Guide for YEH Judges

Authored by Marilyn Payne

Responsibility of YEH Judges

  • Place the class
  • Evaluate potential
  • Evaluate training
  • Give honest and consistent scores since they will determine qualifications for YEH Finals


  • Judge what you see - not the past
  • Don't be tough on playfulness, insecurity or greenness
  • Remember the best of each gait
  • Keep track of each horse's scores on your own master scoresheet so the correct relationship among horses is preserved
  • Know the meaning of each score 0-10 with decimals .1-.9, as well as scores 0-5 with .5

Meaning of Scores

*Scores of 0-4 are indicative of characteristics that will preclude horse from becoming an event horse

**Decimals are encouraged

ScoreDressage MeaningYEH MeaningLevel Potential
5MarginalMust have more abilityStarter/Beginner Novice
6SatisfactoryShould have more abilityNovice/Training
7Fairly GoodCould have more abilityPreliminary/Intermediate
8GoodClear athletic ability4* or 5* (Questionable)
9Very GoodVery good potential4* or 5*
10ExcellentOutstanding potential5*

Evaluating the Walk

  • Relaxed and supple with a swinging back
  • Diligent, eager and marching
  • Ground cover
  • Stretch over the back
  • Clear four beat rhythm

Evaluating the Trot

  • Rhythm
  • Suppleness
  • Elasticity
  • Impulsion
  • Ground cover
  • Swinging back
  • Freedom in shoulders

Evaluating the Canter

  • Three-beat pace followed by a moment of suspension
  • Natural balance
  • Ground cover
  • Suppleness
  • Impulsion

Evaluating Submission

  • Suppleness
  • Confident connection
  • Straightness, bending
  • Is the training going in the right direction?

Scoring Show Jumping and Cross-Country

1Very bad
  • Rail down = no higher than 2
  • Fall of horse or rider or three refusals = Elimination
  • Decimal .5 may be used

Evaluating Jumping Ability on Cross-Country

  • Scope
  • Power
  • Adjustment to terrain
  • Coordination
  • Boldness
  • Quick natural instincts

Evaluating Cross-Country Fences

  • Safe and efficient style
  • Jumping out of stride
  • Balance in approach and landing
  • Effortless and confident
  • Natural instincts
  • Quick footwork

Rideability Jumping

  • Confidence
  • Attitude
  • Response to aids
  • Learning ability

Evaluating Gallop on Course

  • Jumping out of stride
  • Ability to adjust balance
  • Maintaining rhythm
  • Desire to go forward
  • Appropriate pace

Evaluating Open Gallop

  • Ease of gallop
  • Ground cover
  • Balance and lightness
  • Efficiency
  • Desire to go forward

Judging Criteria - Overall Impression

  • Questions to ask yourself about the horse:
    • Event type?
    • Natural ability and balance?
    • Willing temperament?
    • Correct basic training
    • Presence and attitude?
    • Would you ask a potential buyer to invest in this horse as a 4* or 5* prospect?

Helpful Links

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA