How do you decide whether your horse is going to be a hunter or a jumper? Providing you bought a prospect and not something that was made
I bought a horse last year that I wanted to use as a local, low-level hunter (no big aspirations here). He needed major retraining (breed show background + no brakes + scary jumping). A year later we’re making progress, slowly but surely (he’s also older so what he knows is very ingrained). I love both H & J, but personally prefer hunters – the course never deviates too much, it’s easy to remember, I’m not particularly ballsy or risk taking…
I’m not even sure we would ever get to the hunters. He just doesn’t have a relaxed state of mind…he is always go-go-go. I can’t imagine just trotting/cantering him on a loose rein in the hack. He’s way better than he was – but still – hard to imagine him behaving like a real hunter should. Even when we walk…he has a ground covering stride and is just in a hurry to go places…where, I don’t know.
I feel like right now, I could probably show him as a jumper and be decent at the lower levels. He’s getting much more adjustable now. He NEVER refuses anything no matter how scary. He is quick, he needs a constant challenge. He seems to really love new things.
I guess the real reason I’m asking is because I’m beginning to feel like I’m pushing a square peg through a round hole. Like….what if this is just the way that he “is”. How do you know??
I plan on keeping him whether he works out in the hunters or not, but was just curious what COTH’s take was…before we get too deep on his problems, yes he is consistently vetted/chiropracted/ridden/turned out/has custom saddle/etc.
I believe you just answered your own question! You really have to have a horse that WANTS to be a hunter to be one. They need to want to have that relaxed, easy frame of mind. Not to say you cannot work with a horse and get them to relax with work and time, but some just cannot. And honestly the same thing for a jumper, he has to WANT to go clean and quick, but still be willing to listen to the rider. What I say is LISTEN to what your horse is telling you!
Last edited by shawneeAcres; Feb. 28, 2010 at 08:57 PM.
Neither of my boys were made when I bought them, so I got to basically train them from scratch.
My paint we are still figuring out he's a quick and nifty little jumper, but then he has a very nice jump and can go in a very low forward frame. So for now he shows both
My thoroughbred on the other hand screams what he wants to be a straight jumper. He is a lovely mover and goes nice and low, but he gets excited and lives for the jumper ring. He is however being forced to show baby hunters this year to teach him to relax.
They're a hunter until absolutely proven otherwise. The hunter is always worth more money than its jumper counterpart, and the early training as a hunter won't hurt them anyway should they ultimately wind up in the jumper ring.
That said, it sounds like what you have is either a hunter who takes a lot to get to the ring, or a jumper. You have to decide if the horse is talented enough in the hunter ring to make it worth the effort of putting the prep in every day at every show, or if making it a jumper is going to make things easier and more enjoyable for you.
From you description though, personally I would be showing him in the hunter ring at least to start. Lack of brakes and adjustability does not make for clean or enjoyable jumper rounds, and can be addressed more easily over straightforward courses.
Generally speaking, your average hunter costs more than your average jumper, so the horse that could conceivably go in either ring but is not a superstar at either is worth more as a hunter. Even if you compare division to division based on rider crossover, the price of the top horses is generally higher in the hunter ring until you reach the GP level in the jumper ring. You can also get a much higher price early for a green hunter than for a jumper at the same stage of training, mainly because you can see much more of the finished product in the hunter and it takes away a lot of the risk for the buyer. It's a much easier sale.
I am much like the OP...not ballsy or risk-taking at all. I love the hunters, and personally would never want to go into the jumpers (although it is very fun to watch, from ringside)!
But it sounds to me like you and this horse know each other very well, and even though he seems more like a "jumper" mentality, you are not phased by this. Maybe this is a good opportunity for you to try the low-level jumpers and have some fun in it! Take a few risks, grow some....(just kidding ).
I think you have also answered your own question. I think you know he sounds like a jumper-mentality type of dude, but there's nothing stopping you from doing the hunters either! Give'r a try, have some fun, because to me it sounds like that's what you want!
I guess the real reason I’m asking is because I’m beginning to feel like I’m pushing a square peg through a round hole.
That might be your sign.
Personally I don't want to do a ton of prep at shows. If it's going to always take an hour of lunging or an hour of riding every morning before my classes at every show (you get the idea)...no thanks. I understand the green beans & getting used to stuff/shows & figuring out a program takes a little time--but if we are well into having showing experience & still having to "wear down" for a long time...I would probably change rings. But I really don't mind showing either the hunter or jumper ring so I'll go where the horse can be happiest & successful.
