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Hunter Derby: A Discussion

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  • Hunter Derby: A Discussion

    Before I begin, for any of those who are wondering, yes I am an Amateur, yes I compete in the USHJA Derby classes, and yes I have top ten and even top five placings in the Derby classes. My concern with the new Derby specifications is not the new points awarded for the higher options (lets face it, the only way to be competitive in the Derby classes were to complete the higher jumps regardless of whether points were specified for doing so ), but rather with the impact the higher derby height will have on the Derby classes for the junior and amateurs who ride in the classes as well as the junior and amateurs who own the horses the professionals ride in the classes.

    First, currently the Derby is an exciting class that draws huge amounts of spectators and brings exhibitors from “both worlds” to hunterland. People enjoy watching the beautiful hunters gallop around natural jumps in fabulous form. I fear that as the jumps reach the height of 4’3 (at least on the west coast) gone will be the true hunters that float across the ground and jump with their knees to their ears, and in their place will be the equitation horses and jumpers that have square knees and can adequately masquerade as a hunter when braided up. The majority of hunters jump 3’6 and the minority of the hunters compete in the 3’9 and 4’0 classes. Is it fair to ask these horses, with no practice classes, to jump up (in most cases) 9 inches higher than they are ever otherwise asked to do? I do not see the Grand Prix horses schooling during the week in the 1.30’s in preparation for the 1.50 class on Sunday. And, while the goal may be in the future to own horses that are purely “Derby” horses, currently the majority of these horses must also show in the regular hunter divisions at significantly lower heights during the week.

    Also, I believe many exhibitors come to watch in hopes that one day they to will be able to jump up and challenge themselves and their horses in a Derby class. For an ammy or a junior, the Derby classes are a challenge, but they are an achievable goal. Many of us are willing to go head to head with the professionals and test ourselves and our horses with the 4’0 options, but options that are 4’3 seem unfair to ask of the ammy and juniors who compete in the 3’6 during the week. I think a strong possibility exists that support for the Derby classes will decline when the class no longer becomes a realistic goal for the ammys and juniors. Why do I want to send my horse in to a Derby class with a professional when I have no hope of ever being able to show that horse in the Derby class myself? I think that ammys and juniors may think twice about sending their hunters into the Derby classes, even with professionals, when the risks (horses getting hurt jumping heights they will never be asked to jump in the regular hunter divisions) outweigh the benefits.

    I am a huge supporter of the USHJA and the Derby classes and am exceedingly pleased with what the Derby’s have added to the hunters in general (harder handys, more varied courses, and much improved jumps), and do not want to see all these changes for the better come to a halt. Is there a solution that could satisfy both the goals of the USHJA and still keep in mind the ammys and juniors who support the hunter divisions? Perhaps, splitting the USHJA Derby Classes into non-professional and professional classes, with the non-pros jumpoing at the current specs and the pros jumping at the increased heights. In the jumpers, you do not see many juniors and ammys competing in the Grand Prix; instead, you see them in the high Jr/AO classics and the pros in the Grand Prix. In sum, I believe that the spirit of the Derby classes can be kept alive by opening the doors of the USHJA program to the ammys and juniors as well as the professional hunter riders.
    www.threewishesfarm.com
    https://www.facebook.com/ThreeWishesFarm
    Expecting 2017 foals by Vagabond de la Pomme, Cornet Obolensky, Zirocco Blue, Catoki and Christian.

  • #2
    I still don't understand this complaint. Low JR/AO jumper riders don't feel some entitlement to lower fence heights and a greater chance of winning Grand Prix classes, why do 3'6" hunters feel they need it? If its too big for you, too great a risk for the horse, don't show in it. Its intended to be challenging and different than a run of the mill classic. I'm so sick of shows dumbing divisions down and offering 6 different sections of <3', modified everything, etc. I'm glad the derby requires everyone to step up.

    Comment


    • #3
      People enjoy watching the beautiful hunters gallop around natural jumps in fabulous form. I fear that as the jumps reach the height of 4’3 (at least on the west coast) gone will be the true hunters that float across the ground and jump with their knees to their ears, and in their place will be the equitation horses and jumpers that have square knees and can adequately masquerade as a hunter when braided up. The majority of hunters jump 3’6 and the minority of the hunters compete in the 3’9 and 4’0 classes.
      I thought that was kind of the point.

      Years ago, the majority of the hunters (the "true hunters", if you will) jumped 4' and even bigger. But in recent years, more and more "hunters" compete at lower and lower levels (3'6", then 3', and even lower). The Working Hunter divisions (the "true hunters") are getting thinner and thinner.

      It was my understanding that the objective of the Hunter Derbies was to bring back the attention and glory to the "true hunters", capable of jumping beautifully at 4' (or bigger).
      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


      • #4
        The true hunter that floats across the ground and jumps with his knees to his ears over 4'3" will be an unbeatable Debry horse.

        A horse who floats across the ground and jumps with his knees to his ears over the lower options may still be competitive, depending on the company.

        A horse who jumps well, but with less style, over the 4'3" may still be competitive, depending on the company.

