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Corazon Lock 08-07-2012 11:48 AM

Getting Confused About Hunters
My horse and I just showed in our first rated show, showing in hunter classes and a few equitation classes. For being his first time out at a big show and jumping, Rusty did very well. However, I became very confused about a lot of things in the hunter world. So I'm going to ask a lot of questions here.

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?

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?

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?

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.

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?

I think that's all I have for this part of the forum. :) Thanks!

Hoofprints in the Sand 08-07-2012 12:04 PM

I can't help you out with most of these, but I'm subbing because I would like to know some of the answers as well!

But for #2, I would think that a refusal would just about knock you all the way to the bottom of the class, flying leads or not! :shock:

Hoofprints in the Sand 08-07-2012 12:06 PM

Here's some good info to back that up as well...

Judging a Hunter Round: Learn What the Judge is Looking For |

Top No–No’s in Hunters

Here are some things that will completely knock you out of the ribbons in the hunter ring;
  • Refusals– Refusing to go over the fence is considered a major fault. A run-out, or running by the extended plane of the jump, or refusing, stopping directly in front of the fence, are usually marked with an ‘R‘ on the judges sheet and will not be used in the placing of the class.
  • Knock Downs– A pole which no longer rests on its supports is considered to be knocked down. A knockdown is a major fault and sometimes an unfortunate rail can remove a great horse out of the placings. A horse that registers a ‘K’, for knock down, will not place in the ribbons.
  • *Breaking into a Trot– Breaking the rhythm of the canter and falling into a trot is a major fault and will be marked with a ‘Broke’ or ‘Trot’. Any competitor that has broken into a trot will unfortunately be placed low in the class.
  • *Poor Form– A horse should jump out of stride with its knees up and even. If a horse ‘hangs’ a leg or drops his knees will lose points on the score of the round. A horse that ‘hangs’ is considered dangerous and will be placed lower than a horse that has good form over fences.

kaykat31 08-07-2012 03:12 PM

1. It's hard to explain the correct speed, because it's different for every horse. You don't want to be crawling along because it will a) look painful b)won't get you to the correct distances or steps in the line c) won't help your horse jump very round, but you dont want to be galloping either. You want a working walk, trot, and canter so it looks like your horse is taking you some place, but you're relaxed & have time to get there. It takes a while to figure out a certain horses "correct pace," you need something that gives them power to get over the jump round, and if you truly are on the correct pace & maintain it, you'll get the distance 90% of the time. Lines help figure out what pace you need because most horses, especially at a rated show, should be getting the step in the line.
2. Lead changes vs. refusals are really a judges disgression, I would always score lead problems higher than a refusal, but that's my opinion. Hunters is really just a persons opinion.
3. You want to go deep in your corners, but your turn needs to look easy & balanced, and put you going straight towards the center of the fence. I would avoid sharp turns in the hunters until you are in a handy class & very experienced & able to make a balanced, pretty, sharp turn.
4. The first round of a hunter derby round is normally a normal hunter course, unless otherwise stated. You should ride it like a normal class, although some riders do ride derbies with a little more forward & bold of a step, especially in big fields, to better stimulate foxhunting, which is where the hunters originated from. Hunter derbies are normally quite competitive, so without a lead change I wouldn't expect you to get called back. It also depends on how round, square & "correct" of a jump your horse has, how fancy & floaty of a mover he is, and how your distances & corners & a million other things were vs. everyone else in the class.
5. Again, judges disgression since coats were waived. I would always ride equitation classes with a coat, unless they have asked riders to refrain from wearing costs because it's gotten that hot. If the waive jackets, go ahead & don't worry about wearing it in the hunters, but I would always wear it in eq.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions & I will try to share what I know & have learned. Good luck!
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kaykat31 08-07-2012 03:52 PM

Oh & to give you a better idea of the Hunter Derbies, the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals are next week & will be broadcasted on You should watch, you'll learn a lot!

upnover 08-07-2012 04:38 PM

Pretty much everything Kaykat said...

But just to add about your speed... It will be different for each horse. Generally a stride is considered 12 feet (plus 6 ft in front of a jump for take off and 6 ft after for landing when you're measuring a line). So if your horse is small and doesn't quite have a 12 ft step you're going to need to step up the pace more so then a giant strided horse who can quietly lope down the line. So you have to find what speed is right for your horse. Right now the trend in the hunter ring are giant warmbloods with big steps. The goal is easy and effortless. So you get a lot of slower rounds. A complaint George Morris has is that hunters these days go around half asleep, which is true, and a reason why he was such an advocate of the hunter derby series. He greatly values "brilliance", which means forwardness (not fast, think perky and excited to do their job). He's even said that an exuberant buck or playing in a corner after a really good jump should not be penalized.

Also, while judging is an opinion and it should be up to them to decide if a refusal is worse then lead issues I'm a little surprised. Generally judging at rated shows isn't THAT far off. I mean, usually when it comes down to opinion it'd be more along the lines of, what's worse an iffy distance or a late change, assuming everything else was the same. From the scores i've seen a trot on course is an automatic 50ish. A refusal is more like 40. Strange.

jaydee 08-07-2012 05:11 PM

hunter classes
I'm even more confused as I'm from the UK originally and these classes are nothing like our Working Hunter classes which are basically about a horse/pony looking like it would give you a good days (fox) hunting
I'm not seeing this in the type of horses, style of fences or actual performance so why are they called 'Hunter Jumper'?

Corazon Lock 08-07-2012 05:43 PM

Maybe the girl that had the refusal got more points because I did all simple lead changes and she only had one refusal?

I love, love, love hunter derbies. Rusty will never be a jumper unless he suddenly decides he has a need for speed, so the derbies are my best bet, since Rusty is a brave horse and will jump almost anything. I will try to watch that broadcast. :)

George Morris is my horsie idol. I wish I could just take a lesson with him and have him rip me to shreds because I highly value his opinion and what he says in his columns make a lot of sense. He is really old school and advocates for the horse. I absolutely love it.

Just so you all know, I have a 15.3 Quarter Horse gelding that looks like a Thoroughbred - long legs, lanky frame. He has huge strides I know - because when we go around the around for HUS classes, he can be going "slow" in my trainer's opinion but will constantly be catching up to the other horses. He probably has too few strides instead of too many. But I'd love George's opinion on him - Rusty is totally the star here, not me!

Black Out 08-07-2012 08:01 PM

I'm still learning to get my leads, and my trainer told me that when you're jumping down any line and have to go through a corner, if you don't get your lead change by the corner, the lead is counted as missed or late. Flying lead changes are nice but they're not something you can just train a horse to do. You can't teach a horse that can't do flying's to do them. It just won't work.
As long as your happy with you and your horses performance, ribbons shouldn't matter all that much. Atleast, you stayed on! XD

Corazon Lock 08-07-2012 10:09 PM

Haha, I agree with the staying on! There were only three of us out of eight girls that didn't fall off, and I was one of them! And out of the three, my horse was the only one that didn't have a bad day where he refused everything. :) So I'm very happy with him, yes.

So how would you know if your horse can do flyings? My horse can do them on his own right to left, but hasn't the other way around!

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