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Fence Judging Scenarios and Tips For Riders

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  • #61
    pony grandma - here is the rule under "rules for cross country jump judges" on the USEA site:

    FALLS • A rider is considered to have fallen when he is separated from his horse which has not fallen, in such a way as to necessitate remounting or vaulting into the saddle. • Dismounting as a result of attempting an obstacle, whether voluntary or not, is penalized as a fall. • Elsewhere on course, when not in the act or with the intention of jumping an obstacle, competitors may dismount without being penalized for the fall. • A horse is considered to have fallen when, at the same time, both the shoulder and hindquarters have touched either the ground or the obstacle on the ground • A fall will always be penalized when it occurs between the elements of a multiple obstacle (A, B, C). • If both the horse and competitor fall at the same time, this means mandatory retirement (MR (first fall of horse). • The first fall of rider is penalized by elimination from the competition. • In Beginner Novice and Novice Divisions if a rider falls off the horse in negotiation of an obstacle and lands and remains standing on their feet the rider may be allowed to remount and continue. The Jump Judge may assist the rider in remounting.

    There is NO penalty for falling off between fences - ONLY when the fall is "related to the fence" - and yes, the new rule is that at BN and N, a rider can have a fall related to the obstacle and land on their feet without penalty.

    They have gone back and forth on this over the years; initially a fall (of any kind) related to an obstacle was 60 penalties but the rider was allowed to remount and continue, then it was changed to ALL falls = elimination, then they modified the rule a few years ago (after complaints by people schooling green horses at the lower levels) to make it possible for "pop off falls" to be penalized, but not result in elimination - thus allowing riders to get back and and school the course in order to give green horses an educational experience. Seems like a good compromise to me!

    JJes are supposed to call everything in (obviously) and make SURE that when there is a rider fall related to a jump, it is verified as "landing on feet" before allowing them to remount and continue. We are also instructed to observe the rider, and if they seem disoriented (even a seemingly "easy" fall can result in a minor concussion - we should call it in on the radio.

    The gray area is when there are falls unrelated to obstacles that JJes don't see - just a loose horse and where is the rider, are they okay??

    LOL on the getting off the horse and leading him/her through a stream crossing thing. I have a young homebred mare whose ONLY x-country issue is stream crossings. She is brave and willing and stops at NOTHING, but a stream crossing?!? Unless it's shallow and narrow enough to leap over, she MUST come to a screeching halt and pussyfoot back and forth and then try to jump the whole damn thing - if I were to dismount and try to lead her through? She would STILL try to jump the whole damn thing, but she is very athletic and would probably jump on ME and get loose, so I am safer aboard, holding on with my thighs for dear life.

    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


    • #62
      Originally posted by CindyCRNA View Post

      You are a damn genius!!! My horse wasn't going thru that for love or money. My plan was to back him in to get thru it. My horse came off of 1, slammed on the brakes and wasn't even going to go in the general vicinity of 2! It took me a full minute to even get to 2. But we stood off to the side quietly and watched a couple of others come thru. You gave me a new tool in my tool belt! I had not thought of that.
      Yes, the first creek can get wide and deep. For future reference, you can bypass the large creek by taking the little offshoot path back on your left and turning right. Canter through the (second) tiny creek the wrong way to your next jump, turn around and resume your course.
      pace, path, balance, impulsion and ??

      Don't panic! Ralph Leroy Hill


      • Original Poster

        Are you talking about dismounting or falls? I read dismounting in the bolded. And thanks that answers my question about the creek crossing

        Case in point that we all need this clarity. I needed to do that fence sitting vs golf-carting! I've experienced that people hear things quite differently … I've had jj's not realize that the oncoming horse is eliminated and that controller call was for them to pull up the horse. They go sailing by. And some people are intimated to do holds. And to police course walkers. I had to chase down an over jealous completely innocent mom to tell her not to be yelling out instruction to the child who really couldn't even hear her! And she didn't even know anything about the riding! It's a comedy some days.
        Last edited by pony grandma; Aug. 5, 2019, 11:07 PM.
        The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by GrayCatFarm View Post
          Ralph Hill always emphasized the importance walking the course at the time you are supposed to ride.
          Yeah good way to get lost too, jump a wrong fence - you know the fence that wasn't in the shade when you walked it in the a.m. or vise versa.
          The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton


          • #65
            Originally posted by pony grandma View Post

            Yeah good way to get lost too, jump a wrong fence - you know the fence that wasn't in the shade when you walked it in the a.m. or vise versa.
            Yes, agree - this is a very good idea - IF you can do it!

