The English section will usually start with the English Pleasure class, similar to the Western Pleasure class. You’ll also find the hunter/jumper classes, dressage, English versions of arena trail and gymkhana, at times saddleseat/park seat pleasure, and other English performance.
The English Pleasure class looks at how the horse behaves under saddle - is it a pleasure to ride? The rider should have contact with the horse’s mouth but should not be pulling hard. The horse should be balanced and move with an easy stride, not too fast and not too slow. For model horse English pleasure, the Cantering Warmblood, the braided version of the Cleveland Bay, and Strapless are all great options from Breyer's lineup of sculptures. They are all moving along with good impulsion, not too far ahead or behind the bit, and appear to be listening to a rider.
Hunter and Jumper classes can be combined or separated, depending on the class list. The jumping classes can be a lot of fun to show in - the variety of jumps you can create are endless! It’s important to know the difference between hunters and jumpers. Hunters are judged based on the style and movement and how the horse and rider take the jumps, which will look more like what you might encounter while riding outside of the arena - natural looking brush and bushes, walls, and other natural looking obstacles. Time is not a factor in a hunter over fences class, but the horse and rider should have a good consistent pace throughout the class.
Jumpers, on the other hand, are where you will see the big and colorful themed jumps! Jumpers are typically what you will see in the Olympics. The objective for jumpers is to clear all the fences in the course cleanly - no knocking down rails - and in the maximum time set for the course. Style is not as important in the jumpers class. If you are looking for a fun class to create a themed jump, this is the class - and don’t forget the flags! Hunters are expected to have a course memorized, but jumpers will have a red flag on the right side of the jump and a white flag on the left as the horse and rider approach the jump.
Examples of a hunter jump on the left and a jumper set-up on the right
Entries by Kate Springer
Next up in the English section is Dressage. This can actually be one of the harder classes to set up, despite it seeming simple. Picking a horse that is correct for the level test that you want to display is important. Models like Keltic Salinero, Valegro, and Totilas are higher level dressage horses, similar to what you might see as you watch the Olympics. Salinero is performing a passage, seen in the higher levels. Valegro is in the middle of a pirouette, and Totilas is in an extended trot.
Dressage tests can be found on the United States Dressage Federation’s website, or real tack stores may have books that contain the most current approved tests. When setting up a dressage test, be sure to print it out and note where your horse is at in the test. This tells the judge what movement the horse is performing. Props for a dressage class should also include the low white fence of the dressage arena, which is typically set up inside of a larger arena, as well as a letter that is at or close to the movement in the test. Due to the typical size constraints of setting up a scene at a show, unless you are using a Stablemates model, you will only see one letter in the set-up.
Entry by Lindsay Diamond
Don’t worry if you don’t have one of the higher-level models or access to the double bridle and fancy rider. At the lower levels of dressage, it can be acceptable to show in a regular huntseat saddle and simple snaffle bridle!
English versions of Arena Trail and Gymkhana are just like their Western counterparts. You can set up arena trail patterns the same way, and most patterns can be changed to trot and canter (from jog and lope) to accommodate the English tack. In gymkhana, you can do the same games or even set up relay races that you might see in Pony Club competitions as well.
Entry by Lindsay Diamond
Some shows may have separate Saddleseator Parkseat Pleasure classes, tailored specifically to gaited horses. Certain breeds, such as American Saddlebreds, Morgans, Tennessee Walking Horses, and Missouri Fox Trotters are typically shown in cutback saddles for English classes. The classes allow the riders to show off the special gaits of the breeds, including the fox trot, the running walk, or in the case of Saddlebreds, the slow gait or rack. Breyer’s Bluegrass Bandit is a good example of a flat shod Tennessee Walking Horse, Iron Metal Chief is a nice Missouri Fox Trotter, and the American Saddlebred stallion "Hamilton" is performing the racking gait.
Mini Independence resin by Sarah Rose, tack by Anna Helt of Dreamflite Design, entry by Lindsay Diamond
Other English Performance is the catch-all for anything that might not fit in any of the other classes. Some classes will put Cross Country Jumping in Other English, if the judge does not want it in with the jumping entries. Other examples that might show up here would be the English Equitation class, the English version of Western horsemanship - where the horse and rider perform a specific pattern to judge how the rider handles the horse. Another option would be the Saddleseat or Parkseat entries if the show does not have a specific class for them.
While certainly not a complete list of possible options for showing in the English section, I hope this helps give you a start to coming up with ideas to show!