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Could a genuine hunter win?

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  • Could a genuine hunter win?

    We do not have 'hunter-jumper' classes on this side of the pond so I have been looking into how they are judged, according to the rules, and looking at videos on line. What I see are mechanical horses that are invariably heavy on the forehand and lacking any sparkle, ridden on a long contact by riders who often seem to be in front of the horses balance over a fence. This is not a horse, or a style of jumping, that I personally would consider to be safe out hunting. So my question is, could a real hunter - one that follows hounds and jumps obstacles as it meets them, ever win in a hunter-jumper competition?
    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

  • #2
    Well, I have no experience hunting, but my horse ran first flight in Middleburg for at least one season, maybe more.

    IN our hunter classes, he is much too forward, and generally doesnt place in the tricolors. (We're working on it, but he just doesnt want to do the whole slow and steady thing.
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    • #3
      Honestly- probably not. Show hunters are expected to have a 10 jump (IE, dead even knees and round), a very consistent pace, and are expected to leave from the same distance each time. They are stylized. Like western pleasure- who the hell wants to ride around their ranch on a horse that barely moves faster than a turtle.

      I think most actual fox hunters (there are exceptions) probably don't have the right style of jump (and you probably would not want a big back cracking jumper to jump all day). Your fox hunter probably also jumps out of a different pace/canter.

      But if you had a fancy, back cracking jumper, with a consistent flowing, slowish looking step who without any visible rating or collection left from the same spot each time, you could win a hunter class.

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      • #4
        No, obviously not. You've seen what wins 'hunters' - and a foxhunter is Not It ! That's not what they're aiming for. Personally they've named the sport a little like how they name their baseball series - with a name it doesn't deserve. It should be called East-Coast Looking like you have money over teenytiny fences. Calling it hunters is heretical. IMHO.

        (p.s don't mind me, I'll get my coat)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KateWooten View Post
          No, obviously not. You've seen what wins 'hunters' - and a foxhunter is Not It ! That's not what they're aiming for. Personally they've named the sport a little like how they name their baseball series - with a name it doesn't deserve. It should be called East-Coast Looking like you have money over teenytiny fences. Calling it hunters is heretical. IMHO.

          (p.s don't mind me, I'll get my coat)
          Uh, wow.

          Ever heard of the high performance hunter division? Fences can be up to 4'6. Junior hunters and many other classes are 3'6. So while not 1.60, I would not say they are tiny.
          Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

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          • #6
            I agree with Kate's post. The horses that win in the "hunters" today are mechanical, forehand-heavy and dull. If they were faced with an outside course where they/the rider had to think instead of count, they would be in a world of trouble. Just like a western pleasure class is no more representative of the way a cowboy moves his horse across the land he works, what is deemed a winning hunter in the ring is vastly different than what a hunt horse would be expected to do in "real life".
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            • #7
              Please realize that what you see in videos is not how something looks in person. If you've been on this board for more than 5 minutes you'll see that your complaints are rehashed two or three times a month with varying levels of vitrol. There have been videos of winning rounds posted that have been criticized beyond all reason, and usually the people who saw the round in person have a much different opinion of it.

              Scope and power and lovely long strides do not translate well into video and something that to you looks dull and without sparkle may look breathtaking in person.

              That being said, the way of going of a show hunter has developed into something quite different from that required in the field. In fact the two disciplines -- once so closely related -- are really not very similar at all any more. Show hunters have evolved into something that showcases obedience, rideability, and a overly powerful jump that no sane person would want to ride all day in the field. Some, of course, could do double duty. I had an adult hunter who would probably be quite good in the field. He was a good but not spectacular horse in the ring and I imagine that he would have been a good but not spectacular horse in the field.

              Whether you think this is equivalent to the end of the world, or whether you appreciate the show hunter for what it has become (not what it started out as) is completely up to you.

