Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

From The Judge’s Box: Hunters With Geoff Teall

In this occasional series, top horsemen in each sport evaluate our readers’ submissions.

Relaxed And Confident

This horse appears to be qualified for his job. He is showing plenty of scope for this jump. He also appears to like what he is doing.
   

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In this occasional series, top horsemen in each sport evaluate our readers’ submissions.

Relaxed And Confident

This horse appears to be qualified for his job. He is showing plenty of scope for this jump. He also appears to like what he is doing.
   
My favorite part of this photo is the extra height the horse is showing over this jump. So often today in the hunters we are seeing over-prepared horses barely squeaking over the fences. Anytime we see height it should be rewarded. This horse also has a nice expression, and seems very relaxed and confident in his effort. He is showing us nice use of his head and neck, as well as his back. It looks as though he will have a nice follow-through with his hind end as well.
   
On the negative side, it appears as though his rider has put him a little “close” to this jump. The shorter distance has caused the horse to shift slightly to the side to create more room for his jump. I also feel that because of the tight distance this horse has had to work harder to get the height at the jump that he likes, and therefore has left his knees a bit low. Although his knees are a long way from anything that would be considered dangerous, in my opinion they could be a bit higher with his forearm reaching more toward the parallel. He seems just a bit “frozen” in this jump.
   
In this rider, I sense a bit of an overachiever. It feels to me like she has over-ridden this distance, pressing her horse a bit past what would have been ideal in distance and relaxation. I also think she has overdone her release. Her hands are quite forward up the neck, and her body appears to have been thrown a bit drastically forward and down. In her effort to stay with, and help, the jump, I think she has actually created a jump that is a little rushed and cramped. Perhaps with a softer ride the horse could have had more time to create room without losing straightness, and also a bit more time to concentrate on getting his knees up higher.
   
All in all, this is a good photo. It shows us a qualified horse, well turned-out and nicely ridden.


A Good Foundation

In looking at this horse’s foundation I get a good feeling. Starting with the hind end, he appears to have a very straight and powerful hind leg. He has nice angles to his hock and his pastern. In this photo, it looks as though perhaps he toes out a bit with the left hind, but I think it is more the way he is presented. He seems to have tight tendons, as well as clean hocks and ankles in the hind legs. His feet seem to have a good and healthy shape.
   
In front, I have a few questions. Starting from the bottom of the front legs he appears to have good feet, nice length and slope to the pasterns, and clean and tight ankles. His tendons also seem to be tight and set behind a good short and strong cannon bone. He seems to be straight in front, which is also good.
   
But I don’t like the fact that he looks a bit tied-in behind the knee. It’s hard to see the way he is standing, but this could be considered a serious fault. Also because of the way he’s standing, his shoulder appears to be straight, and as a result he stands well back with his front leg. I think if our handler could get him to stand a bit better, not standing over his front end, both of those faults would disappear and we would have a much better impression of this horse.    
   
Moving up to the body of the horse, I am impressed by the beautiful and powerful hindquarters. He has a lovely topline and a nice short back. In this photo, his shoulder appears to be quite straight, and as a result his neck also appears to be set on poorly.
   
If he could be moved forward a step or two, I think his front legs would appear to be placed better, his shoulder would have a much better angle or slope, and his head and neck could come down a bit. He has a nice length to the neck and also a nice shape. His head is quite pretty. This is a very nice horse that would benefit from a better photograph. How the horse is shown is a big part of the conformation division, and it’s not easy.

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Take Your Time   

I get a strong feeling of rushing from this photo. It is important to remember in showing hunters, one thing we are trying to show is a relaxed, confident horse and rider.
   
Always try to get your horse on a line perpendicular to the fence and over the center of the jump. This horse and rider have missed this mark completely and are jumping to the left of center. Also, he seems be twisting his body to the left to create time and room to clear the fence. This is a serious fault.
   
He has not had enough time to bring his knees up or his forearm up to the perpendicular, which also indicates rushing. He has also shifted his legs to the left, again to create a bit more time and room. These too are serious jumping faults. I think if he had been given more time and room, he would have gotten a bit more height to his jump.
   
In spite of this, I do very much like the great expression this horse is giving us. His ears are up, his eyes are bright and he seems to be dealing with what has come his way with great aplomb. His head and neck are in a great position, reaching out and down to balance the jump. It does appear that he is going to make a great attempt at finishing the jump by following through straight and accurately with his hind legs. How the hind end finishes the jump is every bit as important as how the front end starts the jump.
   
I think our rider has nice basics and is showing a good position over this fence. I love that she is looking up and straight ahead. Her release is good, allowing this horse enough freedom with his head and neck to make the best jump he can, without exaggeration. Perhaps her leg has slipped back slightly, and her seat has come a bit high out of the saddle, but all in all a very confident and secure seat.
   
The only thing I might change would be for her to hold her body up a bit off the horse’s neck. If in trying to help the horse jump we throw ourselves down and forward, it makes it more difficult for the horse to make a good jump.
   
I think the turn-out of horse and rider is excellent. It is important that we show our respect for our horses and our sport by taking the time to have the best workmanlike and clean turn-out possible.


An Appropriate Effort

This photo illustrates how the level of the rider dictates the type of animal she should be on, and what is important about her position and why. This rider strikes me as a young, novice rider. Any rider, while learning to ride, should have, whenever possible, a horse that is more experienced than she is doing a job that is easy for him.
   
This horse is concentrating on two things. First: what he is doing, which is jumping the jump. He seems to be making a minimal, but effective effort. The second thing he is thinking about is his rider. I love that he has one eye and one ear tuned in to what she is doing.
   
As a hunter judge, there are some things I would like to see better. The horse is jumping with a loose front leg; this is a serious fault. Also, I would like the head and the neck of the horse reaching out and down, with the horse making a rounder bascule.
   
As to our rider, as a novice I think she’s excellent. I love that her eyes are looking up and ahead. Although everything has slipped back a bit and is a little bit loose, I think her leg and her base are excellent. I would like for her heel to be a bit deeper, which in turn would help secure her leg and prevent it from slipping back in the future.
   
I love the slight arch in her back and the nice flat back it creates. Her crest release is excellent—halfway up the crest and leaning down on the crest for support. This is exactly the level of rider this release is designed for, and properly demonstrated. This release gives her more security on the horse until she can create a stronger leg position.
    
I love jodphur boots, jodphur pants and garters on small children. Her coat is well-fitted, and her braids are neat and appropriate for her age and attire. Her pony’s braids and tack are neat and tidy, and his coat is clean and shiny.

Geoff Teall

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