Do you have to go thru the flags shoulders first?

(In case you were wondering, the box to the right says this topic is suspiciously like first time goat owning… :rofl:) Anywho, my question has to do with flagged water at the lower levels. If your horse is giving you issues at the water and they go between the flags sideways and the butt is officially first thru the flags is that legal?

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No clue, but over here dying at the “first time goat owning” comparison :rofl::rofl:


For obstacles without height, the horse can stop briefly or step sideways, but a step back is technically a refusal. It’s a bit hard to imagine the horse going through butt first without stepping back, but I suppose it’s possible. I do think jump judges often give the benefit of the doubt at lower level water crossings. In the moment it’s often hard to see exactly what all the legs are doing.

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At the lowest levels, I would be kind because the rider got the horse into the water, even if going backwards. Many don’t!


Refusals at all other obstacles 30 cm or 12 inches in height or less:
A HALT followed immediately by a standing jump is not penalized, but if the halt is
sustained or in any way prolonged this constitutes a refusal. The horse may step
sideways but if it steps back, even with one foot, this is a refusal.
Explanation: At a ditch or a drop fence, sometimes a horse will come up to
the obstacle or element, come to a quick halt, or pause to take closer look at the
obstacle or element, and then immediately continue to move forward and jump the
obstacle or element. This is not a refusal if in your opinion the horse did not firmly
“decline” to jump. Remember, the horse Is not penalized if he steps sideways, THEN

I have learned to watch the feet when judging entries into the water especially at BN N, one foot back is all it takes to get a refusal. And a lot of the times the riders have no idea that a horse stepped back with one foot.


The rules are not explicit on this.

But I remember at least one instance in the past when the TD and or PoGJ decreed that the horse must go through the flags head first.

This is quite different from the question of whether or not it counts as a refusal. If you are deemed to have not gone through the flags properly, you are off course and eliminated.


At a recognized event my horse left the start box backwards at about 3 in the countdown. I made him go back in and turn around before I left and they still penalized me for an early start…backwards…
If wouldn’t have affected my standing but geez…


OK, I found it.

EV 139.1.a “Marking of the course” says that “a competitor must leave a red flag on his right and a white flag on his left”.

If you go through the flags “tail first”, the red flag is on your left and the white flag is on your right.

Personally, I think this is a pedantic interpretation, but I can’t say it is completely wrong.


That is quite clear. Backwards ain’t the way to go!

I’m old enough to remember Rachel Bayliss on Gurgle The Greek crawling under a fence at Badminton, but still nonetheless between the flags. I believe the rules now insist on “over the fence between the flags”.


I was volunteering at a horse trial once, and the rider couldn’t get the horse into the water, the horse ended up backing through the flags and into the water. They were eliminated because they did not go through the flags correctly, red on right, white on left.

There’s what I was wondering! Ok, well hell. Lol