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Basic Inspection Information & FAQ's

General Overview

Horses should be sparkling clean, healthy, and sound for the inspection.  They are to be presented in clean, appropriate tack (check with your division/registry requirements).  ALL horses, except suckling foals under 6 months of age, must have a valid Coggins test upon arrival at the inspection location, plus provide any other proofs required by the individual barn, unless it is noted on the locations page that a Coggins is not required. Suckling foals do not need to have a Coggins but their dams must have valid Coggins tests, where Coggins are required. 

Injuries and scars, of the horse, are not considered in the inspection as long as it does not interfere with the horse’s movement, contours or health of the horse.  The judge reserves the right to determine if a horse is lame or ill, and when so deemed by the judge, the horse will be excused from the inspection and no score will be given.  The judges’ decisions on these matters are final.

A horses training is not judged during the In-hand inspection, but you must be able to get the horse to stand long enough for the conformation to be judged and move at walk trot and canter. Young foals may be released at the judges request to perform the rest of the inspection.

Horses are first presented standing while the judge evaluates conformation.  This will require the horse to stand still while the judge walks around for several minutes. The judge may touch the horse.  At the judge’s instruction, the runner then walks the horse in a clockwise direction around a triangle whose sides measure approximately 75’, 100’ and 75’.  Most horses will go around the triangle twice, at the judge’s request. The runner’s goal is to show off the horse’s best stride in as straight of a line as possible.  The horse is then trotted around the same triangle in the same direction, usually twice.  At the judge’s request, the horse is then turned loose, in an enclosed arena, to trot and canter at liberty. The runner(s) may encourage the horse.  Lunge whips are allowed and you may use a "chaser person" in addition to the runner/handler.  At the judge’s request, the runner re-attaches the lead shank and takes the horse from the arena.  Inspection is then completed.  Horses will be measured, photographed, and a required hair sample will be taken from the mane or tail, just prior to entering the arena or just after leaving the arena. You should not return to your stall until these procedures have been completed.  All photos and hair samples taken by FEIT become the property of FEIT, 


Will there be runners available?

Are they required?

Do I need to contact the runners in advance? How do I do that?

Who will be the runner at each site?
You may use a handler as well as a runner if you feel this will enhance your horse’s performance, but it is not necessary and in some cases it is detrimental to the horse’s performance.  It is perfectly acceptable to show your horse yourself.  The judge is evaluating the horse, not the presenter(s). You should call the coordinator, at the site you are interested in, to find out the details of what they are offering at that particular site.  FEIT does not, at this time, provide runners, but an individual site might have runners arranged and available for hire.

If you would like to hire a runner/handler, you will be responsible for independently contacting these people prior to the start of the inspection and making arrangements with them. We make no guaranties as to the credentials of the individuals available for hire at the inspection sites. They may be younger adults that have little prior show experience, but are younger and more capable of keeping up with the gaits of the horses.  The fee for the runner/handler varies from location to location and has no connection whatsoever to FEIT or its’ registry affiliates. 


What is the appropriate attire for the runners/handlers? 

Please dress neatly and respectfully for the judge.  White or tan colored pants and a white shirt are usually inspection standards. However, if you happen to have a light colored horse, you may wish to show your horse in dark colored clothing. Please keep in mind that the idea is for the judge to see the outline of the horse, not your brightly colored clothing. Solid clothing is preferred: white or tan and black or dark blue. Please wear shoes suitable for running.


What is the appropriate grooming for the horse?

You may want to bath and groom your horse prior to the inspection, to show him in his best condition.  With the exception of some registries that specifically forbid it, you may braid the mane and clip a bridle path, but braiding and clipping are not required.  You may use CLEAR hoof polish, but hoof-black or colored hoof polish, glitter, etc. is not allowed. If you are being inspected for recognition by a particular registry, please be sure to check with your registry for any specific requirements they enforce. 


What is the appropriate equipment for the horse?

Horses are allowed to wear basic shoes or be unshod.  Horses must be in a halter or bridle for In-hand presentation, depending on age and division rules.  All halters and bridles MUST be well fitting and not have any gaps large enough for a horse to put a foot through.  If the judge or a FEIT official considers a horse’s equipment to be dangerous, ill fitting, or inappropriate, the owner will be asked to leave the ring and find a way to correct the problem, before being allowed to continue with the inspection process. Brightly colored or heavily decorated halters, leads, or bridles are not allowed, nor are rope halters.  It is recommended to have the bridles, halters & leads match with the tones of the horses base color so that it does not stand out and distract from judging the horse.  Please DO NOT use WHITE halters or bridles.  Foals, yearlings and two year olds will have to be brought into the arena with a halter. Horses three years of age and older must be shown in a bridle with a snaffle bit.  During the liberty portion, for horses wearing bridles, standard reins take too long to remove, and they are not safe to leave attached during liberty. Clip-on reins or a lead-rope attached to the bit rings are recommended for ease and saving time.  If you think there is any possibility that your horse may be hard to catch after liberty, please have a grain bucket or treats at ready!


What is Ster (Star) testing?

At most FEIT inspections, "Ster" or "Star" Status can be earned, when a horse performs an optional under saddle test, roughly equivalent to USDF Training Level, test 3, or a driving test of similar level, with a qualifying score. Both riding and driving horses are also asked to back up. For driving tests, the canter is eliminated. The judge asks for the movements one at a time, in no particular order. There is nothing for the rider/driver to memorize ahead of time.

In order to be eligible to test for Ster, the horse must first earn an in-hand inspection score of 7.0, or higher, with no individual score below a 6.5. If a horse is inspected and earns an overall score lower than a 7.0, or an individual score below 6.5, then they are not eligible to try for Ster Status at that time. However, they may try again, at a later date, by being re-inspected in-hand and earning qualifying scores.

Ster Status is awarded on a pass/fail standard - a riding or driving score of 65% or higher is awarded Ster. If a horse scores below 65% during Ster testing, Ster Status is not awarded. However, the horse may re-test for Ster Status again, at a later date, and is not required to be re-inspected in hand in order to re-ster test.

The purpose of Ster testing is to acknowledge horses that demonstrate basic trainability, a willingness to work with a pleasant attitude, and the ability to perform basic, good movement and form under saddle or in harness. Additionally, many of our affiliate registries recognize Ster Status and will record such status on the horse's registration certificate.

For ease of planning and scheduling, horses should be signed up for Ster testing in advance of the inspection, on the inspection entry form. If the horse's in-hand inspection score ends up not being high enough to qualify for Ster testing, the fee paid for the Ster test is simply refunded, and the actual testing will be skipped.

Ster testing is available at most locations, whenever scheduling and arena size (for driving) permits.