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  1. #1
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    Default Hunter style -- bridled up versus "flat"

    In my non pro classes, I notice a lot of horses being pinned well that are ridden fairly bridled up, with a lot of hand and leg. Not that they are hot, just ridden more like equitation horses. They have nice jumps and movement and presence and all, but I have always preferred a "flatter" way of going -- less bendy in the neck and nose out a bit.

    I have always been a sucker for that nose out, hunting the jumps look, but I am quite old. I can still hear one of my first trainers constantly yelling "let go, let go"! Plus my current horse is laaaazy and I am not sure if I could keep him going if I took much more contact!

    I am going to watch the Capitol Challenge and see what the pros are doing!

    How do your horses go? What look does your trainer want? Just curious.
    Last edited by ToTheNines; Oct. 4, 2011 at 12:40 PM.
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  2. #2
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    My trainer said whatever made the horse look better. My TB can go pokey nosed, but my WB needs to be "packaged". Both are nice movers, with the WB being superior - she would beat the TB every time, even if the judge prefered "poked nose" movers.



  3. #3
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    man, I've heard white hot hatred from some judges about the bridled up approach. Kind of flies in the face of the standard, doesn't it?
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.



  4. #4
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    Yeah, to me having that huntery look across the ground would trump one with even a slightly better jump!

    Lillie Keenans winning ride on that grey horse -- I think it was the hunter derby final that I saw on-line - was my idea of perfect! She made it look so easy and like the horse was truly enjoying its job. Maybe I can find it and link to it.
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  5. #5
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    There are two issues at work here. One is how your horse goes the best. The second is what the judge under whom you are showing at that specific time prefers.

    If your horse has a nose poking old school look and that's how he goes best, than that is how you should ride him. If your horse needs more of a package and to be "put together" more, than that is how you should ride him.

    A good judge will place the best round from the nicest horse first. But if two rounds are comparable and she prefers the old school look, the nose poker will win. If she prefers the warmbloody look (for lack of a better phrase), the put together horse will win. If the best horse out there is a nose poker but deep down in her heart of hearts she likes the put together look better, a good judge will still pin the nose poker first, because obvious quality and performance trump personal preference.

    So the point is that you should ride your horse how he goes best, and you should realize that judges have preferences and one judge may prefer your look and another may not.

    As far as what your trainer wants, a good trainer will want the horse to go however it goes best. Trainers that like the put together horse better will usually steer their clients that way anyway. Ditto the nose poking look. All other things being equal, trainers will fill their barn with horses that they personally like.



  6. #6
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    Hunter "style" has really changed over the years. I too prefer a "REAL" hunter look vs a round on-the-bit look for a hunter class. I mean. what is a hunter now? Used to be a horse who could carry a rider around on the buckle almost, with a smooth consistent way of going. It has morphed into something different altogether at most shows.
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  7. #7
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    Is it all a regional thing? Because one of my friends is from the PNW and she feels like riders in the mid-Atlantic tend to ride/show horses differently than the way most people did when she was growing up.
    "It is not necessary for you to let everyone know everything about you. In fact, it is probably wise that you don't. There are some things that you need only discuss with God."



  8. #8
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    Zone 4 here:

    I am supposed to package my pokey nosed OTTB but I forget and i frequently go on a floppy rain :/ anyways, she likes packaging.



  9. #9
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    My trainer really prefers the hunter "poke" on my horse, and the horses of hers that I have had the opportunity to ride. But, that being said, I am usually on the tb type of horse even though my horse is not a tb. But I am constantly being told to let my horse hunt for the jumps, let her take the reins going down the line. Now, she will bridle up if needed for something eq based, but I know she looks better, jumps better, and my trainer prefers, the hunter poke.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMK View Post
    the bridled up approach.... Kind of flies in the face of the standard, doesn't it?
    Seems that way to me, too. A hunter should give the impression of being pleasurable to ride, and have an attractive, easy way of going. AmmyByNature's comments are probably spot-on in terms of how judging actually happens, but as far as what "hunter" means to me, it's long, low, and easy all the way.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kashmere View Post
    Seems that way to me, too. A hunter should give the impression of being pleasurable to ride, and have an attractive, easy way of going. AmmyByNature's comments are probably spot-on in terms of how judging actually happens, but as far as what "hunter" means to me, it's long, low, and easy all the way.
    not to mention if you jump your horse bridled up (or go that way in the hack), you are telling the judge you don't think your horse can carry himself (Job #1 for a hunter). It may or may not be true, but that's the message...

    I also think (based on third hand knowledge, so take that for what it's worth), that many judging clinics point out that the correct way of going is long and low.
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.



  12. #12
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    I too like the long, flowey, my horse is naturally hunting the fences and is an easy ride look! Now, this sometimes just isn't feasable if she's being spooky, and then you can be darn sure she's in my hands "bridled up" getting to the bases of jumps to get over them....put I also don't expect to be placing on those rounds either!

    I haven't seen many judges though, rewarding the "bridled up" look, so maybe it's a regional thing?
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  13. #13
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    Not regional, depends on what group of horses you are looking at. But things HAVE changed over time and what won 25 years ago may not be the judge's preference today and that is because of the WBs that simply go better that way.

