Western Day

“Saddle ’em up and ride ’em out!”

Western Day is a one-day pony event that emulates western-style horse competitions.  Spectators are invited to wear western dress such as denim, cowboy hats, and boots.

Like the Jamboree, Western Day is not an annual event.  Traditionally it is held in the autumn.  Please check our calendar to see if there’s one being held this year!


Conformation (Halter)

The purpose of this class is to select individuals in the order of their resemblance to their breed ideal with the most positive combination of balance, structural correctness, muscling and movement. Classes are divided by the horse’s sex.

In Judging the event: The Pony’s breed must be given. The horse and the Rider/Handler are expected to stand solidly on their feet during the event.


Western Pleasure

Western pleasure horses should be as the name implies – a pleasure to ride, while being very smooth. Contestants compete simultaneously, traveling around the perimeter of the arena. Horses are judged on functional correctness, quality of movement including consistency of their gaits, and attitude.

In Judging: Each Pony and Rider/Handler must convey they are a team, functioning together in harmony. The Ponies gaits will be studied and each team will in unison proceed through walk, jog, and lope. Gaits should be performed at a slow speed. Judges will be looking at the manners of horses, as they should perform their gaits in a relaxed manner. They should have a calm temperament, but still listen tentatively to their riders.



Reining patterns include stops, spins, rollbacks, circles and lead changes, each horse is evaluated on movement, mastery of the pattern and attitude. The reining pattern shall challenge the rider to guide and control every movement of the horse.

Spins or Turnarounds: beginning from a standstill, the horse spins 360 degrees or more (up to four and one-quarter full turns) in place around its stationary inside hind leg. The hind pivot foot remains in essentially the same location throughout the spin, though the horse will pick it up and put it down as it turns. [Note: an interpretation of this may be, if Rider is behind the human Pony on reins, the Rider/handler’s foot is the back foot.] Spins are judged on correctness, smoothness, and cadence.

Sliding Stop: the horse goes from a gallop immediately to a complete halt, planting its hind feet in the footing and allowing its hind feet to slide several feet, while continuing to let its front feet “walk” forward.  (Note: an interpretation of this may be for a human Pony to drop to their knees and slide while continuing to walk forward with your forearms. Knee pads are recommended.)

Rollback: the horse immediately, without hesitation, performs a 180-degree turn after halting from a sliding stop, and immediately goes forward again into a lope

Back or Backup: the horse backs up quickly for at least 10 feet (3 m). The horse must back in a perfectly straight line, stop when asked and hesitate a moment before the next movement. It is judged on how quick, smooth and straight the line is.

Circles: the horse must perform large, fast circles at a near-gallop and smaller, slow circles at a lope. They should be perfectly round, with the rider dictating the pace of the horse. There should be an easily seen change of speed as the rider transitions from the large, fast to the small, slow circles.

Flying change: the horse changes its leading front and hind legs at the lope mid-stride, during the suspension phase of the gait. The horse should not break gait nor change speed. Precision is the most important factor in judging.



This is a judged course that tests a horse and rider’s ability to work as a team and navigate through natural obstacles they might experience on a trail. Just as a decathlete must train in several events, trail horses must also be accomplished in numerous obstacles such as passing through gates and crossing bridges. Trail judges focus on the skill of the horse to handle certain situations that might occur on an outdoor trail ride. Scoring is based on the horse’s willingness, ease and grace in negotiating the course.


Barrel Race

Barrel racing is a time event. Exhibitors race against the clock, following a course consisting of three barrels in a triangular “cloverleaf” pattern. Contestants must choose either the right or left barrel, circle it, and go on to the next barrel, completing the course after circling the third barrel and running home. Barrels are permitted to be touched, but if one is knocked down during the course of the run, a five-second penalty per downed barrel is added.

Pole Bending

Pole Bending is a timed event. Just as a skier would compete in a slalom course, pole bending puts a horse through a similarly designed course. The course consists of a series of six poles spaced 3 feet apart, which horses and riders weave through. Horses run to the far end of the series of poles, turn, and weave in and out as they work their way back to the front. Horses then complete a turn around the front pole and maneuver through the series again. At the last pole, they complete that turn and race toward the finish line at full speed. A five-second penalty is added for each pole knocked down.

Stake Race

Stake Race is a timed event which is a variation of pole bending with only two poles. The two poles are set 3 ft apart and a timing line (defined by two markers) is set between the two poles. The event begins and when the horse crosses the timing line. Go through the timing line between the markers to the first pole and go around it in either direction. Go back across the timing line between the markers to the second pole and go around it in the opposite direction, then return across the timing line between the markers. The horse is disqualified if they knock over a marker. A five-second penalty is added for each pole knocked down.


The pattern the exhibitors are to perform is posted ahead of time. It must be memorized and riders cannot carry notes or be coached while in the ring.

The exhibitor will lead the horse at a walk and trot, make one or two turns, stop at specific locations, and sometimes back up. However, all straight lines must be perfectly straight, all turns smooth and crisp, all changes of speed executed promptly. Orange Cones are used to designate the precise spot a horse and exhibitor are to walk, trot, turn or back. Patterns may be made more difficult by having changes of gait in shorter distances, by requiring more frequent or tighter turns, or by asking the horse to turn in place, pivoting on its hindquarters for two or three revolutions.

An exhibitor is not allowed to touch with the horse during a class. The human Pony should be wearing a bridle or halter with a lead line attached.

Judges may ask exhibitors to pick up the feet of the horse, or to part the horse’s lips and show the judge the “bite” of the horse’s teeth. The judge may ask the exhibitor questions about the parts of the horse, horse management, the age and breed of their animal, and so on.

Grooming and cleanliness is 40% of the score, and the pattern and handler’s showmanship is 60%.


Western Equitation

The rider should give the appearance of control, adaptability and the ability to demonstrate how to properly ride a reining horse and perform a reining horse pattern. The riders are being judged and the performance of the horse is not considered more important than the method used to obtain it.

Appointments: Riders must wear Western hat; long-sleeved shirt with any type of collar; a necktie, kerchief or bolo tie or brooch; trousers or pants; (a one-piece long-sleeved equitation suit is acceptable provided it includes any type of collar). Chaps and boots are required. A vest, jacket, coat, and/or sweater may also be worn.


Western Horsemanship

The emphasis of this event should be placed on the horse and the rider working together. Execution of required gaits, transitions, tests, and correct form of both horse and rider, while maintaining a pleasurable ride, are the important factors. When performing the pattern in a Western Horsemanship class, riders should show complete control, precision, accuracy and smoothness. Execution and correct form of both the horse and rider while maintaining a pleasurable ride are the main criteria for this class.

Overall Presentation of Exhibitor and Horse – The exhibitor’s overall poise, confidence, appearance and position throughout the class as well as the physical appearance of the horse will be evaluated.

Presentation and Position of Exhibitor: Appropriate western attire must be worn. Clothes and person are to be neat and clean.

Presentation of Horse: the horse’s body condition and overall health and fitness is assessed. Tack should fit the horse properly and be neat, clean and in good repair.

Performance: the exhibitor should perform the work accurately, precisely, smoothly, and with a reasonable amount of promptness. The Pony should perform all maneuvers in the pattern willingly, briskly and readily with minimal visible or audible cuing.

Major Faults:

  • Break of gait at a lope, out of lead or missing lead for 1-2 strides.
  • Not stopping within 2 feet of designated area.
  • Incorrect gait or break of gait at walk or jog for more than 2 strides.
  • Dropping a rein.




The Best of Show Award is given to the pony with the highest accumulation of Ribbon Points.

Points will be awarded as follows: 3 points for a First Place, 2 points for a Second Place, 1 point for a Third Place.


The HIGH POINT AWARD is given to the pony with the highest accumulation of actual judges points.  The total possible number of points a pony can earn at this event is 700.

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