General Riding Class Rules


Pony Conformation:

The preferred Quarter Ponies confirmation is consistent with the AQHA or APHA, and similar breed types.  No preference should be made for the color or pattern of the pony.


Grooming & Overall Appearance

Extra Credit will be given to the exhibitor and pony who have a neat and clean appearance, but no additional credit given to the current fashion level or expense of the attire.   


Exhibitors with long hair should have it contained in a pony tail, braid, bun, or net.


Ponies must be bathed and well groomed.  Ponies are allowed to have natural mane, and due to regulations in different countries, clipping of ponies cannot be required.  However, head, ears, fetlocks, and bridle path should be free of any long hair at least to the extent that the judge will be able to see the true outline of the pony's conformation.  Most ponies when shed for the summer will be acceptable.


Manes may be banded for western classes and braided for hunt seat classes. Roached mane is acceptable in any class.  Ponies are shown with natural or black colored hooves. Adding of false tail, hair weaves, braiding in of hair, etc., is permitted. 


Forelocks can be left natural.  Braiding of forelock is not preferable in western style classes, but if forelock is prominent it may be trimmed or a single band can be used at the middle.



The facilities of the exhibitor are never to be taken into consideration of the performance.  Someone showing in their back yard will be given the same consideration as someone performing in an arena.


Quarter Pony Head Carriage and Movement


The quarter pony carriage and movement should be in the nature of a quarter pony and not what can only be achieved thru over-training.  Quarter Pony Association wants the emphasis of the quarter pony to remain on being versatile and many of the methods used to manufacture the "popular" headset takes away from the pony being able to perform in all categories. 


Ponies should move flat with no knee action, hindquarters are engaged and their hocks reach well under the body.  Ponies may have some knee action but it should be minimal.   The Lope (canter) should be controlled, three-beat gait. The gallop should be a faster variation of the canter.   Four beat canter/lope is a major fault.


Transitions from one gait to the next should be smooth and flowing. Ponies should back up in a straight line with minimal rein contact. The judge should look for cadence, and rhythm, top line and expression, consistency and length of stride.  


The head carriage at a walk is irrelevant.  When the pony is in a collected trot/jog, the neck should still remain mostly parallel to the ground.  Ponies should be able to collect themselves to slow down for western, and extend their movements in english.  Ponies are allowed to have a slightly higher headset during the western lope, and in the english classes, even in english pleasure.   See Examples in below pictures.  Being "high-headed" would come from the pony tying in too high at the shoulders, which is not preferred conformation for a quarter pony, so this still a fault. 


A pleasure driving pony should carry itself in a natural, balanced position with a relaxed head and neck. Its poll should be level with, or slightly above the level of the

withers, but not enough to allow them to nose out.  Maximum credit should be given to a pony that moves straight, with free movement, manners and a bright expression.


It would be a major fault for the point of the ears to be lower than the withers, to have the head flexed behind the vertical or moving exceptionally slowly at any gait.  Examples are "three-beat", "pigging", "peanut rolling", or any gait that does not easily look like the gait requested.  If judge has to "look twice" to make sure pony is trotting or loping, it is a Major Fault.  Ponies who have a consistent issue with this standard must be scored at the bottom of the class.  A 4 Beat Canter/lope is a Major Fault.


If a pony's way of movement causes noticeable inability of the exhibitor to remain comfortable seated, this would be a major fault.


A pony should never be penalized for a momentary lapse in performance due to a disruption outside the arena, something caused by another competitor, or any other unusual distraction thru no fault of the pony or exhibitor.


Exhibitor patting pony after the end of the performance, even if they have not cleared the ring, should not be penalized.




A. Use of prohibited appointments. See under rules of Western Tack and Attire, Hunt Seat Tack and Attire, Gymkhana and Reining.

B. In jumping classes, Failure to wear protective headgear (meeting ASTM/SEI standards) or failure for it to remain in place on top of the head with chinstrap fastened.

C. Loss of protective headgear anytime during jumping classes (or any class where it is worn).

D. Loss of lead shank from handler's hand in In-Hand classes.

E. Falling of pony or rider.

1. A rider is considered to have fallen when he is separated from his pony (that has not fallen) in such a way as to necessitate remounting or vaulting into the saddle, except in gymkhana before or after the finish line.

2. A pony is considered to have fallen when the shoulders and the haunches on the same side have touched the ground or an obstacle and the ground.

F. Split reins shall not be tied together except in games.

G. Tying of stirrups or tying of rider to tack or pony in any event.

H. Off Course: Loss of course includes negotiating obstacles in other than specified order or in the wrong direction, except in Reining.

I. Having more than one person in the ring with one pony or more than one pony in the arena with one entrant.  Exceptions: Youth Pleasure Driving and 8 & Under classes (an adult may accompany to help only if an emergency arises, but should remain silent and not interfere with or assist the exhibitor).

J. No other animals are allowed in the arena while ponies are being exhibited, e.g., dogs, cats, goats, calves, etc. (Exception: Livestock classes.)

K. Failure to complete the class as outlined by the rules. Judge's interpretation is final.

Riders may be disqualified for not following the class instructions.

L. Reins shall be held in one hand and cannot be changed during performance. (Exception: Trail, when changing hands is needed to work an obstacle.) Position of free

hand is optional, but should be clear of pony and equipment. Free hand may be used to adjust the rider's length of rein while working except in Reining, and then adjustment may be made only when pony is completely stopped.

M. Use of two hands on reins in a western syte class to be penalized at judge's discretion. (Exception: games, riding with a snaffle bit, also see Reining.)

P. Failure of tack or equipment used on the pony or exhibitor during any class, if the failure prevents successful completion of the class pattern. (Exception: Hunter Over

Fences - failure of equipment may be corrected with a penalty of 3 faults.) This rule does not apply to failure of arena equipment used for a class.

R. At the discretion of the judge, any rider receiving assistance from outside the ring (e.g., coaching a rider through a pattern) may be disqualified from the class.



Tie-Breaker. In the event of a tie for a high point award, it will be broken in favor of the exhibitor and/or pony that has earned the largest number of first placings, then the largest number of second placings, and then the largest number of placings.


Video Submissions - You may take your video outside or in an indoor ring.  There is no preference.  The area should be relatively flat so as to not adversely affect your ponies performance.  Video must be continuous from beginning to end, no editing is allowed.  In some circumstances it may be called for specifically in trail classes to allow more than one video in order to allow riders to have obstacles and a flat area in 2 different locations.  (i.e. gate) 


Ensure that the film is running before you start and ensure the pony has completed all tasks.  (It is best that the pony stop and stand until camerman lets you know they have stopped filming.)


Ensure there is adequate lighting to see the pony perform if you are unable to film in the daytime.


Below shows the proper head position for all events.  Rein contact shown is only for ponies competing in an English class.