I agree with Chanda for resale purposes -- everything is more valuable as a hunter unless it's clearly going to be a GP or AO horse. All my resale horses are hunters until they prove otherwise.
I don't like showing hunters as much, so my own personal horses are jumpers. Even so, I start everything in the hunters unless it is really, really unsuitable (e.g. my former barrel horse, a brilliant jumper who didn't so much canter as hop up and down sideways for the first 2 years I had him). He did the puddle jumpers.
OP, if you like hunters and this horse isn't going to settle, consider selling him and buying a horse that is going to do what you enjoy with less prep. You will both be happier.
My junior jumper was too chill to be a jumper -- in retrospect I should have sold him and let him be a junior hunter like he wanted, and bought myself a jumper that really wanted to go clean. Instead we spent years with him having 4 fault round after 4 fault round due to general laziness (he had all the talent in the world). Frustrating for everyone. I enjoy him more now, retired in the field, than I did showing him.
Maybe since he is so game, your horse would like to be an eventer (provided the jumping isn't dangerous).
Regardless of whether the OP wants to keep the horse, the training required should start the same - just because it WANTS to "go go go" doesn't mean that it necessarily should go go go at all times.
For most of the jumpers I've ridden, at home we do much of the same work we do with hunters or eq horses - flatwork, gymnastics, smooth and quiet lines. Ideally, I don't want any horse rushing at anything or going fast unless I ask them to, and I've definitely seen some folks that do jumpers because they don't care to install "quiet" or "brakes" because Dobbin is "more suited for jumpers" (Dobbin, in actuality, prefers to gallop at fences with his head in the air and ignores the rider, albeit has a lovely talent for flinging himself to the other side of the fence). Unfortunately, these are the people that tend to have rails even in low jumper classes, and find it very difficult to move up the levels.
That's not to say that because your horse can get down the lines quietly and smoothly and has brakes, he's going to be a hunter, either. Some just aren't.
There's also no reason why you can't cross over for a while until you decide what suits you and your horse. Maybe enter a jumper class or two at a show and if you like it, do more of them.
Ideally, I don't want any horse rushing at anything or going fast unless I ask them to, and I've definitely seen some folks that do jumpers because they don't care to install "quiet" or "brakes" because Dobbin is "more suited for jumpers" (Dobbin, in actuality, prefers to gallop at fences with his head in the air and ignores the rider, albeit has a lovely talent for flinging himself to the other side of the fence). Unfortunately, these are the people that tend to have rails even in low jumper classes, and find it very difficult to move up the levels.
While generally I agree with you, some horses are never going to be quiet and are more suited for the jumpers. The barrel horse I mentioned was a mess for a while, but with years of consistent, patient work now does lovely dressage. I board at a dressage barn, and his canter and lateral work gets compliments from the dressage trainer. Even when young, he was always adjustable and always had brakes -- it's not safe to jump (or even ride) a horse that doesn't. But at 14 he still jigs sideways at the walk if he thinks he's going to jump. No amount of prep will ever change that -- but it would wear him into the ground prematurely. Why not let the horse have a job he will be successful at and will make him happy?
I wasn't referring to those that have decent brakes and flatwork installed - I was referring to the sort that are content to put up with bad manners or rushing with the EXCUSE that it's fine, because the horse "is a jumper."
Perhaps I should have used "manners" instead of "quiet," and that would have made my point more clear.
I think that to be a higher level Hunter, you've got to have a horse with the right attitude, look and way of going. I can't talk about that, but OP specified local.
At lower levels (like any show I've ever been in) a horse who isn't a classic Hunter but who is obedient and goes over the fences consistently, makes the changes and uses himself, can place VERY well. My Thoroughbred, for example, when I ride him well he ALWAYS places. His neck comes out of his shoulder high, and he SNAPS his back over fences, and his canter is much more "efficient and forward" than "breathtakingly beautiful and cadenced." If we hit our changes and I ride him properly, he has a nice pace, attractive form and the judges always reward that.
I knew buying my guy that he was more of a jumper, again, he's efficient, catty and brave...GOOD traits in a Hunter, but he doesn't have the look and build to win in really excellent company. His niche is Jumpers, but all that Hunter schooling with me has just made him a better ride for his Jumper riders. Nice changes, good pace and adjustability, "brakes" You can always take tighter corners and go for the risky lines with a controllable, obedient horse. Taking a sorta crazier one who isn't as supple and trying to MAKE them dig deep into a Hunter course is hard.
