SHOWING YOUR MORGAN IN THE UK- ELIGIBILITYThere are numerous classes that a Morgan can enter at ordinary local events. Listed are some common ones and the requirements. In fact, judges are very sympathetic to Morgans and enjoy having them to judge.
Most driving events, so long as they have a non-Hackney section and have your horse’s height group, are open to Morgans (it is a good idea to have your horse officially measured by a vet for these and some ridden classes. The certificate is valid for life if the horse is mature).
Before entering driving events, be sure to find out if your harness and carriage are correct and acceptable for the classes you plan to enter.
Many local and riding club shows hold “Riding Horse” classes. Sometimes these are divided into large and small horses, 15.3hh+ and 14.2-15.2 respectively, or novice and open. Open horses usually carry a double bridle, but snaffles are permitted. Western attire and way of going will usually be permitted as will side saddles, providing an astride saddle is supplied for the judge. Check with the Show Committee before entering, as they may ask you to supply an English saddle. Saddle suits are also acceptable at most venues. The judge may want to ride your horse, but most judges are competent riders and will give your horse and easy ride. You will be required to ride a short display. A trot figure 8 and a canter figure 8 showing a simple change of leg is expected, as is a short hand (controlled) gallop. Sometimes you are required to strip your horse (just the saddle) and run your horse up in-hand. These classes are long and drawn out so be sure your horse is fit and able to stand still for at least 15 minutes in the line up while the others do their displays. If you are riding in traditional hunt attire you could plait the top of the tail and do a running plait in the mane. If the tail drags on the ground, a fancy mud-knot may be advisable in case the judge requires you to back up. You could attend a show first without your horse and watch the procedure. Don’t be put off if they are all 16hh and bay- you will do alright on a Morgan as they are good riding horses!
Another category is the family mount, again divided into height and experience. In this case you are often required to jump a small obstacle (about 2 foot high), so a Western saddle can be a problem. Otherwise the procedure is the same for “Riding Horses” but more emphasis is placed on obedience and manners as opposed to conformation and style.
Show Hunter is again run on the “Riding Horse” procedures. If your horse fits the height and bone requirement, you can enter. Sometimes the horse must be registered with the Hunter Improvement Society and this is possible to do; the British Horse Society can send you the necessary forms. Hunters must be ridden in hunt attire whether astride or side saddle, not western or saddle seat. They should have plenty of bone “to endure the rigours of hunting”, and should be as fit as possible and well-mannered. Hunters are always plaited, mane and tail; again, mud-knots apply.
Show Hack is similar to Riding Horse and Hunter classes. Again, only hunt attire applies; plaits are a must. As opposed to hunters, hacks must be under 15.3 and of finer bone, so for most Morgans the class is applicable. This of course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hunt with your Morgan- this is strictly show expectations. You can also register your horse with the Light Horse and Cob Society for these classes. Again, the British Horse Society will send you information.
Cob classes are not for Morgans. In general, they don’t have the weight and bone (9 inches plus); a roached or hogged mane is also required and Morgans have full manes. Cobs must be under 15.2. These horses can weigh as much as 1200lbs, while the average Morgan weighs 900lbs. So do not enter.
Working Hunter is a good class if you enjoy jumping; rustic fences are used and the judge will often jump your horse, as well. Correct strides and manner over fences are judged. Snaffles, with or without running martingales, are allowed, as are short shank doubles and Pelhams (with or without roundings). Kimberwicks are not advisable as they often signify a hard mouth or difficult horse. Hunt attire and plaits are again required.
Pairs are a delightful way to show off two Morgans at the same show, especially in western or saddle suit attire. Lots of people will stop to watch.
In hand classes are explained in your catalogue, and unless they state specific heights or breeds, you are often eligible.
If you talk to the show secretary and explain why you wish to ride saddle seat or western, they will usually give you the go-ahead. They are happy to have you there; Morgans are rare and interesting. A word about stallions- some shows ban them; some don’t, but require them bitted at all times. Keep your eyes open for speed merchant children on diminutive ponies- they will be everywhere! So please keep your stallion under control.
Most of all, be seen and have a good time. Try to answer questions about Morgans, as many people will be curious. Smile in the ring even if you lose, and try, try again.
Oh- and if you have any energy left, try the gymkhana events. They are good fun and Morgans love them!