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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When I bought Pony, he was being used on trail rides, but the lady who sold him to me said he had "hunter movement," which is part of why I brought him to a hunter / jumper barn. Recently the barn owner made the same comment.

Can someone tell me what "hunter movement" means? I guess it must be something natural to the animal in question, since I don't ride him any differently from the others. It is definitely not something I am able to discern from riding him.
 

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Long, low and smooth. Some will say slow, too. Seems to float rather than be explosive in manner of movement.


Jumpers are all about power and speed. Coiled spring. Both need to be clear but a hunter needs to be clean as well (pretty).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Long, low and smooth. Some will say slow, too. Seems to float rather than be explosive in manner of movement.
Thanks, that's helpful. Pony is definitely smooth (except when cantering on his left lead, which we're going to work on) and also slow. What does long and low mean? Is it the same thing people mean when they tell you to let your horse go long and low and relax down? Like, it refers to his head and neck carriage?
 
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To me it means they move in a manner that looks collected and relaxed so not just feeling smooth but looking all put together and smooth. They move from one jump to another in a seamless manner that would be comparable to a Slow Waltz rather than a Salsa....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hmm, so is it sort of like a western pleasure type movement, but with jumps?
 

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More umph than that, that is, I would say really sloooooow mo, but yes, that general idea. The heads will not be laid flat out.
 

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Hmm, so is it sort of like a western pleasure type movement, but with jumps?
Should be a lot more sweeping, and cover a lot more ground. They should be ridden in contact, too, with the head technically no lower than the withers (though a lot of judges seem to, incorrectly, reward loose reins, slow movement, and too-low head carriage).

To watch some of the AQHA hunters, you'd think it was the same class as WP...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Should be a lot more sweeping, and cover a lot more ground. They should be ridden in contact, too, with the head technically no lower than the withers (though a lot of judges seem to, incorrectly, reward loose reins, slow movement, and too-low head carriage).

To watch some of the AQHA hunters, you'd think it was the same class as WP...
That's interesting. Just in the last couple of months I've realized that Pony does well with a lot of contact. With no contact, his head wants to be on the ground. He moves fine like that, but then I run into trouble with steering, LOL.

It's interesting because I don't feel like he particularly covers a lot of ground, what with his short little pony legs. I mean, Teddy is almost the same size, but has longer legs and has a really big stride for his size. To me, that covers a lot more ground. But no one has ever told me that Teddy has hunter movement.
 

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Can someone tell me what "hunter movement" means?

It refers to the way in which the horse/pony naturally moves. Yes, Hunters (in general) are going to look like moving is easy to them, smooth, floating, effortless.



Some horses have just got **it**. Some do not.



For a short period, I rode a horse named Romeo. I was getting him tuned up for my aunt so she could sell him. My English trainer actually referred a client who ended up buying him, but my trainer came out and rode him first to test him out. She commented (and I agree) that he had all the different gaits for dressage. He moved gracefully and had the different extensions of gaits that you would need. He just looked PRETTY when he moved. Nothing to do with my training on him, or any prior training; it's just how he naturally moved. I noticed he was also very aware of his feet. From day one when I started taking him over logs and crossrails, he NEVER knicked one with his feet.



And then compare that to my Red. My clunky, short-strided, beefy QH, LOL. I love him to death but NOT graceful!! Often trips over ground poles and logs, LOL. And not aware of his feet like Romeo was.


It's interesting because I don't feel like he particularly covers a lot of ground, what with his short little pony legs.

Covering ground will be relative to size. So obviously if he is a pony he is not going to cover the ground that a 16.3 hand warmblood will -- but relative to his size!!
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I noticed he was also very aware of his feet. From day one when I started taking him over logs and crossrails, he NEVER knicked one with his feet.

And then compare that to my Red. My clunky, short-strided, beefy QH, LOL. I love him to death but NOT graceful!! Often trips over ground poles and logs, LOL. And not aware of his feet like Romeo was.
It's interesting you say that, this is something I HAVE noticed about Pony. He is super aware of where all of his body parts are at all times, particularly his feet. I've always thought of him as a natural athlete even though he looks tubby. I remember we did some pole exercise in a lesson, and he had never done it before, and the instructor was commenting how difficult it was (it was half-raised poles on a really tight turn), and he got it first time (with ME riding him, no less). Whereas the BTDT lesson horse kept hitting them. He's also very coordinated and when I see him moving on the ground he looks nice to me.

Whereas Teddy, bless him, as much training as he's had, and as hard as he tries, he really likes going over poles but he does tend to hit them. All. The. Time.
 

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Here's a clip from Maclay finals-
With the typical Daisy cutter hunter movement. It's pretty, workmanlike and less "vertical" than what would place in a dressage class.

Here is a clip from an AQHA Hunter under saddle flat class. Depending on what's popular regionally observers could mean this as well when they say "hunter movement"

I'd skip around it's really long.