And CBoylen is totally right, now my guy can be marketed as a Hunter AND Jumper, with some ribbons to his name, and that absolutely makes him more valuable.
Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior
Got a gorgeous, lovely horse off the track. Retired sound and clean at age 7. LOOKS like a hunter (bay w/ chrome, awesome conformation, beautiful mover) and I am a hunter person from a hunter background. No experience at all in jumperland.
Horse will be 9 next month, and I'm feeling like he needs to pick a career.
His flatwork is consistently good. Balanced, etc. Took me a while to install backing, but we've got it. He wants to do the racehorse lean on the bit all the time, and a Waterford solved that issue. It's not that his brakes were bad, it was just that he wanted to lean on me all the time, and with the Waterford, he can't.
We teach him to jump. A little klutzy and goofy at first. Catches on. Gorgeous jump. Then he decides that he LOVES to jump. Will jump anything from any distance ( ask me how I know....) does not have a stop in him, period.
Problems for him to be a hunter:
1) He Will! Not! Learn! To! Put! His! Head! Down!
He goes lovely and soft and low in draw reins (NOT cranked). Take them off, head goes straight back up. There has been zero progress on this.
2) His attitude is now one of ZOMGGGG DO WE GET TO JUMP TODAY YAY YAY OMG PLEASE CAN WE!?!?!?! He loves the tight turns and tricky approaches. He's really athletic. He just wants to go NOW. He wants to show those jumps who's boss.
I decide I have a jumper on my hands. I'm gutsy and bold, so this is not a problem, just a new experience.
Bought the Figure-8 bridle and the monogrammed square pad.
Horse is SOOOOO happy with his life! Nobody fussing with his head! Our only issue now is getting him to settle and balance a little bit better before the jumps. He loves the long spot and that's not always the best idea.
I felt the same way you did about the square peg and round hole. They can't all be hunters. It's great that you're going to pursue whatever makes your horse happy. As for us, we have our first jumper show in two weeks. :-)
Personally, I don't bother trying to make one a hunter unless I truly believe it's naturally meant to be one. Money can take a back seat to the horse's mental and physical well being. That is: extremely quiet, won't take a bunch of lunging down or calming supps to get the end result. I find the hunters in general to ask for a a slightly unnaturally quiet horse but if you have one that's a natural, it's delightful. If you don't, then I don't get the lunging down, medicating, overfattening and quieting to the point of zombieness.
A few years ago when I was still teaching, a German man who had a tack stand at a show approached me about a child I was schooling before sending her in for her small Jr round. He asked what was wrong with all the horses, why did they all look so miserable and lifeless. Having come here from another country, I understood where he was coming from. I just find the quietness expected unnatural... not to the point of the WP horses, but close enough. My student did fine, was reserve champ, but I didn't like the expectations and still don't. The horse took a ton of prep... she had some lunging, I schooled it and then tossed the student up and prayed she wouldn't undo the programming before the day was up. Student had zero natural talent and neither she nor her parents wanted to consider cost or putting in more working hours so since my living depended on it, I was forced to give results via programming the horse. HATED it.
If you feel like it's a square peg in a round hole, join the club. It takes either a ton of prep, an extremely conservative and more technical than it looks ride, or an unusually naturally quiet horse to make a true hunter. I don't care for them for that reason, although I do enjoy watching a legit working horse or first year horse go around. The real ones are rare but quite lovely to watch, but I will probably never enjoy the process of creating one that's not a natural.
Please don't try to be a voice of reason. It's way more fun to spin things out of control. #BecauseCOTH - showhorsegallery
I do some light breeding and always have a few young horses i'm working with here. I have a thoroughbred that I bred and tried to market as a hunter, lovely mover, lovely jump and was successful as he started showing in the hunters. But every time I rode him I knew that was not what he wanted to be. I just had a feeling as he progressed that he was bored and needed more. We have started him in the jumper ring and he loves it! yes, he could have been a superstar hunter, but I feel like he would have needed a lot of prep and I don't like that. If it takes that much to get them quiet enough to do the hunters, then they are probably not supposed to be one. It has actually gone through my head that he would make a great eventing horse! We have had others that you realize as hard as you try they just don't enjoy jumping, those move to the dressage ring. Every horse has a place, you just have to be willing to admit that they may not want to do what you want them to. Put them where they are happy. No matter what ring you decide on, the flatwork is still the most important thing, a rideable horse on the flat can probably go in any ring and be successful.