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Academy Guidelines

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Academy Guidelines

American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association (ASHBA)

This publication is intended to be a source of information for those responsible for organizing horse shows; for judges and other horse show officials, and for instructors and trainers. The American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association recognizes the need for: providing standardized guidelines for the academy division,


Promoting a level playing field


helping judges understand academy criterion


encouraging lesson programs at more stables

The Academy Program is all inclusive allowing beginners to advanced students a way in which to participate. The academy program also provides an important niche for many horses that need a job and can be put to good use as suitable lesson horses.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Academy Program is to reach out to all students who are obtaining professional instruction and provide them with the opportunity to develop their horsemanship skills and to gain experience while entering competition where they can be recognized for their achievements. The Program educates participants while promoting the American Saddlebred horse and introducing students to this versatile breed. Encouraging high standards of sportsmanship and fair play at all times by all involved at all levels, at all times is paramount. This is deemed essential to ensuring the integrity of the Academy Program and to exerting a positive impact on its growth and the growth of the horse show industry. The American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association (ASHBA) supports the spirit of this Program.

Academy Awards

In order for riders to compile points and be eligible for the ASHBA Academy Awards, horse shows are encouraged to adhere to the recommended guidelines. The guidelines that pertain to the classes offered can be published in the prize list/premium book. When abbreviated, reference can be made to the full set of guidelines as contained in this publication. The show office or show secretary should have a copy available for all to refer to

Horse Show Academy Division Guidelines

The Exhibitor

  • The exhibitor entries are limited to riders enrolled in a lesson program.

  • Once a rider shows in regular performance classes, they are no longer eligible to show in Academy classes. Returning riders are eligible for WTC academy after a 10-year absence from the show ring.

  • Riders who have shown in a regular division or in a suit/coat are no longer eligible to show in Academy classes.

  • A rider who has shown & been judged in Walk/Trot/Canter classes is no longer eligible to return to Walk/Trot classes.

  • A rider who has shown & been judged in Walk/Trot classes is no longer eligible to show in Lead Line.

  • Riders may not show in any performance division at the same show (except driving or in hand classes).

  • Age of the rider is determined by their age as of December 1 of the previous year.

  • Academy driver may be accompanied in the cart by an experienced adult who is not allowed to coach.

  • Only a 2-wheel cart/buggy is permitted in driving classes.


The Horse

  • Horses must be regularly used as lesson horses.

  • A horse may be owned or leased as long as that horse is used regularly by others as a lesson/school horse.

  • Horses shown in Academy classes cannot be in show training but may be exercised by a professional.

  • Horses should be plain shod. (Exception may be made if corrective shoeing is needed, one pad and/or wedge is allowed for the comfort of the horse)

  • Hoof blacking is optional; no ribbon braiding allowed.

  • School horses may cross enter regular show classes at the same show.

  • Any breed horse or pony is eligible, full mane and tail.



  • Horse to be tacked with saddle consistent with style of riding.

  • Full or Pelham bridles or snaffle bridle with martingale. A martingale on a leverage bit is prohibited.



  • To be appropriate for the style of riding/driving.

  • Jodhpurs, breeches, dark pants, long sleeve shirt, with collar, tie, gloves, vest (sweater permissible in very cold weather) Riding suits and jackets are prohibited. Chaps and western hats are prohibited.

  • Roweled spurs are not permitted.

  • All riders should wear protective headgear that meets or exceeds ASTM standards.



  • Exhibitors are judged on their skill to effectively control the horse and to show the horse to its best advantage.

  • Horsemanship/Showmanship classes are judged on the rider’s performance ability – how well they show the horse and utilize the ring including correct diagonals and leads.

  • Equitation classes are to be judged on a rider’s basic equitation skills; riding on correct leads and diagonals; conveying impression of effective and easy control.

  • Horses should not be asked to back, to perform an extended trot, or a hand gallop.

  • Headers are permitted in the line-up; no towels or whips allowed.

  • The horse IS NOT to be judged.

ASHBA Academy Awards Rules

  • Points accumulate between October 1 and September 30 of each year and are tabulated by riding instructors.

  • Points are kept on an official point sheet and must be signed by BOTH the rider and the instructor or youth club advisor.

  • The point sheets are to be sent to ASHBA by October 31 of the award year for verification.

  • One (1) point is given for participating in an academy riding or driving class. One (1) point is given for placing 2nd – 8th in an academy riding or driving class. Two (2) points are given for placing 1st in an academy riding or driving class.

  • ASHBA membership is required in order for the points to count.

  • A bronze medallion will be awarded for earning 15 points in the first year of competition, a silver medallion for 15 points in the second consecutive year, and a gold for 15 points in the third consecutive year.


Note: This publication is subject to revision. You are advised to become familiar with its contents. Suggestions for improvements to enable growth of the Academy Program are welcome.

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