Fence Judges Briefing

1. Responsibilities as Fence Judge  [corrected for ST06]
You are responsible for judging and marking competitors at your fence and for the safety of competitors and spectators at and near your fence on the cross country

2. Judging  
You must judge whether a competitor has committed any of the faults described below while jumping or trying to jump your fence.  Judging must be consistent and the rules must be applied equally to every competitor.

(a) Refusal
At obstacles or elements with height (exceeding 3Ocm) a horse is considered to have refused if it stops in front of the obstacle to be jumped.  At all other obstacles (i.e. 30cm or less in height) a stop followed immediately by a standing jump is not however penalised, but if the halt is sustained or in any way prolonged, this constitutes a refusal.  The horse may step sideways but if it steps back, this is a refusal.  After a refusal, if the competitor redoubles or changes his efforts without success, or if the horse is re-presented at the obstacles after stepping back and stops and steps back again, this is a second refusal, and so on.

(b) Run-out
A horse is considered to have run-out if having been presented at the element or obstacle, it avoids that element or obstacle in such a way that the head & neck of the horse & the head of the rider when mounted fail to pass between the extremities of the element or obstacle as flagged.  A competitor will also be penalised 20 penalties if the horse disobediently avoids that part of the fence at which it has been presented, but succeeds in negotiating the obstacle at some other part between the flags.  However, a rider is permitted to change his mind as to where he jumps an obstacle or element at any time, without penalty, including as a result of a mistake at a previous obstacle or element.


Original intention of rider


Change of intention by rider
If no refusal - 0 penalties Para 2 (b)

If no refusal and no run-out
Fence 9A & 9B - 0 penalties Para 2 (b)

 (c) Circle
A horse will be penalised for a circle, if having been presented at an obstacle, it crosses the track that it created before it jumped the obstacle or before it jumped the last element of a multiple obstacle.

After being penalised for a refusal, run-out, circle or fall, a competitor is permitted to cross his original track without penalty in order to make another attempt and may also circle one or more times without penalty, until he again presents his horse at the obstacle.

At separately numbered obstacles, a competitor may circle between or around them without penalty provided he has not re-presented his horse at the second or subsequent obstacles.  A circle will always be penalised when it occurs between the elements of a multiple obstacle.

20 penalties if presented - Para 2 (c)

0 penalties  - Para 2 (c)

(d) Fall
A rider has "fallen" when he is separated from his horse and has to remount (unseated rider). A horse has "fallen" when its shoulder and hindquarters touch the ground or the fence and the ground (horse fell).

It is also considered a fall of horse when the horse is trapped in a fence in such a way that it is unable to proceed without assistance or is likely to injure itself.

If a rider falls at your fence, you have to decide whether horse and rider had gone through the flags/over the obstacle together.  If they did, then it is a fall.  If they did not, then it is a fall and a refusal, and they must retake the obstacle. If asked, you must tell them your decision.

(i) If a horse falls while attempting to jump an obstacle or element, it is automatically eliminated.
(ii) A competitor is eliminated at the second fall of rider on the cross-country, but you should take no action unless the falls happened at your fence.
(iii) Circles or falls, not connected with jumping or trying to jump your fence, are not penalised and do not count towards elimination, except that a fall between the elements of a combination fence will always be penalised.

(e) Omissions of Fence or Boundary Flag
Every numbered or lettered fence must be jumped in the correct sequence, passing to the left of all red boundary flags and to the right of all the white ones. If the omission of a complete fence is noticed by a Judge at another fence, he must report it on his card.

There is no penalty for knocking down a fence flag but, if in the process, the horse's head/neck & riders head passes the wrong side of it (i.e. to the right of the red flag or left of the white) the competitor must, under the penalty of elimination, retake the fence and be penalised for a run-out.  Competitors may ask if they have to retake the fence and then you must tell them (this is not forbidden assistance - see 2 g below).

(f) Error of Course
Any error must be rectified by the competitor without help from anyone and without retaking a fence already jumped, except for an earlier element of a combination fence (see 3b below).  Jumping a fence in the wrong order is an error of course that cannot be rectified.

(g) Forbidden Assistance
Any intervention by a third party, solicited or not, intended to help the rider or the horse, is forbidden. In particular, it is forbidden for a competitor to take a "lead" from (i.e. follow closely) another, or for you or anyone to assist a competitor to rectify an error of course.  It is not up to you to eliminate a competitor; you should record it on your sheet and if possible identify a witness.

After a fall or if a competitor dismounts, he may be helped to catch his horse, adjust saddlery and remount and be handed any part of his equipment.  Whip, headgear or spectacles may be handed to competitors at any time without them having to dismount.