            Re: the falling off and not being penalized: no matter how the rider comes off the horse, it doesn't matter (or count) unless it's "related to a jump." I'm sure there have been cases where the rider falls off and no one sees it (not as common in my area since the courses are generally "well monitored"), but if the horse sticks around, the rider is allowed to remount and continue. TBH this doesn't happen that often - usually falls ARE related to a jump! - but it does happen.

            I remember a radio discussion years ago about whether or not to penalize a fall when the rider tumbled off well after a jump; the horse had taken a big flyer and had unseated her a bit, she wiggled around for about 5-10 strides trying to regain her balance (and was still IN the saddle), but eventually lost the battle.

            (This was during the period when ALL falls were "E")

            It was decided that yes, she had fallen "as a result" of the fence - so was eliminated. She was fine, horse was caught, etc.

            "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

            "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


            • #66
              Originally posted by pony grandma View Post
              I've never heard of timing an overtake. The rules time HOLDS. Overtakes are mostly the ones that are going slow.... and/or having refusals. So the time issue is somewhat moot.

              I did do an emergency hold (when the hold is not called by the controller, and no time to communicate) on course once when a girl had just come out of the start box, jumped fence 1 and was about to get T-boned by a loose horse running back up the course. The controller was going through the rider fall protocol and the start box was unaware. The girl pulled up until it passed. I called out to her to let her know that I was timing her.
              It was definitely a gray area, but the jump judge basically told me to stop (as I remounted), so for that reason I think she should have been timing. I didn't get passed while I was moving, I had to wait what seemed like a fair amount of time for the next horse to appear and jump fence 4. Who knows if I would have been overtaken at all if I just kept going--though I really did want to take her through the first creek crossing. Moot point, even if a minute of time penalties were subtracted from my score, I was staying in 11th place unless someone was eliminated in SJ. If it could have made a difference I would have argued it.

              That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...


              • #67
                Originally posted by MegBackInSaddle View Post
                I know there are differences between Canada and the US, and I've *just* started learning about eventing here in Canada. I'm told that there's no issue jumping a lower level fence, but a level up is a DQ (I believe?).

                Definitely enjoy the discussion, as I'm a total n00b!
                How would you do that without crossing your tracks?
                "Do what you can't do"


                • #68
                  Originally posted by tbchick84 View Post

                  How would you do that without crossing your tracks?
                  Sorry, can't answer that, as I'm a total noob. And now I need to ask my coach about crossing my own tracks before my second ever HT this weekend. I feel like, since my mare and I are a pretty good team, and she's keen (a bit of a natural) and takes care of me, I learn rules on an "as needed" basis.

                  Enjoying this thread, because theres SO much I'd never think to ask about.


                  • #69
                    Crossing your tracks (in xc) only applies to A/B combinations. You must jump A, proceed directly to B (& C, etc). If you circle (cross your tracks) you will incur 20. Anywhere else on course, between numbered obstacles, circling is permitted with no penalty. Except in the instance of willful delay between the last fence and the finish, for those trying to avoid speeding tickets.
                    A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
                    ? Albert Einstein



                    • Original Poster

                      See pages 3,4 here if you love tavern puzzles … .
                      The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton


                      • #71
                        Add me in as someone who is enjoying this thread a few pages later. Like I said in my first post, I jump-judge with some frequency, but even then there are always scenarios that pop up I would not think would happen. This has been a run and refreshing read.

                        Now for my JJ story --
                        My SO's first foray into eventing with me was to come with me and jump-judge at Full Gallop. We were given our packet, and settled in for the day - lovely experience, BTW! We especially loved the golf-cart delivered pizza and water

                        The jump[s] we were judging were a big log between a tree for Training, and a coop for BN/N. We started noticing some competitors would come in hot but then the horses would jump sideways or spook over something on the ground before the approach.

