IMEHA offers 8 classes in the Saddleseat Division:
American SaddlebredThere are five different event types for showing American Saddlebred: Five Gaited, Three Gaited, Show Pleasure, Country Pleasure and Park. An entry into the Saddleseat Gaited Horse American Saddlebred class may depict any of these events.
Five GaitedEntries to be shown with a full mane and tail. Braids are permitted in the forelock and front of mane. Horses are shown at the walk, trot, slow gait, rack and canter both ways of the arena. Horses are judged on brillance of action, with energy directed toward speed in an animated form. Pads, weighted shoes are permitted, hoof length unlimited. Standing horses are "parked out."
Three Gaited:Gaits are collected, with energy directed toward animation and precision. Shown with a roached mane and tail. Horses are shown at a animated walk, trot and canter. Standing horses are "parked-out."
Show PleasureA show pleasure horse should be a typical Saddlebred with appropriate style, conformation, with presense and prompt, comfortalbe gaits, giving the distinct impression that it is a pleasure to ride. Easy-going, ground-covering action is desired. The horse generally has less animation than the 3 or 5 gaited horse. Shown at a walk, trot, canter plus a slow gait and rack in the 5 gaited pleasure class. Special emphasis on a true flat walk. Shown with a full mane and unset tail. Horses are shown in either 3 or 5 gaited pleasure classes. Quarter boots permiited only in the 5 gaited pleasure class. Pads and weighted shoes permitted.
Country PleasureNote country pleasure classes for 3 and 5 gaited horses generally use the same style rider attire and tack. Horses are less showy than the Show Pleasure Horse but are still good representation of the breed, style, conformation and presence. The following are classes for the Country Pleasure division.
3 and 5 Gaited English Country Pleasure:
Missouri FoxtrotterMFT's are primarily judged on the proper execution of their natural gaits. Foxtrotters perform three gaits; the flat wlak, the fox trot and the canter. The walk is performed as a true, four beat gait, with the hind legs overstriding the tracks made by the front legs. When foxtrotting the horse will walk in front and trot behind. There is sliding action of the hindquarters along with a great reach in each stride. They do not high step and in any gait the head and tail are gracefully arched while there is a noticable bobbing of the head with each stride. The canter is performed in a collected manner with a rolling motion. MFT's are shown naturally with plain shoes and without artifical devices. The The S-curb of the walking horse may be used on the headstall with the addition of colored browbands and cavesson bands fronts. Shoes are to be natural and not weigh over 22 ozs. THE MFT ribbon is also placed in the mane, one in the forelock and at the top of mane both drape long with white is the most seen color. Forbidden are pads, action devices, false tails, switches, tail braces.
MorganMorgans are bred for a wide variety of disciplines and as a result their conformation will vary depending upon the Morgan's breeding. Morgans bred for western performance tends to be stockier overall with lower motion although the headset will still be higher than that of a stock breed. There are three types of saddleseat Morgan, each with its own equivalent in harness class. Each type wears the same style tack and rider the same attire. The difference is the action of the gaits. In each type of class the horses are shown with a long mane and unset tail. Horses are shown at the walk, pleasure trot, road trot (stronger, extended trot) and a smooth collected canter.
Classic PleasureResembles the Saddleseat Country Pleaure horse, flat-shod, and with low action. In Morgan shows only amateurs are allowed in show classic pleasure Morgans.
English PleasureMorgans that are high action fit in this class and are usually shown in pads. They are flashier than their classic counterparts. They are shown in a walk, pleasure trot, road trot, and smooth collected canter. Standing horses should be "parked -out".
Saddleseat or Park MorganThe elite of the saddle seat Morgan. Extremely high action and flair are their trademarks. These classes tend to be very small as true park Morgans are very rare! The classes consists of park walk, park trot (true animated, square and balanced) and a smooth, collected canter. Standing horses should be "parked-out".
Saddleseat or Park ArabianThe Saddleseat or Park Arabian Walk is a true, cadenced, four-beat walk, with horse collected. The motion should be brisk and vigorous with the horse showing animation and brilliance.
