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Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test

American Trakehner Association
Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test 
(Harmonized with Trakehner Verband Protocols)

Download Mare/Riding Horse Performance Application

 1. Purpose:

Mare and Riding Horse Performance Tests are conducted to determine the rideability of the horse as well as their willingness to perform, aptitude for a certain equestrian discipline and thus for a mare, her potential as a producer of riding horses.

The performance test examines and evaluates, insofar as is possible, interior qualities of willingness to work, tractability and temperament as well as basic paces, rideability (including the establishment of rhythm, suppleness and contact) and jumping aptitude. A Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test should be held on a single day and is expected to take no more than 45 minutes per horse.

2. Eligibility:

The test is conducted mainly for mares registered in the Official Stud Book, Preliminary Stud Book or Registry Book, but it is also available for other ATA-registered horses, including geldings. Participant owners must be members of the ATA.

Horses should be at least three years of age and trained to saddle including safe mounting and dismounting around other horses. The horse should be able to walk, trot and canter under saddle in an arena with other horses. Horses completing the test before their 4th birthday will receive an age compensation adjustment of 0.25 points added to their final score. Horses should have training and experience in free-jumping before they come to the Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test.

Horses of other breeds may participate in the tests, but ATA-registered Trakehners have priority if there is limited space. Please note that this test does not meet the performance requirement for approved stallions.

3. Testing Venue Requirements:

Host site requirements are generally the same as for any mare inspection. But since the tests involve free-jumping, they will likely be held in conjunction with stallion inspections, particularly at the ATA Annual Meeting. However, any facility that is able to provide the necessary requirements of suitable arena size and necessary equipment may hold such a test if authorized by the ATA Inspection Committee. Host site applications are available on the ATA website.

The host facility will need either an indoor arena or an enclosed outdoor arena with fencing tall enough to prevent loose horses from jumping out, with minimum dimensions of 20 by 40 meters (65 feet by 130 feet). Larger arenas than the minimum size are desired. Adequate numbers of jump standards and poles are critical to erect the jump chute. Safe stabling will be required for participants. Adequate parking for participants and spectators, restroom facilities and food available on the grounds will also be required.

4. Riders and Attire:

The rider must be provided by the horse's owner and must be at least 16 years old with the ability to control the horse in a group of horses and in unfamiliar surroundings. Riders should be neatly dressed in riding boots and breeches and must wear USEF approved protective helmets securely fastened at all times when mounted. A crop or dressage whip may be carried and spurs are optional. Outside assistance is NOT allowed in the under-saddle phase but is allowed in the free-jumping phase.

5. Tack and Equipment:

Tack and equipment for the under-saddle phase should be as required by USEF for recognized dressage competitions below Third Level: this basically means any type of English saddle and a snaffle bridle without martingale or any type of auxiliary reins. More information can be found at www.usef.org. Protective boots and leg wraps are permitted only for the free-jumping test. Ear nets and ear plugs are not allowed. Braiding is encouraged, but not required.

6. Test Riders:

Initially the test will have no test riders. Eventually in the future, all horses should additionally be ridden by a test rider. Once this testing has been implemented and becomes popular, the association will provide a test rider.

7. Judges and Scoring:

Two judges, who are members of the Inspection Committee, will be appointed to judge the test. The marks given are selected in whole or half marks. Each judge gives a mark from 0 to 10. The numerical score is derived from descriptive words for each whole number and are shown below.







Very Good




Fairly Good








Fairly Poor




Very Poor


Not Performed


Each test component is weighted as shown in the table below. The judges’ scores for each feature are summed and the average is calculated. The end result is expressed by a total score. The total score is calculated to two decimal points.


Basic Gaits















Basic gaits are judged to include a four-beat walk, a two-beat trot and a three-beat canter ideally displaying rhythm, suppleness, balance and ground-covering strides.

Rideability is the ability of the horse to be ridden in an uncomplicated, relaxed and cooperative manner that shows suppleness, contact and a lack of resistance. Ideally, the horse displays a willingness to perform these basic gaits when asked by the rider.

Free-jumping is judged on the aptitude of the horse to willingly jump obstacles with relaxation, fore and hind leg technique, bascule to the topline as well as power and scope.

8. Test Protocols:

Horses will be allowed to warm up in the test arena for approximately ten minutes before their group’s under-saddle phase to familiarize themselves with the arena. Any additional warm up should be done outside of the arena in designated warm-up areas. At the inspectors’ discretion, if a horse is not in the arena at the designated time for her group’s under-saddle phase, she will be considered as having not completed the test, and there will be no refund of any fees paid.

The under-saddle phase will be held before the free-jumping phase. There will be a rest and relaxation period of at least 30 minutes before the free-jumping phase.

