The American Saddlebred is known as “the horse America made” after being created by generations of high quality breeding in the United States. Saddlebreds are known for their beauty, talent, spirit and versatility. Saddlebred Week at the horse show highlights this versatility.
Competing horses will show in Saddleseat, Huntseat and Western disciplines, and horses and Hackney ponies will pull carts and buggies. Horses will demonstrate varying gaits from big, strong trots to slow steady jogs. Some will demonstrate the smooth slow-gait and or the exhilarating and high-speed rack. Depending on each class, horses and ponies are judged on manners, performance, conformation and quality. Some classes are judged on the abilities and presence of the rider instead of the horse.
Horses who compete in hunter and jumper classes are known for their agility and athleticism. Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds are the most common breeds for these types of competition. The terms “hunter” and “jumper” refer to the horses’ type of competition.
Jumpers compete over an intricate and unique series of jumps up to five-plus feet high for speed and accuracy. Their goal is to have the quickest time possible while knocking down the fewest fence rails. The different jumper divisions reflect different fence heights based on the level of the horse.
Hunters are judged on performance, conformation, and manners from a subjective viewpoint. In addition, each horse’s jumping style and way of moving are compared both over a course of 8 fences and also on the flat. As with the jumpers, the hunter divisions vary in fence height based on the experience of the horse. Hunters also include divisions where the rider is judged called Equitation classes.
No matter the preferred event or class, spectators are in for excitement and spectacle throughout the course of St. Louis National Charity Horse Show!