Know the Class – Yearling Longeline

Published in the May 2008, edition of the Western Horse Review



This class for yearling pleasure prospects was developed a few years ago by the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) and has since been adopted by several of the stock horse breed associations. Many trainers and owners were longing their yearlings anyway, and saw a chance to exhibit them to future buyers with this class. A format was decided upon and rules for attire and equipment established. The yearling was to be shown for 90 seconds, approximately 45 seconds in each direction, at the walk, jog and lope in both directions. Hunter under saddle prospects could be shown with the handler in English attire, and the horse performing a walk, trot and canter. Originally, the horse was shown on the longeline first and then shown in halter-fashion for conformation. This procedure was changed as judges felt that the yearling should be inspected for soundness before being shown on the longeline. Now, the horse is set up for the judge(s) and trotted around a cone for soundness before beginning the longeline demonstration.

Yearling longeline is an approved point class for the APHA, ApHC and ApHCC, as well as several other associations, but is not approved by the AQHA. Rules have been adopted from the NSBA, with most classes at AQHA shows being held as futurities.

The yearling should be fitted for the longeline class as if it were halter class bound. It should be clean, clipped and banded – if that is the standard of the breed. Hooves should be polished to the breed standard, and tail brushed out. Most breeds permit a tail extension.

The NSBA does have an excellent video on the preparation and showing of a longeline horse. Remember to read your association rules as some may differ. The ApHCC, for example, allows a handler to show more than one horse in a longeline class, whereas other associations do not. Some organizations require that the judge’s scoresheets be posted. Read your rulebook before attempting this challenging and practical class.

Purpose: The objective of the yearling longeline class is to demonstrate that the horse has the movement, manners, expression, attitude and conformation to become competitive under saddle, and to reward these qualities. Yearlings are not expected to demonstrate the behavior or quality of a finished show horse.

Format: In this class, each horse is set up individually in front of the judge(s) to be inspected for conformation, and then at a signal from the judge, trotted off around a cone. Horses showing evidence of lameness are dismissed. The horses may all be kept in the arena, or may wait outside to be ready to start the longeline portion. A lead shank can be used for the conformation inspection, and then must be changed to a longeline.

The longing demonstration starts with an audible signal once the handler has the horse at the perimeter of it’s circle. The exhibitor is allowed a total of 90 seconds during which the horse must walk, jog and lope (or trot and canter) in both directions. A “45-second” signal is usually given as a guideline. The turnaround at the walk is considered as fulfilling the walk requirement in the second direction. The horse may work in either direction first.

Equipment: For the horse includes a halter only, plain or show-type. A longeline no longer than 30 feet is snapped to the halter, hanging free from the halter without touching any part of the horse (i.e. no chains over or under the jaw). A longe whip may be used, but a disqualification will occur if the exhibitor strikes the horse with the whip. (This does not mean that an exhibitor cannot subtly use the whip away from the horse to encourage movement.)

The exhibitor’s attire must be conventional western attire, unless the horse is being shown as a hunter under saddle prospect, in which case English attire should be worn.

Scoring: Movement 80 points; manners/expression/attitude 10 points; conformation 20 points; and use of circle 3 points. The movement score is broken up into 4 walk points each way; 16 jog/trot points each way, and 20 lope/canter points each way. You can see that as the lope holds the most points, it would be better as an exhibitor to show your horse more at the lope than spend a lot of time walking. The exhibitor is encouraged to make full use of the 25-foot longing circle, but only 3 points are allotted to this. As the conformation score is out of 20, obviously yearlings with better conformation, suitable to that of a pleasure horse, will add more points to their scores.

Disqualifications: Evidence of lameness, horse falling, improper equipment, abuse, disrespect to judge, striking horse with whip, horse stepping over or becoming entangled in the longeline, failure to show at all three gaits in each direction, horse becoming loose in arena.


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