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Preparation for Hunter Derbies

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  • Preparation for Hunter Derbies

    Question for those of you who have done the Hunter Derby, or your trainer or someone in your barn - what do you do to prepare your hunter for that class?

    Those who are showing event horses, jumpers, and equit horses, have presumably done more of the banks and such. But am wondering how those with horses that normally only show in the hunter ring (and are therefore used to seeing pretty much the same fences day in and day out (walls, pickets, etc.)) are preparing these horses for this task?

  • #2
    I am going to start taking my hunter on trailrides just so she can start seeing more "scary" stuff. I know in a lot of them they have you open and shut gates or get off and lead your horse so having your horse really trained on the ground as well as being able to back and move off of your leg so you can open and close a gate.

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    • #3
      Anyone know what is the proper way to open a gate in a derby/handy class?
      Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA

      Comment


      • #4
        I dunno, assume it's like any other class that requires opening a gate. You walk up to it, halt standing beside it and open it away from you while horse walks quietly thru it. They don't make you close it. Get some help from those who show Western classes like Trail or Western Riding but it's kind of a no brainer and something most of them, even show horses, will do pretty easy-and should be able to do just as a matter of common sense.

        Prep for the Derby by working ALOT on adjustability and jumping anything and everything off your eye at unrelated distance-just ride the damn jumps, don't worry about any numbers.

        Work on uneven and sloping ground-uphill, down hill. Work BIG SOLID fences-you want that option fence in your pocket, not the low side that will not score you high enough to win it.

        Work on approaching jumps from every angle, not off long, straight lines. Work Eq and Jumper type courses with options like inside turns and roll backs.

        Work yourself on planning a track, not a course, plan a track around a course and set that course with options you can work more then one way.

        Finally...it is becoming obvious that the winner in the Derby is not the same kind of Hunter that is winning in the 3' Adults. It is a different kind of course requiring a different kind of horse. Some discussion on this in the latest USHJA issue, we are seeing a different type horse successful in these.

        Some can adapt and get both, most are going to be specialists in one or the other. But there is no reason any Hunter cannot school up for these and be better broke horses for the work put in. And It's fun.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by findeight View Post
          Some discussion on this in the latest USHJA issue, we are seeing a different type horse successful in these.

          That article was partially responsible for prompting this question!

          Just wondering if most people have the facility to jump out "cross country" up and down hills, over ditches, etc. I know I would love to, but really don't have the land for such. Curious how trainers were working it out . .

          Comment


          • #6
            Can't help you there...you are going to have to figure something out...my barn has an outside course and bank complex plus we show at the KHP alot and can hack out and jump the little stuff that is there permanently all over several hundred acres.

            Can you call around and, maybe, find somebody that has the pastureland or suitable field? Or an Eventing barn with some CC jumps?

            I don't think it has to be fancy but you must master a true good gallop and be able to regulate it and you have to learn to ride to more solid looking fences off your eye. I don't think you can do that in a ring and, at least to me, that looks to be the basic skills you would need to really master before going into one of these.

            One other thing...the fences...they are more solid looking, lots of heavy timber, hedges, faux walls and such. The horse has to be braver then piddly poking around a little sand ring jumping the same old, same old. When they are brave like that and the fences look more solid, you get a hell of a jump out of them. Makes for a pretty picture but a bug eyed rider chanting Hail Marys.

            Make sure your riding is up to it.

            Pro riders say the biggest adjustment is it is a long time between fences. They have had to learn to focus and keep the horse focused as there are many options to slect from requiring the horse to listen to which one the rider wants...not to mention decoration and distraction and a sometimes complicated track between objects.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


            • #7
              i believe In Stride had a long article about this the other day, actually. i didn't get to read all of it, i was walking out the door, but i remember i stopped at a part where they started talking about the preparation for the new derbies for horses.... maybe if you get In Stride you can look somewhere in there and it might have some good ideas

              otherwise, i'd think trying some tougher things than regular old hunter classes would be a good idea: try hunter paces, a little bit of cross country, lots of unusual obstacles, some jumper classes, etc. get used to solid jumps, because they are starting to incorporate REAL solid jumps into these classes, at some of the REALLY really big shows (think wellington, hits, etc.) and remember, these aren't just tiny little logs. these are post - rail fences, where the rails may or may not come off, and will be heavy. or big stone walls (from what ive heard) and i don't think any horse wants to touch a stone wall.

              practice walking over bridges and inbetween obstacles. i think i remember the article mentioning various spooks/issues some horses had, even top level working hunters. make sure you practice opening gates! also, one time i saw a big hunter derby on youtube, and i dont know if it was a USHJA one or not, but it involved halting after a jump and you had to take a flask from this man in the ring and i think drink from it or something and then give it back or place it somewhere, i think. probably not something that occurs too often, but you never know :P
              Last edited by superpony123; Jun. 26, 2009, 02:32 PM.
              (|--Sarah--|)

              Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by katie16 View Post
                That article was partially responsible for prompting this question!

                Just wondering if most people have the facility to jump out "cross country" up and down hills, over ditches, etc. I know I would love to, but really don't have the land for such. Curious how trainers were working it out . .
                Not doing the derbies yet but hope to someday. However, my horse and I go to some of the local schooling days at cross country courses in the area just to have fun. They have some similar stuff to what I have seen when I watched the hunter derbies. Perhaps you can find something around you?
                No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
                For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
                www.etsy.com/shop/joiedevivrecrafts Custom Wreaths and Other Decorations

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by katie16 View Post
                  That article was partially responsible for prompting this question!

