Skip to content

The Good Hands Finals: Are Your Riders Qualified

Riders qualify for The Good Hands Finals (held in October) by winning first or second in one of many qualifying classes held throughout the season at local shows across the county.  Local shows without a qualifying class can easily add one by completing an application available at  Shows do not have to be USEF to hold a Good Hands class.  Application fee is $35 and includes the distinctive Good Hands “trophy” ribbon.  Class specs, judging criteria and finals procedures are detailed in the USEF Rule Book. 
With the “Good Hands” equitation program now in saddle seat hands, a new logo was designed to mark the program’s evolution.  The new design is the work of Diana Schaefer, a commercial artist who shows Saddlebreds.   The logo’s new tag line, “Saddle Seat Excellence Since 1929,” came from Sharon Gardner, a former equitation “mom” (Kristen Gardner) and current member of the Finals organizing committee.

“A major goal of the committee is to provide a remarkable and memorable experience to each and every Good Hands Finals rider,” said Gardner, who works with committee members Jessica Curl, Jessica Moctezuma, Lindsay Shearman and Jenna Winquist to make that happen.

All qualified riders receive a special congratulatory gift – last year a custom hair bow or suit tie in the Good Hands’ orange/black colors and a personal invitation to the Finals held in October at the Mid-America Mane Event Show.

Finals riders experience an exciting week of competition and focus on saddle seat equitation excellence made possible by official sponsor National Horseman, gold sponsor Elizabeth Goth and a number of in-kind sponsors. All Finals riders receive additional gifts including a swag bag and last year the distinctive Good Hands Finalist jacket, while one finalist won the drawing for a Wisconsin Wilderness vacation for 12.  All Finals riders are honored at a special Friday night party that included individual introductions and presentation of the year’s special gift before an admiring crowd of fellow exhibitors, trainers and proud family members. Top 10 riders received additional gifts: every rider last year received a custom-designed GH Finals whip; while a $1,000 (cash) scholarship was awarded in a drawing.  In addition to the medal, ribbons, trophy, title and bragging rights, the winning rider also won a custom oil painting.

As the first leg of the “Saddle Seat Triple Crown,” the Good Hands Finals has been held for the past six years at the Mid-America Mane Event Show at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.  This year’s Mane Event is October 22-25, 2015.

The Good Hands Finals is the oldest saddle seat equitation finals in the country, having originated at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When the Finals moved to the more centrally located Mane Event Show, participation grew by 78%, making Good Hands the largest of the saddle seat finals. 

The Good Hands Finals Advisory Committee members are Cindy Boel, Kathy Boggs, Lynda Freseth, Scott Matton, Todd Miles, Erin Richie, Barbe Smith and Tom Thorpe.

For information on holding a Good Hands qualifying class call 847/537-4743, visit, or email


More Stories

  • World’s Championship Horse Show Update

    The Kentucky State Fair Board voted unanimously today to expand the World’s Championship Horse Show during the Kentucky State Fair from nine days to all 11 days of the Fair. Held in Freedom Hall in partnership with the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA), the show is the largest and richest saddlebred show in the world. This year’s Fair dates are Aug. 16 – 26. Read More
  • F.A.S.H. 2018 Prize List is in the Mail!

    If you’ve been hearing great things about F.A.S.H., then make this the year to come check us out. The F.A.S.H. Spring Horse Show Committee wishes to invite all to attend this year, with the dates once again coinciding with Mother’s Day Weekend, May 10-13, 2018. Read More
  • American Saddlebreds Scheduled to Showcase Beauty and Versatility at 2018 Devon Horse Show

    A vision of spirited beauty and power, the American Saddlebred excels in the show ring, demonstrating two unique gaits to the breed: Slow Gait and the accelerated Rack. Tracing the breed's ancestry to the early 1700s, the classic American Saddlebred will once again be showcased in a variety of divisions because of their incredible versatility at the historic 2018 Devon Horse Show, schedule for May 24 - June 3. Read More
  • Latest Issue March 26 18

    Read More
  • Sally Wadhams Announces Retirement

    After 25 years working for the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show®, Sally Wadhams announced her retirement from her position as development officer. Sally is looking forward to the next chapter of her life, including her son’s wedding this summer. Read More
  • Obituary - Dick Boettcher

    Saddle Horse Report received the sad news that Redmond, Washington trainer Dick Boettcher passed away today (March 22). A 2012 inductee into the UPHA Tom Moore Hall of Fame and recipient of the ASHA Lifetime Achievement Award... Read More
  • Local Riding Club to Host Charity Horse Show

    The Castlewood Riding Club, in Castlewood, Virginia, will host a charity horse show May 5, 2018 at the riding club. The show will feature a variety of breeds and the schedule will include numerous divisions including academy classes. John Scott will serve as the judge for all divisions... Read More
  • Bobbie Jo Jaakkola Wins AMHA Young Adult Alliance Judging School Scholarship

    The American Morgan Horse Association Young Adult Alliance (YAA) presented their fifth annual Judging School Scholarship to Bobbie Jo Jaakkola of Northwell, Michigan. The Professional Development Project created by this passionate group awards a $1,500 scholarship to one individual aged 21-40, professional or amateur, who is interested in attaining their Morgan R judging card. Read More
  • Spring Fling Horse Show to debut in its new location of the Equestrian Center at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids, IA, April 5-8, 2018

    Spring Fling Horse Show to debut in its new location of the Equestrian Center at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids, IA, April 5-8, 2018... Read More
  • Des Moines Springfest announces location

    The Des Moines Springfest Horse Show is scheduled for April 26 – 29, 2018.   We are pleased to announce the show will be held in the beautiful, state of the art Jacobson Arena at the Iowa State Fairground, Des Moines, IA. Read More