        I guess I don't see how the Derby is going to ruin horses for other divisions. A fabulous 3'6" horse is still a fabulous 3'6" horse, he's just not necessarily a Derby horse. In the same vein, a fabulous Children's Hunter may not be a fabulous Junior Hunter. You enter them in the classes where they are most competitive.
        Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

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        • #5
          I think we can already see the result of the Derby in the qualifying list for Harrisburg. 42 Regular horses and 22 Regular Conformation. Wasn't it just two years ago the Regular and Green conformations were combined at Harrisburg? Have there EVER been this many four foot horses? I've been going to Harrisburg for more than 20 years and can't remember numbers like these.

          I think it is surperb. Congratulations to the High Performance Committee!
          *****
          You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.

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          • #6
            I think what the OP is saying is that having the heights maxed out at 4ft makes it an attainable goal for alot of juniors and A/O riders which is why it is popular. If they increase the fences heights, it may turn into something that only the pros do and thus lose popularity. My personal opinion is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The numbers are big and people are excited. Why do we have to change the rules around?
            Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Midge View Post
              I think we can already see the result of the Derby in the qualifying list for Harrisburg. 42 Regular horses and 22 Regular Conformation. Wasn't it just two years ago the Regular and Green conformations were combined at Harrisburg? Have there EVER been this many four foot horses? I've been going to Harrisburg for more than 20 years and can't remember numbers like these.

              I think it is surperb. Congratulations to the High Performance Committee!
              bing bing bing, we have a winner! it's great that right now so many ammy and juniors can pack it around in a derby and be competitive. i wish them all the continued success as the class specs strive to develop both the best riders and horses for the intended format. I'm certain as long as there are ammy and jr riders in the GP, there will be plenty of non-pro riders capable of keeping the pros on their toes in the derby. i'm equally certain i won't be one of them.

              Now, if the format gets really popular, then maybe we could ditch the 3'0 and 3'6 ho hum 5th round of the division, er, i mean classic for a hunter derby class instead?
              Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RanchoAdobe View Post
                I fear that as the jumps reach the height of 4’3 (at least on the west coast) gone will be the true hunters that float across the ground and jump with their knees to their ears, and in their place will be the equitation horses and jumpers that have square knees and can adequately masquerade as a hunter when braided up.

                My guess is that if you can tell the horse is "masquerading as a hunter" the judge will also notice and that will be reflected in the placings. But there are equitation horses and jumpers that will be succesful in the Hunter Derbies, because they are great performance horses!!! There abilities cross over to other areas.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't understand how the OP expects that equitation horses will have less trouble with the height of the jumps than junior hunters... both divisions are 3'6".

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    luvs2ridewbs: EXACTLY. As other posters have pointed out, the 4 foot divisions are filling thanks in part to the Derby classes. Will this trend continue if the Derby is set beyond what any other hunter division asks of the horses? I suppose we will find out.

                    JinxyFish313- again exactly my point. The Jr/AO jumpers do not feel entitled to lower fence heights and a greater chance of winning in a Grand Prix because they HAVE a Jr/AO classic that is set higher and more challenging (with more prize money) to compete in. Thus my suggestion for a non-pro Hunter Derby. Not just the pros want to be challenged in the hunter ring!! The new format for the Derby does not require "everyone" to step up, but only the pros. How am I supposed to prepare for a 4'3 Derby with only a 3'6 division to compete in (and don't say the ammys/juniors can try their hand at the regulars b/c between work and school showing during the week is not possible for most)

                    DMK- the comment about the juniors/ammys being packed around in a Derby is a bit of a bold statement if you have seen the riding it takes to beat the pros in a competitive Derby handy round! Though I would be all for the second round of the classic being a handy (thats a great idea)
                    www.threewishesfarm.com
                    https://www.facebook.com/ThreeWishesFarm
                    Expecting 2017 foals by Vagabond de la Pomme, Cornet Obolensky, Zirocco Blue, Catoki and Christian.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Most eq horses also compete in the USET which is 3'9 with wide spreads, and at some point in their lives came down from the higher jumper rings
                      www.threewishesfarm.com
                      https://www.facebook.com/ThreeWishesFarm
                      Expecting 2017 foals by Vagabond de la Pomme, Cornet Obolensky, Zirocco Blue, Catoki and Christian.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        like i said, i'm quite certain there will be jr/ammy riders perfectly capable of riding a bold, forward derby ride at 4'3 just like i've seen them hold their own on Sunay. On the big field. At WEF. And then there will be those who prefer 3'6 or 3'0. No shame in those choices, because I promise you i'll never be in the big class. But i would rather see people expend energy adding more derby classes (where there are derby fences available) rather than dumbing down this most excellent idea. And then make sure that only ammys/ch/jrs entered in their respective divisions) can enter the 3'0/3'6 versions and withold a few key obstacles for use only in the real derby
                        Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RanchoAdobe View Post
                          , currently the majority of these horses must also show in the regular hunter divisions at significantly lower heights during the week.
                          Regular working hunters and regular conformation hunters always showed over 4' fences. And when I was a junior it was not uncommon for juniors to show the same horse in either or both the jr. and working divisions, so I don't see that the height in the new Derby classes should be such an issue.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My old horse did the Regular's when the jumps were 4' - 4'6", this was in the 80's and early 90's. He retired sound from the show ring at 13. At the big shows the oxers would be 4'6". Imagine my surprise when I came back to the hunter world to discover the "4 Foot" horses are jumping 3'9" - the same height as a 2nd year horse. What is the point? ETA: the only shows required to have a 4', 4' division are AA shows.

