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In the hunters, counter canter is often taught later, if at all, and the changes are 'auto swaps' done in a flat stride without collection and in a different balance, and either the horse is taught to do them whenever he goes across a diagonal or makes some other figure, without being given an aid, or the aid is quite different in order to encourage a change in a flat stride. Often the changes are not 'in one stride', as well.
So if a change does not occur cleanly the horse would be doing cross canter? Do the riders just sit there expecting the horse to do it right without any rider input ? Would the horse just do auto changes whenever it felt like it ?

What has been your experience in this discipline.
 

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Ok, I've shown hunters, at "A" hunter shows and this is honestly what happens.
Mom feeds horse, grooms horse, cleans stall, tacks up horse and hands it to the trainer, then goes and wakes up the kid, gets the kid fed and ready, they go down to the ring, kid hops on horse, does 1-2 warm up fences and goes in the ring. Comes out complaining that the horse didn't do whatever, then gets mom's credit card and goes shopping at tack tent while mom takes the horse back to the stall.

The horse is just inherently supposed to "know" when you want it to change or not. And if it does something wrong you yell and hit it with your bat, and then make your trainer get on to "fix" your bad horse.
 

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I don't do hunters, wont do hunters - but interesting topic.

Anebel - I see that far too often. Sad, but true.
 

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i've ridden mainly hunters my entire riding life and trained under several trainers, some better then others. (some significantly better) when i first started jumping i rode with a trainer for THREE years and never had any clue what even a leg yield was! we learned how to be pretty passengers and that was it. thankfully i've ridden with some trainers who actually have a clue.... but yes, trainers like what Anabel described definitely exist, although not all are like that!

Basically after every diagonal line the horse knows it's going to change directions and changes its lead for you whether you ask for it or not. they generally don't just swap their lead whenever, it's mainly just in the corners when they know they're going to change directions. some students just sit there and look pretty and don't ask, i think mainly because their trainers don't teach them anything else. i like to teach my kids how to balance their horses and ask for one properly, but have the 'back up' that in the show ring the horse will get it right if the kid doesn't. But I also like to buy made horses that just do their job for my beginner kids to teach them how to ride before getting anything remotely green.

i do find that most horses that don't get a clean change will change in the front before changing in the back, so yes, they will be on the cross canter. this is heavily penalized in the show ring, which is why auto changes are so dang important to people and why those horses are so much more expensive. despite popular belief :) hunter judges do not just look at a horse and say, ooh, that's pretty, i pick that one! judging is numerical and there is a ranking of what is considered desirable. the best is for a horse to land on the correct lead after every jump. next is to do a flying change. next is a skip change (changes in the front, and then in the back, the longer the horse is on the cross canter, the more they are penalized). next (and these are heavily penalized) is a balanced counter canter. next is to swap in the front and just cross canter around without ever getting the full change (or waiting several strides to get it). the worst is to break gait to a trot and do a simple change. breaking gait automatically brings your score down from a 100 to 60, regardless of how perfect the rest of your round may have been.

i know dressage riders teach their horses how to change leads much later in their career so there's quite a bit more balancing/lateral work before it's crucial that they know it. they have the 'luxury' of not needing one until later. the second a hunter goes into the show ring (whether it's with a cross bars kid or the horse's baby green year) a lead change is necessary so people rush their horses into learning them.
 

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Anebel- I'd like to see anyone try that with my trainer! If she catches anyone making someone else do their work just because they are lazy, they get to clean everyone's stall, plus their own. It's the same no matter how much their horse costs. As for just "looking pretty" I completely disagree. hunters may not be the hardest disipline, but it isn't just sitting there!
 

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I've shown in Equitation up until this year, and I have recently switched to a Hunter/Jumper barn. I haven't been to Hunters shows yet but am learning the Hunter style of riding... how I'm taught is to check the lead after every jump (except lines) and then ask for the lead change if they didn't get the correct one over the jump. There's nothing "auto" about it really, besides the horse's natural instincts of which lead he should be on. I mean, the horse does know that he needs to be on the inside lead, or else he'll be asked to change it. Sometimes the horse makes a mistake and he'll pick up the wrong lead... that's when the rider comes in and gives him what he needs to change: a balanced canter and a cue.

I don't think it's fair at all to say that most people at hunter shows are the type that anebel is describing. There are people like that in every discipline, not specifically hunters. And I wouldn't say it's the majority either.
 

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upnover - As far as I am concerned, I would not show a horse over fences until it was able to collect to the point of being able to do canter-walk transitions easily. Therefore, the horse should accept changes really easily and the problem of changes goes right out the window, unless the horse has little talent for them.
My horse had changes by the time it was his 5th birthday. And not because they were ever schooled or drilled, but just because he was balanced and properly collected and trained.

Just to put hunters in kind of the perspective I see it in. Dressage you show all three gaits, with variances in each gait, lateral movements and many transitions and movements at very specific locations. You are also generally being judged for between 3-8 minutes. In hunters over fences you show one gait, sometimes two, extremely occasionally 3, only have to adjust the pace a minor amount to fit in the lines, except for some better designed handy hunter courses, show no collected gaits or lateral movements. Generally judging time is between 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
It is very difficult for a dressage rider to sit through a dressage test and do nothing even at training level, but in an o/f class, if the horse is decently trained, it is possible to cruise through a course and do basically nothing.
 

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upnover - It is very difficult for a dressage rider to sit through a dressage test and do nothing even at training level, but in an o/f class, if the horse is decently trained, it is possible to cruise through a course and do basically nothing.
I completely disagree with you , but I'm just going to say this. I think it is completely rude for you to insult vany hunter riders on here and basically tell us we can't ride, all we do is sit there and "look pretty" I've shown many ponies that would be more then happy to dump their "sitting pretty" rider on the ground, rush the jumps, leave the ring, run around jumps, etc. and I've won on them because I'm actually riding them!
 

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I completely disagree with you , but I'm just going to say this. I think it is completely rude for you to insult vany hunter riders on here and basically tell us we can't ride, all we do is sit there and "look pretty" I've shown many ponies that would be more then happy to dump their "sitting pretty" rider on the ground, rush the jumps, leave the ring, run around jumps, etc. and I've won on them because I'm actually riding them!
I believe you may have ridden horses that you had to ride but from someone that rides dressage and had their horse ridden hunters after I do know that many riders don't do much.

My DRESSAGE horse is trained to FEI. Does changes on command with very little effort. Now I have a very nice rider on him that was doing jumper and hunter classes and she had no idea how to get the changes. I taught her how to ask but when she went into the ring in an over fence class they were often missed. He would not cross canter as that would be unbalanced but even on some sharp turns it would just become a counter canter (something he is also well versed in).
 

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I've shown many ponies that would be more then happy to dump their "sitting pretty" rider on the ground, rush the jumps, leave the ring, run around jumps, etc. and I've won on them because I'm actually riding them!
Thank you. Not all hunters are push-button ponies. The fluidity and cadence shown by these horses as they go around the ring does not happen magically. It comes from all the hours of hard work spent at home training and training and establishing that long and low way of going. Hunter is not only looking great going around the course, it's finding a long but balanced pace, the most efficient way of covering ground.
 

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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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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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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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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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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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