Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Does a Show Steward Do?

I steward IEA and IHSA shows on a regular basis, and at least once per weekend someone asks me what exactly I do. I think its easy for people to understand what the judge does, but the steward's job seems to be a little more of a mystery, especially for non - riding parents and some younger competitors. So for this week's blog I decided to go straight to the IEA rule book and list the qualifications and duties of a show steward.

Job Title--Show Steward

I have been called a ring steward (which is the person at western or open shows who stands inside the arena with the judge recording class placings and radioing the announcer), that woman at the in-gate (i.e. Can I use a crop on Sparky?  I don't know, go ask that woman at the in-gate), and my personal favorite, "stewardess" (which always brings to mind those iconic airline employees of the 1960s, precursors to modern day flight attendants. I can't walk in high heels here on earth, much less 10,000 feet up while serving food and drinks, lol).

A show steward is not a ring steward, not the in-gate person, and not a flight attendant. So what am I?  
(text in italics is from the current IEA rule book)

Who can be a steward?

An IEA Steward must be twenty-one (21) years of age, an IEA member in good standing (coach or contributing member), and must have read and fully understand the Rules and Regulations of IEA, and the supporting organizations in accordance with Rule 1700 USEF and IHSA and holds any one of the following qualifications:
  1. Licensed USEF steward for Hunter/Jumper disciplines; or
  2. Current IEA Board Member or employee; or
  3. IEA Member coach, in good standing, whose team is not, and members of the coach’s team are not, otherwise participating in the competition; or
  4. IHSA member coach, in good standing, who is not otherwise participating in the competition.
I am a contributing member of the IEA who also meets the second and fourth qualifications. I am a current IEA board member and IHSA coach.

A Show Steward not meeting qualification criteria outlined in items 1 - 4 in Rule 6501 may be used only with prior written consent from coaches of teams participating in that region. Unless they are on the Region or Zone pre-approved list, a steward not meeting qualification criteria must be approved every time she/he is to be hired.

If I didn't meet one of the four qualifications above, I could petition to steward shows by getting written consent from team coaches.

How many stewards do you need?

A Regular IEA Point Show must have at least one (1) qualified Show Steward as defined in Rule 6501.  The Show Steward should not be affiliated with the Event Host or host facility. If a ruling relates to a horse provided by a Show Steward, other Show Stewards or the Judge will cast the deciding vote. 

Regional Finals, Zone Finals and National Finals shall have at least two (2) qualified Show Stewards. Both The National Steward or Associate National Steward should be present at National Finals.

I steward regular point shows multiple times a year.  At these shows I am own my own as steward.  I also regularly steward regional and zone finals alongside one other qualified steward.  

I don't usually provide horses for the shows I steward (mine work hard enough in my IHSA program), but if I did, the judge would cast the deciding vote on a stewarding decision involving one of my horses.

What exactly does the steward do?

Show Stewards serve to interpret the IEA Rules and Regulations. Steward’s duties include, but are not restricted to the following:
  1. Protect the interests of exhibitors, judges and show management.
  2. Investigate and act upon any alleged rule violations without waiting for a protest.
  3. Report to the show committee any misrepresentation or substitution of entry without waiting for a protest
  4. Ascertain that all judges are recognized in the divisions to which assigned.
  5. Post warm-up pattern for over fences classes.
  6. Report to the show committee any violation of the Rules and proffer charges against the violator if not otherwise properly handled.
  7.  Permit re-rides, under specific conditions, as agreed upon by the show and stable management, or as allowed by these Rules.
  8.  Determine, under extenuating circumstances or extreme unfairness to one or more exhibitors, if a class should be rerun.
  9. Supervise the schooling of horses. Supervise or appoint a designee for the drawing of horses.
  10. Determine the suitability of rider to horse, rider to class, and horse to class level. 
  11. Stop a class in the event a horse or rider should be considered unsafe. 
  12. Fill out and return to the IEA Membership Secretary and Zone Administrator within forty-eight (48) hours of the show an official IEA Show Steward Report
If you asked me to summarize what I do in one sentence, I would say the steward's job is to ensure that the horse show runs in accordance with IEA rules and that every rider is given a fair shot.

A more detailed explanation of my job:
I supervise the morning schooling, making sure all the horses are safe, sound, and placed into the appropriate showing division.

I oversee the draw, ensuring that it is done randomly, that the classes are split evenly, and that riders draw horses that are appropriate for their height and weight.

I speak at the coaches meeting, going over the warm up course and re-ride request procedure, confirming the spur/crop assignment for each horse, and answering any specific questions before the show begins.

I watch every single rider as they complete their fence course and observe every flat class to make informed and educated decisions on re-ride requests.

I am part of a committee that determines the recipient of the sportsmanship award at regular season shows.