                        SO decided to investigate after the third horse did it -- the biggest/longest wild snake I have ever seen in my life was sunbathing about 200 feet out from the first fence.. I am not afraid of snakes and have been known to move a few out of my barn back at home in MA, but this one was huge.. Nothing like the 8" long garter snakes we have at home...

                        SO walked up to it and nearly jumped out of his skin, and came jogging back quite quickly

                        Since the snake was in the line of fire and was impacting the approach of competitors, and I wasn't sure what kind it was, I radio'd it in and we kindly escorted it elsewhere. He/she was not pleased, and I used a very big stick to do said guiding. If anyone knows what kind of snakes are local to SC (we were snowbirds staying for the season) it was more than two feet long, fat, dark brownish black, with a tannish underside. Very hissy and displeased about being asked to go elsewhere, but not aggressive.
                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by AMWookey View Post

                          Anytime I have had an overtake situation, as a JJ, either the control will call it at a designated stop point (i.e. someone with a flag and stopwatch), or I as the jj in a necessary situation, will stop the rider with my own watch, as requested by control. I have never seen it not done like that.

                          If I hear on my radio, the faster rider clearing the fences quickly behind the rider I have approaching my fence, I will call it in quickly to control so they are aware we likely will have an overtake.
                          At the unrecognized events where I have the most experience, the JJ will get the slower rider's attention and ask them to pull off course a little and let the faster rider pass. Most people who are going slow know that they are going slow, and if it's because they are a bit scared, having the break is usually good for them.

                          (ETA: I just found out that I will be able to volunteer at the Groton House recognized event in 2020! Yay!)
                          You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                          1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by EventerAJ View Post
                            Crossing your tracks (in xc) only applies to A/B combinations. You must jump A, proceed directly to B (& C, etc). If you circle (cross your tracks) you will incur 20. Anywhere else on course, between numbered obstacles, circling is permitted with no penalty. Except in the instance of willful delay between the last fence and the finish, for those trying to avoid speeding tickets.
                            Ah, thanks. I was not aware it was only for A/B combinations. Good to know next I'm coming up to something hairy.
                            "Do what you can't do"


                            • #74
                              Have had many, many years of jump judging, but my favorite story is this: BN in the late afternoon on a very long, very HOT August afternoon. Heat was shimmering off the XC course, cicadas were buzzing, mirages were sighted across the field - you get the picture. I swear I'd seen the same horse go by a dozen times already that day and everyone was beginning to look alike. Along comes a hay-bellied Shetland pony with a cutie on board, trotting leisurely across the field. As she got closer to my fence, I realized our little rider was singing. Just then, a squawk on the radio and XC control's voice is heard, "Has anyone seen #182? Anyone?" I answered that she was trotting toward me at a leisurely pace, singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her pony, and that she would be along in a minute. She cleared the fence, I called it in, and she went on her way. The other JJ's decided to report the rider and fence number as required, but also the song she was singing as she passed them. Hilarious. I like to think that the little girl is now a 4**** rider somewhere, galloping long tracks and singing to her horse as she goes.
                              Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by pony grandma View Post
                                One fall, with penalties, if land on feet and ONLY for BN/N. My 'story' to remember this rule. A small sized kid I met at an event tells that she landed on her feet, between fences not at a fence, and asked a fence judge to help her remount. The jj told her no that she was eliminated. The girl being a very polite deference for elders type tried to explain the rule. The jj said she'd never heard of it, that she'd have to call the TD. by the time the TD got there she told the young lady that it was too late that she was timed out at that point.
                                I'm wondering if that was an unrecognized event. The TDs I've worked with would not have charged the time against the girl as it was the jj who held her from getting on and going on.

                                The other possibility is that the TD was not comfortable with a rider who had managed to fall off continuing on, under any circumstances, regardless of the rule. Or the TD was concerned about that rider in particular based on what the TD had seen of her ride earlier in the course. And invoked the time elapsed to cover the real reason.

                                But whatever re that decision ... The real learning takeaway is that no jj may make that call independently to eliminate a rider. The role of the jj is to inform the TD, and let the TD make the decision. The TD tells the jj what to tell the rider. It does sometimes happen that a jj with less indoctrination into The Eventing Way is certain that they know when an elimination has occurred and verbally makes the call with a rider. Sometimes the jj seems to think the rider is making a bad judgment of some kind, and maybe some parenting instinct kicks in to intervene. Learning to resist that impulse is part of the eventing learning process.
                                Last edited by OverandOnward; Aug. 20, 2019, 09:36 PM.


