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G.M. article on Hunters in 5/14 COTH

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  • Again I will say: having fields as venues for shows is a great thought, but not great in praticality because the show will need a venue that has these nice lush fields, also the courses would probably take longer than 2 minutes that means even longer horse show days, also great weather and also most hunters at the top level in the US wear aluminums up front, mine always have, (do hunt horses wear studs? I really don't know the answer) But again I would think the UK would be happy then that our hunter shows are so easy and that we then pay so much for horses that aren't up to their par Horse shows are about revenue to the people that run them and about enjoyment and competetion to the exhibiors and attendence is high at the shows my horse has been attending so I highly doubt things will change. (Which is good for me because I like them the way they at the shows I attend)

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by TheBarnSlave24/7 View Post
      Is it possible to change what the judges are looking for?

      Is it possible to get the course designers to get more creative?

      Do we talk to the show managers to make this happen?
      See the earlier post to the effect that course designers who "get more creative" don't get hired the next year.

      Probably applies to judges too.
      Janet

      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

      Comment


      • As someone who started showing in the mid 70s, I can say, yes, definitely, the pace has changed. I started out when everyone rode in two point, even in flat classes, and you were expected to have a little bit of gallop to your fences.

        However, in the meantime, as striding and related distances become more and more important, we kept breeding and bringing to the show ring bigger and longer strided horses, and eventually WBs became more predominant that TBs. I never saw a 17 H horse in the ring in 70s or early 80s, just didn't happen. Yet the standard 12' stride never changed.

        So I cringe when I see a sale ad boast "Can walk the lines!" In my mind, that's not really the way it's supposed to be. Why would you WANT to walk the lines instead of gallop them?

        As for Mr. Morris's point about the construction of fences, that's a little more subtle. While the elaborated dressed fences look lovely and make for good photos, I take his point - they make it harder to disinguish between a good horse given a very good ride by a pro with an eye and the truly excellent horse that jumps in good form no matter what - that used to be the ideal for a hunter. The merely good horse will drop its forearm over a stiff vertical with no groundline, the very good horse will not.

        If you want to have a little fun, set the first fence of your course as an unrelated fence, 2/3s of the way down the arena, and make it a stiff vertical with no groundline. Then watch how many people chip in to it, completely miss or how many horses jump badly, hang or twist compared to an elaborately dressed fence with an rolled out groundline. And to MMF's point above, never get hired as a course designer again. :-)

        A while back someone made the point about our teams still doing well internationally. I don't think that has anything to do with the hunters. As the hunters have gotten more and more artificial, the jumper divisions have been gaining in popularity. We know have whole schooling jumper associations, and the schooling, junior and amateur jumper divisions fill at A shows where they weren't even offered 15 - 20 years ago. We also have jumper Eq classes, with more sophisticated problems being asked on course; Marshall & Sterling classes,etc. Most of our international riders honed their craft in those types of classes, not the hunters.
        Last edited by McGurk; May. 25, 2012, 01:21 PM.
        The plural of anecdote is not data.

        Comment


        • CBoylen, AMEN! You are so correct! That's all I have to say.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Weatherford View Post
            Here in Ireland, the "Working Hunter" classes are everything some people are asking for here - and, well, the rounds are not always... pretty? But great fun to jump all those wild fences on an up and down course set at 3'9" - 4", including banks, ditches, liverpools, cows, etc etc etc.

            That having been said, the first time I jumped around a hunter course here (a number of years ago), I was expecting a US style course, but, nope, it was Irish style. Not a lot of variety, but no ground lines, mostly verticle post and rails with a hay bale in the middle. Set at a solid 4'.... well, I hadn't jumped 4'0 in a few years and had never jumped this horse that high. But, my trainer-friend say, "Oh just kick on!" and that's what I did - I believe my eyes were closed... Unfortunately, we had a rail, although we were asked back for the hack and judges' ride....

            It was GREAT FUN! And I was better prepared the next show - which was a true old-fashioned outside course with all the jumps mentioned above included.

            It's funny when the hunter courses are tougher than the jumper courses!

            But you MUST kick on - and that is something truly lacking in many of today's riders!
            So agree! Never been to an English show but have been to Ireland for the Dublin show! I was ENTHRALLED. And to have judges actually RIDE the horses! What a concept! I can only imagine the crises in the US if that ever required
            "Her life was okay. Sometimes she wished she were sleeping with the right man instead of with her dog, but she never felt she was sleeping with the wrong dog."



            www.dontlookbackfarm.com

            Comment


            • Woops. Sorry Weatherford. Forgot you are IN that great green isle. England stuck in my head and I never think of Ireland as "English ".
              "Her life was okay. Sometimes she wished she were sleeping with the right man instead of with her dog, but she never felt she was sleeping with the wrong dog."



              www.dontlookbackfarm.com

              Comment


              • Originally posted by JohnGalt View Post
                @hntrjmprpro45 - You said "When people are complaining about hunters looking like "automatons" they are really complaining about the fact that these horses are SO adjustable and make such subtle changes that it is a bit boring." However, while I can't speak for others, that is definitely not what I mean. I mean that today's hunters are dull, slow and boring. The jumps and courses are all the same and they are overly simplistic to the point where one can't even tell if the horses are adjustable because there isn't any adjustment necessary. There aren't long or short lines anymore, everything is a multiple of 12.
                I had this same thought. I watched hunters last weekend and many of the horses did look very very sleepy. And many of these same horses pinned very very well. But the lines were all not multiples of 4, they were all a few feet longer, even at 3 ft. I didn't show last weekend, but I do like those lines, I get to canter forward instead of having to hold down the lines.

