How to win an intermediate show class

  • If you’re planning to show in intermediate classes this season, you need to know how to stand out to make the top of the line-up. The following tips will ensure you make an instant impact and catch the judges’ eye.

    What are intermediate classes?

    Intermediate classes were introduced by the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) as a stepping stone into adult classes. The classes allow riders to compete under BSPS rules up to the age of 25, when they would also be entering the more demanding arena of hack, riding horse and hunter classes.

    There are four intermediate classes:

    1. Small intermediate show riding type (SRT)
    2. Large intermediate show riding type (SRT)
    3. Intermediate show hunter type (SHT)
    4. Intermediate working hunter pony (tips for these will be included in our WHP article in May).

    Unlike adult classes the judge does not ride intermediate horses.

    The BSPS is the governing society for qualifiers for the BSPS championships, Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) and Horse of the Year show (HOYS).

    Which intermediate class should I enter?

    Show riding types (small and large) should have elegance and presence, and riders should perform an individual show.

    • A small intermediate SRT should exceed 146cm but not exceed 153cm. Producer Sam Quiney explains that a small SRT should be a similar type of animal to a small hack when shown under British Show Horse Association (BSHA) rules.

    “These classes are to encourage young riders to move on to horses and compete in both adult classes as well as intermediate classes, which is of course the reason for the introduction of these classes,” says Sam, who is also a BSPS judge.

    “A true SRT should certainly not be a 148cm show pony – it should be bigger and have more scope,” adds BSPS judge Patrick Lobb.

    • A large SRT should exceed 153cm but exceed 158cm. Sam says the large SRT is more of a mixture of types between a large hack and a small riding horse.
    • The intermediate SHT should exceed 148cm but not exceed 158cm and is usually a horse that could also be shown in small hunter classes.

    “A SHT needs to have more bone than a SRT and should be more free moving. It should be along the lines of a miniature middleweight hunter,” says Patrick.

    Tack and turnout

    • “Tack should be neat with a straight cut saddle to show off the pony’s front,” advises Patrick.
    • The bridle on a SRT is similar to a show pony and should be shown with a coloured browband.
    • Competitors must wear navy blue jackets.

    “These mustn’t be too short though and should be accompanied with a coloured tie,” adds Patrick. “Personally I don’t like glitter and definitely no sparkle. If the tack, horse and rider are presented properly it makes a tremendous effect on the overall picture.”

    • Tack for a SHT should be more workmanlike with a plain browband, like a show hunter would wear. Patrick also notes that riders are expected to wear tweed jackets.
    • Top boots should be worn in all intermediate classes and are preferable to gaiters or half chaps, and riders with long hair should have it in a bun.

    Correct way of going

    “Riders in the small SRT classes should perform a show that is more technical than what they would have done in pony classes,” explains Sam. “A serpentine, walk to canter, rein-back or even centre line changes are encouraged, but my advice would be to find what you can do well and perform it.

    “A bad rein-back can ruin what was maybe a beautiful show. I encourage our jockeys to go for it and make their show interesting. There is nothing worse than watching a whole class of intermediates come out and perform a serpentine, with a walk to canter and an extension.”

    Top tip: try to be different

    “I think jockeys should throw something different in,” states Sam.

    “One of my jockeys starts her show with a nice trot, canter and a gallop right from the start. Then she performs her serpentine, walk to canter, rein-back and, if she feels she really has to do something special to win, she’ll put centre line changes in at the end.

    “I don’t think there’s a set way to do your show, but like hack classes you need to find what you and your horse are good at and make it your calling card.”

    Sam explains that due to the large show riding types being a mix of hacks and riding horses, it is essential to gallop.

    “Hacks don’t generally gallop in adult classes, but a riding horse does, so even if you’re riding a hack type you don’t want to get beaten by a riding horse type just because you didn’t show a gallop.”

    The intermediate show hunter type is of course a small hunter.

    “This type should have all the same qualities of the adult version, but sometimes a slightly stronger riding horse can make its way into this class,” adds Sam. “The individual show doesn’t need to be as technical as the SRT classes, but they should do a forward simple show that highlights a good trot, a canter on each rein and have a very good gallop.

    “You can’t get away with an extension in this class and I’m not a fan of these horses performing serpentines, which seem to be making an appearance more and more.”

    Two golden rules

    Sam recommends the following:

    1. Remember to walk

    “Every judge likes to see a good walk. There should always be a decent amount of strides at the beginning and end of the show. Eight to ten steps is just about enough as this shows a relaxed horse.

    2. Show off in trot

    “I like to see a good trot as this shows off a horse’s movement. Your show should be forward and, although hacks have a very collected way of going, I’ve seen too many jockeys try to perform this and not do it well.

    “Although the horse can be going in a collected way, some end up looking like they’re cantering or trotting on the spot. Horses must cover the ground, whether it be in complete collection or not.”

    Riders should

    • “Always present your pony in front of the judge at its best,” says Patrick. “Make sure you don’t get covered up by other riders and don’t ride over the judge.”
    • “Riders should learn to stand their ponies correctly for conformation. They should stand to one side when the judge comes around to the front of the pony to allow the judge to look at its front legs clearly.”
    • “Competitors must pay attention to the judge and not look back at their groom.”
    • “If your ring doesn’t seem to be big enough to keep your show flowing and forward while doing a serpentine, then I would suggest just a figure of eight with a walk to canter,” adds Sam.

    Continued below…

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    Riders shouldn’t

    • Over-trot their ponies, says Patrick.
    • Present over-bent animals struggling for their heads.
    • “Showmanship comes into the intermediate classes more so than in the pony classes,” says Sam. “There can be a lot to learn from the professionals on showmanship, and I suggest intermediate jockeys at least once watch a supreme championship at the BSHA championship show.
    • “As intermediate classes were designed to encourage young riders into the horse classes I do find it a great shame that a lot don’t actually make the transition. The BSHA has put classes on for under 25s at their championships show and riders should take advantage of them,” adds Sam.

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