              ETA: I just read some of the posts that were posted while I was writing this. If you don't like hunters, that's fine, but why do you feel the need to tear them down? What's it to you how slowly we may or may not go and how small our fences may or may not be? I have my own opinions on other disciplines, but I don't feel the need to disparage them. I just don't partake in them. I think that anything that encourages horse sport in the country is a good thing. (Absue aside, of course.)

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              • #8
                Some of them could..

                In fact if you do a search on COTH, you'll find that the horses that win the Championships for Field Hunters are fancy enough to win anywhere in good company.

                That said, the show hunters that win (I'm not talking about Derby horses here) are generally not something I would care to hunt.

                The exception may be any Virginia hunt or foxhunter.

                My current hunt horse has a rhythmic, quiet canter and jumps with his knees to his eyeballs. His technique and our turnout would make GM very happy.

                He is however, a very large paint draft cross with an enormous head with quite the Roman nose.

                We stand quietly while one or two show hunters and dressage horses jig around looking for the dragons.

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                • #9
                  They're not really working hunters. Maybe they should call it precision jumping or something. But as mentioned, it's the Western Pleasure of the English world-hyper-stylized and what's considered "best" in that context isn't useful in another context. (Champion gaming, cutting, roping, and working ranch horses aren't going to be competitive in Western Pleasure because of their functional, working style.) Both disicplines are about creating a perfect pretty pretty picture, and while that's hard in its own way, it's like the 'beauty'/modeling portion of a pageant. Or a model pretending to be something for a photograph--a less-functional but prettier and more precise version for show.

                  It didn't used to be that--look at the video Mike posted a couple days ago of an old outside course. Forward without rushing, serious obstacles, grass footing. More like actual hunters or the light/medium/heavy working hunters, with courses more like jumper courses with natural-type obstacles.
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                  • #10
                    It's show Hunter, not FOXhunters or even Field Hunters. Fact we do not actually hunt much in this country due to no open, public or willingly offered private, suitable land. The Show Hunter developed for what we do have, a 100x250ft sand ring and mostly 3' on down fences because that is what most of the show riders want to do and available to them.

                    If that is what you were looking at, it is something that does not exsist in your country and is not even the top level of Show Hunters in this one. We have a HUGE more recreational class of Hunters for the non elite level horse and rider and that makes up the majority of classes offered.

                    Jumpers are different but still usually in smaller sand rings so a big striding horse suitable to follow the hounds thru open country is not going to be very happy running against the clock and rolling back in a little ring.

                    The Derby (the 4'+ ones, not the dinky knock offs) and High Performance Hunters, apparently not what you were looking at, would be closer to what your ideal seems to be.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

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                    • #11
                      Such a tired discussion.

                      Field hunters and show hunters are separated albeit related disciplines.

                      I strongly disagree that today's winning hunters are mechanical or routinely on their forehand; you cannot jump a decent size oxer in beautiful style unless you have the horse balanced and working from behind. Do they go slower than a horse out following hounds? Generally, yes - although you will see plenty of brilliance and some forward galloping in a handy class or Derby. The winners are more than capable of it.

                      I would guess that a decent field hunter could probably pin in a jumper class, where style doesn't count. Some of the fancier ones could likely hold their own in a hunter class, assuming the rider could find 8 good distances and jump out of the required canter. I imagine my adult hunter could manage just fine out field hunting, probably not fast enough for first flight but he is often ridden outside the ring and would have no difficulty negotiating uneven terrain. He's also quite mellow, has excellent manners alone or in company, and would certainly stand obediently at a check.

                      If you don't like show hunters, feel free to avoid them.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by moonriverfarm View Post
                        I agree with Kate's post. The horses that win in the "hunters" today are mechanical, forehand-heavy and dull. If they were faced with an outside course where they/the rider had to think instead of count, they would be in a world of trouble. Just like a western pleasure class is no more representative of the way a cowboy moves his horse across the land he works, what is deemed a winning hunter in the ring is vastly different than what a hunt horse would be expected to do in "real life".
                        I can respect this opinion; however I think Kate's post was demeaning.

