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RRP Removes 2' Hunter Division

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  • RRP Removes 2' Hunter Division

    Despite 2' Hunters being the largest division at the Thoroughbred Makeover, the RRP has removed it. Competitors now must choose 2'6" or 3.' There is a little bit of speculation as to why this was done and the proposed theories I have seen are:
    1.) The 2' hunters are hard to judge against 2'6" and 3' hunters.
    2.) There tend to be a lot of seriously unprepared horses at that level, so maybe people will stay home rather than let their horses haphazardly fly around a 2' hunter course.
    3.) The 2' hunters has become a catch all of eventers and jumpers who don't think their horse is ready for 2'6"/2'7" so eliminating that division will keep riders in their normal discipline.

    Now the controversy is: is it fair? OTTB's are plenty athletic and most will have no problem getting from one side of the jump to the other, but just because they can doesn't mean they should, does it? I believe the event has been criticized for pushing horses too quickly, and it sounds like they are going further down that path. It was nice that people had an easy, low option, especially because training horses seldom happens on the timeline that you anticipate. Also, who knows if raising the minimum height will actually keep unprepared pairs home- this could backfire in epic proportions.

    And I'd like to piggyback off of that and ask: what is normal? And what is normal for any horse, not just an OTTB. I myself tend to train extremely slow AND I've spent 15 or so years in the dressage ring, so my perception of what is too much is probably pretty far off from what people actually do.

  • #2
    The difference between 2' or 2'6" never mattered to any TB I've known. If it does, then I would opine that the horse has little potential as a hunter or jumper. I have known young TBs that were sloppy and disinterested until the fences were more challenging.

    The rider needs to be able to place the horse at the jump properly. It's 2 feet, or 6 inches higher. The horse can either jump or it can not.
    The difference in those heights (2' and 2'6") seem to be rider issues, best dealt with at home. Take that for what it's worth, since I have been out of the loop for a long time.

    Comment


    • #3
      2' is tiny even in hunterland. The smallest rated hunter section is 2'3" and that's for the small green ponies.

      Honestly, many OTTBs can be jumping around a 2' hunter course (sometimes with changes) in just a few weeks. Of course flatwork, fitness, topline, jumping form etc all takes much longer but they can easily go jump around very very soon after being restarted. It doesn't take a ton of muscle and it's nice to be able to see if you have a jumping minded horse right off the bat.

      The goal is not to get your horse to jump around 2' in 10 months. That's easy. The goal is to create a rideable, nicely muscled, well schooled young hunter in 10 months. If you can do that, you can jump around 2'6" just fine.

      Comment


      • #4
        Ditto that 2' classes are for riders, not for horses. They can't really have any kind of form over a fence that little, and 2'6" is not a serious athletic challenge for a horse with any potential to be a hunter. 2'6" is pretty little still. Even a baby horse can handle that height pretty quickly.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

        Comment


        • #5
          I have known 2 people that showed 2', and neither prepared ahead of time, did well.or had their horses under control in general. Hopefully this weeds people like them out.

          Comment


          • #6
            I suspect the the goal is to weed out RIDERS who are maxed out at 2'3 or 2'6. Honestly, with rare exception, most riders at that level are not really suitable to teach a horse to jump.

            There is no reason why a healthy off track horse can't jump around 2'6 with about 8 or so months of training. That's enough time to determine suitability and get basics of form and manners. No one expects RRP hunters to me made AO horses. I don't know how you can even judge the jump over 2' fences. It's just a big open canter step for most of them.
            F O.B
            Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
            Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

            Comment


            • #7
              Totally makes sense and gets rid of the yahoos who just want to say that they "trained" a horse and took them to RRP. If you want to go just to have a goal, great. But too many people are throwing away the horse for their own ego.
              Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

              Comment


              • #8
                If the idea is to market the retrained TB to the general Hunter market at a, more or less, comparable price to horses from other sources, it has to be doing closer to 3’ then lope overs at 2’. Those other horses are marketed doing enough height to assess form over an actual jump and the step to get down a real line, preferably at 12’.

                No reason most off the track can’t be doing that after 8 or 9 months of consistent work. Don’t have to be perfect, just show they have step and style over actual jumps to interest actual buyers. Which is supposed be the point of showcasing former race horses.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm a little torn on this one, but I think in light of my own rounds and a number of others, it is probably the right decision, You see, I was one of those people who had truly awful 2' show hunter rounds. AWFUL. My RRP horse was (is) very well schooled on the flat and extremely brave. He loves the horse show setting. Never refused a fence in the 10 months I was training him and was great at all the shows we did. We didn't have consistent access to decent jumps, so we didn't have as much opportunity to school as we would have liked. But all of our off-farm schooling and horse shows went well. Baby stuff, sure, but nothing alarming. Mind you, I am an extremely conservative rider. Meaning if I'm not 200% certain my horse is capable, I won't do it. We did 2' because we wanted it to be easy and positive. The horse has scope for miles, but not miles of experience over 2'6. He was super in schooling, I mean SUPER. Soft, relaxed, I was thrilled with him and feeling great. Then we walked into the ring, and for reasons I can only guess (people in the pavilion, being alone in the ring, the ghosts of horses past, seriously, everything) he completely lost it. He spooked, he wanted to refuse (I was thankful that at 2' he could step over them, bc he did), and was generally in a complete panic and we were genuinely surprised. We had never had THAT horse before.

