Eventer wants to cross over... advice, tips, please!
I don't mean permanently, just, well - in addition to my regularly scheduled events. I know that first and foremost, I should probably get myself some lessons at a proper H/J barn, but thought that the collective COTH wisdom might also be so kind as to advise me in my transition/addition.
I grew up riding with a trainer that has a better background in H/J than anything else, although in recent years trended more towards dressage and did have some eventing experience. So as far as my equitation goes, I haven't strayed far from the original mark, and I try to keep somewhat up on the trends both in eq and fashion. From a fashion standpoint, I've pretty much got it covered - all my coats are RJ Classics, my show breeches are TS, my field boots are well-fitted Ariats, and I can whip out the classic hunter hair in no time flat.
I have a nice, nice four year old Thoroughbred mare (not OTT) that IMO, would do decently well as a hunter. She naturally has a longer, lower carriage and prefers a quiet ride from someone that can stay out of her way. She's not terribly flashy, just a sort of tawny, light bay (not red at all) with some roaning at her flanks, and a large star with just a hint of a snip. She's about 16.2 right now, and a very feminine looking TB. Her canter is TO DIE for, and changes will be a snap for her. We haven't worked on them hardly at all, and she's doing them automatically about 50% of the time, and about 75% when asked. With the right rider, she is DEAD quiet and a hack-on-the-buckle ride.
In all likelihood we won't end up doing more than some local stuff, . But I'd like to be well-prepared, either way - and who knows, once we get our feet wet we may enjoy it enough to stick around. Any hints, tips, or advice from the veterans or fellow crossovers is welcome.
If necessary, I have some pictures I can put up to see how suitable the mare is, and how my eq would fare. Thanks in advance!
Taking a some lessons with a hunter trainer as you mentioned is a good idea. They will be able to teach you some tricks of the trade, let you know what the judges are looking for and how to show your horse off the best way.
As far as fashion goes, I think you are in pretty good shape by the sounds of it. You can always find a photographer with an online folder and study the look. It's fun anyways sometime to look at other peoples pics.
The hardest part about the hunters for me when I first came over from Europe was learning how to set my horse up in the turn so that I wouldn't have to make any big adjustments close to the jump or in a line. I think that this particular aspect has really improved my jumping though. I think you might find that your stadium jumping will benefit quite a bit from spending a little time in the hunter ring.
My only tip (and this is something my family and boyfriend with never understand), the hunter world, whether local or A rated, will never, ever run on time. There will always be ring conflicts, california warm-ups, adds, scratches, etc to make the day run longer. You should definitely be aware that you could wait all day to show. Only equitation will have a posted order of go at many local shows. I've decided that horse shows are like airports, you hurry up and then you wait. But otherwise, it sounds like you are prepared and will have a fantastic time
Dear life, please send grapes. Sincerely, I prefer wine over lemonade.
Have fun. It will likely be a long day. There might only be 6 ponies in front of your division.... but LOL, that can stretch to 3 hours. Pack a good cooler, a book, get a stall for your horse, bring a chair.
FWIW, you are not judged on eq in hunter classes. However, if you ride like an eventer, your horse is likely to go a bit more like an eventer with more visible adjustments. If you are giving her the half seat floaty rein ride, you'll be fine.
i think the biggest difference for you will probably be learning to ride the hack classes, where you're in the ring with a ton of other horses all striving for the judge's attention.
ride the quarter line down the long side! especially if the judge is sitting right on the rail instead of in the middle of the arena. you want to be far enough away so that they get a good view of your horse, not right on top of them so all they see is your leg and your horse's belly. try your best to stay out on your own, and even strategically place your horse near horses who are not as good movers so your horse looks better. if there is a horse in the class who is a far better mover than yours, stay away from them! also try to observe where in the ring the judge tends to focus their attention and make any adjustments to your horse/ride when not in that area of the arena. you want the judge to always see you just effortlessly floating along. and when you get into the line-up at the end of the class, try to place yourself towards the center, so your number is one of the first things the judge sees when they look up, and they can remember "oh, number 248, i liked that horse!" even though they probably have the class pinned by then, it can't hurt.
have fun! hack classes are seriously one of my favorite things ever.