                                • #76
                                  Originally posted by pony grandma View Post
                                  See pages 3,4 here if you love tavern puzzles … .
                                  My eyes are bleeding! #4 especially. It almost looks like blowing past B and coming back to it. How can you decipher if the horse waving off B and then was brought back to it?
                                  "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope


                                  • #77
                                    Originally posted by findthedistance View Post
                                    My first JJ experience, I was given a white coop set in a fenceline, and I was warned that it was historically a spooky fence. It looked like the world's most straightforward fence, and running out wasn't even an option, but I've ridden a horse with an aversion to white, so okay. The first 100+ horses jumped it no problem, but the final division had a fair number of stops and a couple RFs.

                                    The weirdest: The fence was a gallop fence, not in combination with anything. I had a horse come up, see it from about 20 strides out, and balk hard. His eyes were on the jump, he stopped and took several steps back, then the rider got him going forward again. He balks hard about 10 strides out, full stop, multiple steps back, resume forward motion. Same thing a third time about 5 strides out, before going ahead and jumping it.

                                    Honestly, I have no idea how they ended up scoring that one. I drew a picture and radioed for the TD. To me it seemed pretty clear to me that the horse was objecting to the jump itself, but it started from so far away that I could see someone arguing a case that he was just nappy.
                                    This behavior on the part of horses was the subject of some intense jump judging refinement and indoctrination, quite a number of years ago. I remember vividly all of the explanations in the jj briefing ... and then at that very horse trials being confronted with just such a situation!

                                    Before the rule refinement (this was well before 2008 in my memory), the stop would not have been called until it was right in front of the fence. Some horses did dance around 50 / 30 / 20 feet out for minutes at a time, but weren't called on it if the rider could get behind them and get them moving forward and over.

                                    Someone, somewhere decided that wasn't the right thinking. So in the jj briefing it was explained at length that if the rider was *looking at the jump*, and especially if the *horse* was looking at the jump, while the horse went backward, even from 50' away, that was a stop.

                                    Sho nuff, one of the first BN horses out of the start box was *extremely* green (like 'why are you here' green) and began a massive meltdown between the start box and Jump #1, where I was assigned as jj. But neither horse nor rider was looking *at* Jump #1. Horse was fixated and alarmed at a feature off to the left, and the rider (not nearly strong enough for a horse as large and green as that one) was just as fixated on what was upsetting the horse.

                                    IMO, had the rider actually looked at the jump, it would have helped a great deal to get the horse going toward it. But she didn't. Her head and neck were swiveled over her left shoulder, as fascinated and terrified of the visual as was her horse.

                                    The pair danced and sidestepped in the sort-of direction of Jump #1, all while angled and looking to the left. As they moved, the distraction off to the left gradually became less visible. Finally both turned toward Jump #1, were startled to see it so close, but trotted forward over the final approach space and frog-jumped over it, and continued on.

                                    As the jj, I ended up in quite a discussion with the TD, civil though it was. The TD had seen it from a distance and was insisting that this should be scored as a stop. But as the hesitation was so far from the jump, he also asked repeatedly if the rider and the horse were looking at the jump. What I told him was that it was his call, of course, but while the hesitations were going on the horse and the rider were not looking at the jump. They never looked at the jump until they were much closer. Once the rider did turn forward and spot it, they moved forward and over the jump.

                                    He eventually decided that it was not a stop, based on that technicality. That was many years ago. I honestly don't know how it would score now as it hasn't come up for me since then. I suspect that these days that would be a stop, regardless of where the rider/horse were looking. But I would leave it up to the TD!


                                    • #78
                                      Tip for jj's ...

                                      Once a horse has stopped at a fence, don't take your eyes off the horse & rider until they have either cleared the jump or else E'd or retired. Don't look down at your score sheet to mark the refusals until it is all done with, because you may miss something important that happens in the blink of an eye. Count refusals on your fingers, or else make random marks somewhere on the paper without looking, and correct their placement later.

