Eventer doing a hunter show.. can you answer a few questions???
I moved Juice to an awesome new barn this winter because it was just too hard to ride him at home with no where to ride! The new barn is mostly hunter/jumpers and I was invited to go to a local hunter show with them this weekend. I have some questions....
1) What divisions should I enter? I'm eligible for pleasure horse, adult rider, open hunt seat Eq, and hunter horse.
2) How do I ride the different divisions? Like if I do pleasure/hunter horse should he be more forward or in a different frame? What's the difference?
3) What will they be looking for equitation-wise in the eq class? As I said the only time i'm "judged" in eventing is dressage, and I don't think they want me to ride like I do in dressage Not to be rude but when I think of Eq riders from when I used to do it years ago I think: hands down at the withers, back arched, but out, and tipped slightly forward.
4) Do i need to use a standing martingale or any other special tack?
5) What will they look for in the over fences divisions?
1. Depends how your horse does and what you're in the mood to do. I assume those divisions have different specifications/heights. Hunters/pleasure is judged on the horse, equitation on you.
2. Depends. In South Jersey, the pleasure horses go around slow and on a long rein. In Chester County, they go just like they do in all the other hunter divisions-- light contact and moving forward. In theory pleasure is a slightly different standard but in practice, in my area, either class is won by the best moving horse that doesn't act nappy/unwilling or goof up by breaking or picking up the wrong lead.
3. What level are we talking about? Schooling shows, probably the #1 criterial is whether your riding is functional and then #2 is whether it's pretty. A Circuit, everyone is pretty functional and it comes down to nit pickier issues of conformation/overall picture. At a lot of schooling shows, plenty of trips will have major faults so it's unlikely to come down to whose heels are better. Generally, you're looking for a balance and effective seat with independent aids and a willing, responsive horse.
4. You don't have to. You can use a standing martingale over fences in hunters, usually. Check the prizelist. Local rules vary. Very unusual to be allowed to use a standing in the hack.
5. See #3. At some schooling shows, getting around is good enough. Generally they're looking for a willing and obedient horse that is a good mover and jumper that is straight, doesn't look sour/nappy, carries adequate pace, goes around without a lot of obvious rider interference, stays the same, and finds all the fences. Ideally in the specific number of strides for the distance and with lead changes or landing on the leads. All things being equal, the rounder and prettier jump wins over the flatter and/or twisted/poor body useage jump.
If it's a CCHSA, pleasure goes just like hunters except there's only one o/f round and two hacks. Eq also goes fairly like hunters, though a bit more contact/frame and judged on the rider not the horse. Having a smooth, error free round is usually goal enough without worrying too much about position.
Martingale is not required, and is not allowed in your flat classes. And use a standing if you want over fences- no runnings allowed. Nor are boots or wraps (though some people boot and/or wrap for eq classes). No flash or figure 8 nosebands. No protective vest. Bits would be something like a full cheek or a d ring (they don't check the inside like eventing) Pelhams are used less, I believe gags are not allowed and loose rings are OK but uncommon.
Hunter US and Pleasure are more about the quality of movement, but also they go on a looser contact (not on the bit- maybe think long and low, but not stretching). Forward.
Jumping- nice steady rhythm, no speeding up and slowing down, no collecting in front of the jump, flying changes. Your distances ideally should be medium- ie, not leaving from the base or taking flyers. (thats for hunters)
Eq- haha, sometimes its a beauty contest. I hate the eq look some judges pin. Over fences though- it's about the quality of the trip. Looking GM perfect and missing 2 changes and having some bad spots is going to get beat by someone with sloppier eq who nailed the course. The eq courses are generally more interesting, so you can ride a little more.
No flash or figure 8 nosebands. No protective vest. Bits would be something like a full cheek or a d ring (they don't check the inside like eventing) Pelhams are used less, I believe gags are not allowed and loose rings are OK but uncommon.
Omg! Thank you for this.. my bridle is def. a figure 8 noseband with a loose ring snaffle! not to mention red rubber reins (which I did know enough to take off!)
Great advice here, especially vxf. Also as stated already, don't forget your opening circle o/f. If course ends near in gate, do closing circle, if course ends on opposite end of in gate, don't worry about it for schooling shows. At some of the higher end schooling shows here, your not ALLOWED to do any courtesy circles because the classes are so big.
If you are going for miles you will be fine in your figure 8 and red reins especially at a schooling show.
If you would like a chance at a ribbon, even at a schooling show, you should use a cavesson and laced reins. No figure 8's except in jumpers. We take our hunters to schooling shows all winter, turnout is the same as for A shows except we don't braid. The mid-atlantic winter circuit can be very competitive.
2 point your canter all the way around, keep your reins loopy, get your flying changes, use your corners, closing circle closing circle closing circle!
In no way do you need to ride your courses in 2 point. You want a light seat, but you certainly don't need to stay out of the tack the entire time. You also want light contact, not loopy reins.
In any flat class judged on the horse 2 point the canter, any class judged on the rider sit the canter.
Also not always true... for the hunter hacks, if your horse goes better and quieter with you sitting lightly in the tack, sit. John French sits all of his hack classes, he wants it to look like the horse is very comfortable to sit on.
First: why are you going just to get out and jump a course? You would probably be most comfortable in the ch/ ad am jumper division; how green are you and your horse? you can certainly find a good variety of classes in the hunters;
first, does your horse need a martingale? runnings are legal but, not often seen in the hunters; the same for flash nosebands; basically plain tack fitted saddle pads; I would skip the flat classes, unless there is a specific reason
I thought I would pop in with a couple tips- I have taken a hunter to a dressage show before and know exactly how you feel, haha. I didn't have the finances to buy the right tack to look the part just for a schooling show I was doing for practice, so I will not suggest you go out and do that, since I have been there.
