When riding in the hunter jumper ring you are allowed to make one prepatory circle. There are some instances, however, when the circle is unneccessary and may even drop your placings down.
The purpose of the prep circle is to establish your pace before approaching your first fence. So, if the course has its first fence near the ingate then a prep circle may be required or necessary to allow the competitor to get into a proper canter before jumping the first fence.
A Prepatory circle is unnecessary if the first jump is coming toward the ingate and the rider has to make a circuit of the ring to get to the fence. In this instance making a circle could be unneeded.
If you are in an equitation class it is important for the judge to see that you are “on task”, have a plan and can establish the required pace and rhythm as soon as possible. If it is necessary for you as a competitor to canter one circuit to get to the first jump and then do a circle to get organized, it will not look favorable in the judges eyes. By doing an additional circle it:
- shows the judge you think your horse is not quite prepared for the fence. Or that you have not adequately prepared the horse for the fence. This means you are not ‘on task’ organized or ready for the job at hand.
- takes up time. If a rider unnecessarily circles, it takes a minute or two to complete a circle. If each competitor adds a circle – several hours is added to the day.
- it takes away from the over all performance. This is particularly true if the competitor walks in and picks up the wrong lead (which happens alot …)
Help keep the show on schedule … be prepared and go promptly to your first fence!