                  If we only could do 2'6, I probably would have scratched show hunters. As it is, we did dressage in the Rolex and he was a rockstar. Seriously, that was the part I was less prepared for. I've taken plenty of dressage lessons, but I've never done a dressage show. But we had 2 lovely tests.

                  So was my horse prepared? Yes. Was it enough? No. It's possible that with more schooling/practice, he would have been more prepared. It's also possible that no amount of preparation would have been sufficient because he's a 5 year old who'd only been off the track a year, and hes not a machine. I do know that the year of training, the shows, and the entire experience did him a world of good. He doesn't belong to me, he belongs to a friend who doesn't care to show, We wanted to do a project together and we enjoyed the process.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I speak from plenty of experience when I say, yes, it's hard to judge form over 2' hunters. About all you can do is look for an even pace and consistent distances, movement, changes, etc. On the one hand 2' is good beginner stuff, because you can usually get them around one way or the other, but it doesn't show much. Years ago, when we started at 3'6" the first couple of shows were always pretty hairy.

                    I kind of support the change to 2'6" and just give the horses a little more prep. Lots of horse with experience outdoors loose it when they go into an indoor like that for the first time. I would think time in an indoor, rather than more schooling over higher fences would help. But certainly if marketing is the bottom line, then the jumps need to be at 2'6" so you can actually show ability.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dannyboy View Post
                      I speak from plenty of experience when I say, yes, it's hard to judge form over 2' hunters. About all you can do is look for an even pace and consistent distances, movement, changes, etc. On the one hand 2' is good beginner stuff, because you can usually get them around one way or the other, but it doesn't show much. Years ago, when we started at 3'6" the first couple of shows were always pretty hairy.

                      I kind of support the change to 2'6" and just give the horses a little more prep. Lots of horse with experience outdoors loose it when they go into an indoor like that for the first time. I would think time in an indoor, rather than more schooling over higher fences would help. But certainly if marketing is the bottom line, then the jumps need to be at 2'6" so you can actually show ability.
                      The show hunters competed outside this year . The horse I rode wasn't being marketed, but I agree that more structured and complete programs will only benefit the horses and the cause.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Agree with the posts above. The 2' divisions are for the new/nervous or I still want to show but an a wimp rider (that would be me) Many horses just canter or can be sloppy/disinterested in jumping at that height. These are "makeover" shows and needs to put the horse in the best light as a true makeover, not just cantering over fences for the sake of showing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm speaking from two perspectives in this post; 1 is as a past competitor who selected and taught my horse well enough to win field hunters and to finish in 11th in jumpers at 3'. The second viewpoint is as a member of the officials (Show Jumper Steward ) for this year.

                          The point has been well made that 2' only existed in the hunter discipline. The jumpers, field hunters and eventers all started at 2'6". USEF doesn't have a recognized hunter division in their shows for 2'. Many schooling shows do, but USEF itself doesn't. The closest they come is the Outreach divisions and they are a part of USHJA, but not USEF. (More can be found here: https://www.ushja.org/application/fi...ons__Final.pdf)

                          I saw some sketchy stuff from the 2' competitors but I don't feel right commenting on it much due to being at my in gate and working when most things happened and I caught the occasional glimpse of 'issues' all the way on the end of the Claiborne ring so it's not like I saw a bunch nor had context of what was catching my eye.

                          As a past RRP trainer myself I would suggest that the people who are pushing back on this change are looking at it from a viewpoint of someone not very comfortable with jumping green horses on a traditional progress line. That is to say that the riders in question are saying a lot that this slow pace is for the best for a green horse but in fact we've seen how many millions of green horses progress from nil to 3' in 12 months with MANY programs over many decades with all breeds and varying skill level riders across hunters, jumpers, eventers, fox hunters and so on. I really do believe that the issue is the trainer's confidence and not the horse's. As such I would suggest that these riders are already not going to be accomplishing the goals set out by the underlying purpose of the RRP; to select a competent horse for a discipline and bring out it's best in roughly 8-10 months.

                          I have watched the RRP since it's earliest inception and the common thought I have always had is that it absolutely matters what trainer/rider is doing the educating. And that's not to say it has to be a big name, since many regular people have kicked the butts of Olympians. I am a huge fan now of Katherine Deichmann and the small mare she rode "Tenpins Sugar" who won the Show Jumping and was 5th in the hunters.

                          It really doesn't matter what amenities that you have at your barn, it matters how you teach the horse and give it more experiences to draw from in October when it matters. The first year (2015) we saw a LOT of googly eyed horses whose riders admitted that they'd never taken them off the farm. Thankfully that's improved a bit but honestly I don't know that every competitor understands that there is a TON of value in simply taking the horse in the trailer to somewhere new and standing around or going for a hack, or walking in a ring or doing a walk trot class at a hunter show even if you're not doing hunters. Its the folks who "get' how a horse learns and what they need who are the ones who will succeed. And honestly most of them can handle 2'6" no problem.

