The ASJL rules are limited to a basic set of traditional guidelines, and otherwise support the greatest possible scope for individuality and creative approaches to holding events.
The league establishes only one scheduling rule: the Warm-up. Though it is not strictly required, the league requests the use of “banded” scheduling as outlined below.
A class over fences must be offered before every Qualifier class, set at the same course specifications and held in the same location. The Warm-up course must be different from that used in the Qualifier.
Warm-up Classes are traditionally a clean-round class that is not officially scored … a recommended practice is the awarding of a small prize (like carrots or a concession coupon) to participants with clean rounds. Small prizes are memorable and appreciated.
» If Qualifier classes are held as part of an event with other competition(s), any jumping class without a speed component may serve as Warm-up to a Qualifier (at the same specifications and location).
» If Qualifier classes are being held individually as a stand-alone event, then a separate Warm-up class must be offered before each level of Qualifier. This Warm-up class is to typically be a clean round event.
It is requested that league events hold all classes of each level together in groups (“bands), either back-to-back or similarly close together.
Many horse sports use time slots for scheduling, but such progress has been slower in the hunter/jumper world. The norms of local horse showing come from the Old World, it seems, where folks just trotted over the hill to see what classes were going on, and entered willy-nilly as things went horse-wise or upon a prospect’s request. It favored everyone’s business to keep the thing strung out all day, to catch all comers. It was that business for that time, having little to do with the paying public today.
Equestrian outings in the past were typically all-day occasions.
People not only had a much broader knowledge of and interest in horses generally, but many were employed in various aspects of horse-keeping and such events served the community at large. Friends and family and tradesmen mingled. All understood the context and had a stake in the proceedings.
Today this kind of community may exist among participating horse-enthusiasts, but not many outside that sphere are actually knowledgeable or direct stakeholders in horses. Too many equestrian events conduct themselves in oblivion to the public at large, stretching out the different divisions into all day affairs that may still suit trainers and organizers and some participants, but ignores the interests of supporters and spectators.
Supporters and spectators deserve a good experience. As a product of the modern world, the equestrian grassroots are an appropriate venue for reconnecting the public with horsemanship.
Banded scheduling is a practical step. The classes of a specific level should all take place together within a time period of 2-3 hours. This is a usual time frame for spectators and grassroots participants of modern sports. If there are many entries, a division can be made into separate sections. The goal is that a supporter can know when to show up and—when they can LEAVE.
Wanting More: the Best Way to Leave
Supporters should be able to enjoy a short time in the great outdoors, walking and watching horses as they wait for their loved ones to compete. Unfortunately, what might be seen as inconsiderate, unexplained yet interminable time frames take the fun out of the activity, burning out supporters and turning away spectators.
The grassroots cannot demand a change in the wider world of equestrian governance, but it might model a different approach. Perhaps the public can re-establish a positive connection with horses and local equestrian sports, and rebuild community trust from the bottom up.