These classes are restricted by height and the age of the rider. The class is normally described as :- “Lead rein pony ( mare or gelding) not exceeding 12.0hh ridden by a child 3 years and under 8 years old”.
The pony is led by a handler on foot and although it is the pony that is being judged, it is the overall impression which is important and both the rider and the handler should be well and professionally turned out, and the current trend is for them to have more or less matching outfits which complement the pony. The child should be dressed in riding clothes and the leader in a suit or sports jacket (male) or in a dress or suit (female), always with a hat.
The pony itself must be suitable for a small beginner, as the class has been introduced to cater for younger children starting to ride, so temperament and manners are paramount. Most judges like to see a happy pony with a happy rider on top. A tiny child is not expected to be very much more than a passenger enjoying the ride, whilst the older child is expected to be a little more competent.
The pony should be tailored to its rider and be willing, well-mannered, obedient, relaxed and inspire everyone with confidence. A quality pony is expected, with a small head, graceful neck and all the points of conformation to be found in a good riding animal. A reasonably high head carriage and a good front are essential to give confidence to a small rider. Too wide a pony is unsuitable for riders with short legs but the pony should not be narrow or weedy.
The pony must be shown in a snaffle bridle, with a leather lead rein held in the left hand and only attached to the cavesson noseband. A narrow strap may be attached to the front of the small saddle for the child to hold if it is not rising to the trot. No spurs or whips for the rider, however the handler may carry a cane.
Paces should be smooth, the stride neither too short and choppy nor too long, both of these being difficult for the child to sit.
In the individual show the minimum that is expected is that the pony should be walked away and trotted back. Some indication should be given that the pony will start and stop for the child and the handler (leader) is not doing all the work. The leader should not be in front of the pony’s shoulder and should only hold the lead rein in the left hand, about a metre away from the pony, thus allowing the right hand to be free to assist the child. The rider should be encouraged to rise from the trot.
Ponies competing in Lead Rein are eligible to compete in Show Pony Ridden/Show Hunter Ridden/Riding Pony Ridden by a Child.