The Horse Shows by HIPICO Santa Fe occurs each year over several weeks of premier hunter/jumper competition held annually in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Hundreds of horses and riders attend Horse Shows at the HIPICO Santa Fe each year.

Read on to learn more about the sport of equestrian show jumping, show hunters, and equitation and to become more familiar with the sights and sounds of one of the premier equestrian events in the Southwest

Show Jumping

Described by most as a cross between thoroughbred racing and downhill slalom skiing, the olympic sport of grand prix show jumping offers to the spectator the thrill of fast paced activity and excitement. Horse and rider are judged on how fast they can jump a designated pattern of obstacles or jumps.

The typical show jump course ranges in height from 3 feet to 5 feet or more, depending on the division or level in which they compete, and is designed using at least 10 total jumps in succession. The course calls for technical accuracy on the part of the rider and absolute obedience on the part of the horse. Show jumps are lavishly striped and decorated to suit themes of the surrounding environment.

The fastest horse/rider combination knocking down the fewest jumps, frequently without incurring any penalty, are heralded the winner.

The feature show jumping events at Horse Shows by the Bay are the weekly Grand Prix.

Show Hunter

The term “hunter” is not a breed of horse but an occupation. The hunter must posses jumping ability, style, pace, quality and manners, but he may be of any breed—as long as he demonstrates that he is a comfortable and safe ride.

Today’s show hunter competes in an arena over simulated stonewalls, hedges, and coups that are similar to ones found out in the fox hunting field. These jumps are combined together to form a pattern or course.

Riders wear traditional hunting garb dating back centuries in tradition; impeccable horses are turned out complete with neatly braided manes and tails resplendent of an era gone by. In the more modern arena, showing hunters usually prepares one interested in show jumping by teaching them the fundamentals of riding.

The feature show hunter events at Horse Shows by the Bay are the weekly National Hunter Derby and the International Hunter Derby held during Series III.

Amateur Owner: Divisions that are restricted to non-professional adult riders who ride horses owned by themselves or members of their immediate family.

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: Two or three jumps set up so they must be taken in quick succession, separated by only one or two strides. A combination is considered to be a single obstacle. If a horse stops or runs out at any element of the combination (elements are lettered A, B, C), the entire obstacle must be re-jumped.

Conformation: Judged on a horse’s bone structure and body proportions (physicall build), based on quality, substance and soundness. Conformation faults include things such as high withers, a long neck or short legs. In the conformation hunter divisions, the over fences and under saddle classes are judged 60 percent on performance and 40 percent on their conformation.

Course: In each class or competition, competitors must negotiate the jumps in a prescribed order. The grand prix is the highest level of show jumping competition, so the fences are larger and the course longer and more challenging. Accredited course designers plan grand prix courses. No two courses are ever the same. Spectators who hear a course described as a “perfect course” (or “PC”) 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.

Disobedience/Refusal: When a horse refuses a jump. The first refusal results in a score of four faults; the second refusal (in a jumper class) or third refusal (in a hunter or equitation class) results in elimination.

Faults: Penalties assessed in over fence classes for mistakes such as knockdowns ( 4 faults) , refusals (4 faults and/or elimination) and exceeding the time allowed (1 fault for every second commenced over the time allowed).

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

Green: An inexperienced or young horse. A green hunter is in its first or second year of showing over obstacles of 3’6″ or higher.  A pre-green hunter is a horse in its first year or second year of showing over courses 3′ and 3’3″.

Handy: A class in which hunters show their versatility over a more difficult course. The course can consist of a trot jump, hand-gallop jumps and options for sharper turns, as well as lines of jumps that are not set at a related distance.

Derby:  A Hunter or Jumper Class where natural obstacles are introduced and used as part of the course.

Jog: The jog is a procedure held at the end of each rated hunter class wheares each horse that’s in consideration for a prize must be shown in hand (with just a bridle and the rider on foot), at the trot in front of the judge to demonstrate the horse’s soundness in movement.

Junior: Means someone 18 or under is riding the horse. “Small junior hunter” means that a rider 18 or under is riding a horse under 16 hands (a hand is a measurement term where each hand is four inches). “Large junior hunters” is someone 18 or under riding a horse 16 hands and over.

Jump-Off: The second round of a two round show jumping competition where the riders who are tied for first place then compete over a shortened course against the clock to determine the winner.

Model: A hunter class during which the horse is shown in hand and judged on conformation and correctness of movement at the walk and trot.

Rail: The wooden bar used on a jump.

Round or trip: Terms used to describe a rider’s turn in each class.

Spread Fence: When two vertical fences are combined together creating a wider than normal obstacle for the horse to jump; forces the horse to exert a greater effort.

Standards: The various types of supports that hold up the rails of a jump.

Stride: The amount of ground covered by a horse in one step at a 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 rising too high. Horses may also wear boots or bandages on their legs for support or protection.

Vertical: A fence with no spread to it, which forces a horse to make a steep arc in his effort to jump.

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.