(h) Dangerous Riding
Any rider who affects the safety of any horse rider or third party will be considered to have acted dangerously.  In particular jumping a fence so slowly that the horse is in danger of falling over the fence or jumping the fence so fast that a nasty accident could happen is classed as dangerous riding.  Please take no action, but record all the details, and the name of any witness, on your card. The Ground Jury will deal with it.

3. Judging Adjacent Fences  
Fences sited close together may be of different kinds, subject to different rules, and need particularly careful judging.

(a) Separately Numbered Fences
Where two or more fences, though sited close together, are designed as separate tests, they are numbered and judged separately. A competitor may refuse twice at each fence without elimination or circle deliberately in between them. He may not retake a fence he has already jumped.

(b) Combination Fences
Where a fence, though formed of several elements (e.g. banks, steps or other combinations) is designed as one test, it will be numbered and judged as one fence, but each element will be flagged and lettered consecutively.  A competitor may refuse only twice in all without elimination, but if he refuses or falls at any element he is allowed to retake the whole fence or any part of it (and to pass the wrong way between the flags of any elements, in order to do so). However, he is liable for any fault even if he has previously jumped an element successfully.


Jump 10


Jump 9


Jump 9B


Jump 9A

Fence 9 & 10 - 0 penalties - Para 3 (c)

Fence 9A & 9B - 20 penalties  - Para 3 (a)



Jump 10



Jump 9



Jump 9B


Jump 9A


Fence 9 & 10 - 0 penalties - Para 3 (c)

Fence 9A & 9B - 20 penalties  - Para 3 (a)



Jump 9B



Jump 9A


Jump 10


Jump 9



Fence 9A & 9B - 20 penalties - Para 3 (c)

Fence 9 & 10 - 0 penalties  - Para 3 (a)

(c) Circle at Combination Fences (as in 3 (b) above)
A horse will be penalised for a circle, if it completes a circle by crossing the track it made before it jumped the last element or obstacle.


Fence 9A & 9B - 20 penalties - Para 3 (c)

Fence 9 & 10 - 0 penalties  - Para 3 (a)

Please Note:
The following two diagrams are considered to be clear as the rider has jumped the two parts of the obstacle in a direct route and not taken an alternative.

Fence 9A & 9B - 0 penalties

Fence 9A & 9B - 0 penalties

At a combination fence, or possibly at adjacent obstacles, there is sometimes confusion when a rider falls as to whether he has also had a refusal. For example, at an AB combination, if he falls in between A and B you must decide whether he simply fell at A, which is a fall only, or whether he refused and fell at B, which is a refusal and a fall.  Remember if the horse falls it is automatically elimination.

4. Penalties  
Having judged which, if any, faults have been committed, you must record them on your score sheet.

(a) System of Marking Score Cards



X tick

One disobedience or run-out, then clear

XX tick

Two disobediences or run-outs at the same obstacle, then clear


Three disobediences or run-ours at the same obstacle - Elimination

XF tick

One disobedience or run-out and fall, then clear


Fall of rider


Fall of horse


Elimination, give reason in remark column, e.g.


    Three disobediences at same obstacle


    Error of course not rectified


    Omission of obstacle or boundary flag


    Retaking an obstacle already jumped (except if a competitor retakes part of a combination after a refusal)


    Jumping obstacle in wrong order


    Obstruction of overtaking competitor


    Second fall on cross country course (rider)


    Failure to retrieve head gear


    Receiving forbidden assistance


    Jumping an obstacle with an unfastened retention harness.


    4th refusal, run-out, or circle on phase D


    1st fall of horse

 (b) Enforcement of Penalties
When you judge that a competitor has had three refusals, you must tell him clearly that he is eliminated and order him to leave the course at a walk.  You must report any transgression.  You may not eliminate a competitor for any other reason.  With all other faults for which the penalty is elimination, you must record them on the score sheet but take no further action - your report will be referred to the Ground Jury or Technical Delegate for action.  DO NOT engage in any discussion of faults or penalties with competitors.  Refer them to the Technical Delegate.

5. Marking  
When completing score sheets please:
(a) Write clearly with pencil or ballpoint pen
(b) Write the fence number and your name on each sheet
(c) Record the number of each competitor as he jumps, or tries to jump, and his penalties in the appropriate column
(d) Never write down a competitor's number until you have seen it (worn on chest and back) because they may not come in programme order. If you miss a number do not guess. Score as normal but put a question mark in the "number column".
(e) Note in the "Remarks" column, any dangerous riding or forbidden assistance - also any excessive use of whip, spur or verbal abuse.  The scorers will contact the Technical Delegate or Ground Jury.
(f) If in doubt about any judgement, make a note of the circumstances on the score sheet, with a sketch if appropriate.

6. Emergency Action  
(a) Stopping Drill
You must be prepared to stop a competitor safely, fairly and immediately any accident makes a fence impassable or dangerous.  You must be ready to stop the next competitor, well away from your fence, by using the following drill:

(i) on arrival at your fence choose, or make and memorise a mark on the ground - ideally a minimum of 50 paces from your fence on the approach side.

