WPCSA Ridden Cob Classes
By Pat Holmes

      With the Ridden Cob a WPCSA realty for the 2003 show year, explanation of UK Welsh Ridden Classes is in order, as the newly sanctioned Ridden Cob classes are modeled on UK Welsh Ridden Classes. Although, these newly introduced classes are for Cobs only, I hope that interest in this style of showing Welsh under saddle will spread to the other sections and eventually lead to shows offering that exciting UK favorite for exhibitors and spectators alike the Overall Ridden Championship.  If this is not to be so, then we will still have the thrill of the Ridden Cob classes to enjoy. Likewise, US Welsh enthusiasts will better understand UK Welsh shows when they watch under-saddle classes on visits to the UK and other countries following UK showing procedures.

Welsh Ridden Classes

      At most UK shows, ridden classes for Welsh are by section, with separate classes for each section. Within the section, there are ridden classes for mares, stallions, and geldings. Novice is also broken down into separate classes for mares, stallions and geldings when entries warrant.  The top two of each class go forward to the next level.  For example, in a show with maximum entries and all classes making, mares 4-7 years, mares 8 and older, and novice mares would send their top two placings forward for the mare Championship.  The top two mares, the top two stallions, and the top two geldings go forward to the overall section Championship.
      If US shows were to offer a "Ridden" division with classes for each section along similar lines, something I would love to see in our long term plans, the top two of each section would go forward to an overall Ridden Welsh Championship.
      It is thrilling to watch sometimes very young children showing their smaller ponies against older juniors and adults on larger ponies and cobs in these classes. Contrary to what one might expect, the children on the smaller ponies often win the overall Championship. In the UK, each section usually has separate judging for the overall Championship. The judges from each section judge together and confer among themselves to decide the Overall Championship.  Very exciting and fun to watch!
      For the Overall Ridden Championship, Section As and Section Bs show in the manner outlined below for ridden Cob. In the UK, as noted in India Haynes's article, a separate riding judge often rides Section Cs and Section Ds. The method is interesting and tells a lot about the animal: sometimes the Ridden Cobs go better for the riding judge than they do for their regular riders. However, I doubt that would be practical in the USA at this time.
      Contrary to some discussion on the Welsh and pony lists and the perceptions that many have, "Ridden" is not just a "hell bent for leather" class. Extended gaits are neither called for nor required, except for an individually performed demonstration of the gallop in one direction. During an individual show, riders can show their animals to their best advantage. If an extended trot is where it shines -show it.  The idea is to show one's Welsh pony or cob to its best advantage as a Welsh, not in imitation of another breed's showing style.
     I look forward to seeing this new (to us) performance area at our shows once we have prepared both judges and riders with clinics and workshops.

Photo Courtesy of Real Time Imaging of Sydenham Forget Me Not

WPCSA Ridden Cob
      WPCSA Ridden Cob classes are a necessary first step in making this dream a show ring reality. These classes are for registered Welsh Cobs and Welsh Ponies of Cob Type, 4 years of age and over.  Ridden Cobs will be judged 50% on performance and 50% on conformation, and shown at the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  The class will require each participant to perform individually, showing all gaits on each rein, although the gallop need only be shown one direction.  Each Ridden Cob in the class will then be stripped for conformation judging.  In case of a tie, the Cob with the higher riding score will take precedence.  Prescribed tack and appointments are English style saddle; snaffle, Pelham or full Weymouth bridle; and hunt type attire.  Only UK or UK approved judges would judge these classes until properly trained American judges become available.
      The Ridden Cob class will be a WPCSA sanctioned class in 2003, held at shows choosing to offer it and meeting the above stated judging requirements.  Since few exhibitors in the USA have had the opportunity to observe a 'Ridden' class or Mountain and Moorland class as held in the UK, I will describe the ring procedure of this class.
      Animals enter to the right (the opposite of American classes other than Roadster) at the walk.  The ring steward directs all gaits on request of the judge, in contrast to the usual American format where the announcer calls the gaits over the Public address system.  The quiet is lovely.  The ring steward gestures to a rider to move to another gait and everyone behind follows suit.  Canter transitions are from the trot, not the walk, as is customary in US under-saddle classes. When the judge has observed all gaits to the right, the steward indicates a change of direction across the diagonal in the same manner.  The second direction is the same, except for the addition of the gallop, which exhibitors perform individually.  Again the steward holds the class at one end of the arena and each entry individually strikes off at the canter, extends to show the gallop, and returns to the group.  The entries all resume the rail at the walk.  At this point, the judge, through the steward, calls in entries in a preliminary order.  This differs from the American system as riders know just where they stand and what the judge is thinking at this point in the class.  This ring procedure also makes it easier for spectators to follow the judging.
      The person called in first is sent out first for his or her individual show.  The judge determines the specific details of the individual performance or, at his or her discretion, leaves it to the exhibitor.  The individual show usually consists of walk out, pick up trot, canter on, change rein, proceed back down through gaits to walk, and return to line-up.  In a class with a judge that rides each entry, a separate riding judge does this part. The conformation phase follows the individual shows, either by observation before they return to the line or by having attendants come in to strip off the saddle then lead Cobs out individually for judging.  As a Cob returns to the line, it is saddled and the rider remounts.
      The final segment consists of the group, lead by the first cob in the line, circling at the walk while the judge makes his final decision.  The judge then instructs the steward to line up the class one at a time in order of placing.  Sometimes this is the same as the original line up; often it is not. Riders may know where they stand going into to the individual performance phase but never for certain where they will end up.
      In most classes, the judge walks down the line pinning the rosettes to the animals' bridles and shaking hands with the riders.  Everyone stays in place until all ribbons have been awarded, at which time the winner leads a victory round, usually at the canter, of all ribbon winners, with the announcer reading the class results at that time.
      Judging is on the riding attributes of the animals. Responsiveness, willingness, quality of gaits, and acceptance of aids are some factors evaluated.  Although the abilities of the rider are not being judged, a skilled rider will certainly enhance the performance of a Ridden Cob.
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