made gaits, the slow gait (a four-beat gait with high front action) and rack (a gait with all-around action and speed). They should have a springy movement and extreme brilliance. Classes are generally divided by the gender of the horse. Five gaited pleasure classes combine both mares and geldings, though stallions are prohibited from showing in the pleasure divisions.

THREE GAITED horses (also called walk-trot horses) performs the three natural gaits: walk, an animated trot (a two-beat diagonal gait) and canter. The trot of the three-gaited horse is slower and more collected than that of the five-gaited horse. The mane is roached or trimmed to show a long fine neck. Three-gaited classes are divided by height rather than sex or age, with classes over 15.2 hands and under 15.2 hands. The trot is the most emphasized gait, it should be true, high in action, well collected and animated.
Photo© 2005 - Shiflet

The FINE HARNESS horse was the "Sunday-go-to-meeting" horse three generations ago. These horses are shown in light harness and overcheck bridle with a regulation show buggy. They are shown at an animated walk and a brisk, showy park trot. Movement in these gaits should be springy and free with high front and rear leg action. This horse always carries a full mane and tail, though long tails are secured to the show buggy for safety reasons.

Photo© 2005 - Shiflet
PLEASURE horses are shown in various divisions of most show horse breeds. They can be shown in various gaits, english or western. Natural mane and tail carriage are required. They must give the appearance of being a pleasure to ride, and easy ground covering movement is desired. Manners and suitability as a pleasure mount are paramount in this division.

EQUITATION is horsemanship, or the art of riding and showing a horse. The rider only is judged on hands, seat, legs, basic position and the ability to make the horse perform any gait or test called for by the judge. Saddleseat equitation is the type of English riding done with a flat English saddle and a four-reined bridle.  Hunt seat equitation uses a jumping saddle, stock seat uses a western saddle, and pleasure equitation completes the equitation division and is open to horses that show in pleasure classes only.
© 2008 - Howard Schatzberg
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