Inspection Test Procedures

What happens at an Inspection?

For the inspection in photos see the gallery

Mares and Stallions are “inspected” while Geldings and Shagya Sporthorses are “evaluated.” The inspection consists of multiple, mandatory phases. These include: Submission of SCID and DNA results; Veterinary exam; In-hand and At liberty presentation; Under saddle (rideability); Interior test; and Free jump. Additionally, open competition requirements in one of several disciplines must be completed and documented.

For Mares and Stallions, successful completion of these requirements results in PShR Licensing and placement in the PShR Studbooks per their performance and pedigree.

For Geldings and Shagya Sporthorses, evaluation includes the choice of one or all of the following performance tests: in-hand and at liberty presentation, under saddle (rideability), interior test, and free jump. Successful completion of these tests results in certification. Each of these components will be explained below.

The inspection takes place over the course of several days, depending on the number of horses to be inspected and what phases will be participated in by each horse and his owner/handler. The phases can be completed in any order, the list below is just an example.

Participants can complete any phases of the inspection they want, it is not necessary to complete all phases at one time. For example, if a horse is too young to be ridden or not yet trained in jumping, these phases can be completed at a later date. One of the simplest tests to prepare for and complete is the Interior Test, which makes it a good place to start.

The PShR accepts any ISG inspection scores for the In-Hand phase that may be have been previously completed. In this case, the horse would only need to complete the performance tests.

Veterinary Exam

All mares and stallions seeking licensing and breeding approval must stand for examination by the licensed Veterinarian at the inspection site. Geldings and Shagya Sporthorses stand as well for documentation. The horse should be clean and well presented for the examination. The handler should be dressed in conservative sports attire. The horse’s height, girth and cannon bone will be measured; the pulse and respiration will be taken; the eyes, mouth, teeth and jaw, legs and hooves will be examined. The purpose of the exam is to look for anomalies, heart defects, existing faults of teeth or testicles, deficiencies or other conditions indicating genetic predisposition. The exam also will include, but is not limited to, a flexion test and trot out on a hard surface. The horse should willingly cooperate with the examination protocol.

In-Hand and At Liberty Presentation

Horses will be presented following the USDF Sport Horse In-Hand Prospects procedures. A horse’s training is not judged during this inspection, but the horse must be able to stand long enough for the conformation to be judged and move willingly and freely both in- hand and at liberty. The horse should be clean and well behaved. Braiding is optional. Bandages of any kind are forbidden. Bridles, with a snaffle bit, are mandatory on horses two-years old an older. Bridles are forbidden on foals and weanlings. Handlers should be dressed in conservative sports attire (long pants and polo type shirt) or handlers may be dressed in riding boots, breeches, etc. This event must take place in an enclosed arena to allow for the at liberty presentation. A triangle with sides measuring approximately 75’, 100’ and 75’ is set up with cones or ground poles and decorated with flowers/plants/greenery often in the middle of the arena allowing room around the outside of the triangle for the horse to move at liberty.

The horse is first presented standing while the judge evaluates conformation. This will require the horse to stand square and still while the judge walks around the horse for several minutes. The judge may touch the horse. The judge will evaluate the horse for ‘type’ and physical attributes of the head, neck, body and legs.

Next the judge will score the horse’s movement at the walk and trot on the triangle. The handler’s goal is to show off the horse’s best strides in as straight a line as possible on the triangle. The horse should show a ground covering walk with stretched down neck and a forward trot. The quality of gaits is judged. At the judge’s instruction, the handler walks the horse in a clockwise direction around the triangle. The horse is then trotted in-hand around the same triangle in the same direction. The judge may ask for an additional lap around the triangle at either gait. The horse may turn immediately to the right at the corner of the triangle or a small circle may be made at the corner of the triangle before proceeding on the straightaway.

At the judge’s request, the handler removes the reins from the bridle and the horse is then turned loose, in the enclosed arena, to trot and canter at liberty. ‘At liberty’ the judge is only scoring the canter. The handler and an assistant handler may encourage the horse to move in a natural manner; lunge whips are allowed to help encourage the horse but should not overly excite the horse. The judge will be looking for natural gait and rounding of the back as opposed to a high head and arched back. At the judge’s request, the handler re-attaches the reins and takes the horse from the arena.

Under Saddle/Rideability

Rideability is a demonstration of the ease and comfort with which a horse can be ridden and is considered to be one of the most important traits in riding horses. The rideability test is aimed at assessing a horse’s innate aptitude rather than the horse’s level of training. To evaluate rideability at the inspection horses, four (4) years of age or older will be ridden in the discipline style of the riders' choice. Two horses should work in the ring at one time to give the horses confidence. Mixing stallions with mares is not recommended. The owner or trainer will first ride the horse for 10 minutes, and then the horse will be ridden by a ‘Test Rider.’ The test rider will ride the horse for 10 minutes and report to the judges his/her overall impression. Given the influence of the test rider on the horse’s way of going under saddle, careful attention to the selection of skilled test riders is essential. NOTE: 1 or 2 test riders may be used; if 2 are available, each would ride one horse, then switch; thus, all horses would be ridden by both test riders.

