Breaking down barn finals

Many students on campus know about barn finals, but not in depth

By Kendall Westgate,

As a third year English Equine Studies major, barn finals are second nature; however, many students do not know of all the hard work and preparation put in for barn finals.

At the English barn, our barn finals span two weeks – Thanksgiving week and the week after. During Thanksgiving week, dressage finals take place; the week after, jump finals occur. To those unfamiliar with dressage, horse and rider perform certain movements specific to the level they are competing in; they work together to show harmony through suppleness, flexibility, obedience and athleticism, according to Horse and Hound.

During freshman year, each student is required to participate in a dressage test. However, after freshman year, students in the eventing emphasis are the only ones required to show in dressage finals.

After Thanksgiving break, jump finals commence. They are split into four different days starting on that Tuesday. On Monday, each horse and rider combination school the jumps beforehand to ensure they are ready. Starting on Tuesday, jumper finals occur, which are classes scored objectively on the team’s athletic ability over fences measured by time and faults, according to United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA). Typically, only upperclassmen participate in jumper finals.

When jump finals occur, riders with an emphasis in eventing show on Wednesday. Stadium is one of the three phases in eventing, in which riders must follow a course within a certain amount of time with no faults.

Thursday, sophomore and upperclassmen show their “green” horses over fences, where jump heights range from pole piles to 2’6.” A green horse describes the level of experience a horse has, which, in this case they have little training, according to Equine Helper. This is also the first day freshman show over fences with heights from 2’0 to 2’9.”

The last day – Friday – consists of more green finals for sophomores, equitation finals for upperclassmen, and over fences finals for freshmen. When showing in equitation, riders are judged on their position and how effective they are in using their aids.

After completing all finals, three award ceremonies take place for freshman, sophomores, and juniors/seniors. Riders receive prizes if they place first through third in a class, which are donated from different companies. Overall champion and reserve champion are also prized for different categories.

Throughout barn finals, students must also complete a final grooming assessment. This means your assigned horse must look ready to enter the show ring, including braids, show clipped, clean tack, and the rider must be polished. Lastly, students complete a written final exam, which changes based on grade level and discipline.

Finals week for students in the equine program may consist of a lot of stress, however it can be a very rewarding process. They are able to show how much they improved throughout the semester and possibly win some fun prizes for their progress.