Eq. vs. Hunter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-03-2009, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Eq. vs. Hunter

ive been riding for a while but i have always been confused about the difference between eq. classes and hunter classes. i know the basics such as eq. is more based on the rider and hunter is more based on the horse. but i would appreciate if someone could describe the differences between hunter classes and eq. classes in more detail. for both how the rider is suppose to look like and how the horse is suppose to moving, whether they should be 'long and low' or in a nice frame. thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-03-2009, 11:15 PM
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You're basically right, the eq classes are based on the rider, hunter is on the horse. Essentially in either class over fences you want a nice rhythmical course that consists of fences that are jumped from an ideal distance with a proper bascule, not too fast, not too slow, as balanced and smooth as possible. So you need to hit every distance, get your lead changes, make balanced corners, etc. On top of that, in the hunters the judge will also be looking at how well your horse moves and jumps rather then what the rider is doing. Hunter style riding is from hunting in the field so the things that the judge is looking for are the things that are important on the hunt field. A horse that hangs his knees down or jumps flat is considered dangerous because it can get hung up on a fence, so you want a horse that really jumps with his back round, snapping his knees up and even, tucking his lower legs, etc. You want a horse with a long low movement without knee action because a horse uses his body in the most efficient ground covering stride if he moves long and low (knee action wastes a lot of energy by moving up instead of out). A horse that has a sour expression does not look like a pleasant ride out on the hunt field! So all of those things are important.
Equitation is a test of the rider's skill and ability. Form is extremely important because form fits function. We don't push our heels down because it's pretty, we do that because it's the most stable secure way to ride. Your heel should be in a direct vertical line down from your hip, because it's the most balanced way to sit. etc etc. So the courses are often more challenging then a hunter class. Perhaps you'll have a sharp turn, you'll be asked to trot into a fence, etc. But you are still expected to execute a nice course. The judge wants to see how effective of a rider you are and how well you can ride your horse.
So the two are pretty closely related. For example, if you miss a distance and leave long, you'll get counted off in the hunters because that's dangerous. But, that's a rider's fault so you'd get counted off in the eq as well. So for a hunter to truly go well, it takes a good rider. For the eq riders the horse's movement really isn't that important. In fact, lots of good eq horses jump a little flat because it's easier for the riders to stay still on a flat jump.

There is a fantastic book called "Judging Hunter seat Equitation" by Anna Jane White-Mullin that is very very informative! It will explain exactly what the judges are looking for and why. It's definitely a must read for any competitor!
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-04-2009, 08:11 AM
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Heres the rule book off of the USEF.org website. This is what is mainly expected in the hunter equitation competitions.

1. General. Rider should have a workmanlike appearance, seat and hands light
and supple,
conveying the impression of complete control should any emergency arise.
Exhibitors may ride side saddle in Adult Equitation classes but not in classes
restricted to Juniors.
2. Hands. Hands should be over and in front of horse's withers, knuckles
thirty degrees inside the vertical, hands slightly apart and making a straight
line from horse's mouth to rider's elbow. Method of holding reins is optional
and bight of reins may fall on either side.
However, all reins must be picked up at the same time.
3. Basic Position. The eyes should be up and shoulders back. Toes should be at
an angle best suited to rider's conformation: ankles flexed in, heels down,
calf of leg in contact with horse and slightly behind girth. Iron should be on
the ball of the foot and must not be tied to the girth.
4. Position in Motion. At the walk, sitting trot and canter, body should be a
couple of degrees in front of the vertical; posting trot, inclined forward;
galloping and jumping, same inclination as the posting trot.
5. Mounting and Dismounting. To mount, take up reins in left hand and place
hand on withers. Grasp stirrup leather with right hand and insert left foot in
stirrup, toe in girth and mount. To dismount, rider may either step down or
slide down. The size of rider must be taken into consideration.
Do you know the equitation tests you can be asked to perform? You should!
Below is a list of what a judge can use a test in equitation classes. You can
find this and more in your USEF rule book. If you do not have one - get one
and fast! The show season is here - you can contact the USEF at www.usef.org
EQ113 Tests from which judges must choose.
Tests may be performed either collectively or individually but no other tests
may be used.
Instructions must be publicly announced.
NOTE: In Hunter Seat Medal classes, any exhibitor who does not participate in
the testing is placed last of those competitors called back to test. Should
more than one exhibitor fail to return for testing they will be placed at the
judge's discretion. (Note: Judges should refer to the Dressage division rules
for the correct definitions). If exhibitors are called back collectively to
test, they must remain in the ring until all exhibitors have completed the
test. Equitation tests must not have exhibitors trotting or cantering through
in gate or out gate.
C USEF November 2004 EQ9
Halt (4 to 6 seconds) and/or back.
Hand gallop.
Figure eight at trot, demonstrating change of diagonals. At left diagonal,
rider should be sitting the saddle when left front leg is on the ground; at
right diagonal, rider should be sitting the saddle when right front leg is on
the ground; when circling clockwise at a trot, rider should be on left
diagonal; when circling counterclockwise, rider should be on the right
Figure eight at canter on correct lead, demonstrating simple change of lead.
This is a change whereby the horse is brought back into a walk or trot and
restarted into a canter on the opposite lead. Figures to be commenced in
center of two circles so that one change of lead is shown.
Work collectively at a walk, trot or canter.
Jump low obstacles at a trot as well as at a canter. The maximum height and
spread for a trot jump is 3' for horses, 2' for ponies.
Jump obstacles on figure eight course.
Question(s) regarding basic horsemanship, tack and equipment and conformation.
Ride without stirrups, riders must be allowed option to cross stirrups.
Jump low obstacles at a walk as well as at a canter. The maximum height and
spread for a walk jump is 2'.
Dismount and mount. Individually.
Turn on the forehand.
Figure eight at canter on correct lead demonstrating flying change of lead.
Execute serpentine at a trot and/or canter on correct lead demonstrating
simple or flying changes of lead.
Change leads on a line demonstrating a simple or flying change of lead.
Change horses. (Note: this test is the equivalent of two tests.)
Canter on counter lead. (Note: no more than twelve horses may counter canter
at one time.)
Turn on the haunches from the walk.
Demonstration ride of approximately one minute. Rider must advise judge
beforehand what ride he plans to demonstrate.
A pre-described flat-work ride may be offered as part of a competition upon
application and approval from the Hunter Seat Equitation Committee.

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post #4 of 4 Old 04-05-2009, 12:51 PM
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This is actually very helpful, because I've been wondering the same thing!

Ride more, worry less.
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