The general concept is the same but i think with more expression in main ring with overall better equitation that goes with bigger moving horses on the contact.


Arabs also have their own "hunter" with a bit more araby type and foaty movement. Seems like each breed has their own take on the headset and the level of expression they want from their hunters.


I think the "breed show" hunters often lack the good riding and training since many just show the rail classes and not over fences- in aqha I think the quality of he gaits suffer and in Arabs the correct connection to the hand from the bit suffers. Main ring hunters has their own evils I'm sure- so at the end of the day I guess we should all get a flask of whiskey and go try the real thing- foxhunting!



Curious to see a video of your "hunter pony" if he moves as cute as he looks I'm sure he's lovely.
 

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Maclay is not a good show of what a hunter actually should look like in the U/S phase. Eq horses don't have to move 'pretty' to win, just be comfortable and very keyed up to the aids so they're easy to ride, perform, and win on. Also eq horses are kept in a much higher, engaged frame than a hunter. Very few good hunters are also good eq horses, and most eq horses are not winning hunters. Maclay kids typically have one eq horse and a backup, then a few hunters and a few jumpers. Some even still have large ponies they're piloting for owners, as well.

A TRUE hunter movement is defined by first soundness, then ease of movement.

Hunters were first shown as a way of proving they were sound to hunt out in the field. You don't want to hunt a horse that is A) uncomfortable and B) unsound for riding on the flat and over fences.

A winning hunter u/s horse is one that has minimal knee action, covers ground, and has a floaty quality to them. Engagement and forward thinking movement are a MUST. Riding a horse with a winning trot is very different than one with a normal trot. You almost feel like you're getting trotted out of the saddle, it's so light and airy. It looks picturesque and enjoyable to ride. The trot should get you places, and the canter should be easy to jump out of. A lot of horses that win the hack go forward and win the jumping classes out of their super nice canter - at least professional horses.


The above video shows a good section of horses I believe at Hampton, it's a good example of a pretty competitive group that's not full of horses so you can see why they pinned the class the way they did.

Breed shows are an entirely different beast altogether. For AQHA the idea is still the same, they just lose a lot of what makes the hunter a hunter seeing as none of their horses typically jump, just do the U/S. A lot of them cross over from WP and other western classes as well, which is just stupid to me, honestly. Different saddle, same movement. None of their canters I would personally jump out of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I believe I may have finally figured out how to upload videos. I took two videos of a ride the new trainer put on Pony (working on his left lead). In the one where he's cantering, his trot gets a little strung out as he's kind of worked up. So... is this hunter movement? Or is it just pony movement, LOL.

Sorry... they are a little bumpy...


 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@lostastirrup thanks! I love black horses too! Too bad he's various shades of brown for about 1/3 of the year, LOL. His canter to the right is definitely better. It's really smooth. I mentioned I had been riding him bareback, and cantering on the right lead was just so easy.
 
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It's nice to see his way of going. After all the threads you've made about him, his canter, his inability to not fall in on a circle to the left, etc . . . I can now SEE what you are talking about.


He definitely seems perpetually bent to the right, no matter what direction he is going.



I think the trainer is doing a nice job of riding him and encouraging some improvement without forcing the issue and getting him more stressed about it. I like how she is working with him. Little by little. But, I would see if he wouldn't benefit from a visit by a body worker, to check out why he can't bend to the left.


It's so nice to see how well that new saddle is working. You have a lot of good things going on right now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
@tinyliny yes, I have been watching these videos over and over again, looking at that saddle, thinking "I have a saddle that fits!" LOL. And also watching how he moves. I'm glad you like the way she is riding him. I'm not in a place to be able to evaluate how well she was doing, but she seemed like a quiet, calm, kind, competent person so I thought she would do a good job.

And, TBH, on a selfish note I guess, it was nice to know that he does this when someone capable rides him, and it isn't just me.

Thank you for the encouragement to call a body worker. I've been thinking about it. Maybe I will go ahead and call her. Part of the problem is, sadly, money: I just finished paying for Teddy's last round of fillings, and Moonshine's next round of injections is coming up. And the body worker is expensive. But I will see what I can scrape together.
 

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I'm sad to say he does not move like a hunter at all.
Watch his knees, they come up then the toe extends. Hunters want as little knee action as possible and his are jerky and quick.
He also isn't put together like proper pony hunters. His legs are too long/skinny in comparison with his body, and his neck isn't in proportion to his back. It's all about the look in the hunter ring.
Could he place in local comps in the cross rail division? Probably with improvement and a good little rider in a few years!
But he isn't going to pony finals.

If you're curious to see what pony hunters look like USEF Network has a whole documentary on Pony Finals from last year!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow that's the first time someone ever suggested that he has relatively long legs...
 
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