Sportsmanship Award - The EHC of each regular IEA sanctioned show (a.k.a. the host team) will award a“Sportsmanship Award” to be chosen by a majority vote of the judge, steward and a designated, but undisclosed, member of the show committee selected by the show steward. The award should be given to the rider who, during the course of the show and competition, best demonstrated the true meaning of sportsmanship.

Behind the scenes, I make sure the judge is licensed, investigate any potential administrative rule violations, and end my day by filling out a detailed steward report documenting the events of the show from my point of view.

What the steward doesn't do:

One task that is not the steward's responsibility is actually running the rings. It is the host team's responsibility to provide mounting area and schooling area supervisors and in-gate crew to get riders mounted, schooled, and into the show ring.  

You will occasionally hear the steward calling for riders to mount or ushering riders into the ring, but we stewards do this because we want to help keep the show running (and we tend to have a degree of authority that coaches and riders pay attention to), not because it's in our job description.

In conclusion...
I think stewarding horse shows is a pretty sweet gig. I do, of course, have to make some tough decisions, but overall I really enjoy interacting with the coaches and riders, getting to know the judges, and observing the horses. I learn so much from watching and listening that I can apply to my horses and IHSA team back home.  

I also think it's fun to watch riders as they go through their IEA career. I've been a show steward for nine years now and have seen multiple riders begin their IEA journey in middle school, progress through high school, then go on to ride on a college team.  Some of them even end up on my IHSA team. :-)

Show steward considering a re-ride request.
Photo credit Doug Dershimer

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook.  
Thanks! -- Amanda

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reins and Sticks and Spurs...Oh My!

I had a nice conversation with a judge-friend recently. She remarked how many competitors rode well, but had small deductions in their score due to a lack of attention to detail, such as riding with their reins twisted and/or holding the crop incorrectly, that kept them out of the high ribbons.

So for today's blog I will illustrate proper rein and crop carriage.  I am also including a discussion on proper spur and stirrup leather positioning just for good measure.

Before we begin, I'd like to say a big thank you to my judge-friend for the suggestion (you know who you are, lol) and to IHSA rider Anika Cook and lesson horse Simon for acting as models.

Correct Rein and Crop Position
The picture below demonstrates correct rein and crop position.  A few things to note:
  • The reins should lay flat against the horse's neck from the bit up to the rider's hands, with no twists.
  • The "bight" of the reins (the loopy part at the end including the buckle) should come upward out of the rider's hands and fold neatly under the reins.
  • The crop should rest on the rider's thigh.

Here are a few pictures of common rein and crop mistakes.

Common Rein Mistakes
  • Reins and bight twisted (also end of nose band not in keeper!)
  • Bight flopped over reins, not tucked neatly underneath

Common Crop Mistakes
  • Crop hanging straight down from rider's hand.  Note how this creates a break in her wrist, interrupting the elbow-hand-bit line.
  • Crop sticking out perpendicular to the horse.  Note how the rider's hand is turned sideways in a "piano-hands" position.

Where should you put the bight?  The left or the right?
There is no rule about which side of the neck the bight should rest upon; however, many trainers follow the easy-to-remember phrase "bight on the right" because, as the rider enters the ring tracking left, the bight is out of the judge's view on the opposite side of the neck, creating a clean and tidy first impression.

Correct Stirrup Leather Alignment
The stirrup leather should lay flat against the rider's leg (not twisted).

  • Correct stirrup leather

Incorrect Twisted Stirrup Leather
If the stirrup leather is twisted, it won't lay flat against the rider's leg.  This is unsightly and uncomfortable for the rider.

  • Twisted stirrup leather

Correct Spur Placement 
Spurs can be placed on the spur rests on the rider's boot heel or below the spur rests lower at the bottom of the heel.
  • Spur sitting on spur rest on rider's heel
  • Spur sitting below spur rest at the bottom of the rider's heel.  If necessary, the spur can be placed even lower than this, all the way down even with the sole of the boot where the boot heel meets the sole.

Either of these spur positions is correct.  The higher the spur is placed on the heel, the more effective it is.  A coach may choose to put the spur low on the heel if the horse doesn't need much spur or if she is concerned that the rider may accidentally overuse the spur.  She may choose the higher option if the horse is dull to the leg or reluctant to canter.

Rolling spur straps to make them smaller
In IEA and IHSA shows, the riders are instructed to use the spurs that are provided with the horse. Sometimes the spur straps are too large for the rider's foot.  This problem can be easily remedied by wrapping the spur strap, the same way we wrap stirrup leathers, as shown in the picture below.

  • Spur strap rolled correctly

Make sure the spur is on the correct foot
The spur straps should come across the top of the foot from inside to outside.  The end of the strap should rest against the outside of the foot facing out and back, as shown in the picture below.

