Hunter lead changes - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-03-2009, 10:36 AM
Green Broke
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To say that the majority of hunter riders are a bunch of rich spoiled kids who can’t ride is the same gross stereotype as saying that dressage riders are just a bunch of scared heavyset middle aged women in small plaid breeches who have their trainers lunge their schoolmasters in side reins for 20 minutes before getting on, warming up, and then throwing them into the saddle for 3-8 minutes. To say that a hunter round is simple because you’re only showing at 1 gait is the same thing as saying dressage rounds are easy because all you do is “circle at E”. There’s a heck of a lot more to both disciplines. Training hunters (majority being completely green horses or ponies, both offering their own set of challenges) is not only my main source of income, it’s my blood, sweat, and tears all day every day. When I come home completely exhausted from a long hard day of riding I’d have to disagree with you that my discipline is simple or that I’ve just “cruised through the courses”. But I guess if by chance I have, it just means I’ve done my job well. Just curious, what level did you show when you showed hunters?

As far as taking a green horse to a show, I’m a fan of taking them early, even if all we do is enter the flat classes. I’m taking a horse to a show this weekend that doesn’t have a change and there’s a good chance we’ll just trot into everything. But the experience of going into a ring by himself, hearing the speakers, seeing the commotion, jumping scary jumps is invaluable with a young horse that will one day be a show horse. But, that's off topic.....
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-03-2009, 02:24 PM
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I am going to make some points about the actual topic of this thread, which was Hunter Lead Changes.

Granted, I have been Eventing and also doing Hunters and Jumper my whole life. I have done Dressage independently as well and schooled up 4th Level.

Hunter changes are different than Dressage changes. However, they are only different in the idea that what the original statement or article originally said. Hunters are wanted to be viewed performing a change at a steady gait, flat type of canter. The type of canter that they want to see the horse keep around the entire course. A steady, flat type of canter that shows the horse is obedient, observant, but also enjoying his work. The change is not like one you would see performed in a Dressage arena, where you should be able to notice the horse rocking back on their haunches and noticeably swapping leads.

Now, as far as the rider asking for the lead, they should still ask. It is no different than asking for a change of lead in any other aspect. The rider should never allow on the horse solely, a cue should always be given and the rider should take responsibility. However, there are quite a lot of very well schooled and seasoned hunter horses that will do it automatically, before you can even ask them. They have either done it enough times to know the task by now, or they have been schooled a lot. Hunter horses typically are not taught to counter canter because you want them to learn that when you change direction, you change lead. The idea is that you don't want them to learn that they can counter canter.

I always teach my horses to change lead, and I not once rely on them to just "know". True, there are many spoiled kids and rotten riders in the Rated shows of Hunters that have everything handed to them and then in turn blame it on the horse when something is messed up. But I think we can all agree that that is not the proper fashion, in any discipline. One should have more self dignity than that. And I can safely assume that there are plenty of riders out there, like me, who actually do the work & sweat and put the time into our horses, and do it correctly.

With that said, let me address one more point. I can speak for myself when I say that I always incorporate Dressage into all of my Hunters. When asking for the change of lead, it is always neccesary to make sure the horse is using their hind end to support themselves. Although Hunters do like the 'flat changes', that does not mean a horse can "run" on their forehand into the change. A horse still needs to be using their hind to propel themselves. Therefore, when starting the process with a young/green horse, I always incorporate dressage in their training. I always incorporate dressage into their training regardless.

That is my .02 cents.
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post #13 of 16 Old 03-03-2009, 07:12 PM
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I think some people are missing the point. Saying hunter riders cruise through courses is like saying that western pleasure riders just sit there.

...And guess what, it's a stereotype because it HAPPENS A LOT. Not all the time. The insult was only meant for people who cruise through, NOT for the people out there doing it right.

I was never 'special' (read: rich) enough to ride horses with auto changes--I got crazy racehorses (...not OTTBs. Racehorses. lol) to learn on. So I never got to sit and look pretty--and granted I've only been to a few A-rated shows, but I left that scene real quick and started riding western. Never looked back. ;)

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post #14 of 16 Old 03-04-2009, 05:42 PM
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TRUE hunters - based on field hunting with style, rhythm, and grace are supposed to have a ride that looks effortless and is easy to sit, while a pleasure to watch. In theory, it's not that different from a dressage test that is supposed to look like a dance where horse seems to almost be performing with minimal queues from the rider. In both cases, the best performers are those that make it look easy, when in reality, it is not. There are just as many "spoiled rich kids" in the dressage ring as the hunter ring - see the thread in Horse Training about the Jim Wofford article for case in point where Anabel I believe discusses the politics in the dressage world and why someone like Anky with stiff horses trained with rollokur still keep winning.

So tell me - is hunters really all that different?

Nearly ALL sports have their politics...

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post #15 of 16 Old 03-04-2009, 07:24 PM
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I've been riding in the hunter discipline for about 4 years-- before that I was in equitation (albeit short-stirrup and walk-trot-canter and such, but, hey, I was little). I will personally atest that hunters is NOT just sitting there.

To say that riding "as a passenger" so to speak is unheard of would be misleading. I know there are kids and adults out there with horses that have been trained to do the job, and the riders don't do much of anything. But that occurs in all sorts of disciplines, not just hunters. If anyone says otherwise, they need to get out and see for themselves.

My horse is technically a schoolmaster. She knows her job very well and will make any distance work. I don't let her do that, though. My trainer is adamant about making every movement my own decision. That is what makes a rider more competent and talented. It's great that there are horses that WILL save their riders' butts, but that shouldn't happen all the time. That's true in any discipline.

Some horses will perform auto lead changes truly automatically (though the only horses at my barn I have seen do so are actually jumpers...). A great deal, however, require proper aids from the rider-- shifting one's weight to the outside, a nudge with the outside leg, the opening of a rein.

Hunters is about precision, consistency, and fluid motion. The horse should canter a course willingly, meet the jumps at the correct take-off spot, and have a good jumping style. Now, part of that depends on the horse. But, a rider with uneven weight will cause his or her horse to drop one side, no matter how perfect the animal usually jumps. The rider needs to know a good spot and adjust accordingly. There's a visible difference between the horse and rider working as a team and the rider as a passenger, in my opinion.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except to say that there is much more to hunters than sitting pretty. It takes effort and teamwork to make a fluid and enjoyable ride from both the horse and rider. Is this fact neglected by riders with push-button horses and ponies? Sometimes. But not all the time. A truly spectacular round is much more than the horse jumping well. It is that magic that happens when horse and rider work together over fences.

That's my romantic notion of it, anyhow.
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post #16 of 16 Old 03-05-2009, 07:37 PM
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amen justjumpit! :)

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