The under saddle phase is not a dressage test. However, the horse must demonstrate the following movements when instructed: halt, walk, trot, canter, change rein, 20 meter circle, and jump a cross rail. The horses will be ridden at all three gaits in both directions of the ring, cross the diagonal of the ring, and jump a cross rail at the gait of the rider’s choice. The cross rail is compulsory but will not be scored. The judge’s evaluation will include: Way of going, overall impression, willingness to work, and temperament. The test rider should score only the ‘comfortability of the gaits.’

Interior Test

The Interior Test is designed to determine the character and temperament of the horse in an unusual situation. The horse will be scored on his willingness to walk beside the handler in an easily managed fashion. An overly excited response to obstacles as well as complete disinterest in the presented course will result in lost points. Optimally, the horse will remain manageable and calm when unexpected stimuli occur and exhibit a trusting, good-natured behavior. The space between the handler and horse should remain consistent.

Obstacles will be set up in enclosed area (approximately 60’ x 60’ is recommended) in a quiet location that does not provide any distraction to the horses. When directed by the judge, the handler and the horse enter the arena. The horse should be next to the handler with some slack in the lead. The horse should have a pleasant and interested attitude with a flat walk.

The following are examples of test that may be presented. Other task may include walking through hanging ribbons, walking over a bridge, dragging a bag, etc. Test should challenge the horse but not be harmful or over stimulating.

Three tests will be spaced evenly within the area:

  1. 1. Open umbrella
    • An open umbrella is placed on the ground inside the arena, approximately 10 to 15 feet from the entrance.
    • It is possible for the handler and horse to circle the umbrella from the left or right.
    • Circling with the horse between the umbrella and the handler shows a very manageable attitude, but the option is the choice of the handler.
  2. 2. Lane made of surveyors tape or similar material
    • The lane should be approximately 30’ long and 10’ wide.
    • One side should be along the side of the enclosed area with a surveyors tape draped along the wall.
    • The lane should be positioned so the handler has the wall to his left and horse to his right.
    • The right side of the lane can be jump standards with surveyors tape strung the length of the lane to provide a boundary.
    • As the handler and horse enter the lane, someone at the other end gently moves the draped tape up and down the wall. The tape should not slap or fly off the wall.
  3. 3. Person with a can of rocks or rattle
    • As the horse passes the person stationed in the arena, the can is rattled.
    • The person should hold the can behind their back and not make movements that would be viewed by the horse.

Free Jump

Preparation of the horses for the Free Jump is very important. They must spend time learning and practicing before the Inspection.

The size of the arena will determine the size of the jump course – if the arena is small, 2 jumps can be used. However, the 3 jump diagram shown in the Jump Chute Diagramis preferred.

The Jump Chute: The chute is constructed with two sides; it is recommended that one side be along the wall of an indoor arena. The chute should be from 4 to 6 feet wide (1.2 to 1.5 meters), consistent along its length. The approach to the first jump element should be no less than 15 feet (4.5 meters) so that the horse can be encouraged to the first jump.

The first element is a cross-rail, with the ends of the poles put in the standards at a height of 30 inches (76 cm). A ground pole is placed in front.

The distance between the first and second jump element is 20 feet (6 meters) measured from the back of the first jump to the front of the second jump. The horse should take one stride between the first and second element.

The second jump element is a cross-rail, identical in height to the first, with a horizontal rail added immediately behind the cross at a height of 27 inches (69cm). There is a ground pole placed in front.

The distance between the second and third jump is 23 feet (7 meters), measured from the back of the second jump to the front of the third. The horse should take one stride between the second and third element.

The third jump is an oxer, which is two horizontal rails (or verticals), the front rail set at 24” (61cm)and the back rail set at 30” (76 cm), with the space between set at 24” (61cm). There is a ground pole placed in front, and a pole or plank is added beneath the front rail. It is advisable to add cones or a flower box in the space between the rails.

If the horse can easily clear the chute, it is at the discretion of both the owner and the judges to raise the third jump element. It should be raised in 3 inch increments on consecutive runs (to 33” (84cm), 36” (91cm) and 39” (99cm) respectively), and the spread between the rails increased accordingly (to 26” (66cm) and 28” (71cm)).

A ‘catch pen’ should be constructed after the final jump to enclose the horse after each run. It should be approximately 35 to 40 feet (10.6 to 12 meters) long and the same width as the chute.

The jumps should be decorated with flowers and/or greenery to give the horse every advantage to ‘see’ the jump clearly. The poles should be multi-colored and striped, so the horse can distinguish a single rail from an oxer from a ground pole, etc. Ground poles can be placed before or after each element of the chute to encourage the horse to stride correctly. The sides of the chute can be constructed of tape or poles.

The Procedure: A team made up of one ‘supervisor’ and 4 assistants will be carefully selected by the hosts or owner. They are equipped with lunge whips, and the supervisor is in charge of the entire process. In addition, one handler, who will be designated for each horse by its owner, will be allowed in the ring with the horse. The handler will first walk the horse into and alongside of the chute to allow him to see and become familiar with the chute set-up and jump elements.

To prepare the horse, remove the reins from his bridle and put a 36” length of nylon cord through the near snaffle ring. For each run, the horse will be trotted in hand towards the first element. At approximately 8 to 10 feet in front of the first jump, the handler will release one end of the cord so that it slips out of the bridle. This sends the horse down the jumping chute. Two assistants stand alongside the chute, encouraging the horse to move forward through all three jumps, and two others are positioned outside the catch pen. The supervisor will signal to the handler when to start the horse through the chute.