The Saddleseat or Park Arabian Trot is animated, natural and cadenced, with impulsion and power from behind, the front airy and light. The animated natural trot is extremely bold and brilliant, characterized by free shoulder action. The trot should appear effortless and be executed willingly with apparent ease. The horse to have leg flexion with extension, (foreleg extending fully forward at full stretch with airy motion combined with hock action that is powerful and well raised, the hind leg being brought forward with a driving stride). The action should be balanced and cadenced. Loss of form due to excessive speed shall be penalized. The trot should be a true two-beat diagonal gait. Mixed gaits, pacing or racking must be considered major faults.
The park or saddleseat Arabian canter is a true, collected, animated, smooth and unhurried. The movement light and airy with more elevation than in English Pleasure classes. The horse to be balanced, supple and mobile. To be straight on both leads. Loss of form due to excessive speed would be penalized.
Saddleseat or Park 'Other Non Gaited Park Breeds'Other Non Gaited Light Breeds will more than likely not show the amount of brillance or extention in their gaits as do the Arabian or the Gaited Morgan horse. The walk should however be a cadenced, four beat with the horse on the bridle and collected.
The trot should be natural for the breed and it's conformation, it should show flexion with as much extension as the conformation will allow. It should exhibit hock action, engagement and natural animation.
The canter should be straight and true with whatever the animation the non light breed conformation may be expected to exhibit.
Tennessee Walking HorsesThere are four different event types for showing TWH's in Saddleseat: Show Pleasure, Park Pleaure, Flat Shod Pleasure and Big Lick. IMEHA considers the Big Lick and it's use of soring, chains, pads and some of the action devices as cruel and inhumane. However it does offer a Historical class for the Big Lick models. An entry into the Saddleseat Gaited Horse Tennessee Walking Horse class may depict any of the three other classes: Show Pleasure, Park Pleaure or Flat Shod Pleasure. The primary difference is the shoeing and the artificial devices allowed. Three gaits are performed the flat walk, the running walk and the canter. The flat walk is a bold, four cornered and the head nods with each stride. The hind legs remain close to the ground and over stride the front tracks. The running walk is an accelerated version of the flat walk with more pronounced nod and over stride. The canter is performed with a rolling rocking chair motion. In all gaits the horse should be flexed from the poll and the muzzle slightly tucked. The horse should perform gaits smoothly and rhythmically without stiffness or without tendency towards racking or pacing. Standing horses are "parked-out". Championship classes may have the horse stripped for conformation inspection.
Show PleasureThe show pleasure TWH performs the above three gaits. These horses perform the same exaggerated gaits of a big lick and must show on a light rein. Show Pleasure horses are shown padded. No use of braces or humane tail sets. Rhinestone or sequined browbands and cavesson fronts are prohibited.
Park PleasureThe Park Horse classes is described as above with the exception of the action devices and the tail set. There is added emphasis on manners and there is less animation of the gaits. Park Pleasure horses are padded. There are no use of braces or humane tail sets or use of any action device. Rhinestone and sequined browbands and cavessons are also not allowed. Horses to be ridden with alight rein in all gaits.
Flat Shod PleasureThese are the natural Walking Horses and are shown without pads, action devices and set tails. They perform the same three gaits listed above. They are however asked to back. This division is split into Plantation Pleasure and Lite-Shod Pleasure. Plantation Walkers may be shown with a thicker shoe (up to 1 and 1/8" including the shoe and the caulk) and display more ring presence. Lite-Shod Pleasure has a lighter shoe (up to 7/8" thick including the caulk) and perform and more relaxed fashion. Lite-Shod Horses are asked to stand quietly and to back on command. Pads and action devices are prohibited. The ends of the shoe must not extend past the bulb of the horse's heel and the use of hoof bands are prohibited. Gag bits without shanks are not allowed as well as severe bits. No bit with shanks exceeding 9 and 1/2" allowed. Australian stock saddles not allowed. Colored browbands and cavesson fronts are perhaps seen more in this division as well as breastplates. Flat Shod Pleasure is further subdivided by into Plantation Walker and Lite-Shod depending upon the weight of the shoe.
