Academy entries are to follow all horse show entry rules. 

The following rules must be followed.  If violations are determined by show management, ALL ENTRIES from the offending barn will be disqualified and asked to leave the show grounds.

Safety is of the utmost importance, therefore, unruly, out of control, or disruptive horses will be excused. To insure the safety of other riders, any OUT OF CONTROL HORSE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY EXCUSED. The judge must stop the class until the horse and rider have been assisted out of the ring.

Instructors, barn owners, exhibitors, or ANYONE who has been suspended from showing will NOT be allowed to participate until the matter has been resolved with show management. This includes but is not limited to riding, training, and/or coaching (either in-person OR virtually via electronic devices.)

Any person who has written insufficient checks to The National Academy Championship Horse Show and has not had their owed amount collected is hereby suspended from participating in the National Academy Championship Horse Show until the matter has been settled with show management.

Notice: Show Management reserves the right to refuse, accept conditionally, or cancel any entries of any exhibitor at its discretion and require horses and entrants to vacate the premises at its discretion and without liability.


Riders must be enrolled in a professionally-run lesson program.

Once riders show in regular performance-riding classes, they are no longer eligible to show in Academy classes. However, returning riders are eligible for WTC Academy classes after a TEN (10) YEAR absence from the show ring.

Riders who have previously shown in western, hunt seat, or dressage and who are transitioning to the saddle seat discipline are allowed to show at the National Academy, provided they have not shown at the regional OR national level in their previous breed OR discipline.

The age of the rider is determined by their age as of December 1st of the previous year. If the rider’s age is questioned, proof of age must be submitted to show management.

Riders who have shown/been judged in WTC classes in any discipline are no longer eligible to return to WT classes.

Riders who have shown/been judged in WT classes are no longer eligible to show in Lead Line classes.

Alpha classes are open to riders that have moved out of Academy and onto show horses. Alpha riders must show in a full riding suit in a WTC class. These classes give a maximum window of two (2) show seasons to compete, providing they have not shown at the national level in either performance or equitation.

Master’s classes are for riders over the age of 50 years old.

NO hearing earpieces allowed on riders in the show ring. If rider is hearing impaired, medical documentation must be produced to Show Management AND APPROVED prior to showing.


Exhibitors are to be judged on their skill to effectively control the horse and to show the horse to its best advantage–The horse is not to be judged.

Equitation classes are to be judged on a rider’s basic equitation skills–the rider demonstrates correct leads and diagonals, conveying the impression of effective and easy control.

Showmanship classes are judged on the rider’s performance ability–the rider is to be judged on how well they show their horse and utilizes the ring, including correct diagonals and leads. Diagonals will count. No backing. The riders’ ability to show the horse they are on is paramount.

Walk-trot (WT) Riders are to be judged both ways of the ring at a walk and trot only. RIDERS WHO HAVE CANTERED AT A RECOGNIZED OR UNRECOGNIZED SHOW ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THIS DIVISION. (AHSA ruling p. 236 Art. 2218 sec. 8, under Equitation division)

Walk/trot/canter (WTC) riders are to be judged both ways of the ring at all three gaits.

Students may not cross enter between walk/trot & walk/trot/canter divisions at the same show. Once they have shown in WTC, they may not returned to any WT division.

Every rider must qualify in a preliminary class in order to compete for a Championship class. The top 10 ribbon winners from each age group will move on to the Championship rounds. If a class has to be split, only the top 8 from each split will qualify for the Championships.

Junior and Senior Finals will consist of the top 8 ribbon winners from each age group in their respective category. Ten ribbons will be awarded in the Grand Championship finals.

Classes will be split by age.

The age of the individual on December 1 will be maintained throughout the entire competition year. (USEF GR103)

Excessively circling center ring or riding too close to the judges will be penalized.


Horses must be regularly used as lesson horses: While it is preferred that horses are owned by instructors, horses may be owned or leased by riders IF they are used and shown regularly by other riders as a lesson/school horse.

Horses shown in Academy classes cannot be in any type of show training with a professional. This includes horses on consignment. Horses should not have been professionally trained within FOUR (4) MONTHS of show, and not have shown at the National level within TWELVE (12) MONTHS.

Horses previously training must show in a minimum of THREE (3) SEPERATE Academy shows (barn shows are ineligible) prior to showing at the NACHS.

Classes are open to mares and geldings of any breed. No stallions are allowed.

Horses must be neatly presented with clean coat and clipped bridlepath, face, ears, and legs.

Shoes are not to exceed 18 oz. NO show packages are allowed. One pad and/or wedge for comfort of the horse is permitted. The official Show Farrier will make the final decision.

Hoof black is acceptable and encouraged; ribbon braiding is prohibited.

Tack & Attire

The horse is to be tacked as if giving a lesson; snaffle and martingale are encouraged on young riders, however, full bridles are acceptable. Any leverage bit rein placed through a martingale is PROHIBITED. The saddle must be consistent with the style of riding being judged.

Prohibited tack includes overchecks, blinkers, curb-bit or leverage reins through martingales in under-saddle classes.

Academy attire consists of jodhpurs, breeches, dark pants, long sleeve shirt, with collar, tie, gloves, vest. Riding suits and jackets are prohibited in all non-Alpha classes. Chaps and western hats are prohibited.

The rider’s hair must be neatly pulled back in a bun or braid as to not obstruct the view of the rider’s number.

Whips are optional, however, spurs are prohibited.

NO barn logos or identifying marks of any kind may be visible on any student or horse while showing.

Headgear: ASTM/SEI certified safety helmets are the ONLY acceptable headgear. Riders under 17 are REQUIRED to wear helmets. Adult riders are strongly encouraged to wear helmets.

Riders not complying with the above rules will simply not be judged and may be excused from competition at Show Management’s discretion.

Remember: the purpose of Academy classes is to create an enjoyable and affordable division of horse showing competition for the beginning rider. Rules must be followed to maintain this environment for all riders.