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Poseidon 08-07-2011 10:30 PM

Different Disciplines
So I know several people on the forum know I know diddly squat about english. I can recognize a dressage saddle, but that's a rather huge accomplishment.

Can someone list the different disciplines of english riding? Particularly the ones with the word "hunter" in them. I'm not sure what the differences are in them, but from my perspective, there's wayyy too many different forms of hunter things. It's rather confusing from a strictly western perspective and the way I'm wording this probably sounds about as ridiculous as when one of my friends said something about "when they rope while barrel racing or whatever" last week.


VelvetsAB 08-07-2011 10:50 PM

Although the original point of a hunter horse has been lost along the way, a lot of the traditions are still kept. When in a hunt field, the horse needed to be calm, take fences with ease, and cover ground efficiently.

To translate that into the show ring, the horse still needs to have a flowing, ground covering canter, take off squarely at a fence with knees tucked up, and do it with ease.

"Hunter Over Fences"--class over fences.
"Hunter Under Saddle" or "Hack"--Flat class
"Road/Show/Pleasure Hack"--Flat classes again, but of varying "speeds" of gaits, for the most basic explanation.

Hunters go over more natural looking fences...brush, gates, walls...stuff they would have encountered in the original sense of Fox Hunting across England.

A judge scores the horses movement.

Classes on the flat and over fences that judge the riders form.

Speed classes, over brightly coloured jumps. Faults are given for poles knocked down(4 per rail), refusals(2 and eliminated), or for being over the time allowed.

Hopefully others will chime in with more info.

Although Wikipedia isn't always a good source, it is sometimes better at descibing things. Heres some links to check out.

Show hunter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hunt seat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Show jumping - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dressage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Equitation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Poseidon 08-07-2011 10:58 PM

Ooh, thank you. That makes considerably more sense now. Heaven knows I will most likely not even sit in an English saddle, but I might as well have an inkling of what someone is talking about.

maura 08-07-2011 11:23 PM


Velvet gave a good basic explanation.

Hunter classes are supposed to be ridden forward seat, in conservative tack and clothing, and judged primarily on the horses suitability to be a field hunter. The fact that 95% of the show hunters would have a case of the vapors and collapse if faced with actual hunting conditions is somewhat beside the point. :-) Hunters should be judged on manners, movement, way of going, soundness, substance and style. The should be shown on a light, passive contact with an easy, forward, ground-covering stride.

Where it gets *really* confusing is when you add in the breed show definitions and then gaited horse definitions.

"Hunter" and "Hunter under Saddle" under hunter or USEF rules is a completely different thing then QH, Arab or Morgan "Hunter Under Saddle." Breed show "hunter" classes are more about the breed standard and showing the breed's versatitlity and less about the hunter standard. They show mostly in similiar tack and clothing but have very differents ways of going.

Then you have gaited show classes like "English Pleasure" and "Country Pleasure"; you would need a gaited person to tell you about those.

Dressage is about the systematic gymnastic development of the horse as an athlete. Dressage competition is the performance of a specific test or tests with defined movements performed alone in a standard-sized arena with lettered markers. Dressage riders ride with a longer stirrup and deeper seat than forward seat riders, and ride most gaits sitting. Dressage emphasizes not just a systematic training approach to developing the horse's musculature and carrying power, but also the horse's submission and obedience to the aids.

My non-horsey brother once described it as "the horses doing that airy-fairy stuff with their feet." For many non-dressage riders, that's a fairly sufficient explanation.


VelvetsAB 08-07-2011 11:30 PM


Originally Posted by maura (Post 1128695)
The fact that 95% of the show hunters would have a case of the vapors and collapse if faced with actual hunting conditions is somewhat beside the point. :-)

*Gasp* The shock! The HORROR!

Buuuut, you are right. LOL.

Po, I have also described dressage as figure skating on horseback, to non-horsey people. They seem ok with that, and leave it.

Heres a hunter course....
Although this IS a Derby course, which is slightly different then what a regular class course would be like.

Jumper Course:

Poseidon 08-08-2011 01:53 AM

Oooh. Definitely didn't know English Pleasure and Country Pleasure were gaited classes.

I feel educated now. But I must say, you guys have way more balls than I could ever hope to have by riding giganitic horses (my limit is 16hh max and only if I had to. 15.2 is my favourite) and jumping in just dinky little saddles. Definitely not for me. :-P

Thanks, Maura and Velvets.

maura 08-08-2011 07:18 AM

Great examples, Velvet!

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