Thank you for such great questions. And for providing a link to my Suite 101 article about juding hunters. Thank you.
1. Speed - A lot of the hunters go slow over the fences. My trainer says they don't have a lot of momentum and the riders need more leg. However, I noticed that 99% of the horses were slower moving. And they did very well. I know you're supposed to have an even pace and not go super fast, but what speed should your canter be at?
When showing you are being judged from the moment you enter to the moment you leave so the round has to be smooth, even and lovely to watch. The horses you are watching may have long strides which can eat up the distances in between the fences. Hunter rounds should appear effortless and elegant.
Changing speed and galloping at jumps will give a lower score than an even tempo.
2. What's more important? I was really confused in my hunter classic class as Rusty jumped all the jumps and I was told he made the correct distances. However, Rusty is unable to do flying leads at this time, so I had to do simple lead changes. We scored a 55. Then a rider went in and her horse refused a jump, but she had her flying leads. She scored higher than us. Why?
Interesting. It is hard to discuss this without actually seeing this. You did not comment on your horses jumping form over fences, movement, general appearance and turnout. If the other horse was immaculately turned out a superior jumper, and excellent mover the judge may have gave them a better score on that ground. It may not just be the flying leads it may be the entire package. What was her score? 56 or 55.5? Or was it 65-70?
3. How are you supposed to take your corners? I know you want to use the whole arena, but my trainer told us to go to the corner for a single diagonal jump and make a sharp angle turn. I didn't see any other riders doing this. What are you supposed to do?
Depending on they type of class - derby, handy, etc it depends on the specifications.
4. What are they judging you on in the first round of a hunter derby? I rode in the class and we didn't make it to the handy round, and my trainer doesn't know much about derbies, so I was wondering what they were looking for.
Handy rounds are scored higher. BUT they have to perform correctly.
5. If they waive coats, in the case of a tie, will the person in the equitation class without a coat get less points than the person with the coat?
Always wear your jacket in equitation Turnout for hunter rounds Does Turnout Matter? | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services