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Hunter vs. Jumper--when/how do you know?

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  • Hunter vs. Jumper--when/how do you know?

    Curious as to how you all decide whether your horse is going to the hunter ring or the jumper ring.

    I have always had the feeling that my OTTB wants to be a jumper; however, I've been steering him towards the hunters since that's where I've always been. Never done the jumpers, ever.

    Horse is doing extremely well. Competed with a pro at an AA show last month and pinned in 2 of his baby green O/F classes (12-15 in the classes). He has a lot of natural exuberance and really attacks the jumps. Giving him the 'hunter ride' requires quite a bit of work.

    Showed him myself at a schooling show this weekend and holy balls--he absolutely dominated the course. I forgot about 'pretty' and just rode it forward and it was an absolute BLAST. Probably the most fun he and I have had in our 2 years together, and I really think he was more comfortable with that ride. I'm planning out his show schedule for the next 6-8 months and I need to figure out what direction we are going to go in for the rest of this year.

    So.....at what point in your horse's career do you decide hunter vs. jumper, and what info do you use to make that decision?

  • #2
    The information you've given is enough! Sounds like he wants to do the jumpers and you enjoyed giving him a more aggressive ride than normally required in a hunter class. Consider this: just because you decide to try out the jumpers doesn't mean you can't go back to hunterland. Why not do a couple low jumper classes at your next schooling show? See how it goes, you might just love it!

    Comment


    • #3
      A few things can make the decision easy. Is your horse careful: he could be the bravest, boldest thing ever but if he's not careful and isn't bothered by dropping rails he's not going to be a successful jumper. Hunters have more solid rails (sometimes) and deeper jump cups so its a little less of a problem.

      A horse's movement can also make the decision easier. Not every hunter needs a slice of the hack, and just because a jumper has very little knee action doesn't mean its a suitable hunter. BUT if you are on the fence and your horse seems happy either way, knowing your horse pins well in flat classes might make him more valuable as a hunter (if you think you would ever sell him.)

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      • #4
        I'm having the opposite problem. I want my horse to be a jumper and I'm not sure that he wants to!
        Southern Cross Guest Ranch
        An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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        • #5
          I have one that wants to be a jumper and one that wants to be a pasture puff....
          Come to the dark side, we have cookies

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          • #6
            Hunters have more solid rails (sometimes) and deeper jump cups so its a little less of a problem.
            Um, no. A hunter has to both not have the fence down, and also not rub or even get low. A jumper can go around by Braille and still be competitive.

            To answer the question, they're a hunter until proven otherwise, since hunters are on average more saleable as young horses, and also more expensive. Plus, the training you put into a hunter carries over into the jumper ring as knowledge to be built upon, whereas the other way around takes a bit of retraining or untraining.
            On a green horse that wants to attack the jumps? It should stay in the hunter ring until it stops wanting to attack the jumps. Then if you want to make it a jumper, have at it. If you allow and encourage that mindset now with the excuse that it's a jumper prospect, as the horse gets more experienced and stronger it will become less and less rideable and neither a hunter nor a jumper.

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            • #7
              Id have to agree with CBoylen- horses who are still green and want to attack the jumps are very different from experienced jumpers who know their job.

              As Greg Best said to me in a clinic, horses LIKE to go slow. If a green horse is not happy going slow, GB said that often fear is behind it. The best jumpers (for the average ammy, anyway) don't actually attack the jumps, either- they are able to speed up and slow down as needed.

              It's great that he's brave, but maybe think about sticking with hunters or lowkey jumper classes that you ride like equitation courses until he has more good, solid miles under him. Then you can judge whether he has the mind and ability to do jumpers, not just the bravery, which can only take you so far. If you can turn the speed off and on and he retains his confidence and carefulness, that is a good sign. I LOVE the jumpers- it is what I do, so I'm not saying don't try it- just be tuned in to what your guy is telling you.
              You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil

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              • #8
                Since he's an OTTB, I'd wait a while. I bought an OTTB that could have gone either way... but he turned out to be an eventer. Brave, careful, not the "THIS JUMP IS GOING TO EAT ME!" type (unless it's a tiny crossrail...) and moves brilliantly. I bought him looking for a hunter, then thought he'd be a jumper, and now several BNTs are telling me he's got UL potential as an eventer, and we're aiming for Training next spring. *shrug* Just give him some time
                Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

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                • #9
                  It sounds like you also had more fun with jumpers, too.
                  “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for all the input--very insightful as usual.

                    Perhaps the "attack the jumps" description was not the best choice. He was very rideable/rateable and I was able to put him to the base of nearly every fence, save one or two where he got a little excited, LOL.

