If you enjoy showjumping and want to compete against local riders, or just get out and have fun at local shows, then give an unaffiliated showjumping a go. There are plenty of local unaffiliated showjumping shows run throughout the UK on a weekly basis, offering the chance for grass roots riders to win rosettes – and some times even prize money.
Why compete in unaffiliated showjumping shows?
Unaffiliated showjumping shows are events that are not run in conjunction with British Showjumping (BS), the governing body for showjumping in the UK. BS formulates the rules and codes of practice that govern all affiliated showjumping events in the UK, and if you wish to jump at a major showjumping event such as Olympia or The Horse Of The Year Show (there’s nothing wrong with a bit of ambition!), you will need to affiliate. However, it can be expensive, and is highly competitive, which doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone.
Unaffiliated showjumping shows are often put on by riding clubs, Pony Clubs and equestrian centres, as they offer a great opportunity for local grass roots riders to compete against each other without the stress, cost or pressure of affiliating. Most unaffiliated showjumping competitions take place under BS rules, including their penalty system (4 faults for a pole down, 4 faults for a refusal), but some shows will relax BS’s two refusals means elimination and allow riders to have three stops before they have to leave the arena.
All competitors are expected to observe a strict code of conduct with regards to horse welfare, although the judges some times have a more relaxed attitude towards dress code. However, you may find that if you bring a schooling whip to an unaffiliated show, for example, or circle before tackling a jump, you will be penalised or eliminated as you would under BS rules. Be aware that each show may also have rules of their own – for example, some unaffiliated showjumping shows insist on all competitors wearing a body protector, so always check the rules on the schedule before you enter.
Unaffiliated showjumping competition are usually open to all, but there may be restrictions to prevent more experienced horses and riders that have already been successful to higher levels from entering the small novice classes. The jump sizes can start from tiny cross poles up to typically around 2’3″ for novice classes. It’s always best to be realistic about your ability and not to over-face yourself or your horse. Some riding schools run unaffiliated showjumping shows using their own horses, which gives riders without a horse the opportunity to compete.
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