(ii) when the competitor passes this mark, you must start your stopwatch

(iii) then, and only then, stop him by waving - - ideally the red flag

        (iv) point out to him your landmark, explain that he is free to dismount and will be given fair warning when and how to restart.

(v) immediately inform Control via the nearest radio point

(vi) when told by Control, you give the competitor a flying start from beyond your landmark

(vii) you must stop the watch as the horse passes the mark and record the time for which the competitor was stopped.

Officials will try to stop competitors' before they reach the fence at which an accident has occurred. Thus, any Fence Judge may be asked to stop one or more competitors at his fence. In each case you use the same drill and will be told when to restart. Unless officially told to do so only stop a competitor at your fence if you judge that it has become dangerous or is significantly altered in outline.

(b) Extrication
If a horse becomes trapped in your fence and is liable to injure itself or unable to proceed without help, you must decide if parts of the fence should be dismantled, or other help given to extricate it.  You tell the competitor to dismount and penalise him for a fall of horse, which is elimination!  If subsequent competitors are held up while the fence is repaired, the times of their delays must be recorded.

(c) Calling Assistance
You can summon help by using a radio, preferably, or by waving flags towards the nearest visible control or radio point.
    Red Doctor/Ambulance
    White - Veterinary Aid
    Crossed Flags - the course is blocked
(To stop an oncoming competitor, a red flag is waved in his path)

(d) Health of Rider or Horse
If in doubt about the health of a rider or horse summon professional help. Meanwhile, protect the casualty from further injury but DO NOT MOVE UNLESS VITAL. Do not allow a rider who appears very seriously confused or in severe pain to remount or continue. If the horse appears to be too severely injured to continue, hold the competitor until a vet has examined the horse. If you hold a rider and/or a horse for examination by a doctor or vet, you should record the length of time you hold them, in case they are allowed to continue. If the doctor or vet decides that the competitor should NOT carry on, they or you must report this to Control. Only the Ground Jury may formally stop them - but the Jury will virtually always take the doctor or vet's advice.  In practice, most riders accept the advice and retire but a concussed rider might not understand.

7. Safety Precautions  
(a) Clear Course
You are responsible for ensuring, by voice or whistle, that all approach routes to, and exit routes from, your fence are kept clear for competitors.  Where the course has ropes, keep spectators behind them.  Insist that dogs are kept on leads. Keep alert, especially when you hear the whistle of the previous Fence Judge.  Blow your whistle as each competitor approaches your fence to alert spectators nearby and the next Fence Judge. Make sure that any photographers, Press or indeed officials, will not obstruct a horse, even if they are allowed inside the ropes.

(b) Overtaking
In between obstacles: A competitor who is about to be overtaken must quickly clear the way and the overtaking competitor must do so only at a safe and suitable place.  You should note any infringements on either count on the fence judge sheet.
At an obstacle: When the leading competitor is approaching an obstacle and is about to be overtaken you must quickly tell him/her to "clear the course for an overtaking competitor". Equally, if a competitor has had a refusal or fall and another competitor is approaching the fence, the slower competitor must be told to "clear the course".  It is likely that Control will warn you that this situation is developing.  You should make it quite clear that you are the fence judge.  When however the leading competitor is committed to jumping an obstacle he must not be impeded and the following competitor may only jump that obstacle in such a way that will cause no inconvenience or danger to either. You should note the circumstances in the Remarks column. The time during which a competitor is held up by your instruction must be recorded in the Remarks column.

(c) Retiring
You must insist that competitors retiring from the course, for any reason, do so at a walk without jumping or attempting to jump further obstacles. You must record any failure to obey this and report it to Control for the Technical Delegate.

8. Location
Most fences can be reached by car. On arrival at your fence, refrain from driving over the approach and landing areas. Choose the best position, usually some 20 paces from it from which to observe if possible, both the take-off side of all elements for refusals and the landing side for falls.  Rider's numbers can be seen best from the outside of bends but you must avoid interfering with any route a horse might take to or from your, or any other fence.

Having chosen your position, identify the nearest visible control or radio point. You may have to modify your position to improve visibility.  If you have a radio at your fence, use it as requested at the briefing.  Finally, choose, or make, and memorise the landmark needed for stopping and restarting competitors in emergencies. No one position will be ideal for all purposes.  To be ready to take prompt action, you must be outside the car when the weather permits. You should walk about the area of your fence if you are to judge it fairly and control it safely.  Please remain at your fence until your last score sheet has been collected and then, without unnecessary delay, return your equipment to the appointed place and stay handy in case of possible objections for 30 minutes after final scores are posted.

Many thanks for your generous help in making this event possible.