                        Today's show hunter style I think is only loosely based on fox hunting. While I find show hunters beautiful and appreciate their style and smooth, fluid control, I also appreciate fox hunting for totally different reasons

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                        • #13
                          Well, I have known at least one national champion who became a very happy foxhunter when he got tired of the show ring. But that's the other way around. Suffice it to say that I believe many top level show hunters would love to be field hunters, given the opportunity. Not so many hunt horses would enjoy pretending they are carousel horses
                          Holy crap, how does Darwin keep missing you? ~Lauruffian

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                          • #14
                            Look, if you don't like hunters then don't do them. No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to find 8 distances of a quiet stride and do some lead changes.

                            I don't come to your house and tell you that your kids are stupid and ugly and bad at sports. Who why must you people -- who watch hunter classes on youtube -- come on the H/J board and talk about how our horses are dull and unattractive and unathletic?

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                            • #15
                              We won the Circuit Grande Champion in HITS Ocala this year in the Performance Hunters, so I guess we know of what we speak.

                              Our horse is not at all like some of you describe, my suggestion would be for you who think hunters are dull and on the forehand actually attend a double A show and try to learn something.
                              http://community.webshots.com/user/summitspringsfarm

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by AmmyByNature View Post
                                Look, if you don't like hunters then don't do them. No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to find 8 distances of a quiet stride and do some lead changes.

                                I don't come to your house and tell you that your kids are stupid and ugly and bad at sports. Who why must you people -- who watch hunter classes on youtube -- come on the H/J board and talk about how our horses are dull and unattractive and unathletic?
                                Why do people on here badmouth Western Pleasure? It's the same thing--taking a working purpose and hyperstylizing it until they couldn't actually do the job they're named for.

                                Why do the old-timers whine about there being fences under 3'6" available at A and AA shows and how That's Just Terrible?

                                Why does anyone on COTH pick on anything? And in this case, it's someone from overseas wondering at a discipline that's never taken off anywhere but here.
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                                • #17
                                  When I "wonder" I try not to sound so judgemental about it.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                    It's show Hunter, not FOXhunters or even Field Hunters. Fact we do not actually hunt much in this country due to no open, public or willingly offered private, suitable land. The Show Hunter developed for what we do have, a 100x250ft sand ring and mostly 3' on down fences because that is what most of the show riders want to do and available to them.

                                    If that is what you were looking at, it is something that does not exsist in your country and is not even the top level of Show Hunters in this one. We have a HUGE more recreational class of Hunters for the non elite level horse and rider and that makes up the majority of classes offered.

                                    Jumpers are different but still usually in smaller sand rings so a big striding horse suitable to follow the hounds thru open country is not going to be very happy running against the clock and rolling back in a little ring.

                                    The Derby (the 4'+ ones, not the dinky knock offs) and High Performance Hunters, apparently not what you were looking at, would be closer to what your ideal seems to be.
                                    I do not know where the OP is based, but here in Ireland our Working Hunter classes tend to be more based on traditional foxhunting, with the introduction of banks, stiles and rustic, natural fences. Horses have to take these in a forward but balanced pace. Dublin Horse Show's working hunter class provides a lovely course with lots of variety and challenges.

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                                    • #19
                                      Someone always gets their panties in a wad.

                                      Foxhunters seem to be more practical and that makes sense - 100% sense. Show hunters are about a style and that makes sense. Just because the two are different doesn't mean one is better or worse- they are just different. Like reining is no better or worse than pleasure- they are two different things.

                                      I think it rankles foxhunters a bit that the word "hunter" is used for showhunters, but I have NEVER heard a showhunter put down or be rude about foxhunters. Probably if the hunter classes were renamed "style over fences" these topics would never occur.

                                      There are actual classes for fieldhunters and those horses always look amazing!

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                                      • #20
                                        Why do people on here badmouth Western Pleasure?
                                        I don't think anyone badmouths it- its just a good similarity to hunters- a sport that evolved to represent a stylized way of going.

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