Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association

Horse Shows

Horse shows are free for spectators! To see dates for upcoming shows, click here.

Hunter and Jumper Competitions – what’s the difference?


The most notable difference between hunters and jumpers is the technicality of the courses.

  • Jumper
    Jumper courses include combination fences, sharp turns and several changes of direction, all requiring adjustability and athleticism. Jumper fences can be quite high, up to 5'3" (1.60m) in Grand Prix show jumping.
  • Hunter
    Hunter courses include smoother lines, fewer combinations, and wider turns, reflecting the fox hunting tradition and the cadence needed for riding in large fields. Show hunters, are shown over fences no greater than 4'6" in height, even at the highest levels, but are expected to display a cadence and elegance that is not necessary in show jumping.


  • Hunter
    The fences used in show hunter courses are designed to be very natural in appearance, to simulate a natural cross-country hunting course. The poles and standards of the fences are usually natural wood or painted a conservative color, such as white or brown. Decorative elements might include brush or flowers. Water obstacles are not included.
  • Jumper
    Obstacles used in jumper competition are often brightly colored and sometimes even deliberately designed to look "scary." These courses usually include an open water or Liverpool obstacle, and may also have varied terrain with fences on the top or bottom of a bank, or with a ditch under an obstacle.

Judging or scoring

  • Hunter
    Show hunters are judged subjectively based on:
    • Ability and form of the rider, and
    • Elegance, cadence and style of the horse.
    Hunter courses are generally judged in one round, but classics often include two rounds for the top competitors. In most horse shows, four over-fence rounds (one often containing a 25% conformation component) and one flat class make up each hunter section. The judge decides which combination has the smoothest round and displayed a ride most closely to the ideal. Certain mistakes like refusals will lead to drastic penalties, while minor errors like a soft rub on a rail are slightly penalized, at the judge's discretion. This can make judging difficult to follow for those new to showing until the subtle factors considered by the judge are better understood.
  • Jumper
    Unlike the subjective scoring of the hunters, show jumping horses are more objectively penalized by accumulating "faults" if they:
    • Knock down or refuse obstacles (four faults), or
    • Exceed the optimum time.
    Some jumper classes may require a second round for the riders who jump clean (no penalties) in the first round. These "jump-offs" are judged on accuracy and time. Competitors are placed first in the order of fewest faults and then in the order of fastest time (not just time allowed).

    Because style is never taken into account, the horse may jump in unorthodox form, take off from a poor spot, or rub a rail without any penalty. This objective scoring makes show jumping easy to follow though sometimes both horses and riders may exhibit unorthodox and even unsafe form without penalty.


  • Hunter
    Speed is not important in show hunter classes.
  • Jumper
    In show jumping, the rider may be penalized for going over the time. Jump-offs also often display greater pace as time is of the essence.

How to watch a horse show

  1. Check the weather the night before.
  2. Get directions the night before
  3. Pack your supplies the night before. (Sunscreen, insect repellent, lunch, etc)
  4. Dress appropriately for the weather, because you will be outside.
  5. Obtain ring schedules from the show office.
  6. Look over the schedule to see which events you are interested in watching, and in which ring they are being held.
  7. Look to see where other spectators are seated at the show. If there are not designated areas, ask someone in the show office where it would be appropriate to sit.
  8. Seat yourself out of the way, and watch the show.
  9. Applaud after each rider finishes his/her course.
  10. Applaud during the award ceremonies for each rider.


  • If you are ever in doubt, ask someone in charge.
  • If inclement weather is predicted, call the show registration office before leaving the house to make sure the show has not been rescheduled.
  • Always wear closed-toed, durable shoes.
  • Always wear clothes that you do not mind getting dirty.
  • It is inappropriate to boo competitors or to try to coach them.


  • Horses are unpredictable creatures. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
  • Do not sit or stand near the arena gate, the judge’s stand, or anywhere there is heavy horse traffic. If you stand at the arena gate or fence this could spook the horse.
  • Keep an eye on children that you have brought with you at all times.
  • Avoid making loud commotions (whistling or cheering), distracting movements (jumping or running), or using distracting objects (umbrellas, signs, or noisemakers).
  • Equine facilities often forbid smoking. Do not smoke unless you are positive it is permitted.
  • Do NOT handle or touch any horses without the permission and help of the owner.

Upcoming Events

Learn To Ride Program

Winter Program starts January 28
8 week programs - call 780-435-3597 to register

Edmonton Area Dressage Association of Alberta

AGM - Noon to 4pm, January 21

Little Bits Winter Session

Volunteer Training January 17
8 week program starts January 24

Horsemanship - Spring Session

Starts February 3

AB Green Certificate Testing

March 7 and 14

Equine Massage Therapy Course

March 24 - 30

Little Bits Spring Session

11 week program starts April 1

Edmonton Classic Horse Show

Cancelled for 2018

AB Green Certificate Testing

May 30 and 31

Pony Up Half Day Summer Camps (ages 4-9)

July 9-13
July 23-27
August 6-10

Horse Rider Summer Camps (ages 9-14)

July 2-6
July 16-20
August 13-17

River Valley Horse Show


Equine Massage Therapy Long Course

August 6 - September 14

Edmonton Kennel Club Regional Dog Show

August 8-12

AB North Pony Club Show

August 22 - 26

Horse Racing Alberta

p. 780.435.3597
e. info@welca.ca

Map to WELCA