Show 101

What You need to know about the show



All entries should be presented clean, neatly trimmed, braided and in good flesh presenting a healthy appearance. Each entry should be outfitted in clean and appropriate tack. The exhibitor of each entry should be neat in appearance, attired in properly fitting riding habits and shall conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner at all times. A horse that has not performed all required gaits shall not be placed over a horse that has performed all gaits.


All horses shall enter the ring at the flat walk, shall go to the right and shall continue the flat walk until the class is closed, after which the judge shall call for performance gaits in the following order: flat walk, running walk, flat walk, and canter. The second running walk may be called for the last way of the ring as the last gait at the judge’s discretion.



It is the tradition of the show ring that riders, drivers, and handlers be correctly attired for the classes in which they compete. Correct attire for Walking Horse presentation consists of English Riding Habit, English Spurs (Use of Spurs is optional), Polished Shoes or Boots, Pain’s tie downs, or underpasses, Gloves (optional).


  • A person is an amateur for horse show purposes who, after his or her 18th birthday, does not engage in any activities, which would cause him or her to be classified as a professional.
  • Any person who has not reached his 18th birthday is declared to be an amateur.
  • For horse show purposes, a youth exhibitor is an individual who, on January 1st of the show year, has not year reached his or her 18th birthday. If an exhibitor is 17 on January 1st and turns 18 on January 2nd, the exhibitor is still eligible to show as a youth exhibitor all that year.


A person is a professional and must obtain a trainers’ card for horse show purposes if after his or her 18th birthday, he or she is engaged in buying, selling, dealing in, or hiring out horses, and/or if he or she accepts compensation or awards.


A Walking Show Horse is a horse that has received training to enhance the natural gaits associated with breed. Such horses perform with boots or action devices, which give an added dimension to their performances in the ring. Many Walking Show Horses are shown with braced tails. Included in this division are: Open Classes, Amateur classes, Youth Exhibitor Classes, Walking Pony Classes, Show Pleasure, and Special Classes.


An Open Class is on which is open to horses of any age, size or sex, irrespective of the ribbons previously won, an in which there is no limiting qualification on the rider.


A Novice Rider and Novice Horse Class are open to riders and horses that have never won a blue ribbon in a saddle class.


Youth Exhibitor: For horse show purposes, a youth exhibitor is an individual who, on January 1st of the show year, has not reached his 18th birthday. Youth Exhibitors are required to obtain a youth exhibitor card from WHOA to be eligible to show. A Youth Exhibitor may compete in an amateur class, unless the prize list specifies otherwise.


A horse shall be considered to be one year old on the first day of January following the date of foaling. (Exception: Foals born in October, November, December are eligible for classes along with foals born the following year.)


An Amateur Class is one in which every contestant enjoys amateur status. All amateur exhibitors are required to obtain an amateur card from the WHOA to be eligible to show.


An Owner’s Class is one in which every contestant is either an amateur who owns the entry being shown, or is an amateur member of the owner’s immediate family unless otherwise stated in the prize list. Combined ownership is permitted in Owner’s and Amateur Owner’s Classes. Combined ownership may be in corporate form.


The height of all animals shall be stated in hands instead of “inches”. A hand is 4 inches. Maximum height shall be reckoned as so many hands “and under” while minimum heights shall be reckoned as “over” a give number of hands. Horses must be 15 hands and over; ponies, 15 hands and under.


Classes may be divided by sex into three groups, or a Show Committee may prefer to require mare and geldings or stallions and geldings to show together.

Information provided by the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.