                                      Here's my anecdote as to why.

                                      Yes, as the jj briefing tells you, you do need to count refusals as they happen in some way (I hold up another finger at each one, like an elementary kid). It's easy to lose count in an environment full of distractions, including heat, sun glare, horse & rider antics, etc. If crazy things start happening fast, the situation can be a bit overwhelming, especially for jj's who don't do this as often. After a lot of equine & human antics and shenanigans, you may not remember just how many refusals did happen, even though it seems so vivid while they were happening.

                                      I learned not to look away from horse & rider the hard way while jj'ing at a recognized event in a hilly wood away from any other eyes that could have double-checked me. Fairly basic single jump (T) but the placement or visuals or something were causing problems for some of the horses. There had there had already been 2 or 3 stops and some hinky approaches, but the majority jumped it ok.

                                      A very competent rider on a gray horse, a horse who was clearly green to the level but well ridden, were making a nice approach until the last instant, when the horse abruptly jinks and props and scoots to the side, feet scrambling. The rider keeps a good seat in spite of it. She immediately turns him back into the jump, not trying to jump it but keeping him from turning to the side as he wants to do. I like her adeptness in this difficulty and think she is well suited to manage whatever this horse does.

                                      Now the horse is beside the jump with his head in the air, scooting and fussing with his haunches swinging back and forth. But the rider has things in hand, gets him under control and is managing him into a large circle for a re-approach. I look down at the score sheet and put a mark for a refusal.

                                      I look up in plenty of time to see the next approach. The rider has given the horse a fair distance for a good approach. But same thing happens. In spite of a measured approach, the horse quits at the base with a lot of theatrics. Once again, although the horse is scooting and trying to evade in every direction, the rider is secure in her seat with notional steering and seems to be on top of things while she sorts this out.

                                      I look down at the score sheet and put a mark for the second refusal. This takes a second or maybe two seconds.

                                      I look back up and the rider is on the ground beside the horse, who is still scooting-shuffling just a little. She's standing, a little off balance but recovering quickly, reins in one hand on the side of the horse. She seems ok. I call up to ask if she's ok and if she needs anything. She waves reassuringly and asks if she can remount to walk off course. I say sure, that's fine. She gets on the horse, who is now quieter, and they amble off.

                                      I call this in as a "rider fall" and report that all is ok, she's back on the horse and walking off course.

                                      Some time later, during the next division, I get a call on the radio from the scorers (different channel and all that). They say that this rider is disputing the "fall", says she got off voluntarily and wants to be scored as "Retired", not as "E" / "RF".

                                      I explained exactly what I saw and what I did not. How did she end up off the horse? I didn't see it, because I had been looking down at the score sheet marking the refusal! I assumed that the horse had gotten her off over his shoulder, and that she had managed to hang on to the neck and come down on her feet. That's what it had looked like might have happened.

                                      But given her overall skill and adeptness in a difficult situation, I did think it was plausible that yes, she did dismount on her own. I don't remember what reason she gave for dismounting. The horse may have been becoming more difficult, she'd clearly already decided not to pursue this any further, and may have wanted him to be calmer before walking off.

                                      She got her score changed to an "R" and I think it was probably correct.

                                      From that day on I began keeping my eyes on horse & rider and counting refusals on my fingers until they were clear of my fence! Things can happen very fast. I can see why the big national/international events have at least 2 jj's at every obstacle.


                                      • #79
                                        Question about circling between elements.

                                        Does USEA have any rules for eventing derbies in these regards? Can I circle in stadium, or no?


                                        • #80
                                          Fun thread!
                                          I have only jump judged at small unrecognized events and seen my share of funny / scary stuff.
                                          I think the best one was an Elementary rider on a (very bored) seasoned horse, who was leisurely trotting to a very small coop. Horse was looking at something else in the distance and did a Ooops! stop at that jump. Rider then turns him to represent, but there was a T/P fence right next to it. Narrow slanted table with brush on top. Horse takes one look at THAT fence and leaps over it. Backwards. Rider somehow stays on, a bit shaken up( I OTOH almost had a heart attack! ) and thought she was eliminated but I told her to keep going.

                                          I need to read all those rules again, it has been so long and I want to be UTD on all the changes.
                                          Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!