                          Emily





                          "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            RRP did a webinar last night and it sounds like the biggest motivator was to eliminate scary riding and under prepared pairs. It makes total sense, and I really hope it works out.

                            I totally understand that all horses who can jump can jump 2'6." My disappointment is as a rider who likes to err on the side of caution with green horses: what about the riders who don't care to market their horse and are not in it to win it, but rather to go to a super unique show and keep things positive and easy? I thought part of the showcase was to show that competent riders of any background with a trainer can bring along the right thoroughbred. I didn't think that this was reserved for the best of the best.

                            I'm from Maryland and I remember the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series, which was a series of shows for OTTB's and it was great because there were lots of horses there that were young and getting their feet wet in the show ring. There were baby and racehorse moments happening constantly and everyone there was really supportive. You wouldn't get that at a normal horse show. My hope was that the makeover would be like that, times 10, at a world class show facility that I don't think I would ever get to again. Its a bucket list thing- and I just want to set the bar low if jumping ends up being my horse's jam.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Though I agree with it isn't a useful projection of talent, the lower divisions often carry and support shows. In rated- the USHJA 2 foot or 2'6 can be packed. Not sure how the RRP shows work.
                              Come to the dark side, we have cookies

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Can'tFindMyWhip View Post
                                RRP did a webinar last night and it sounds like the biggest motivator was to eliminate scary riding and under prepared pairs. It makes total sense, and I really hope it works out.

                                I totally understand that all horses who can jump can jump 2'6." My disappointment is as a rider who likes to err on the side of caution with green horses: what about the riders who don't care to market their horse and are not in it to win it, but rather to go to a super unique show and keep things positive and easy? I thought part of the showcase was to show that competent riders of any background with a trainer can bring along the right thoroughbred. I didn't think that this was reserved for the best of the best.

                                I'm from Maryland and I remember the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series, which was a series of shows for OTTB's and it was great because there were lots of horses there that were young and getting their feet wet in the show ring. There were baby and racehorse moments happening constantly and everyone there was really supportive. You wouldn't get that at a normal horse show. My hope was that the makeover would be like that, times 10, at a world class show facility that I don't think I would ever get to again. Its a bucket list thing- and I just want to set the bar low if jumping ends up being my horse's jam.
                                This is exactly my thoughts. We were in no rush and wanted to keep things positive and easy. We essentially had no jumps at the farm he lived at, so all jumping was a field trip. We did a lot of field trips. We did lessons. We did shows. He was great. This one was just overwhelming for him.

                                For reference (in case people are inclined to think we are complete yahoos), the horse in question (Ann's O'Prado if it doesn't link directly to our pictures: https://canterclix.com/media.details.php?mediaID=13025

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Pennywell Bay View Post
                                  Though I agree with it isn't a useful projection of talent, the lower divisions often carry and support shows. In rated- the USHJA 2 foot or 2'6 can be packed. Not sure how the RRP shows work.
                                  No division exceeds 3'3" the entire show. The lion's share would be between Hunters, Jumpers and Dressage.

                                  There are 10 disciplines. This year over 400 horses competed and riders are limited to 2 horses for the entire event. Horses are limited to 2 disciplines.

                                  Dressage
                                  Hunters
                                  Jumpers
                                  Field Hunters
                                  Eventing
                                  Polo
                                  Barrel Racing
                                  Competitive Trail
                                  Ranch Work
                                  Freestyle

                                  Em


                                  "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Pokerface View Post

                                    This is exactly my thoughts. We were in no rush and wanted to keep things positive and easy. We essentially had no jumps at the farm he lived at, so all jumping was a field trip. We did a lot of field trips. We did lessons. We did shows. He was great. This one was just overwhelming for him.
                                    You never really know, right? I'm local to the Prince George's Equestrian Center which is home to some major national shows as well as a popular schooling series. It's a big, busy show environment and I can think of a few people who showed their projects there, thought they were golden, and totally crapped the bed at the Makeover. I hear is a show environment unlike anything else.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Can'tFindMyWhip View Post

                                      You never really know, right? I'm local to the Prince George's Equestrian Center which is home to some major national shows as well as a popular schooling series. It's a big, busy show environment and I can think of a few people who showed their projects there, thought they were golden, and totally crapped the bed at the Makeover. I hear is a show environment unlike anything else.
                                      Yes! I'm in MD too and we were also at PGEC! Just goes to show .

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I get it, but it makes me sad. The RRP is nice because a backyard equestrian with limited resources could get a cheap ottb and do something they feel is great and get to go to a big fancy show and be proud. Like many have mentioned, it tends to be the atmosphere that gets to the horses. This will just eliminate those who can’t afford to go to lots of big shows to ensure their horses won’t unravel and not being able to play it safe by doing the 2 footers. Another nail in the coffin for the limited resource, independent rider.

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