Thursday, June 20, 2024
Equine DisciplinesWestern Riding



Goal of Competitive Gymkhanas:
To provide a fast-paced, high quality competition. This is a competition designed for those who have done their practicing at home and at fun days and are ready to show their stuff. This is NOT A SCHOOLING event

Northern Saddle Club Gymkhana Rules

Please Note: These rules are specific to NSC Gymkhana Fun Days and Competitions and are on top of all existing NSC Rules. Click Here for PDF Printable Version of these Gymkhana Rules

Entry Rules

  1. Each horse/pony may be ridden only once in each event, with the exception of Lead-line Division.
  2. Each horse and rider combination will be assigned a number that must be worn in all classes entered.
  3. Open to western competitors. For rules on attire and tack, please see specifications for Fun Days and Competitions.
  4. The gymkhana judge reserves the right to order the adjustment or removal of ANY piece of equipment which he/she feels is dangerous or inhumane.
  5. All patterns will be posted prior to the start of the show.
  6. Anyone using abusive language, being generally discourteous to officials, event committee, or other competitors, or displaying cruelty to animals will be excused from the remainder of the event with no refund.

General Gymkhana Rules

  1. Competitors must be ‘on deck’ in the waiting area and ready to enter the arena when their name is called. If a rider is having problems with his/her horse, it is their responsibility to inform the Whipper-in of their intentions. A rider may be disqualified for causing unnecessary delay in any event. The order of go will be posted along with patterns prior to the start.
  2. The gymkhana judge reserves the right to excuse any lame or sick horse. All refunds will be at the discretion of the show committee.
  3. If a riders’ horse is lame or has other issues making it unfit for the event, either a veterinarian’s note is required OR 2 people from the current NSC membership who have been approved by the gymkhana committee will be asked to give their honest opinions about the horses status.
  4. Whips, bats, over-and-unders, and spurs are allowed, but the gymkhana judge reserves the right to disqualify anyone abusing their horse, in or out of the ring. Whips, bats, and over-and-unders are not to be used more than 3 times in any event.
  5. If a horse causes difficulty entering the arena, the rider may choose to lead the horse in and mount in the arena.
  6. Riders must wait for a signal from the judge or announcer before beginning a run or they will not receive a time.
  7. All arena gates must be closed before the competitor in the arena may begin their run. ABSOLUTELY NO RUN-INS or RUN-OUTS will be allowed. Horse and rider must enter/exit arena under control.
  8. It is mandatory for all youth under 18 years of age to wear an approved safety helmet while mounted anywhere on NSC grounds. Helmets must be proper fitting with the safety harness correctly fastened, and meet safety standards.

Timing and Penalties

  1. Timer starts when horse crosses the timer/start line and ends when the horse crosses back over the line. If the timeline is crossed before the pattern is completed a NT (no time) will result.
  2. If a rider is given a re-ride, it will be optional. Any penalties obtained in the first ride will be carried over to the re-ride.
  3. If the rider breaks the pattern in any event, they may correct it by turning in to avoid crossing their path. If the path is crossed and the pattern is broken this will result in a NT.
  4. If rider is wearing a hat (mandatory for competitive gymkhana events) the hat rule is enforced. The hat must remain on rider entering the arena, during the run, and exiting the arena. Loss of a hat will result in a 5 second time penalty.
  5. If an element of the pattern (ex. Barrel, pole, etc.) should be knocked down by the competitor, a 5 second time penalty per item will be added to the time. The rider may use his/her hand(s) to keep the item in place without penalty. The exception is to the open barrel in Flag Race, which, if knocked over, will result in a NT.
  6. If an element of the pattern should fall down after the competitor has crossed over the finish line, no penalty will be incurred.
  7. In Keyhole, to step on OR over the line is to go off pattern and will result in a NT.
  8. Running over or striking timing equipment, starting line markers, or correctly positioned arena personnel while competing shall be cause for elimination.


Goal of Fun Days:

  1. To provide a non-competitive learning environment for both horses and riders.
  2. A chance for riders/horses to practice or school a horse in a competition setting (in an arena with other horses and riders around).
  3. A chance to help each other out, give tips and encouragement!!!!!
  4. A chance to have some fun while improving our riding skills and horsemanship.

For Fun Day Gymkhanas:

All NSC rules apply to Fun Day Gymkhana events.

Events will be timed but a limit of 2 minutes allowed per rider/horse combo per event.


  • Lead line: No age restrictions. Open to anyone who needs to be led.
  • Novice: Intended for beginner horse/rider that is walking/trotting. Competitor will not be penalized if horse breaks into a lope.
  • Junior: Under the age of 18 years (as of January 1st)
  • Senior: 18+ years of age (as of January 1st)


Ribbons will be awarded to sixth (6) place in each division.



  • long jeans
  • riding boots
  • long sleeves
  • Riding helmet with harness mandatory for riders under 18 years of age.
  • shin guards permitted


  • western saddle
  • western bridle (legal headgear)
  • breast collars permitted
  • protective leg gear encouraged
  • tie downs permitted


Events include:

  • keyhole
  • flag race
  • barrel race
  • ring spearing
  • pole bending
  • scurry race
  • scud-a-ho
  • quadrangle stakes

Additional fun races may include:

  • trotting race
  • egg & spoon race
  • sack race

Please note for Fun Days:

For each Fun Day four main events will be run plus one additional fun event. If time permits, additional events can be run as well.

*Some pattern dimensions will be minimized for Lead line division only (as not to tire out those leading!!!).

*For Lead line and Novice divisions only: Riders may choose to have the height of the jumps lowered in events that have jumps.