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Unrated Hunter Jumper Divisions

A Guide to Unrated Hunter Jumper Divisions

One of the things that makes hunter/jumper shows so complicated are unrated divisions. Many shows choose to add divisions that aren’t technically recognized by the United States Hunter Jumper Association or the United State Equestrian Federation to increase entries and provide more opportunities for weeny adult amateurs like myself to actually get in the show ring. Usually these unrated hunter jumper divisions are lower in height and have various experience qualifications for horse and rider. Sometimes the names of these divisions vary by region, or the name may be the same across the nation, but the rules for eligibility differ. In a nutshell, unrated hunter jumper divisions are super confusing and there’s really no rhyme or reason to them. In all honesty, your best bet to enter correctly is to read the prize list, the rule book and/or contact the show organizer. But in case your running short on time, here are a few popular unrated hunter jumper divisions, what they are and who is typically eligible to compete in them:

Short Stirrup Hunter

Short Stirrup is typically for younger riders [aged 9-11 or under] that have not shown higher than 2′ or 2’6″; the exact age limit and fence height restriction will vary by show. The division typically consists of several over fence classes with fences set around 18″ – 2’3″, as well as a flat class. Some shows will host a Short Stirrup Hunter division, judged on the horse and/or a Short Stirrup Equitation division, judged on the rider.

Long Stirrup or Limit Rider is an unrated hunter jumper division similar to short stirrup, but for older riders usually age 12 and over with the same height restrictions [not shown higher than 2′ or 2’6″]. As stated previously, the exact age limit and fence height restriction will vary by show and the division usually consists of several over fence classes with fences set around 18″ – 2’3″, as well as a flat class.

Rusty Stirrup is a difficult division to pinpoint, as sometimes it is used interchangeably with Long Stirrup and other times is used to further separate riders jumping 18″-2’3″ by age. Generally, riders must be 18 years old or over to be eligible to compete in rusty stirrup divisions.

Beginner Hunters typically show at fence heights of 18″ to 2′ and the division is for to horses and ponies with limited show experience, such as those who have never shown over fences at 2’6″ or higher or within their first year or two of showing. Sometimes in this unrated hunter jumper division simple lead changes are not penalized, but double-check the prize list to be sure.

Schooling Horse Show

Beginner Rider is a division intended for riders of any age beginning their show experience. Fences are usually set at 18″ to 2′ and classes are typically open to any rider who has never shown over 2’3″, although some shows will restrict the class to those who have never shown over 18″.

The Hopeful Hunter division is for less experienced horses with heights ranging from 18″ to 2’9″. Typically at unrated schooling shows, Hopeful Hunters show between 2′ and 2’3″ and will be judged on suitability, manners and way of
going. It is important to read any information in the prize list on this division, as rules vary widely from region to region.

Green As Grass Hunter division is typically for horses who have not shown prior to the current year, however sometimes it is opened to horses in their first two years of showing as well. Fence heights range from 18″ to 2’3″, although 2’3″ is most popular.

Very Green Hunter is open to horses with limited experience in their first [or sometimes second] year of showing. Fences are usually set at 2’3″, but sometimes can be up to 2’6″.

Novice or Maiden divisions typically refer to a number of blue ribbons won by the rider or horse [typically less than three] at this level or above. Fences are usually 2’3″ to 2’6″.

Schooling Jumpers

Puddle Jumpers or Itty Bitty Jumpers have fences set at 18″ – 2′ and are generally for very inexperienced and/or green horses. Sometimes Itty Bitty Jumpers go up to 2’3″, and the name is used interchangeably with Beginner Jumper or Debut Jumper.

Beginner Jumper or Debut Jumper classes can easily be all over the board as far as fence height, ranging from 2′ to 2’6″, however the most popular height is 2’3″. Typically this division has no qualification, except for sometimes restricting the maximum fence height the same horse can jump at that particular show.

Hopeful Jumper classes are usually set at 2’9″, but can be as low as 2’3”.


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

17 thoughts to “A Guide to Unrated Hunter Jumper Divisions”

  1. I’m already worried and confused about participating in hunter shows next year. WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN? WHAT AM I JUMPING? WHY IS THIS SO HARD??

    1. Around my parts we don’t have all of these available, but most are if you’re willing to drive farther out and visit some smaller venues.

  2. I went to a few hunter shows last year, and I basically had the show secretary pick out my classes for me. The convo went something like “Hi. I’m an eventer. I’m here for practice. My horse goes 2’3″ to 2’6″. Halp!”
    “Okay, let’s put you in the long rusty green beginner limit classes, 2’3″ and 2’6″ ”
    LOL. Anyways, excellent explanations. I feel like my confusion is justified since all the premiums say “Refer to Rulebook” but none of this stuff is in the USEF rulebook (I looked!).

  3. i was so relieved when the last hunter type show i entered had literal descriptions for each class – which riders and horses were eligible, fence heights, etc… it’s definitely all greek to me!!

  4. It is seriously so confusing!
    In Wisconsin, we have Short Stirrup (for young riders), Long Stirrup (for older riders but still under 18), but ALSO different specific age divisions, and Limit is totally different – it has to do with the horse jumping no higher than 2’6″ at the show (I remember this because they are LIMITED to certain classes!). And then there’s Low Adult Amateur, for beginner adult riders, which is different than the Beginner Rider classes, and don’t even get me started on the whole Baby Green/Low Working/Pre-Green/Schooling/Green Working classes. Yes, these are all different divisions of Hunters at the same show!

    Anyway – this is a long way of saying, what a great idea for a post! 🙂

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