Showing

Trail Penalties

Horse-Showing Tip: Learn how you and your horse can avoid penalties in your next trail class.

From the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations

Each obstacle gets a score ranging from -1 ½-+1 ½ . Journal photo

Trail became an AQHA class in 1964, but it began as a test of a horse’s ability to perform daily ranch routines. Because there were no rules to guide course designers, some of the earlier classes included live animals, dismounts and jumps.

Today, trail has evolved into one of the most popular AQHA classes. It puts an emphasis on a horse’s manners, response to the rider and quality of movement. Like many classes, there are penalties for errors made throughout the class.

Here is a list of the point penalties from the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations:

One-half point

  • Each tick or contact of a log, pole, cone, plant, or any component of an obstacle

One point

  • Each hit, bite, or stepping on a log, cone, plant or any component of the obstacle

  • Incorrect or break of gait at walk or jog for two strides or less

  • Both front or hind feet in a single-strided slot or space at a walk or jog

  • Skipping over or failing to step into required space

  • Split pole in lope-over

  • Incorrect number of strides, if specified

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Three Points

  • Incorrect or break of gait at walk or jog for more than two strides

  • Out of lead or break of gait at lope (except when correcting an incorrect lead)

  • Knocking down an elevated pole, cone, barrel, plant, obstacle, or severely disturbing an obstacle

  • Falling or jumping off or out of a bridge or a water box with one foot once the horse has gotten onto or into that obstacle

  • Stepping outside of the confines of an obstacle with designated boundaries (i.e. back-through, 360-degree box, side pass) with one foot once the horse has entered the obstacle

  • Missing or evading a pole that is a part of a series of an obstacle with one foot

Five Points

  • Dropping slicker or object required to be carried on course

  • First or second cumulative refusal or balk, or evading an obstacle by shying or backing

  • Letting go of gate or dropping rope gate

  • Use of either hand to instill fear or praise

  • Falling or jumping off or out of a bridge or a water box with more than one foot once the horse has gotten onto or into that obstacle

  • Stepping outside of the confines of an obstacle with designated boundaries (i.e. back-through, 360-degree box, side pass) with more than one foot once the horse has entered the obstacle.

  • Missing or evading a pole that is a part of a series of an obstacle with more than one foot

  • Blatant disobedience (including kicking out, bucking, rearing, striking)

 

Penalty Zero (Disqualification)

  • Use of two hands (except in snaffle bit or hackamore classes designated for two hands) or changing hands on reins; except for junior horses shown with hackamore or snaffle bit, only one hand may be used on the reins, except that it is permissible to change hands to work an obstacle as outlined in WESTERN EQUIPMENT, or to straighten reins when stopped.

  • Use of romal other than as outlined in WESTERN EQUIPMENT

  • Performing the obstacle incorrectly or other than in specified order

  • No attempt to perform an obstacle

  • Equipment failure that delays completion of pattern

  • Excessively or repeatedly touching the horse on the neck to lower the head

  • Entering or exiting an obstacle from the incorrect side or direction

  • Working obstacle the incorrect direction; including overturns of more than a quarter turn

  • Riding outside designated boundary marker of the arena or course area

  • Third cumulative refusal or balk, or evading an obstacle by shying or backing

  • Failure to ever demonstrate correct lead and/or gait as designated

  • Failure to follow the correct line of travel between obstacles

  • Excessive schooling, pulling, turning, stepping or backing anywhere on course

  • Failure to open and shut gate or failure to complete gate (except for Level 1 or Rookie classes where they place below all who complete course correctly)

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Faults scored according to severity which occur on the line of trace between obstacles include:

  • Head carried to high

  • Head carried to low and/or clearly behind the vertical excessively and consistently while the horse is in motion or otherwise showing the appearance of intimidation.

  • Opening mouth excessively

Faults which will be cause for disqualification that occur on the line of travel between obstacles, except in Level 1 amateur or Level 1 youth classes which shall be faults scored according to severity,

  • Head carried too low (tip of ear below the withers consistently)

  • Over-flexing or straining neck in head carriage so the nose is carried behind the vertical consistently.

Scoring

Every rider starts out with a score of 70. Each obstacle gets a score ranging from Minus one and one half to plus one and one half. The maneuver scores are determined and assessed independently of penalty points. Here is the range for each maneuver:

+1.5  Excellent

+ 1    Very Good

+.5    Good

0       Average

-.5     Poor

-1      Very Poor

-1.5   Extremely Poor