Spectator Guide

SPECTATORS GUIDE TO HORSE SHOWS

Spectators

Welcome to the Westar Farms Horse Show Spectator page. You’ll find information about our shows, and other shows in the ‘neigh’-bourhood.

Westar shows:

We hold three horse shows at Westar Farms , (8132 Fernbank Road, just south of Hwy. 7, between Dwyer Hill Road and Munster Rd.), in Ottawa’s west end. The shows span from June to September, with the first, the ‘Spring Into Summer’ Trillium and Bronze Show on the weekend of June 13/14, followed by the ‘Horse Lovers’ Weekend’ Trillium and Bronze Show on August 8/9 and rounding out the season is our ‘Jump Into Fall’ Bronze Show on Saturday, September 19.

What Happens at a Horse Show?

Well that depends what kind of horse show you go to… our shows are Hunter/Jumper shows ~ I’ll explain that in a moment, but you can also go to dressage shows (kind of like ballet on horseback), Horse Trials (competitors perform in 3 different phases of the event ~ dressage, stadium (jumping coloured obstacles in a show ring) and cross-country (galloping through fields and over natural obstacles) 4H events (children and their horses and ponies) and western shows. All of these shows are available to see in the Ottawa area.

At our Hunter/Jumper show there are three types of events:

Hunter classes are judged by a qualified judge and scored based on the style and smoothness of the horse and rider as they perform over a course, or sequence, of about eight jumps. Horses are expected to canter in an even pace around the course, jumping the jumps while maintaining an even rhythm of their gait. Classes are grouped into divisions, based on either the size or experience of the horse. So there are classes for ponies of various sizes, Small, Medium or Large, for inexperienced or Green horses, or Open (meaning anyone can compete) classes. Ribbons are given out to the top five or six in the class and prize money is also offered in some classes.

JumpersJumper Classes are all about getting the fewest faults i.e. not knocking down the jumps or having refusals (where the horse doesn’t jump the jump on the first attempt). Two refusals result in elimination from the class. The judge is these classes is more of a score keeper, blowing the whistle to start the round and noting any faults and the time taken to complete the course. In some classes, horses who have no faults in the first round get to come back and ride a shortened “jump off’ course to determine final placings. This time they are trying to get the fewest faults and the fastest time.

 In Equitation Classes the rider is the one evaluated. The judge is looking for them to guide and control their horse effectively and efficiently, making it look ‘easy’. Equitation classes can fall under the Hunter (over natural obstacles showing smoothness and even rhythm) or Jumper category (over brightly coloured obstacles swiftly and efficiently).

 

… and Two Levels of Competition:

Classes at our shows are at two progressive levels of competition. Bronze classes or divisions are at the introductory level of competition. Many competitors start at this level to gain experience or experienced riders might start green horses here before moving up to the Silver (called Trillium in Ontario) level. In our area Bronze shows are overseen by the Ottawa Valley Primary Show Circuit (OVPSC). There are more than 15 shows of this kind in the Ottawa area that run from the beginning of May to the end of September. The Trillium Circuit is a provincial circuit and there are 7 different zones that make up the entire group. The shows in the Ottawa area are in the Eastern Zone. Competitors on the Trillium Circuit gain points with every ribbon won (more on that in a moment) and if they earn enough points to be amongst the top seven in their division, can qualify for the Provincial Finals or Trillium Championships held north of Toronto at the North Caledon Equestrian Park.

List of Classes/Divisions:

Name Bronze Trillium
Hunter Divisions: Short Stirrup, Beginner rider, Pre-Novice/Novice Rider, Green, Introductory, Bronze Hunter, Child/Adult Silver Hunter, Silver Child/Adult, Low, Adult, Children’s, Hack, Modified Child/Adult, Trillium, Small/Medium Pony, Large Pony, Modified Pony, Short Stirrups
Jumper  Divisions: Bronze Jumper .90 m Silver, 1.0 m Training, 1.0 m Junior/Amateur, 1.10 m Trillium
Equitation Bronze Jumper Equitation, Pre-Novice/Novice Equitation Two classes per division based on rider age: ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, Adult     Medal class (one class): Children’s, Modified Child/Adult, Jumper
Feature Classes  Hunter Classic 1 & 2, Hunter Derby, Jumper Derby (Sept.) 

 

Ribbons, Prize Money and Prizes:

Ribbon WinnerCompetitors win ribbons and in some cases prize money and/or prizes. In Bronze classes, ribbons are presented to the top 5 competitors in each class. In Trillium classes the top 6 win ribbons and in many classes, prize money. Those in the top placings earn points toward a division championship. The Champion and Reserve Champion each get a special big ribbon and the Champion also gets a prize and in some cases so does the Reserve Champion.

Sponsors:

SponsorsWe are grateful to our generous sponsors who donate the prizes and prize money which heightens the spirit of competition. Sponsorships can vary between $40 and $2000 with many options in-between. All sponsors are invited to enjoy the events at “The Hub”, our hospitality tent, or, right at ring side and you are also invited into the show ring to present the ribbons and prizes to the winners of your class.

The Officials:

JudgesThe Judges evaluate (hunter and equitation) or score (jumper) the classes. The Course Designers design and build the jumping patterns or courses and make sure that the jumps are safe. They also make sure the courses are interesting and varied. The Steward is a representative of Equine Canada (EC), the equestrian sport governing body, and she makes sure the EC rules are adhered to.

The staff:

There is much preparation getting the grounds ready. Apart from cutting acres of grass, the course designer requires plenty of muscle from the Jump Crew to get the jumps in place, to move jumps between classes and put jumps back up if they get knocked down. Each of the 4 show rings has its own specific set of classes and someone is needed to set an order of competitors in each class, to get horses and riders in and out of the ring safely and communicate important information to the Show Office or the Announcer in the tower or the judge.

Volunteers:

Volunteers are backbone of our show. Many are riders and their family members but others are friends and supporters who donate their time and efforts to a sport and the horses they love. They might help set up the rings, maybe make sandwiches or donate fruit and baked goods for the volunteers and staff lunches. Our announcers have each been doing their job for all 25 years of Westar horse shows ~ now that is commitment for which we can barely begin to give enough thanks. We do try to show our thanks and at the end of the Sunday of every show we invite all the staff, officials, volunteers, riders and their families for a party to express our gratitude for their contribution to our shows. The cooperation and comraderie  are what make a Westar Horse Show such fun for everyone in attendance.

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Enjoy the Show!