                Comment


                • This is a follow-on from the posts, but wanted to emphasize... By and large today's hunter rings are just too tight, it seems to me, to be conducive to a faster pace and free-flowing rounds. This is especially true if you are not showing in the few divisions that go in a show's "marquee" hunter ring. I grew up showing hunters in the 90's and my favorite shows were the ones with the biggest rings. The great silver lining of VT being inundated w/rain back in summer '94 and all the grass rings being closed and hunters moved up to big fields higher up was that the strides were like 11 or 13+ and so basically rode unrelated. I didn't grow up riding eventing or hunting, but really loved that.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by ChronReader View Post
                    This is a follow-on from the posts, but wanted to emphasize... By and large today's hunter rings are just too tight, it seems to me, to be conducive to a faster pace and free-flowing rounds.
                    On the other hand, the Devon ring used to be way smaller than it is now and the hunters, especially the Corinthian class, (held at night in full dress) carried very good pace even in the tiny ring.

                    You need a better excuse for glacial pace....
                    madeline
                    * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis

                    Comment


                    • Chrono,

                      I wished I believed that it was the size of the rings that were causing the change, but I think it's more subtle. For one thing, even in the Hunter Derbies and Hunters Classics in huge venues and lots of unrelated fences, the horses are *crawling* around the courses.

                      Part of it is the inevitable growing away from origins of the sport; how many people do you know who show hunters that also foxhunt? Or good Lord, horses that do both? Used to be fairly common, now unheard of. That hunter showing is different/more difficult/more artificial than decades ago or more removed from its foxhunting origins isn't necessarily a bad thing or a good thing, it just is what it is.

                      But different/more technical/more artificial doesn't necessarily mean you can't reward a horse that carries a little more lick to its fences, or put some airy verticals on hunter courses to really test jumping ability.

                      The real question is, do the changes serve a purpose and is the sport going in the direction most people want it to go; or is it evolving in a destructive direction?

                      I don't know too many people who love the uber-slow pace, or the lack of expression in the horses. Do you know anyone who says "I LOVE the current pace in hunters; I'd be happy if I got pinned for being a little slower?" Or "I'd like to have to lunge my horse for longer so he'll be dead quiet enough to pin?" Nor does the current hunter ring prepare the riders for the jumpers; it's a much bigger transition than it used to be. IMO, I don't think it's a functional change. I think it was an unintentional trend that got carried too far.

                      As far as the elaborately dressed fences with rolled out groundlines, I think that started as a safety concern. Show organizers wanted groundlines and lots of fill to minimize scary jumping and falls, and competitors liked that. However, it's made it harder to distinguish the truly excellent, safe jumpers from the mediocre ones given a hell of a ride by a professional.
                      The plural of anecdote is not data.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Madeline View Post
                        On the other hand, the Devon ring used to be way smaller than it is now and the hunters, especially the Corinthian class, (held at night in full dress) carried very good pace even in the tiny ring.

                        You need a better excuse for glacial pace....
                        Fair enough. Small rings might not be the cause of this change, but it sounds like in the old days many people had the kind of experiences out of the ring or showing on outside courses to know what they were trying to replicate in a small Devon ring. NOwadays in many places juniors and amateurs coming into the sport don't because they would have to seek those kind of experiences in other sports or non-showing activities (hunting, eventing, etc.). I'm just repeating other people's points if I go on, but I guess I'm not sure what the solution is - but I have fond memories of getting to jump in a big field with unrelated distances one time in VT!

                        Comment


                        • Everyone is talking about a glacial pace,,, did any of you watch any of the pros go this week at Devon? Plenty of the pros had pace around the course, were they galloping NO but they definitely were not crawling around and jumping in heaps like so many on this thread have been saying... just my opinion.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by McGurk View Post
                            ...

                            Part of it is the inevitable growing away from origins of the sport; how many people do you know who show hunters that also foxhunt? Or good Lord, horses that do both? Used to be fairly common, now unheard of. .
                            Absolutely Not Done. Heck, we had a horse who hunted all winter, ran 4th in the Maryland Hunt Cup (late April), then got ribbons at Devon (then as now, late MAy) in the regular workings.

                            He was a bit of an exceptional horse...
                            madeline
                            * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by alittlegray View Post
                              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.

