There are various horse disciplines or “classes” in a show, each with their own rules and judging criteria.
For people venturing into the show ring for the first time, a led class is a good place to start. This is about showing a stock horse in a plain bridle, with no saddle, and the horse is led around the ring to be judged.
Horses in Led ASH classes are assessed on their type, conformation, temperament, movement/balance, soundness and presentation (the Standards of Excellence) and the qualities that define the breed.
The horse should be balanced and in proportion to its size, it should move freely and stand well on all four feet. There should be no major faults. Another important aspect that is also looked for is the temperament and a good nature.
The judge will look for the essential stock horse qualities, including a body that is balanced in respect to its size, a deep chest, and an alert and intelligent head with a broad forehead, wide nostrils, and full, well-set eyes.
The Hack class is a ridden class for Australian Stock Horses which is to demonstrate the presence and quality, as well as being well schooled in all paces.
The horse will be expected to ride a set pattern, in all paces – from walk, trot and canter (extended canter or hand gallop may also be asked) to halt and there may be a requirement to show a flying change.
The horse is assessed on type and conformation, as well as behaviour, its movement and obedience to the rider.
The Working Class is often the most hotly contested class at a show. It can be fast, with quick turns and often changes of speed and direction.
The class is also ridden to a set pattern. It is usually made up of circles, gallops and turns, and also trot and stops. Each movement shows the horse’s ability to manoeuvre at all paces with control and obedience, and to move forward under saddle with lightness and no resistance.
Occasionally a rider may be asked to use a stock whip while riding at speed.
Station Horse (also known as Station Hack)
In Station Horse or Station Hack classes, the Judge is looking for a horse that a station hand would use around a station.
The horse should be able to work stock and allow the rider to carry a raincoat, open a gate and crack a stockwhip.
The horse should have athletic ability, an excellent temperament and be able to complete the activities in a relaxed and calm manner. The horse should be able to walk at a good pace on a light rein in competition.
The horse and rider complete a set pattern could include: walk, trot, canter, gallop, lead changes, stop and back up.
Pleasure Hack (also known as Pleasure Horse)
The horse must be ridden in a plain bridle with a snaffle bit. The rider must not wear spurs or carry a whip and the reins are held in one hand only.
Emphasis is placed on temperament, obedience, conformation and comfortable riding qualities.
This class is often highly contested at most shows. Almost everyone will enter this class!