Ease of Handling Course
The judge or the technical delegate is responsible for approving the design of the Ease of Handling course, but they do not need to design the course. Courses can be designed by any member of the show staff, provided they are not also riding in the competition. Courses may include any of the obstacles that are allowed for the given performance level.
The minimum number of obstacles required for the EOH course are:
10 obstacles at Introductory and Novice levels
11 obstacles at Intermediate and Advanced levels
12 obstacles at Masters level
A course map must be provided to competitors at least two hours before the start of the EOH trial. In addition, the competitors are allowed to walk the course (on foot with no horses) during the designated coursewalk for their class. This allows riders to memorize and plan their course prior to riding.
The EOH Scoring Scale
As with the Dressage trial, each of the EOH obstacles is scored using the following scoring rubric:
10 – Excellent
9 – Very Good
8 – Good
7 – Reasonably Good
6 – Satisfactory
5 – Reasonable
4 – Insufficient
3 – Poor
2 – Bad
1 – Very Bad
0 – Failure to Perform
In addition, the judge provides Collective Marks at the conclusion of the test for transitions/navigation, gaits, impulsion, submission, and rider and presentation.
Failure to salute results in a 5 point penalty.
For obstacles at which there is at least one major problem in performance, the judge(s) typically will not award a score higher than 4.5.
A score of 10 is rarely awarded.
Half points are allowed in EOH trials in the United States.
Introductory level must perform all obstacles at either walk or trot (see Table 6-1 in the Rules) and must trot between obstacles.
In the Novice A level, canter is required between obstacles, and changes of lead are through the trot. Obstacles must be trotted, unless required or allowed to be walked (see Table 6-1 in the Rules).
In the Novice B level, canter is required between obstacles, and changes of lead through the trot are required. Obstacles must be cantered, unless required or allowed to be walked or trotted.
In the Intermediate A level, canter is required in and between obstacles, and changes of lead through the walk are required. Obstacles must be cantered, unless required or allowed to be walked.
In the Intermediate B level, canter is required in and between obstacles, and flying changes of lead are required. Obstacles must be cantered, unless required or allowed to be walked.
In the Advanced and Masters levels, canter is required in and between obstacles, and flying changes of lead are required. Obstacles must be cantered, unless required or allowed to be walked, and one hand must be used on the reins exclusively.
Disqualification from EOH
Competitors will be disqualified from the Ease of Handling trial for a variety of errors, such as:
Going off course.
Crossing through the path of an obstacle out of order.
Knocking over a key element of an obstacle without correcting it and completing the obstacle (for example: knocking over the jug before picking it up and proceeding without retrieving the jug), except at levels where a member of the ring crew is permitted to hand the dropped obstacle component to the competitor.
Three refusals to perform the same obstacle (Intermediate, Advanced, and Masters levels).
Switching the hands with which they are working obstacles (for example: picking up the jug with the right hand and ringing the bell with the left hand).
Competitors who are disqualified from the EOH trial will receive zero (0) points for the trial. They may continue on in the competition to compete in the Speed trial.
Special Allowances for Introductory and Novice Levels
During Ease of Handling, competitors in Introductory and Novice levels are allowed three refusals (each penalized in scoring). If the third try is unsuccessful, the rider can, with the authorization of the Judge, move on to the next obstacle, and a score of 0 is given for the obstacle not completed.