                              Totally agree with this!

                              I too ride with an old school trainer who rode under GM when she was younger and it's crazy to me the things that "other trainer" don't teach or make their students do.

                              I am grateful for the bar that has been set before me and the standards that my trainer holds us to when riding.
                              ::Karley::

                              Henry (House of Fortuny) 7 yr old OTTB
                              http://dondeestahenry.blogspot.com/

                              Comment


                              • No one wants to learn and wait to do what is right. My daughter is now training with someone who is teaching her how to "ride" so no matter what horse she gets on it will be good. It is all about how quickly they can move up the ladder and win ribbons. They even over face the horses in the name of ribbons. When I was little we rode english, western, bareback trail rode and even took the horses swimming. They were healthier and we did not spend as much time fixing our horses...
                                The basics are lost... can they ride a horse that is not made? Denny Emmerson has been discussing this at length about eventers also.... Style does create a nice round, form does.. Why does M. Ward always look so nice or Beezie Madden. Those are people to emmulate. Look back at Kathy Kusner...Do you think she would have been as successful if she did not ride the way she was taught? and who taught her....guess..
                                I will get off my soap box now and go back to lurk mode...
                                Mai Tai aka Tyler RIP March 1994-December 2011
                                Grief is the price we pay for love- Gretchen Jackson
                                "And here she comes. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's ZENYATTA!"

                                Comment


                                • Let me start by saying I'm definitely more jumper than hunter. I appreciate GM's comments about hunters, especially in the context of hunters as the basis for equitation and jumpers. I think there are opportunities to increase learning/growth opportunities in the hunter ring, even at the local level. How about some baby steps, like sending riders out to walk their lines instead of posting the measurements on the course. Maybe include bending lines that have more than one correct track so riders? What about deliberately setting a 6 1/2 or 7/1/2 stride line? This type of challenge could be safely introduced at a novice level and build toward the questions presented in hunter derbies.

                                  Comment


                                  • Now that this thread has been revived and now that I've read the whole thing over, I had a thought which might be worthless.

                                    Is there any reason why hunters can't be judged against a well specified ideal as they do in dressage? In the dressage rules, the elements are well defined, or as well defined as it's possible to do in a subjective sport. Riders ride against the ideal, not against each other. The elements are all listed on the score sheets and the judge evaluates performance against a scale of not performed to excellent. The final score is the total of all the elements. The judge makes written comments and returns the score sheet to the rider.

                                    Is there any reason show hunters could not be scored the same way? It would force the sport to analyze the elements and put down what an ideal trip is in black and white, give riders a map for what is wanted, and make showing a competition against the ideal and not against the other horses.

                                    Would that help with the problem? I know that each course is different, but there could be mandatory elements in each course, just as there are in dressage freestyle. This would bring hunters more in line with ice skating and gymnastics.
                                    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                    Thread killer Extraordinaire

                                    Comment


                                    • Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                                      Now that this thread has been revived and now that I've read the whole thing over, I had a thought which might be worthless.

                                      Is there any reason why hunters can't be judged against a well specified ideal as they do in dressage? In the dressage rules, the elements are well defined, or as well defined as it's possible to do in a subjective sport. Riders ride against the ideal, not against each other. The elements are all listed on the score sheets and the judge evaluates performance against a scale of not performed to excellent. The final score is the total of all the elements. The judge makes written comments and returns the score sheet to the rider.

                                      Is there any reason show hunters could not be scored the same way? It would force the sport to analyze the elements and put down what an ideal trip is in black and white, give riders a map for what is wanted, and make showing a competition against the ideal and not against the other horses.

                                      Would that help with the problem? I know that each course is different, but there could be mandatory elements in each course, just as there are in dressage freestyle. This would bring hunters more in line with ice skating and gymnastics.
                                      Not sure this could be done as Dressage has set tests that are issued every few years. In order for hunters to be judged similarly, would we have to ride the same courses over and over?
                                      Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                      Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                                      Comment


                                      • Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                                        Not sure this could be done as Dressage has set tests that are issued every few years. In order for hunters to be judged similarly, would we have to ride the same courses over and over?
                                        But we already do! Most courses start with a single, and involve some variation of outside line/diagonal etc etc. Except for the rare stake or handy class, most of the courses are boringly similar aside from the distance between the two fences of the lines...

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by MoonLadyIsis View Post
                                          But we already do! Most courses start with a single, and involve some variation of outside line/diagonal etc etc. Except for the rare stake or handy class, most of the courses are boringly similar aside from the distance between the two fences of the lines...
                                          and where/what the combinations are and which direction the lines are facing (home or away). Subleties that play into how each course is ridden.

                                          I'm not trying to say that hunters courses have a exponential variation, but each course has individual "questions" that must be answered. To go to a dressage-based judging system would mean compiling X number of acceptable courses, writing judging criteria for those courses and then only allowing those courses at shows. Ugh.
                                          Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                          Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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