                    He has had 6 months of pro rides that have focused on nothing but slow and quiet over low fences. He has done the adds endlessly, and is very adjustable because of it. He can jump around well enough to pin in the baby greens at an AA show his first time out, so it's not like he can't do it.

                    There isn't anything wild about him--he just has a lot of expression/exuberance that doesn't necessarily make a pretty hunter picture. He has a huge step, is very athletic, and gets bored easily. Everyone who's watched him go has said he should be an eventer.

                    As far as waiting to decide.....I'm not in a huge hurry, but he IS 12 (raced for 8 years) so I don't always feel like time is on our side.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                      Um, no. A hunter has to both not have the fence down, and also not rub or even get low. A jumper can go around by Braille and still be competitive.

                      Right, but a since jumpers are usually jumping bigger jumps than hunters, a horse that is not careful enough to be a 1.10m jumper could be a super successful ch hunter (which would be worth a lot more than a 3ft jumper.)

                      And yes, I KNOW there are bigger hunter classes but the height span on jumpers goes much higher than the height span on hunters. There is a HUGE market for a 3ft hunter, but less of a market for a 3ft jumper.

                      There was a greenie that its owner wanted to be a jumper...had the scope for the 1.20m but was not careful enough so she steered him towards hunter. Nice mover, and is going to have a great career as a junior hunter.

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                      • #12
                        I'm sorry, I don't agree. I don't feel like a horse that is not careful enough to be a jumper is going to be at all successful in the hunter ring. Generally it works the other way, the ones that are too sharp for the jumper ring work out better as hunters. A horse must have more scope to jump the same height in the hunter ring that in the jumper ring, so a horse that topped out at 3' in the jumper ring is probably only a 2'6" hunter, and your 1.20 jumper is likely to be just as uncareful at the 3'6" junior hunters, if not more so.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                          a horse that topped out at 3' in the jumper ring is probably only a 2'6" hunter, and your 1.20 jumper is likely to be just as uncareful at the 3'6" junior hunters, if not more so.
                          If you are saying that a horse topping out at the 3ft in jumpers would only be a 2'6" hunter, why is a horse topping out at 1.20m not going to be a successful 1.10m hunter...

                          (Sorry, btw question mark key does not work...very frustrating!!!)

                          I guess my experiences have differed than yours. Every horse is different, but I have seen a few young horses with good movement who weren't bothered by dropping a few rails be geared towards the hunter ring. These are horses that were originally destined for 1.20m and over, and are quite capable of doing it but just are not careful enough. However the are athletic enough to not come near touching something lower, say 1.10m and therefore have had some really solid careers in the jr hunters.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, OP, with your extra information (horse is somewhat older, is already happy going slow, etc.) it sounds like you might have a jumper or maybe an eventer on your hands!

                            If he's fine with the hunters but seems to like the power and challenge of the jumpers, I'd say go for it. It's a lot of fun, especially with a horse who enjoys the more difficult questions. My previous horse had the form to be a good 3'6"-4' hunter but he really liked big fences and tight turns, and I never seriously considered making him live in the hunter ring.
                            You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                              Um, no. A hunter has to both not have the fence down, and also not rub or even get low. A jumper can go around by Braille and still be competitive.

                              To answer the question, they're a hunter until proven otherwise, since hunters are on average more saleable as young horses, and also more expensive. Plus, the training you put into a hunter carries over into the jumper ring as knowledge to be built upon, whereas the other way around takes a bit of retraining or untraining.
                              On a green horse that wants to attack the jumps? It should stay in the hunter ring until it stops wanting to attack the jumps. Then if you want to make it a jumper, have at it. If you allow and encourage that mindset now with the excuse that it's a jumper prospect, as the horse gets more experienced and stronger it will become less and less rideable and neither a hunter nor a jumper.
                              Completely agree with this and several other posts on here. Also, if the horse is doing the baby greens, I think he should probably stay in the hunter ring for a while (until he grows up a bit). I'm not a fan of putting horses in the tiny jumpers; I think it's better to wait and do the hunters and eq before moving into the jumpers at a decent height*. Sounds like he still has a lot of maturing to do before you can make a decision one way or the other.

