"SETTING THE STANDARD"
By EDEE WEIGEL of Huntley, MT
When I attended the AHSA/USEF course designer clinics held at The
Los Angeles Equestrian Center in the 1980s, I was truly inspired
listening to such horsemen as Olympic Course Designers Pamela
Carruthers, Linda Allen, Pierre Jolicoure, and Brian Flynn. It was
so interesting to learn what these professionals felt was important.
Each day they would have lectures on Hunter, Jumper, and Equitation
courses and all of the details and dangers involved therein.
Every designer had their own set of Ideals and Rules, but they all
agreed that the number one rule in course designing is safety. The
other subject they discussed daily is how difficult it is to set
user friendly courses for the lower level divisions! This is
becoming paramount in importance now in our industry, because
over-facing horses and riders can have devastating results.
Using these principles when I set the jumps for any class under
26, I simply think to myself: could a green or timid horse/rider
TROT this course? I have been designing courses since 1980 and this
one rule has helped me the most. The horses are simply not faced
with a huge effort of jumping if the rider makes an occasional
mistake in the approach.
I was taught that the low level classes should be a gift to the
riders, trainers, and most of all
OUR horses! All of the turns need
to be wide and gradual too. When designing for BD&CT combined
training test shows, wide jumps and combinations are not added until
the higher divisions. I have followed this general guideline as I
set fences for our MHJA shows as well. I do not add wide oxers or
combinations of 1 or 2 strides until the higher level classes.
The USHJA has now set the national standard for safety with their
Affiliate horse shows program Outreach Medals course requirements.
Course designers will need to conform to the Outreach Medal course
requirements, which specify that no combinations of 24 or 36 will
be allowed in the 2-23 Bronze Medal or 26 Silver Medal classes.
For the low level classes, it is recommended to keep the jumps
farther apart so the riders can get reorganized after each jump. Use
distances between the fences of 72 or 84 whenever possible, so
that short-strided horses or ponies can simply add a stride when
Bending lines are also very user friendly to many different types of
horses and can be ridden with an added stride if needed. In hunter
classes, the lines always begin with a vertical to an oxer; a single
oxer on course can be used, but the first fence for hunters is
always a vertical.
In hunter classes a two-stride (36) vertical to oxer combination is
used for the higher hunter classes. One-stride combinations (24)
are mostly used in the Jumpers and Equitation classes for the higher
The USHJA Outreach Medals will be offered this year at some of our
MHJA shows. Riders that are Affiliate members of the USHJA can
compete in these medals and receive national points! The Medals
start with 2-23 courses, so there is something for everyone!
Please look up the web site www.USHJA.org for all details to the
requirements to compete in these new and exciting classes. Some
equitation tests will be built into the first round of the Medals,
so everyone will get a chance to show off their best equitation
riding. Be sure to review the USEF Equitation Tests to plan out your
training and practice routines!
I just watched a wonderful DVD called Connected! This DVD will be
used at the USEF/USHJA trainers and judges clinics. I recommend that
everyone get this DVD and review it often! It is very well done and
shows exactly the way riders should perform the tests. This DVD can
be ordered from the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association at