                  Just wondering if most people have the facility to jump out "cross country" up and down hills, over ditches, etc. I know I would love to, but really don't have the land for such. Curious how trainers were working it out . .

                  I would suggest either searching to find a local XC schooling day OR contact a local eventing barn that offers XC schooling at their facility. Secondly, if you know anyone that foxhunts some hunt clubs have XC hunt courses that you could school at during casual summer exercise outings or on your own with a member etc.. Each club is different of course and it may vary by region, I am just speaking of my region.

                  Your area likely has a local Eventing resource site that often lists XC schoolings, barns that offer schooling etc.. It would be worthwhile to seek out that information.

                  Maybe cross post on the Eventing forum?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    When they are brave like that and the fences look more solid, you get a hell of a jump out of them. Makes for a pretty picture but a bug eyed rider chanting Hail Marys.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by katie16 View Post
                      But am wondering how those with horses that normally only show in the hunter ring (and are therefore used to seeing pretty much the same fences day in and day out (walls, pickets, etc.)) are preparing these horses for this task?
                      Take them foxhunting. There is nothing better to make a horse braver than taking it hunting for a season.

                      Or at least try to do a really good hack out/x-country school over coops, stone walls, post/rail fences, etc. If you don't live in an area with ride out, try to find an eventing x-country course to school around.
                      Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Several riders from our barn competed in one recently & it seemed like the thing that most horses "looked" at/refused was a jump that had fake boulders/rocks as filler. It came after a fairly tight right-hand turn, so they came up on it somewhat blind. On of my friends was eliminated at this fence, and I know she wasn't the only one. This was one of the few things we didn't think of schooling!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          you had to take a flask from a man . . .

                          (quote) but it involved halting after a jump and you had to take a flask from this man in the ring and i think drink from it or something and then give it back or place it somewhere, i think. probably not something that occurs too often, but you never know :P[/QUOTE]

                          Happens ALL the time in the hunt field - the passing of flasks . . .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I wish beyond wish I had a horse for these. These classes are my ultimate dream and I have nothing to show. One student's 3ft horse would make a great derby horse in the fact that he's extremely handy and brave and very much prefers a derby-style course to a typical hunter course, however I just don't think he's scopey enough for the "real" derbies (but DAMN did I want to do that 3' one at Swan Lake with him....), nor does his owner keep him in good enough shape for this option. Another young horse in our barn is just starting to show some inkling that he may also fall into a similar category. He's honest as the day is long, brave, super adjustable, and very handy... but he's still so young and green (and at about 15.2, small!) that I feel like we're still discovering where he's going to top out.

                            I have easy access to a host of places for XC cross-over training and all the desire in the world. It's a shame... I truly just feel like if I could get my hands on a horse.............
                            ...for there are wings on these hooves, the speed and power of foam-capped waves...
                            *~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*
                            Proud member of the artists clique

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by luvs2ridewbs View Post
                              Anyone know what is the proper way to open a gate in a derby/handy class?
                              Make sure you shut it!! Not sure what class it was at Upperville, but there was a gate involved and the horse/rider combo that won was the only one who shut the gate!
                              There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill

                              No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I recently watched my trainer ride in a HD, and found it soooo educational! Seriously, it was a class during which I could really see the riders making decisions about their horses and adjusting to get their horses moving up to the big, built up fences.

                                From what I saw (and please don't take this as sage advice- I am an ammy wimp that wouldn't be caught dead attempting a course like that...), if I were to prepare my horse for a derby course, I would BUILD UP THOSE JUMPS. Seriously, drag out hay bales, benches, trees, logs, branches, the kitchen sink, etc. Make some SOLID, WIDE, INTIMIDATING fences.

                                Although this class was mostly pros who rode incredibly accurately, all of the horses that did the course were bug eyed and slightly disoriented while on course. There wasn't a nearly flawless trip out of 28 riders, and the course was set at 3'6"-4', so it was a good mix between first & second year, and regular hunters.

                                What really seemed to get the horses intimidated was jumping out of one ring (sand footing), onto the grass for a long gallop to a big natural fence, then back into another ring (sand footing). From my POV, it didn't seem like any of the horses had been schooled jumping from one surface to another, and a lot of them struggled to keep a good hand gallop up to the next ring. I'd say 1/4 of the class either had a rail, a stop, or a big problem on course, and there were some pretty top-notch pros in the irons.

                                Luckily, a few days later, I showed up at the barn and there was a huge log placed in the grass field next to our ring. My trainer had also taken out a portion of fencing around the ring and replaced it with a big box and standards on either side. So I can't wait to jump in/out of the ring then get a good gallop to the log. I'm not planning any hunter derbys in my future, but it's going to be awesome to ride a similar course at home.
                                Here today, gone tomorrow...

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I think they need to make a hunter derby for ponies. =] Like a 2'6-3' one.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    swan lake

                                    Originally posted by playinforkeeps8 View Post
                                    I think they need to make a hunter derby for ponies. =] Like a 2'6-3' one.
                                    I think swan ake offers one (PA) in their july show - a 2'6" and a 3' class.

                                    Comment

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