    Not all of them of course, but it is more acceptable today to package a little more if that is what suits the horse. Mind you, not to the extent of looking like it's a control issue, just not nose pokey.

    My mare was a nose poker, try to pick her up and she'd lay her ears flat so we let her poke. She won her share against lesser competition but was a nickle short on the top levels. Not because of her nose, because she was an 8 mover on her best day and the winners were 9s and an occasional 10-did not matter how they were presented, they were better movers. The very best ones with the top riders are presented sort of in the middle of nose pokey and packaged anyway, keeps more judges happy.
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  14. #14
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    Great posts above. Lest any of the references to "long and low" be misunderstood, I just wanted to clarify that they do NOT refer to the dressage-type calisthenic of encouraging the horse to reach his nose toward the ground and stretching his back. In that exercise, the horse's weight is on his forehand, which hunters on course need to avoid. The ideal hunter way, accurately described above as "flowey," has the horse light in the forehand and therefore light in the reins not because the horse won't accept contact, but rather because the horse is well-balanced and needs no stride-by-stride micro-management from the rider.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by On The Lamb View Post
    Great posts above. Lest any of the references to "long and low" be misunderstood, I just wanted to clarify that they do NOT refer to the dressage-type calisthenic of encouraging the horse to reach his nose toward the ground and stretching his back. In that exercise, the horse's weight is on his forehand, which hunters on course need to avoid. The ideal hunter way, accurately described above as "flowey," has the horse light in the forehand and therefore light in the reins not because the horse won't accept contact, but rather because the horse is well-balanced and needs no stride-by-stride micro-management from the rider.
    Um, I don't know a single dressage rider who purposefully allows their horse to go around on the forehand. Dressage horses are asked to stretch out and down at the stretchy trot and free walk, but the last thing they are supposed to be is "on the forehand" when doing that. We don't want our horses to be on the forehand anymore than hunter riders do. And from my personal experience, I've seen far more local hunter riders (and a few A circuit ones!) plod around with their horses on the forehand than I've EVER seen any dressage rider do in any test I've watched from Intro to Grand Prix at recognized dressage shows.
    "It is not necessary for you to let everyone know everything about you. In fact, it is probably wise that you don't. There are some things that you need only discuss with God."



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMK View Post
    not to mention if you jump your horse bridled up (or go that way in the hack), you are telling the judge you don't think your horse can carry himself (Job #1 for a hunter). It may or may not be true, but that's the message...

    I also think (based on third hand knowledge, so take that for what it's worth), that many judging clinics point out that the correct way of going is long and low.
    I don't know about the clinics, but would definitely agree with the first statement. Since hunter competitions are (distantly, now!) based on field hunters, we should think about what makes sense about being out in the field -- does it make sense to have a horse "packaged" for the hours you'd spend in the field? No way-- tiring for both horse and rider. It makes sense to have a horse who can be ridden from the seat easily and look attractive while on a lighter contact. It should be (or at least look) pleasant and easy.



  17. #17
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    I go back to my ANRC days when watching (and riding!) hunter classes. According to ANRC, a hunter should "move with long, low, efficient, ground covering strides." Hunter classes are judged on the horse, and to me, a horse loping around a course on a long rein at least appears to be easier to ride than the horse that needs to be packaged.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by On The Lamb View Post
    Great posts above. Lest any of the references to "long and low" be misunderstood, I just wanted to clarify that they do NOT refer to the dressage-type calisthenic of encouraging the horse to reach his nose toward the ground and stretching his back. In that exercise, the horse's weight is on his forehand, which hunters on course need to avoid.
    hrmmm. Seeuatx pretty much said it, but when done properly, long and low in dressage is not a exercise with the horse's weight on its forehand. Ideally, the horse stays pushing from behind, reaching over its back, stretching the neck out and down, and seeking light contact with the bit. Sounds kind of like a hunter to me. (Although we don't want our horses to go down with the neck quite so much).
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinterz View Post
    a hunter should "move with long, low, efficient, ground covering strides."
    I'll start off by saying I am in no way a hunter rider, nor even an educated armchair opinion on hunters.... but what I remember as hunters before the QH's started changing tack and moving over was basically a dressage horse with the poll in a first level height but flatter knees and a slightly open throat latch.
    I think low, efficient describes the knee action.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by On The Lamb View Post
    Great posts above. Lest any of the references to "long and low" be misunderstood, I just wanted to clarify that they do NOT refer to the dressage-type calisthenic of encouraging the horse to reach his nose toward the ground and stretching his back. In that exercise, the horse's weight is on his forehand, which hunters on course need to avoid. The ideal hunter way, accurately described above as "flowey," has the horse light in the forehand and therefore light in the reins not because the horse won't accept contact, but rather because the horse is well-balanced and needs no stride-by-stride micro-management from the rider.
    Do you know any dressage riders personally? Because I'm pretty sure that would get you shot...

    Using the term "long and low" in the context of dressage means getting the horse to come over their back from the haunches, down to the bit. Absolutely not on the forehand when done correctly.
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