What is First Ridden Showing?

What is first ridden showing

What is First Ridden Showing?

“First ridden” is designed for young riders wanting a taste of being “off the lead rein”. It’s considered the most important age and stage of a child's riding life. It’s more a description of the pony and expected qualities than the child, i.e. even if the child is a really good little jockey and more than capable of riding in open ridden classes, you should be able to see from the pony's way of going and manners that it “could” happily carry a more nervous child.

First Ridden classes provide the great ring craft that is required for the Open Showing Classes or “Opens” as they are more commonly known.

As first ridden jockeys gain confidence and experience, it’s expected that they’ll naturally want to go into open classes and gain experience.

What types of First Ridden classes are there?

There are several types of First Ridden Classes each with its own rules and standards:

  • M&M First Ridden or Plaited First Ridden
  • M&M Novice First Ridden
  • First Ridden Working Hunter
  • First Ridden Show Hunter Pony.

Note: M&M stands for Mountain and Moorland.

What age does the rider need to be?

This varies by class. Simply it’s either riders are not to have reached their 10th or 12th birthday by 1st January in the year their competing in.

What rules apply to the pony?

Ponies in First Ridden classes must:

  • Be 4 years old or older
  • Not exceed 128 centimetres
  • Not to have won any First Ridden class before 1st January in the year they’re competing in.

What happens in the show ring?

As First Ridden classes, all have fairly young and inexperienced riders, what happens in the ring will be simple enough for them to understand and will not cause them any stress or anxiety. Usually the arena for First Ridden classes is kept really small and riders circle around the judges quite closely.

The actual riding follows the same pattern as other showing classes:

  • Enter at walk on the right rein, i.e. in a clockwise direction. The purpose of this is so that the judge gets the first look at all the ponies and riders in the class. This is the time to make your good initial impression. Ensure that the pony is striding out and covering the ground
  • The steward will tell the whole class to trot on when the judge has had a good look at the class
  • Then the steward will signal when the class needs to come back to walk
  • Then riders will be pulled in in a provisional order initially. In a small class, it could be in any order
  • The judge will then ask to see the individual show: the rider will walk away from the judge, trot a figure of eight and then do a few canter strides. Canter is usually restricted to one long side of the show ring and is sometimes only on one rein. Three or more good strides may be sufficient depending on the nature of the show
  • When going out to do the individual show, the rider will give a low bow or nod when passing the judge
  • After completing the individual show, the rider will join the line up
  • After all the individual shows, the judge will pull in the line-up in the final order
  • Rosettes will be given out and the ponies in the ribbons will ride around the outside of the arena at least once
  • All ponies should leave the ring at a walk or trot.

Who will be in the ring?

There will be at least one judge in the ring accompanied by a steward.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?

There can be a lot of variation in FR classes, especially at local and unaffiliated shows. At these smaller shows, the physical appearance of the pony is less important than temperament and performance. At bigger shows or those affiliated to the BSPS or NPS, things get more competitive and they are as much about appearance as performance.

So, get out there with your Thelwell-style saint and have a go. And what’s more, make sure you have some fun too!

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Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

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