The beautiful coat colorations and the wonderful temperament of the Pony of the Americas have made it a popular breed for children, teens, and even adults as a show pony. There are several different types of show events or classes that the Pony of the Americas excels in, and with proper training there is really no restriction on the type of show this pony can be successful at competing in. Since the pony show classes will largely depend on the type and style of riding, the following descriptions are broken down into English and western types of pony show classes.
The English pony classes as typically divided into both age groups as well as genders. Boys and girls of different age groups can compete against their peers in classes such as hunter, show jumping, equitation and dressage. In each event the horse and rider must compete against a set standard as well as the other ponies and riders in the event.
Hunter and hunter seat involve traditional types of English riding through the countryside. This will include going over fences as well as general riding. The Pony of the America excels at both the jumping as well as the movement parts of this type of event. The pony is judged for conformation and movement as well as the rider judged for ability to communicate and control the horse. Show jumping is more focused on the pony and rider completing a set course in a particular time frame without causing any parts of the jumps to become dislodged. When a jump is knocked down or a rail hits the ground, the pony and rider are assessed a penalty, which is then deducted from the best possible score. To win a show jumping even the pony and rider with the highest score or fewest faults is the winner. The actual presentation and equitation is not important in the judging process, although it does affect the pony and rider's performance. Equitation involves judging the rider and his or her ability to communicate with the pony.
Open classes allow both boys and girls to compete against each other and is most commonly seen in the show jumping events.
Western events for the Pony of the Americas competitions include Western pleasure, horsemanship, and reining. Western pleasure and horsemanship are similar to the English equitation where the rider's ability to communicate and control the pony in an effortless fashion is the most important aspect of judging. In reining events the Pony of the Americas gets to highlight his or her athletic abilities in attending to the rider in spins, rapid directional changes, and the very exciting sliding stop. Other western events include barrel racing, gymkhana events, team penning and trail riding. In team penning and trail riding the horse's ability to work with the rider is tested both against the course or competition as well as against the clock.
In addition to Western and English events in most Ponies of the Americas events the ponies are also entered in halter classes, driving classes and even in fancy costume and showmanship classes. Each class is judged based on criteria that have been developed by the Pony of the Americas Club.