                            Here is a Regular horse over a REAL Regular jump.

                            http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p..._detroit_1.jpg

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wasn't around back in the day when the regulars normally filled. Maybe someone older and wiser can let us know if the Amateurs and Juniors were also riding in the open divisions "back in the day".

                              My thinking is as an Amateur or Junior you are not restricted to entering the JR/AO division. If your horse is up to the 4' classes, you are free to show him in the OPEN Working Hunter division, which is a legitimate 4' class last time I checked. Then neither of you should feel overwhelmed facing an occasional fence with an additional 3" and you'll be well used to being in the ring with the pros.

                              Obviously if your goal is to clinch the year end in the JRs or AOs you'll mostly be showing in those divisions at 3'6", but if your horse's talents are really over the bigger fences anyway then why not show in the open division at least now and again to keep him prepped for the Derbies.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Seal Harbor View Post
                                My old horse did the Regular's when the jumps were 4' - 4'6", this was in the 80's and early 90's. He retired sound from the show ring at 13. At the big shows the oxers would be 4'6". Imagine my surprise when I came back to the hunter world to discover the "4 Foot" horses are jumping 3'9" - the same height as a 2nd year horse. What is the point? ETA: the only shows required to have a 4', 4' division are AA shows.

                                Here is a Regular horse over a REAL Regular jump.

                                http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p..._detroit_1.jpg
                                Lovely horse!!!!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Just to play devil's advocate here, it would be hard for working A/Os, or non-homeschooled JRs to routinely show in the Workings during the week.

                                  No dog in this fight (hoping to jump 3' again some day!) but it isn't quite that easy to get 4' showing under your belt if you have a job or go to school.
                                  Originally posted by tidy rabbit
                                  Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I think the OP asks a very legitimate question.

                                    I do think part of the success of the Derby format to date is due to the opportunity for juniors and ammys to compete at a height that may be a bit of a stretch, but not a huge increase from where they compete normally. There is a lot of challenge implicit already in the format itself - long galloping courses over much more imposing natural obstacles that most will never see in a "regular division" during the week.

                                    I too love the good working hunters who can show a beautiful bascule over 4' in the regular division; I wonder how many will be able to step up another hole in the cups and also cope with the added challenge of a Derby course. Maybe many will, and Derby horses will truly become like GP jumpers - with many participants and a handful of real superstars. Time will tell.

                                    Personally I wouldn't compare today's Derby winners to the hunters that showed at 4' "way back when," although I am old enough to remember plenty of them at places like Piping Rock, Old Fields, etc. Those horses were good jumpers and fun to watch, but most went like the field hunters they often were, and wouldn't be particularly competitive in today's ring.
                                    **********
                                    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                                    -PaulaEdwina

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I think it would be a great idea for the Juniors and Ammys to show in the regular divisions, but at todays shows the regulars go tues/wed or wed/thurs which makes it impossible for those who work in order to afford to show to be able to compete in the regulars I so wish work did not always get in the way (lol)

                                      Does anyone have any opinions on instituting a non-pro Derby or a low/high Derby? This way the Derby class can still be an enjoyable challenge to the ammy/juniors?
                                      www.threewishesfarm.com
                                      https://www.facebook.com/ThreeWishesFarm
                                      Expecting 2017 foals by Vagabond de la Pomme, Cornet Obolensky, Zirocco Blue, Catoki and Christian.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Does anyone have any opinions on instituting a non-pro Derby or a low/high Derby? This way the Derby class can still be an enjoyable challenge to the ammy/juniors?
                                        NOOOOOOOOO! The entire point of the Derby class is that it is supposed to be high-performance, the Grand Prix of the hunter world! The second that we talk about lowering the standards of the class, we lose that high-performance aspect!

                                        The majority of the 3'6" hunters out there are jumping 3'6" because the majority of the hunter classes are 3'6". I would be willing to bet that just about all the top A/O and Junior Hunters out there are capable of jumping around the 4' and certainly capable of jumping a couple of 4'3" fences on one course. And with all the juniors crossing over into the high Jr/AO classics, and juniors in Grands Prix, it is ludicrous to suggest that a junior rider can't pilot a good hunter around a course of jumps with 4'3" options. It is also ludicrous to suggest that the top A/O riders out there can't do the same.

                                        As for the question of whether Derbies are rewarding equitation horses and jumpers instead of the "true hunters," that's been debated to death before and I truly don't think that the Derby classes are rewarding anything but a good hunter. The increase in height just takes us back about 10 years. Let's not get complacent and suggest that classes should be dumbed down for the majority. Aspire to be better.
                                        "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                                        Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                                        Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

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