  • Spur on correct foot

If the spur is on the wrong foot, the end of the strap will be on the inside facing the horse's side, which looks unsightly, but more importantly, it can poke or tickle the horse causing miscommunication during the ride.

  • Spur on incorrect foot

A little attention to detail goes a long way
Taking care of small details like those described above can give you a little extra bump in your score, and in a tough class that can mean the difference between first place and a lower ribbon.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share on Facebook.  Thanks!  --Amanda

Amanda Garner is an IEA and IHSA steward, IHSA coach, IEA board member, and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association." 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

USEF Hunt Seat Equitation Tests in IEA and IHSA Shows

Did you know that in IEA and IHSA competitions, the judges have a list of potential equitation tests they may ask riders to perform?  This list comes from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equitation Tests found in the USEF rule book.

There are 19 total USEF equitation tests; however, only 13 of them may be used in IEA or IHSA shows. You can find this list in the IEA and IHSA rule books. I've also included it below.

13 USEF tests permitted in IEA and IHSA competition:

1. Be asked an appropriate horsemanship question that is tailored to the rider’s ability level
2. Halt
3. Sitting trot
4. Two point position at the walk and/or trot
5. Figure eight at trot, demonstrating change of diagonals
6. Figure eight at canter on correct lead, demonstrating simple change of lead
7. Change Horses
8. Ride without stirrups
9. Change leads down center of ring, demonstrating simple change of lead
10. Canter on the counter lead. No more than eight horses may counter canter at one time
11. Half-turn on forehand and/or half-turn on haunches
12. Jump a shortened course
13. Trot a jump not to exceed 2’6”

Which tests the judge may ask riders to perform is determined by the class level.

From the IEA rule book, here is a list of each IEA hunt seat flat division and which tests the riders in each division should be capable of performing:

Classes 9 & 12:  Beginner Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-7

Classes 8 & 11:  Novice Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-8

Classes 7 & 10:  Intermediate Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-9

Class 6:  Open Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-13*

*I think it's fair to assume tests 12 & 13 would only be asked in open fences, not open flat.

For the IHSA riders, here is a list from the IHSA rule book of the IHSA hunt seat flat divisions and which tests may be asked for each.

Class 1:  Walk/Trot Equitation, Tests 1-4

Class 2a:  Beginner Walk/Trot/Canter Equitation, Tests 1-5 and 9

Class 2b:  Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter Equitation, Tests 1-6 and 9

Class 3:  Novice Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-9

Class 5:  Intermediate Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-9

Class 7:  Open Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-11

And for those of you who are curious, here are the additional USEF tests from the USEF rule book that may be asked in USEF-sanctioned competitions, but not in IEA or IHSA:
  • Hand gallop.
  • Jump obstacles on figure eight course.
  • Jump low obstacles at a walk as well as at a canter. The maximum height and spread for a
  • walk jump is 2’.
  • Dismount and mount. Individually.
  • Figure eight at canter on correct lead demonstrating flying change of lead.
  • Execute serpentine at a trot and/or canter on correct lead demonstrating simple or flying changes of lead. 
  • Change leads on a line demonstrating a flying change of lead.
  • Demonstration ride of approximately one minute. Rider must advise judge beforehand what ride he plans to demonstrate.

While testing is not very common in regular season IEA and IHSA shows, you should expect to be tested if you make it to regional, zone, and/or national finals. If you're not already practicing these tests in your lessons, you may want to get started on them before the post-season shows get here.

"Get Connected" DVD
For additional instruction, I encourage you to check out a DVD that demonstrates how to execute all 19 USEF Equitation Tests correctly, titled "Get Connected."

Here's some info about the DVD from the USEF website and the link to purchase it.

Get Connected
An educational DVD produced by the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association, in association with USHJA, “Get Connected” features USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Tests 1-19, and special presenters Debbie McDonald (World Cup Champion and U.S. Olympian in Dressage), Cynthia Hankins (USEF “R” Judge, USEF Medal Final winner) and Michael Moran (USEF Judge, highly acclaimed horse show announcer).



USEF gave all IHSA coaches nationwide (including me!) this DVD a few years ago and it has been a great resource. I highly recommend it for IEA and IHSA coaches and teams. You could get together for a team movie night to watch and discuss.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook. Thanks! Amanda

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Horse Holding Rules and Etiquette

I received an email last week from someone who read my book, "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."  She indicated in her email that I needed to discuss holding area rules and horse holding etiquette.  I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea, so here ya go:

Holding Area Rules
The first rule is that only horse holders, coaches, and riders who are currently mounting and dismounting are allowed in the holding area.  This is purely for safety reasons.  The holding area is often not very large and if the area gets too crowded someone may get kicked or stepped on.  

Riders aren't allowed to mount until they are instructed to do so by the schooling supervisor. For flat classes this is usually when the previous flat class reverses. For fence classes it is usually about three to five trips out.

Sometimes a horse is used in two flat classes back-to-back or twice in one fence class. The show officials are aware when this happens, and always allow the second rider adequate time to mount and prepare for her ride.

Riders are not allowed to school the horse or practice in any way while they are standing in the holding area or waiting outside the show ring. This includes use of the crop.  Riders may only use their crop during their two warm up fences and while in the show ring.

If a horse requires a spur, the spurs should be provided with the horse, often attached to the stirrups on the saddle.  If you ride a horse with spurs, make sure the take the spurs off and put them back on the saddle when you're done.

Regarding tightening girths and moving saddles up, "no rider, coach or anyone else without the approval of either the schooling supervisor or the show steward may adjust any tack or equipment, except stirrup lengths" (IEA rulebook).  In the coaches meetings that I lead as show steward, I establish who has permission to adjust girths and move saddles up from horse providers and note any horses whose girths or saddles should not be adjusted by anyone except the horse provider.  For all other tack (bridles, bits, martingales, etc.) only the horse provider should make those adjustments.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the horse holder must maintain control of the horse from the time the rider mounts until she enters the schooling ring or show ring. The rider should never walk freely around the holding area without a horse holder leading the horse.

Horse Holder Etiquette
Speaking of horse holders, this section provides a few tips for horse holder etiquette.  The skill and attentiveness of your team's horse holders can determine how efficiently and safely the show runs.

If your team brought horses to the show, your coach will let you know which classes your horses are in.  Pay attention to the show and bring your team's horses up to the holding area at least one class before they are needed so the rider has time to mount.  This applies to horses that are alternates, too.

The horses should be held at a safe distance from each other in the holding area and the holders should take care not to stand directly behind another horse.  At least one horse-length away from other horses on all sides is often considered a safe distance.

Holders should be alert and attentive at all times so they can react if a dangerous situation arises, such as another horse getting too close, or a tent blowing over causing some of the horses to spook.

The horse holder must maintain control of the horse while the rider is mounting, stay with the horse while waiting for the class to begin, and lead the horse to the in-gate.  It's tempting sometimes to wander off once a rider gets mounted, but the rider is not allowed to school the horse before she enters the arena, so the holder must maintain control of the horse.

The horse holder's job isn't done once the horse enters the arena.  She must wait by the gate for the rider to exit the ring and take control of the horse so the rider can dismount. If the holder can't pick the horse up after the class because she has to get ready for her class, she should coordinate with a team mate to get that horse.  Don't leave the show rider stranded holding the horse!

If you are the show rider that is stranded with a horse, politely tell the schooling supervisor and hold the horse until a holder can be found.

Holders should always stand while holding. It is tempting to sit down during a long day, especially if the horse you're holding is a saint, but it just isn't safe.  Also, the stirrups should be run up and the reins should be held so that they aren't touching the ground.  If the horse is wearing a martingale, the holder should check frequently to make sure it hasn't slipped up the horse's neck.

If it is chilly outside, you can put a cooler on the horse between classes, as instructed by your coach. If it is downright cold, you may need to put a blanket on between classes to keep his muscles warm.

Horse holders should dress comfortably.  Many like to cover up their show clothes with team apparel. The only clothing requirement for horse holders is closed toe shoes for safety purposes.

Horse holders should feel free to talk to the rider about the horse and share their personal advice on how the horse goes; however, the rider and coach should keep in mind that the advice came from well-meaning student and factor that into whether they take it or not.

Holders should offer their horses water periodically.  Many IEA shows take place when its very cold outside, but the horses still need to drink.  They also should go back to their stalls a couple times per day so they can pee.  Make sure you confirm with the schooling supervisor that the horse isn't needed for an upcoming class before taking him back to the stall for a water or pee break.

And lastly, always confirm with the schooling supervisor that the horse is completely done for the day, including any classes in which he may be an alternate, before taking him back to the stall to untack.  I always feel bad for a horse who has already been taken back to his stall and untacked who then has to be tacked back up again for one last class because the holder took him back too early.

As an example, the two young ladies in the picture below are doing a great job holding their team's horses.  They are alert and attentive to their surroundings, the horses are a safe distance from each other, the holders are standing (not sitting), they are wearing closed toe shoes and comfortable clothing (with team logo--added bonus!), the stirrups are run up on the saddles, and the reins are not touching the ground.  

Anna Kirsten Todd and Sarah Rose Perlich of the Birmingham Interscholastic
IEA team holding team horses Rosie and Jessie at last weekend's show.
Photo Credit--Amanda Garner
If you enjoyed this blog post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook.  If you have an idea for a topic, please leave me a comment or send me an email through my website www.epiphany-farm.com.  Thanks! Amanda