Starting in the hunters and then moving onto jumpers...why?
I'm getting back into jumping and instead of before, I'm planning on doing it competitively. I've been told to start in the hunters and then move to jumpers. Why is that? Is it so that you learn form, distance, speed, lines etc.? I would start in the hunters but my horse isn't really a hunter type. He's very small(15.1hh and I'm 5'6") and I look a bit too big on him which is one reason I wouldn't do well in the hunters. He's got a big stride and a nice round jump with good form so he could do lower level hunters. He doesn't have the flat movement though to be a higher level hunter. He really has jumper conformation. The problem is, he isn't really "mentally" a hunter. He wants to go fast and jump big. He'd do very well as a jumper. He is extremely forward. He's had over a year of dressage training so he's very responsive and balanced which would also make him a good jumper.
So...should I start in the hunters? As I rider, I want to do jumpers but that can wait because I want a good base. I may have to option to ride a more suitable hunter horse that belongs to a friend, but I really want to get competing with my horse.
I think people might say start in hunters because then you learn to control your horses speed over a course, and you work on your position and control, which is very important in jumping if you want to do well. Thats just an assumption of why they would say that? im not compeletly sure though. I would recommend taking a few dressage lessons if you dont want hunters, every jumper ive ever met said dressage lessons improved their jumping a lot!
The first barn I took lessons at was a hunter barn. It was the only discipline they taught so I grew up as a hunter thinking it was the only style of jumping. Plus most barns around here are hunter oriented I just think it's more popular for some reason. Also, this hunter barn had automatic school horses who knew the routine. They would always behave, have even striding, good tuck, and consistent pace so they were good to learn on as a beginner rider.
Now I'm at an eventing/jumper type barn. The horses are completely different you have to ride them a certain way and they're much less "automatic". They're so talented in the jumping ring but my instructor says it would take a lot of work to make them into hunters. Just this year I've realized there's differences between hunter/jumper horses.
If you are older (20+), you shouldn't worry so much about HAVING to start in the hunter ring and working your way up to the jumpers. There are some lower heights in jumping that you could start at.
Normally you would go through hunters to get to jumpers, because hunter starts at the bottom with cross-rails and short stirrup classes (aka teeny tiny jumps). Once you get to a certain height, then there are classes for both, with jumpers going above and beyond what a hunter would jump eventually.
Now, if you had never shown before ever, I would say it would be a good idea to do a few smaller shows in the hunter ring, even if you and your horse aren't suited for it. This way, it gets you into the ring, have a few rounds without super scary jumps, around a fairly "easy to learn" course. It would be a good confidence boost. Plus, you get the added bonus of getting your eq down, and getting the feel of a course and maintaining rhythm throughout.
On a more personal note...I started my first year of showing last year at 25, and did hunters. I still get super nervous, so if I had to memorize more then a few jumps, I would be SOL and fail every time. Since there is still stuff to work on, I would much rather stay at the hunters and get at least a year of solid showing in before moving up to jumpers....even though I feel I would be much better suited to the jumper ring then the hunter ring.
It depends on your experience really. MOST beginners/kids will start in hunters because they offer WT, WTC, poles, cross rails, 2', 2'3, 2'6, etc. Jumpers usually don't go below 2'3" and at rated shows they sometimes start at 2'9". However if your an experienced rider/jumper and just haven't really gotten into showing before, theres nothing wrong with starting out in jumpers.
I've done over a year of dressage and I'm getting back into jumping, so I think I got the control down pat. There's a low rated competition coming up so I'll probably do hunters in it.
The reasoning most start in hunters is because its a sort of easier stepping block from flat to jumpers. I didnt have a hunter horse when I started in hunters, one was a small chunky QH mare that loved jumping and was a speedy little thing, the other was a TB/SB enough said about it looking good in hunters lol. He was a jumper all the way and fast fast fast. I started in hunters so get used to jumping at a show without the added pressure of speed, tight turns, and large amount of fences to remember for a course. Then I moved on to low jump classes. Now I have been competing in jumpers for about 8yrs but I still do hunters, but not for me this time, now I do it for the horses! Just like for riders its a great small step for green horses. the fences are smaller, courses easier, slower paced, no tight turns, in most cases the fences arent as 'scary' etc etc so its a great place to take that greeny to their first over fences class. A lot of people stay in hunters and go up to higher levels, but once you get up to bigger levels, such as 3' and higher, it gets tougher similar to jumper courses. I wouldnt mind competing in the rated hunters but there isnt much of that around here and I feel that little shows like handy hunter at 2'6 with 8 fences in a course with wide slow turns is just not something someone should stay in to compete at. Thats my opinion though, to me its a stepping stone and only a stepping stone for either horse or rider to move on to jumpers, or if your in the area for it, move on to the heavy hunter classes that mimick hunts or a easier leveled cross country course in ways like that its turf, rolling hills, large solid fences. etc.
I agree with amymarie, most HUS horses are very automatic....and boring IMO. Its not for me, the slow trotting around the ring as pretty as can be and then jumping low fences in perfect form from a barely moving canter on a horse that already knows the course because its done it a million times. yea give me some speed, tight turns, and a horse that leaves its brain cut on since the courses are always changing lol. But there are higher hunter classes, I think theyre more common overseas however, and they do resemble xc courses in ways and the fences are much higher. that I could compete in, but not this low and slow hunters. If your comfortable go straight to jumpers. Some have a puddle jumpers class that is 2' to 2'3 and is usually very inviting. Both my horses went to their first show last weekend and the pony did puddles and my horse did the next class up at 2'3 to 2'6. But as equineventer stated not all shows have jumper classes that low. youll have to check it out. Look for schooling shows, their always more inviting also.
A good hunter horse LOOKS automatic. There are VERY few that are good at their job and are automatic. Riding a truly lovely hunter round is a boat load of work. If you say it is boring you are probably not doing a very good job out there.
I think the reason most people are saying do hunters first is your theory that your horse is perfect for jumpers because he likes to go fast and jump big.
There is a tone more to a good jumper round that going like a speed demon and leaping over obstacles. Too many lower level jumpers seem to forget this point. Learning how to see your lines, balance your horse and adjust your tempo with finesse, which is required in the hunter ring, will serve you well in the jumper ring.
And who does 2'6" fences?
FSH has obviously never been to a rated hunter show.
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