If you’ve ever shown in NRHA, NRCHA, NCHA, AQHA or other national organizations, you may have grown accustom to a different scoring system. The American Stock Horse Association follows their own scoring system, and for many it takes a bit to get used to. The ASHA has developed a scoring system that is relatively easy to follow and according to the handbook it is designed to be “positive and straight forward – always encouraging growth and improvement”. ASHA uses a positive score based system that gives horses credit for what they do accomplish, rather than disqualifications with zero scores.
The scoring system gives a score of 1 to 10 for each maneuver that is completed in all ASHA classes. If a maneuver is not attempted or a portion of a course is omitted, the judge can give the horse a score of 0. If a maneuver or portion of a class is even attempted, even with little success, the judge must give that horse at least a score of 1. For example, if you decide your horse isn’t ready for the bridge and completely avoid it in the trail course, you receive a 0 for the bridge but receive a score for every other obstacle and an overall score for the class. Another good example is if you go into your reining pattern, completely blank (don’t worry, we’ve all done it), and only spin 3 times left when the pattern called for 4 spins left, you still attempted your spins and will receive a score for the spins you completed. The basic breakdown of the scoring for each attempted maneuver is as follows:
1 to 4 – the maneuver included major faults
5 to 7 – the maneuver was of average quality
8 to 10 – the maneuver was of high quality
A horse can only be disqualified by the judge for illegal equipment, obvious lameness, or inhumane treatment or misconduct from the rider. If you aren’t sure what is considered legal or illegal equipment, refer to the ASHA handbook… or we might just cover that in another newsletter!
If you fall off or your horse falls in a run, your run is ended when you or the horse hits the ground. Hopefully this never happens to you but the good news if it does, is your horse still receives a score for all work completed up to the point of the fall. A horse is considered to have fallen when all four feet are facing the same direction (and not in the upright position!). In the event that your equipment fails or becomes unsafe during a run, your run is stopped but your horse still receives credit for all work completed up to that point.
The judging rule most often confused in the scoring system is the use of two hands with a curb bit, using more than one finger in between split reins with a curb, or using any fingers in between romel reins. Any of these result in a two point deduction in run content for each occurrence during a run. Continuous use of two hands on the reins with a curb bit is considered a major fault and the judge is required to reflect this in the maneuver score.
One last thing that’s important to note; if you ever notice that the scores on the printed class score tabulations don’t match the judge’s written scores, they must be reported to the show secretary immediately. It is very difficult to correct errors in class score tabulations after the show or once all classes are complete and the overall scores are calculated.