Big Lick - HistoricalThese are the TWH that are shown having padded shoes with chains or other action devices and set tails. Pads must not exceed 50% of the length of the natural hoof and can be made of leather, plastic or other pliant material. A rubber foundation may be used instead of a shoe. Metal hoof bands may be used to anchor the pads and shoes so long as they are placed at least one half inch below the coronet band. Action devices may be woren on the front pasterns only. Permissable devices are boots, collars, chains or rollers. Chains must be single links fastened by a strap of soft leather, nylon or cotton. Double links or twister chains not allowed. Rollers may be of hardwood, stell or aluminum and must have no corrosion or rough edges. There may not be used any combination of action devices. Braces for the tail, caps and switches are allowed. Forbidden equiptment are severe bits, any dangling length to the action devices, blinders , names of horses, stables, trainers or exhibitors on the equipment are prohibited within the show ring. Whips may be no longer than four feet, including the snapper. Although not required it would be unheard to use anything other than a cutback saddle. Breast collars are usually used. A standard Walking Horse bridle with a single rein and a S-shaped bit is used. Tack is nearly always black or dark brown and girths are most often white. Colored browbands are common and colored cavesson fronts and breast bands less so but still occasionally seen. Braids are usually straight plaits, the butterfly braid is considered dated back to 1970's. Boots are also outdated but since the class is concerned historical they may used. However most entries will be more likely wearing chains.
Low Action Horse
This class is for all Horses, Mules, Donkeys, or any other with no high action of the front leg nor engagement of the rear leg. Rider Attire, Tack are the same as other saddleseat classes but the horse or mule displays a less energetic profile. Horses to be shown at a walk, trot and canter both ways of the ring. To stand quietly and back readily. Horses must be brought to a flat-footed walk before changing gaits. The trot should be brisk, smart, cadenced and balanced without loss of form. Smoothness is more essential than extreme speed. An extended trot may be called for at the judge's option. The canter should be smooth, collected and straight on both leads with the ability to push on if so required. Light contact with horse's mouth must be maintained. Horses to perform with natural animated, cadenced motion under moderate collection; extremely high artificial action will be severely penalized. Horses not to be stretched while parked. Horses should be obedient, alert, responsive and move freely; Horses to be judged on performance with emphasis on presence (style), quality (fineness), suitability of purpose and brilliance.
Saddleseat EquitationRequires a rider. Judged 80% on the rider and 20% on the horse.
Riders should convey the impression of effective and easy control. Hands should be held in an easy position, neither perpendicular nor horizontal to the saddle, and should show sympathy, adaptability, and control. The height the hands are held above the horseís withers is a matter of how and where the horse carries its head. The method of holding the reins is optional, except that both hands shall be used and all reins must be held up at one time. Bight of the rein should be on the right. To obtain proper position, rider should be place with a slight bend at the knees but without use of irons. While in this position, adjust leathers to fit. Irons should be placed under the ball of the foot (not under the toe or Ďhomeí), with even pressure on the entire width of the sole and center of the iron. Foot position should be natural (neither extremely in nor out).
Basic Riding Position:
Position in Motion:
Scoring and Penalties:
Saddle Seat Tests:
Saddleseat Bareback EquitationRequires a doll rider of which 80% is on the rider and 20% on the horse. Use the same equitation seat information as above but remove the saddle.
Saddleseat Bareback PleasureNo doll rider class. Horse is 100% of the score and requires only the bridle. But since this is a two handed rein the challenge is setting up the reins to look as though they are being held by hands. Bight is on the right. Use sticky wax and do not just lay the rein over the model's withers.
For additional helpful hints for Saddleseat read: IMEHA - The Double or Full Bridle
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Updated: July 17, 12014