The breeding and showing of riding horses is overseen by the British Show Horse Association.
Showing the riding horse
Division of classes
Riding horses are divided into two sections:
- Small riding horse: Mare or gelding four years old or over, exceeding 148cm (14.2 hands high), but not exceeding 158 cm (15.2 hands high).
- Large riding horse: Mare or gelding four years old or over, exceeding 158cm (15.2 hands high).
The judge will then ride the horses and then may require individual performances, called "shows," from the competitors. Individual shows should not exceed 1 1/2 minutes, and should include walk, trot, canter, gallop, rein back, stand still and demonstrate obedience to the leg.
Riding horses can be shown ridden astride or sidesaddle.
Riding horses are shown in brown tack, with a coloured browband. Double bridles or pelham bits are used. Saddles should be straight-cut to show off the animal's shoulder. (This style is called an "English showing saddle" in some places, to distinguish it from both the "Forward Seat" and the "Dressage" saddle). Manes should be plaited, tails pulled and legs and faces trimmed.
For evening championships riders should wear a black or navy jacket with a white or cream stock, fastened with a pin, plus a top hat.
Racehorse To Riding Horse
The Racehorse to Riding Horse class was introduced to the Horse of the Year Show in 2006. The format of the class is as for a traditional riding horse class, although horses which are good examples of a show hunter or show hack may also enter.
To be eligible, horses must be full thoroughbred and registered in the Weatherbys General Stud Book. The horse must have been in training as a racehorse, but need not necessarily have raced. They must also be over four years old, and stand taller than 15 hands high (hh).
Turnout and rider wear should conform to the appropriate class - competitors showing their horses as riding horses should wear navy jackets and hats, while those showing their horses as hunters should wear tweed coats.
Competitors qualifying for the evening performance at the Horse Of The Year Show should wear black or navy jackets and a top hat.
Comparable classes in other nations
The Riding horse class is roughly comparable to the English pleasure-type class known as "Hunter Under Saddle" in the United States, though in the USA judges do not ride the horses nor are they asked to perform individually.