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Hunter Prospect? Next step?

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  • Hunter Prospect? Next step?

    Hi guys, I'm visiting from dressage-land and I need help deciding what to do with this horse. I have been doing dressage with her, and she is very very solid in all the flatwork (ready to show training, schooling solid first/some second), and I was getting ready to sell her and decided to free jump her in case an eventer or who ever may be interested. Well, it seems to me she is quite a natural! The first time I just set a teeny tiny cross rail for her, and let her hop over it a few times. Then the next day, I made it a small vertical and then a small oxer, and had friends help so I could get videos. She is easy and willing, and to me, seems to have very good natural form. But, I'm not a hunter (I was in a past life, but that was 10 years ago! So I'm not totally clueless, but it's really not my world). I'm not sure where to go from here.

    Can you please tell me, based on this pic http://www.flickr.com/photos/skerik/...n/photostream/ (which is fuzzy because it's cropped from a video), should I put more training into her as a hunter? Or would a hunter rider buy a horse based on form free jumping? This jump is probably less than 18 inches, but I don't want to over face her with the height of the jump... how long do you take to raise a jump when free jumping a horse? To sell a horse as a "hunter prospect", how much jumping experience do they need? What height should they have jumped? Do they need to be able to get around a small course? Or does it not matter as long as they have the ability? I would rather not have to send her to a trainer for 6 months, if that's what it will take I'll stick with dressage with her! Any suggestions? Is this even worth pursuing with her?

    I'm purposely leaving out all specific info regarding the horse so this doesn't sound like an ad, but she is quality, has nice gaits, sound, etc. So the info I need is specifically regarding how much jump training a horse needs, and how little is acceptable, and a sort of plan or time line to go about teaching her what she needs to know to be appealing as a hunter prospect; or the alternative, that she looks like any horse would and it will take a lot of time to make her stand out of the crowd and I should go back to dressage-land

    Gallant Gesture "Liam" 1995 chestnut ottb gelding
    Mr. Painter "Remy" 2006 chestnut ottb gelding
    My Training Blog: www.dressagefundamentals.com

  • #2
    The photo you posted is too blurry for me to have a useful opinion for you, other than your horse seems to be a pretty bay.

    However... here are some broad generalizations about the hunter market.

    Very few buyers will purchase a hunter prospect based on free jumping, particularly over something that small. Of course you don't want to over face your nice young horse but if you want to go that route, you might consider building a jumping chute and getting your horse accustomed to jumping through it over some larger obstacles. As an aside, oxers are generally going to encourage a prettier jump.

    Yes, most will want to see the horse cantering over a small course (and as a side note, will want to see the horse executing a lead change. Yes, we know this is not how dressage people look at the world of green horses.)

    Hunter riders are generally looking for a sweeping, flat kneed trot with less suspension than would be considered ideal in a dressage horse. You can look on Youtube for examples of what we think of as the "hack winner" type.

    The fact that the horse is well broken on the flat will be a help, for sure, but do realize that a hunter rider *may* sit a bit differently, and want the horse to work on a different contact. Yes, light contact is required in the ring but it's not uncommon to want a hunter to show a nice balanced canter on a loopy rein with the rider in two point - so consider teaching your horse that the whole world doesn't always sit deep in the tack!
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


    • #3
      From what I've heard regarding changing from dressage to hunters is the lead change, if she has her lead change then you're good to promote her as a hunter prospect, if not I'd stay on the dressage side. (For good $$$$) that is, for way less $$$$ then she could go either way with what you've done. IMO


      • Original Poster

        Thanks so much guys, that is very helpful! I am comfortable to dust off my old jump saddle and get in a two point on a loopy rein, and I think she will be fine like that right away, but I will practice it with her to be sure. The lead change... she has done them when I've been working on the counter-canter loop in the first level test, but I haven't actually *tried* to make her do them, so that is definitely something I can work on! Very good suggestion!

        And the jumping chute I can do, how slowly/quickly do you build up the height of the jumps though? And what height does she need to get up to in order to show some real potential?

        The only part that I'm not sure about is the cantering a whole course. I jump once in a blue moon, and only small stuff (like if we come across a log on a trail). I'm good enough to stay out of her way around the course, but I highly doubt I'd be much actual help to her. Is this something that I'll really need to work on (or find another rider to do?), or is it a "nice, but not necessary" thing? Is it something that adds enough value to the price of a horse to justify additional training time?

        (Of course, as I type this, I'm already envisioning getting back in my jump saddle, and starting to think how fun it could be to get back into jumping! lol I did jump my gelding, who's a dressage horse, around a cross rails course last summer just cause it was there, and his flat work is so good the course was easy, so maybe I could pull this off with her...)

        I really appreciate all your patience and suggestions!
        Gallant Gesture "Liam" 1995 chestnut ottb gelding
        Mr. Painter "Remy" 2006 chestnut ottb gelding
        My Training Blog: www.dressagefundamentals.com


        • #5
          I wouldn't bother getting too elaborate with the jumping loose in a chute thing. Most buyers aren't going to "buy" that as a substitute for seeing her ridden over a small course anyway, so if it's not easy for you, I'd just skip it.

          Definitely do get the lead changes confirmed if you can - that is a huge issue for hunter people as you simply can't show successfully without one, even at the lower levels.

          Then yes, I'd just dust off your cc saddle and pop her over a few jumps. Remember that all the work you'd do with a green horse to introduce them to jumping is also just what you'd do for a green jumping rider, and there are lots of people who'd suggest that your only job is to stay in a soft two point and stay out of the horse's way as it sorts it all out. Start with rails on the ground, and focus on the quality of the canter (jumping is just flatwork with obstacles in the way, and the obstacles are the horse's problem.) Think about going straight and forward, and once the rails are easy, make yourself a little cross rail, and do it the same way. Etc.
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


          • #6
            How much jumping she needs to do depends on how much money you want for her... there are hunter people that buy green horses that haven't jumped, or, in your case, not so green horses that haven't jumped... they just don't tend to pay a lot of money for those horses.

            In the picture that you chose to post your horse is good with her top line, but jumping over her shoulder with her knees down. The next picture in the cue is actually better, although in that picture she is jumping a bit flat and is loose below the knee... looking at several of the shots, I'd say that she has potential.

            I don't know what the market is like where you live. It's pretty sucky here in California... for something solidly 1st level that's free jumped a little I'd expect to pay anywhere from 5K to 20K.... most likely closer to the bottom end of that price range right now.