For the under-saddle phase, horses will be asked to perform at the walk, trot and canter in a group of up to three horses, grouped by age when possible. One of the inspectors will direct the under-saddle test. Horses as a group will be asked to perform 20-meter circles and changes of direction across the diagonal at the trot. Horses may be asked to trot around the entire arena. At the canter, horses will be asked as a group to perform 20 meter circles and to canter around the entire arena. Horses will be asked to show a free walk on a long rein and a medium walk before transition to the trot. Horses four years old and older will be asked to show a lengthening of stride at the trot and canter. The inspectors will observe the horse’s willingness to work, tractability, temperament, and way of going under saddle.

Any horse or rider who is disruptive to others in the group to a degree that may be compromising other horses’ performance, may be excused from the arena by the inspector directing the under-saddle phase. If this should occur, the excused horse will be considered as having not completed the test, and there will be no refund of any fees paid. An excused horse may repeat the test at a later date.

The free-jumping protocol will be the same as that for ATA stallion approval and is posted on the ATA website. No changes may be made to the free-jumping chute or protocol. It is recommended that the hosts allow for free-jumping practice the day before the performance test. Each horse, without a rider, must pass at least three times through the jumping chute which is set up in the same manner as for the stallion testing.

9. Drug Policy, Health Certificates and Liability Waivers:

No drugs or medications are permitted, except those allowed by the FEI’s Clean Sport Policy. More information can be found at www.feicleansport.org. If due to illness or injury, a mare receives any prohibited drugs or medications in the ten days prior to her horse performance test, the drugs or medications must have been administered by direction of a licensed veterinarian and a certificate signed by such veterinarian indicating what drugs were administered, when administered and why they were administered must be presented to the inspectors prior to the start of the under-saddle phase. Horses may be subject to drug testing. Any samples for drug testing will be collected by a licensed veterinarian immediately following the mare’s under-saddle phase. Any horse testing positive for a prohibited substance without having submitted a veterinarian’s certificate will be considered as having not completed the test, scores will not be recorded, any ribbons or prizes received must be returned to the ATA, and there will be no refund of any fees paid.

Participating horses, where required, must provide evidence of all required immunizations and a health certificate issued within 30 days of the test. Handlers, riders and grooms must sign hold-harmless liability waivers.

10. Passing Score and Publication Policy:

To pass the test successfully, a horse must achieve a total score of 6.0 with no other category score below 5. If a total score of 6.0 is not attained, a horse may repeat the test once at a later date. If repeated, the latter total score is the final test score. All scores will be made public including the scores of horses that did not achieve a passing score.

11. Performance Premiums

Completion of the Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test with a score of 6.0 will be considered the first step in the ATA’s Exceptional Horses program and will be indicated by a “*P*” after the horse’s name. The test scores will be entered on the horse’s registration certificate and owners will be sent a copy of their horse's score sheet.

Any mare registered in the Official Stud Book or the Preliminary Stud Book having been inspected and approved with at least 54 inspection points, and completing the mare performance test with a score of 7.0 or better, will be awarded the Premium designation “Pr” after her name.

Alternatively, if such a mare receives an inspection score of at least 52 points and completes the mare performance test with a score of 7.5 or better, she also will be awarded the Premium “Pr” designation.

12. Fee and Application:

The application for the Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test is available on the ATA website and must be submitted by the announced deadline.

The fee for the Mare and Riding Horse Performance Test is $200. If the test is taken in conjunction with a mare’s Official Stud Book or Preliminary Stud Book inspection, the fee is $150 in addition to the inspection fee if submitted with all required documents to the ATA office by the pre-announced application deadline. If not submitted by the deadline there is no discount and the fee reverts to $200.

13. Discussion and Announcements of Scores:

At the end of the test, the horse should be presented centered in the arena, with a side view to the spectators, standing still.

·    The inspector announces the name of the horse, age, the breeder, and the owner.            

·    The inspector then announces the scores of the horse and whether the horse has passed the performance test or not. The inspector then usually makes comments on the horse, and congratulates the breeder and owner if the horse has achieved a passing score. 

14. Awards:

Neck sashes will be awarded to the horse with the overall High Score and the horse that is the Best Free-Jumper at each testing site. A successful completion ribbon will be given to each participant that scores a total of 6.0 or higher.

  • Thoroughbred and Arabian horses, are eligible to receive the High Score and Best Free-Jumper ribbons.
  • Tied scores are broken by rideability scores. If scores are identical, the inspector will choose the horse to be declared the better horse.    
  • The sire will receive one (1) point toward an Exceptional Horse Award for any get earning a *Pr* (Premium score).