Sounds great but the barn door is closed and all the horses have run far away. Too late. Aside from those over 60 types the present trainer population has grown up with the present industry and I would not expect any change on their part whatsoever.
Sorry, but no one is going to return to those times. Those times had few amateurs riding at all. They also had acepromazine. In 1993 ( I think I'm right here) GM judged the hunters at the national horse show. They couldn't find a course designer to work the show because evidently he wanted to be involved in the courses. Well, he was and it wasn't pretty. Times have changed. Time to move on folks.
Mid-Atlantic Equitation Festival,Scholarships and College Fair
November 13-15, 2015
I think he's right on, hunters is horrible to watch and it teaches nothing. Everything is the same, the horses move too slow, there's no expression, it reminds me of western HUS only with cute fences in the way. I really like that hunter derbies are coming back, those are fun to watch and will require a different type of riding, more like an actual hunter out in the field.
It would be great if the show hunters would change but I doubt it will.
The only thing that shatters dreams is compromise. -- Richard Bach
I agree that the courses need more variety, especially more verticals. However, I like the direction that hunters have moved towards, in general. There used to be a blending of the hunter, eq, and jumper disciplines but now they have become much more distinct and specialized.
And since the hunters are the foundation for eq and jumpers, I think it is smart to keep the lower hunters accessible to new or novice riders. We should expect more out of our high performance hunters or derby horses, but I'm fine with seeing an ammy or jr. cantering around eight easy fences and having a blast.
Riding changes. I has ever since humans have been involved with horses. We used to jump with our legs out in front of us and take the "back seat". Who said this was "wrong" (it is for obvious reasons...)? Then Caprilli came around with a different way to do things. Not necessarily "better" in the respect that it still achieved the same result (getting the horse and rider to the other side), but it just overall made things easier for the horse and rider. Now we are evolving into a time where progression is going to be made again. I see no need to revert to the past. The hunter riders we have today are great riders; the horses are fantastic too. Change has to happen for progress in the horse world. I don't think we need to back-peddle.
If he were correct, the US would not be competitive at international show jumping. And we are.
Not necessarily. I think it means that we would not be competitive ten years from now, when the riders learning in the hunters right now are moving onto international show jumping competition.
On the other hand, Reed Kessler grew up in the pony hunters and seems to be doing just fine. Same goes for Tori Colvin, a big name hunter rider who ironically just won GM's excellence in equitation class. Of course these are somewhat out of the ordinary examples.
If you want the jumps to change talk to the show managers not the exhibitors.
If you want the horses' training to change talk to the trainers, not the clients.
And if you want to make the divisions tougher like they were "back in the day" fine, enjoy. Because not so many people will be able to compete.
Frankly, we competed back in the day on TBs in the junior hunter at places like Upperville and Keswick, which he mentioned. And I MUCH prefer competing today on my lovely, QUIET warmblood, doesn't have to be a WB,( a quiet TB is fine as well, I had one of those as well in 2005-2008, RIP MO.)
We do not find it necessary to drug our horses and we do not look dead, and we win at many shows.
SO GM go a other shows than WEF, were most of the people who DO Do what you say are, the rest of us not as much.
Open your eyes, there are lots of us in the hunters that do it right. Tired old argument that just isn't that previlant as he thinks, and where it is, there will always be people who can't seem to get it right.
Do you want to be like the western shows....where the horses have un-natural gaits that are supposed to resemble a canter?....that is where we are headed....wake up people! The guy has a point! Oh, yeah- he only won the Medal/Maclay- and has coached our show-jumping team for years...what the heck does he know? I guess we should listen to "Joe Amatuer" who shows every weekend and needs a "dead" horse to get around!
I am in complete agreement. It bears zero resemblence today to when I was showing hunters in the 70s. It is completely tedious to watch and the horses look like they are falling asleep. I was also astounded to see the amount of gadgets used in the warm up ring. Not everything has to be the way that it was, but the hunter ring could certainly use a wake up call literally and figuratively.
I'm going to be a small voice of dissent. DD was being taught by two previous barns how to perch on her hands and count strides instead of being taught to "ride." Her life depended on a dead quiet ride. She wouldn't have been able to take something around that showed any expression at all, let alone been able to ride herself out of trouble. I see the same thing at higher and higher fence levels at the a/aa shows all the time. Kids that get dumped or hurt when they get a bad distance and don't know how to ride out of it, riders that get hurt when their horse isn't properly "prepared" for them.
I understand what he is saying about teaching our riders to "ride" instead of be passengers and I completely agree. We have been fortunate enough to start training in the last few years with one of his former students and it has made a world of difference. She can ride whatever distance comes up and make a choice at each fence how to help her horse get around successfully. This is a skill. She has learned how to adjust down a line if she needs to, and how to tell. Had she stayed where she was, she would never be riding the way she is today, unfortunately not everyone knows how to teach that.
I also wish there was a greater variety in fences. Some of them get so ramped up you can hardly see the rails under all the brush, etc.
I agree that we all need progression and all that, BUT what GM says is true.
We have not progressed in the show ring for the better. We have many ( I know not all ) people showing on horses that are kept way too quiet be it by over training, over lungeing, over medicated.
My old trainer couldn't ride my OTTB she kept saying how " dangerous" he was. Um no he is a OTTB that has days when he feels fresh. That's great but because he wasn't a dead barely cantering machine she COULD NOT ride him!!!! ( and sadly she trained under GM but has lost all that he taught her)
What we have in the hunter ring is NOT riding. I'm sorry but there is no challenge for the rider or horse. The courses are a joke. My non horsey family could learn them!!!!!
I have left the hunter world due to the not only the way they are ridden/ courses but the fashion obsessive people!!!!! Who cares what clothes/tack/shades of brown/black everyone is wearing!!!!!!!! Just ride your freaking horse!!!!
Hunters aren't about the courses or the spectators. The course should have very little effect on the placings, other than to encourage a flowing trip with good jumping efforts. The course designer's job in the hunter ring is to help show the horses at their best so the judge can pick the best horse. The show ring is not where or how you teach people to ride.
I fail to see how first year horses "staggering" over the first jump is any better, although I guess it IS more entertaining for the spectators.
I wish they'd highlighted the part about losing the emphasis on good movement and especially a good canter though. It's not as provoking a statement as the rest of the article, but it's 100% true, and in my opinion a lot more threatening to the tradition of the hunter ring than anything else at this time. Just because it looks like a hunter standing still and jumps slow enough, it is not necessarily a hunter, even if you show it in the hunter derby.
George was on the money. Unfortunately, very few have access/opportunity to ride anywhere except a ring any more. I had returned to riding again after many years away, but I became quite frustrated with being confined to a ring. A ring is great if you're getting a young horse started or prepping for a show. I was doing neither of these. Driving over an hour going to the barn and another hour returning just wasn't possible. I wanted to be able to ride in a field or canter through the woods once in a while. As that was not going to happen, I could not justify continuing the time and expense. Those learning to ride while only having ring time will be limited by the variety lacking in their experience.
Next week I'll go to Keswick and enjoy sitting in the old grandstand under the trees at the top of the hill. I'll admire what I see in the ring, but I certainly will miss the pace and variety of years gone by.