What are hunter jumper judges look for?
So, after a year of dressage, I'm going to start doing hunters. my horse has done hunters before, and with his previous owner he did brilliantly in the show ring. Anywho, I have a few questions about what the judges want to see during the course
1. Lead changes, if your horse lands with the wrong lead, should you let them auto correct ( which my horse does, to my dismay) or keep them on the wrong lead until a corner, then switch?
2. based on what I've seen ( i.e Google hunter jumper position), most hunters have at least a slightly arched back, I, on the other hand, cannot arch my back without pinching nerves and eventually loosing feeling in my legs ( long story); would having a flatter back be seen as bad position to the judges?
3. on the flat, between the jumps, should your horse be on the vertical, or is that a dressage thing more than jumping?
Just want to clarify, while the type of show might be called a hunter/jumper show, the actual discipline (or judge) is either "hunters" OR "jumpers". I think you already know this since you clarified hunters in your post :-) but i just wanted to get it out there.
1) The ultimate goal is to have the smoothest trip and to do that your horse needs to be on the correct lead. Ideally it'd be great if your horse would just land on the correct one! But if not, a flying change is necessary. The absolute worst thing you can do is break into a trot to change the lead (score drops to an automatic 50, and that's if everything else is perfect). Next worst would be to only swap in the front and go around on a cross canter. If your horse doesn't have a flying change, it is better to let them go around on the wrong lead, preferably as balanced as possible. Then to do either of those 2 things. Oh wait, I just reread your post. :) Training wise, you want to tell your horse when to swap, not let him anticipate. This needs to be done before the corner. Going around the corner on the wrong lead is not pretty, even if it's fairly balanced. But if i'm in the show ring and my horse swaps on his own, I don't punish it.
2) An overly arched back is a form fault that is usually a sign of a stiffness or weakness (or both!). slightly? could be due to the riders conformation. Please don't do this. :D you want a flat back. However, judging-wise in the hunters the rider's position doesn't matter, it's based soley on your horse. The equitation ring is where a rider's position matters a little more.
3) You want a more natural headset.
In hunters you want to do a lead change three strides out...so you land after a jump, go three strides, then switch.
I'm going to disagree with Upnover, I don't think you should let your horse go on the wrong lead. In green divisions simple changes are not penalized. But if you showing in a division that is not for green horses, your horse should know how to do an auto change.
As for you position, I know what you mean about people having an arched back...dont do it. Like Upnover said...keep your back flat.
Equitation classes a wrong lead is OK. If the horse is being judged, they should not be on the wrong lead. Ive shown in green classes where the horse is judged...and right on the prize list it said, "trotting in corners are not penalized" It didnt not say that for the equitation class. I just showed this weekend, and I trotted to fix my lead, the people that didn't, placed lower.
I think going to a fence on the wrong lead is just ugly. In the middle of a line its different though...because obviously you don't have time to trot and fix it. If you are showing in rated shows, your horse should know lead changes...it's a pretty basic command.
And this is why I say it might depend on the level and locality of your shows or specific division. It's always good to read the prizelist ahead of time if you aren't familiar with the rules. While one of the divisions at your show may allow for a trot change, the ones around here don't. Our local circuit follows USEF's rules (and often gets rated show judges). Other schooling circuits put more of an emphasis on "schooling" and make it more of a place for a horse/rider to learn.
I completely agree that going to a fence on the wrong lead is ugly... dropping to a trot IMO is ugliER. When a horse is being judge on pace and rhythm, what's worse then breaking gait? If you pick up a copy of Judging Hunters and Hunter Seat Equitation by Anna Jane White-Mullin, she would agree. But a lot will depend on what the judge at the show thinks is most important, in the eq or hunter ring. For example, trotting a change in an eq class should be highly penalized as well. Technically, the *rider* did not get the horse to do what the judge asked. At your show, it sounds like the judge valued at least an attempt to fix the problem, so that the rider could learn, even if it wasn't quite correct. At other shows, certain judges would have been much harsher.
Erika, the wrong lead is never OK. Not even in an EQ class (unless they asked for a counter canter, then obviously it is expected).
At really local shows it may be OK but not at any show with any competition.
And yes, in theory the rider is what is judged. But the horse can not be a train wreck underneath the rider and still place well. The rider has to make their job look flowing and easy. That does not mean not doing their job (which lead changes include).
OP, I see nothing wrong with your horse doing its lead change right after the fence if the horse does it smoothly and correctly.
I does all depend on the judge and the show. I do agree the wrong lead is never OK, but I have seen people be on the wrong lead, even the wrong diagonal, and placed high.
I also think some judges, at least in my area, are a little bias. I remember a long time ago, maybe about 10 years ago. My sister was showing at a rated show, and she wasn't a member of the AHSA. She had a great round, the horse came out on all the correct leads...it was just a flawless round. Another rider, who was a AHSA member did the class and had the wrong lead the whole way around and won the class. She won because she needed the points.
It was not judged fair at all, but I remember that happening a lot when I was younger...not so much now though.
The judges do not know who is a member and who paid the non-member fee for that show. It is assumed everyone is a member.
I am confused.
I am sure wrong leads are ignored at lower level local shows that are not filled with big time competitors. It is never OK at a rated show. Ever.
Im sorry, I wouldn't intentionally go to a fence on the wrong lead...equitation or not, but I have seen people do it and not be penalized for it...only in equitation classes though. That's why I thought it was OK to do. I just wouldn't do it.
I'm assuming the judge knew because she as other rated shows. My sister and I just showed at the rated shows held at the farm we boarded at. Everyone knows everyone around here. Everyone is very cliquey And if you aren't known you didn't do too well at shows. Like I said this was years ago...I haven't ran into this recently.
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