I will say that a plain noseband is mandatory, and you should borrow one if you do not own one. A D ring snaffle is also way up there, and you are going to really stick out in a big way if you don't have one. I was at an A show a couple weekends ago, and a well known rider came in on a lovely horse in the 3' pre green division, and the talk on the side of the ring was centered more around why the horse had a loose ring than how well he jumped. Ideally you have a judge who won't be so distracted by the odd choice of bit, but it really is strange enough that people are going to be thinking about it. Is that really what the sport is judged on? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, I can't think of any reason to put yourself in that position of being the odd man out who has to prove themselves, since it is so easy to scrounge up a D ring to borrow and it's a very rare horse who won't do well in some variation of it. A pelham is the only other bit that is seen and some people will raise an eyebrow but it's generally OK. I can't even come up with a comparison for an evener except perhaps choosing to do dressage with neon colored padding on your dressage bridle and matching piping on your jacket. It's not illegal, but it's also going to distract people.
As for the divisions, check the prize list. Where I am from, the local show pleasure division is three flat classes, and the winning horse is very quiet, goes on a flapping loose rein, and moves in a way that is pleasant to look at but not as athletic as the hack winner in the standard divisions. At rated shows, I have seen a pleasure division that is just another 2'6" unrated division and has no difference from the specials, low child/adult, etc. I would ask around about that one, it varies a lot. Adult rider sounds like an equitation class, in that it is judged primarily on the rider, though horse mistakes will generally get you dinged still. and you will want to assume more of a full seat to demonstrate a higher degree of control. Open Hunt Seat Eq will be the same type of class, probably over the same course(s), but will be open to junior riders also. Hunter horse is going to be slightly different in that your position will not be judged outside of whether or not it is distracting the judge from your trip, but you will have the same goals- good distances, consistent pace, lead changes done smoothly when necessary, straight and undramatic.
As for the ride, for the two equitation classes, you will want to assume more of a full seat to demonstrate a higher degree of control, along with more contact. Overall, the impression should be that you are creating this flawless trip with your subtle but correct ride. For hunter classes, generally the rider will assume a lighter seat in the hunter classes to show off the horse's training- in the same way that you sit and keep a full contact in the equitation classes to demonstrate that you are in full control of the trip, many riders will have a light seat and a light contact in hunter trips to demonstrate that they are not manhandling the horse into proper behavior, but the horse is trained well enough that they will behave and listen to very minimal cues. Realistically, though, if this is your first hunter show, and it is at the local level, ride all your classes however you ride your horse best. If you modify it in any way, think of it as your warmup ride before stadium, just jumping easy fences in a straight line, rather than an aggressive XC ride or the way you would jump a tricky stadium course.
For your equitation classes, on the flat the judge is looking for heels down and in line with the hip and shoulder, open chest, elbows at the side and a straight line from elbow to bit with thumbs up and fingers closed. Over fences, however, your ride is going to take precedence over minor position errors, so the rider who nails her distances and turns but has a shallow heel and puppy paws will not win against the rider with perfect position and a chip. Over fences it is also standard to close your hip angle more, so you won't be exactly over your hip with your shoulder. For a hand gallop, you will always assume 2 point, though it is rare that a local show calls for a hand gallop.
A standing martingale is more or less standard attire for over fences classes, though not using one will not incite the same kind of chatter that a loose ring would. I have skipped it for many local and rated shows and have never noticed a difference except for my trainer telling me to quit being lazy about my tack cleaning and dress my horse properly. If, however, your horse is fresh AT ALL or has any tendency to raise his or her head, especially when you need to add a stride or during a lead change, the standing martingale is an absolute must. Only skip it if you do not own one and have no way of borrowing one that fits your horse. It's like a breastplate or an overgirth for cross country; most of the time you don't need it, but it's silly to skip it because on the occasion you do need it, you will be very grateful that it's there. Otherwise, a plain bridle, D ring (or pelham if you need the brakes), laced reins, fitted or half pad, and leather girth (the cheap synthetic fleece girths are seen a lot but I have a personal problem with them) will suit just fine.
As for what they are looking for in the over fences divisions, I am gong to quote my trainer here, who transitioned me from the show jumping and eventing world into the A rated hunter scene. The goal is to go in the ring, pick up your canter on a 12 foot stride, and keep that exact same stride the entire way around. You should magically find every jump out of that same step. If you have to adjust, it should look invisible. If you change leads, it should be the blink of an eye. Any time the judge sees you doing anything, it's going to count off. The mythical hunter trip that scores 100 looks like it happened completely by itself, and should leave the audience thinking that the rider is just a passenger and the horse has not shown any training except how to read the course map.
Learning the game well enough that you can train a horse and yourself to communicate so invisibly and so far ahead of the actual fence that no one knows anything happened is the fun part.
Grace - I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head why I'm riding in hunters ...
"As for what they are looking for in the over fences divisions, I am gong to quote my trainer here, who transitioned me from the show jumping and eventing world into the A rated hunter scene. The goal is to go in the ring, pick up your canter on a 12 foot stride, and keep that exact same stride the entire way around. You should magically find every jump out of that same step. If you have to adjust, it should look invisible. If you change leads, it should be the blink of an eye. Any time the judge sees you doing anything, it's going to count off. The mythical hunter trip that scores 100 looks like it happened completely by itself, and should leave the audience thinking that the rider is just a passenger and the horse has not shown any training except how to read the course map. "
Of course, I want to be able to do that with the horse looking like he enjoys this over challenging courses and a variety of obstacles (i.e. the George Morris hunter course)
Live a good, honorable life... Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.