                              *Maybe not quite the height that we started my mare in, but at least 1 meter.
                              http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
                              Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                                I'm sorry, I don't agree. I don't feel like a horse that is not careful enough to be a jumper is going to be at all successful in the hunter ring. Generally it works the other way, the ones that are too sharp for the jumper ring work out better as hunters. A horse must have more scope to jump the same height in the hunter ring that in the jumper ring, so a horse that topped out at 3' in the jumper ring is probably only a 2'6" hunter, and your 1.20 jumper is likely to be just as uncareful at the 3'6" junior hunters, if not more so.
                                Ok I don't really agree either, but there is a certain kind of chronic 4-faulter that fails as a jumper, but works out great as a hunter. I had a Ch/AA jumper who would drop at least 1 rail in almost every jumper class. Take away the tight turns, reduce the speed, and give him a hunter course and he was great. I've known a few others like him who were converted to hunter careers for the same reason.

                                My current horse, I kinda think I can see him going farther and higher in the hunter ring than the jumper ring. But I don't know, we have only gotten our feet wet with local hunters. Three weeks of A rated shows coming up--he'll be doing the AO hunters for sure the first week and we'll see how that works out. If it's great might even do him in the 2nd years, if it's a fail back to the jumper ring we go.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  How I knew she'd be a jumper...

                                  It was a late night at the barn and I was wrapping her legs.
                                  She lowered her head to mine and whispered,

                                  "Enough of this shit. I want to be a jumper."

                                  In all seriousness, you've done a great job with him - all the fundementals are there, and he has a solid brain.

                                  I know of a local schooling show you could take him in a jumper class or two...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    All my horses are hunters until proven otherwise. I prefer jumpers but the reality of the situation is that if they horse does not end up a lifer, he will be much more saleable if he can be a hunter in decent form.

                                    The basic training is not that much different anyway -- they all learn to go round on the contact, and to poke their noses out on a loose rein. Then they self-select out of the hunters, by not having the form over fences or not having a hunter way of going. Movement doesn't bother me as much, my TB is not a hack winner but he has a nice huntery look and jump. 4 jump classes, 1 hack -- he can still be a hunter if he continues his current path.

                                    Sometimes I switch them over if they require too much prep. I don't like hunters and am darned if I'm going to spend hours longeing and riding down a horse to make it something it is not.

                                    There is nothing wrong with doing both -- try out the jumpers. Just do your best to go around like an eq round so as not to preclude yourself from going back if you decide he's a hunter after all. There is absolutely no sense in burning around the hopeful jumpers, at first or ever. It sounds like your horse would enjoy the jumpers, you probably will too!

                                    As for CBoylen's excellent points, I would not care for a careless hunter any more than a careless jumper, but I did have a chronic 4 faulter in the junior jumpers who did well in the hunters. He liked the huntery distances and did not want to rock back through the triple if it was on a tight distance. He never had rails in the hunters where all the distances were easy and did not require as much effort on his part. He preferred loping around on a loose rein to being extremely adjustable. He was not as fancy as CBoylen's hunters by any stretch, though he was competitive enough and pinned decently when I had a nice trip.

                                    Few of us can compete at CBoylen's level, though, there is plenty of room at smaller As and locals for hunters with a pretty but not that scopey jump that had a nice look. If you find 8 distances you will do fine on such a horse. Not going to burn up at WEF with one.
                                    Last edited by fordtraktor; Jul. 6, 2011, 09:34 AM.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                                      Plus, the training you put into a hunter carries over into the jumper ring as knowledge to be built upon, whereas the other way around takes a bit of retraining or untraining.
                                      Well said. My youngster is being trained as a hunter. I'm the opposite of you; I've always done the jumpers and never the hunters. I think he'll "stay" a hunter, but I'm really hoping I can find some fire for the jumpers. But he's learning the basics.


                                      Originally posted by Burgie View Post
                                      It was a late night at the barn and I was wrapping her legs.
                                      She lowered her head to mine and whispered,

                                      "Enough of this shit. I want to be a jumper."
                                      HA! Thanks for the giggle.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I would suggest you give him some time in the hunters and forget about specializing at this point.

                                        Back in the day almost everything started in the hunter ring, it was simply part of the natural progression. The hunter ring is a great place for any horse to learn quiet, subtle, and consistent aid communication, which, if the horse should become a jumper down the road, will only benefit him.

                                        Twelve certainly is not when most horses start, but in your case it is, and you cannot really hurry his education/experience to make up for the late start, chances are he will advance faster due to his age, but just the same it will take as long as it takes for him to learn the same lessons a horse started at 4 needs to learn, specific to his discipline.

                                        His "exuberance" in the hunter ring may well be a benefit in the hunter ring as well. With the popularity of Hunter Derbies, and a lot of them making a real effort to move back to open field, no distance, rolling terrain, big, natural elements; a slightly more forward, gamer horse is the type most likely to be successful, and it would appear that a good Hunter Derby horse may soon usurp all but the GP horse as far as earning potential goes.

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