Fast Facts: Jumper Judging

Photo © Lauren Mauldin


David Distler, FEI jumper judge and the United States Steward General of the FEI, gave a presentation to members at the USHJA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado on a jumper judges perspective. After explaining the importance of all competitors reading the Sportsmans Charter in the front section of the USEF Rulebook (found here), Distler began explaining a series of important facts that are not widely known regarding what a judge needs to be aware of in order to accurately score a round, including: 

  • A competitor’s time begins when their horses chest reaches the timer, or at the expiration of the 45 second allotment after the buzzer (whichever comes first).
  • Penalties for a late-falling rail can be given after crossing the finish line, but before a competitor leaves the ring. If the rider exits the ring before the rail falls, they will not receive a penalty.
  • Similarly, a penalty can also be given for a late rail until the tone starts for the next round, even in a 2B format. If a rail falls after the buzzer has sounded for the next rider or round, the previous rider will not receive the penalty.
  • The USEF rulebook states that “changing the height of a fence” equates to four faults. This means that if a top rail were to come out of the cup and rest on a lower rail, not touching the ground, the round will still receive four faults.
  • If a rail cracks but does not come out of the cup, the round will not receive any faults.
  • If a horses equipment (such as a low hanging martingale, bell boot, etc) knocks a rail, the round will receive 4 faults. The only exception to this rule is a sprung shoe that may hit and knock a rail.
  • The knocking a flag will not receive any faults, but knocking a timer will receive four.
  • Severe lameness is grounds for elimination on the judges discretion.
Photo © Lauren Mauldin

The forum furthered Distler’s opening point in that judging the jumper classes are “more than just counting rails,” and highlight key rules for accurately counting faults as well as what judges are required to look out for. Check back to throughout the remainder of the week for continuing coverage from the USHJA Annual Meeting.

About the Author: Annie Birmingham is an 18 year old equestrian from Long Island, New York. A freshman at Long Island University studying equine management, Annie can usually be found spending time at the barn and grooming at horse shows up and down the East Coast.

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