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RIDDEN WELSH – Jackie Verkuyl

The WPCSA Ridden Cob and Ridden A/B class has been adapted from the class as seen in the United Kingdom.  This is NOT your typical North American English Pleasure class!

The official WPCSA description of the class specifies that:

“This class is for registered Welsh Cobs and Welsh Ponies of Cob Type four years of age and over. To be judged 50% on performance and 50% on conformation.  To be shown at the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  An individual performance showing all gaits on each rein will be required (the gallop need only be shown one direction). Each animal will then be stripped for conformation judging.  In case of a tie, the Cob with the higher riding score will take precedence.  UK Judges or qualified American Judge to Judge.”

The class specification for the Ridden A/B mirrors that of the Ridden Cob.

One method commonly used to score the class is to award each animal a score from 1-50 for their under saddle performance and a score of 1-50 for conformation.  The two scores added together determine the winner of the class.  In many cases, the scores are posted following the competition.  (See sample score sheet)

Prescribed tack and appointments are English style saddle and hunt type attire.  Although a full bridle is commonly seen a snaffle or Pelham are also equally acceptable.

The ring procedure is different from most US classes.  Although it is not required for judging ridden cobs in the US, the ring steward directs all gaits on request of the judge, in contrast to the usual American format where the announcer calls the gaits over the Public address system. Animals enter on the right rein at the walk, and should demonstrate a free moving flat walk and be on the bridle.   On the judge’s instruction, the ring steward will gesture to a rider to move to another gait and everyone behind follows suit.  Riders must pay attention to the ring steward at all times, as well as the other animals in the ring.

Other than the gallop, extended gaits are neither called for nor required; however, riders should show their animals to their best advantage.  As a result, the trot is often a stronger trot than commonly seen in an english pleasure class.  The trot should be balanced, showing impulsion, Welsh movement, with the animal moving well in the bridle.   Impulsion should come from the hindquarters, allowing freedom of movement in front.

When requested by the judge the riders move their animals to the canter.  Again, the gait should be well balanced, relaxed and free moving, with the animal being responsive to the rider.

When the judge has observed all gaits to the right, the steward indicates a change of direction across the diagonal.  Each rider breaks to the trot and shows the animal's best trot across the diagonal.   On completing the reverse across the diagonal the riders move to the canter at the ring steward's instruction.

When the judge has seen enough of the canter, the steward holds the class at one end of the arena and each entry individually strikes off at the canter, extends to show the gallop, a full gallop, not the hand gallop seen in American hunter under saddle classes, and returns to the group.  Riders are expected to sit the gallop and not move forward into a two-point position.

 Following the individual gallop, the entries may either all resume the rail at the walk or may go directly to the line up.  The judge, through the steward, may call the entries to line up in a preliminary order, if desired.

The first animal lined up is sent out first for the individual show.  The judge determines the specific details of the individual performance or, at his or her discretion, leaves it to the exhibitor.  The individual show is required to show the walk, trot and canter on both reins, and the gallop one direction.  Some judges will request a figure eight at the trot and a figure eight at the canter followed by a gallop down one rail.  My preference is the pattern that is used at the Royal Welsh show because it gives the judge a better chance to see the gaits.  This pattern starts with a salute to the judge, then strike off at the walk, pick up the trot down the rail, canter around the end of the arena, change rein across the diagonal at your best trot, resume the canter when you reach the rail, extend to the gallop down the rail and proceed back down through gaits to walk, concluded with a final salute to the judge and return to line-up.

During an individual show, riders should show their animals to their best advantage.  If an extended trot is where it shines -show it. The idea is to show one's Welsh pony or cob to its best advantage as a Welsh.

Following the individual show, the judge scores the ride, with the steward or scribe taking notes. The conformation phase follows the individual work.  In accordance with the WPCSA judging specifications the animals will be stripped of tack, with the optional assistance of attendants.   The rider will then lead the Cobs out individually for conformation judging.   The rider will show the cob in-hand at both the walk and trot, where the judge looks for correctness and soundness of gaits, rather than flamboyance.  Animals should be well behaved and mannerly during the in-hand phase, although some movement is permissible.  As a Cob returns to the line, it is saddled and the rider remounts.

This process can take quite some time depending on the number of entries in the class, so judges and show managers will need to plan accordingly.

When all entries have completed both phases, the judge will then tally the scores.  The ring steward may assist with any required mathematics.  The judge may ask the group, lead by the first cob in the line, to circle at the walk while making his final decision.  The judge then instructs the steward to line up the class one at a time in order of placing.

After the prizes have been awarded, the winner leads the class out of the ring, often at a gallop!  Tradition calls for the winner to lead the class around the arena for one lap, then take a final victory lap on their own.

If more than one Ridden class is offered, a championship may follow.  The championship judging does not require a complete re-performance, and does not require an additional in-hand section since the judge has already scored each animal's conformation.  Like an in-hand class, the first two places in the qualifying class return for the championship.  A brief rail work showing the walk, trot and canter on both reins and a final gallop is most common.  This allows the judge to take another look at their winners at all gaits determining the overall Champion.

Over the past few years we have picked up some tips from a variety of judges including:

  • This class is not about dressage.
  • The pony and rider should appear to be a team performing a dance.
  • Dressage movements such as lateral movements are not appropriate in the individual show, especially when showing under a UK judge.
  • Practice your gallop at home, so your pony/cob is used to it and won't buck!
  • Make sure you have a groom ready to come into the ring to help you untack following your individual show.
  • Remember it is a show - it is about brilliance and showing off your pony or cob, not just performing the steps.
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