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Another spinoff - riding to stay on instead of riding to look pretty?

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  • Another spinoff - riding to stay on instead of riding to look pretty?

    I'm always confused by this statement, which I read most recently in the bitting thread.

    What's the difference between how one rides in the hunter ring and how one rides in the hunt field?

    I'm curious because my RI, who grew up hunting, is definitely teaching me to stay on. She knows I hope to hunt one day and our lessons focus on things like how to stay in the tack and remain balanced and help the horse through difficult conditions. But she also wants me to show, and it doesn't appear to me she teaches her show students any differently than she's teaching me.

    What do show hunters do differently?
    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

  • #2
    Ironically, if you ride to stay on you will have a form, classic form, which functions and keeps you in the saddle through thick and thin....deep seat and heels, soft hands, tight leg, upper body in sync with the horse etc etc

    Look at the show ring riders.....fake fake fake and stiff, perched on horses, exaggerating their stances and if pony stumbles or spooks, they are off balance and/or off their shouder too. Not all of them....but a lot.

    Send them hunting, most would not last 5 minutes.

    At least that is what I SEE.

    Teacher may say the same things in the ring but get a different response and look on horseback.

    Comment


    • #3
      A couple of years ago we hosted the Jr. Fox Hunting Championship qualifier. My horse loosened a shoe and we were coming early. A few of the judges came with me. Several of them were/are well known in the Hunter ring. One of them told how well the juniors rode and they could be competitive in the "A" rings. She said it was sad that the kids in the Hunter shows didn't hunt anymore as it would improve their riding.

      Comment


      • #4
        Oh boy.....Coming from a show barn, I will offer my 2 cents if everyone understands that I am not trying to be critical or judgemental. These are just my observations garnered over the past 10 years.

        It has been my experience that many non-pro hunter riders (especially those who learned to ride at a show barn as opposed to coming up through Pony Club or something similar) are more like passengers on a horse than a rider. I think that it is quite common now for hunter riders to have their trainer find, train, tune, etc their hunter horse and anytime the horse begins to do something unexpected or not within the range of desired behavior, the pro gets back on to "fix" it. Therefore, the rider never learns to deal with anything. Of course, one has to have the pocketbook to support this type of riding.

        The goal, after all, of a show hunter is to for nothing to change. A good trip for a show hunter is when they get exactly the correct amount of strides without having to wait or move up, to (ideally) land on the correct lead or to effortlessly swap in the corner if they didn't (without the rider actually having to ask for a swap), and to jump each fence from the same perfect distance in the same perfect form. A show hunter rider's goal is to stay out of her horse's way and do nothing. Releases are often big and exagerrated to show how easily and perfectly the horse jumps with no help from the rider. If you did this in the field, I would think you would be toast on the other side of the fence. Your canter around the ring should be relatively slow with a big stride. Definately not the gallop you may see in the field. Your horse should appear relatively bored by the whole event. This is for regular classes. Derby classes and things like handy hunter classes are a little different.

        I think that if you are a rider with a less than limitless budget, your riding in the hunters is different. You probably don't have a super made horse so you actually have to find distances and make corrections. You may not have the budget to have your trainer constantly "fixing" your horse so you figure out how to do it on your own.

        I do not mean to insult anyone by this. It is simply what I have observed and your take on the show hunters may be entirely different.

        Comment


        • #5
          choooo choooo!

          "What do show hunters do differently?"
          the short answer is ALOT
          www.destinationconsensusequus.com
          chaque pas est fait ensemble

          Comment


          • #6
            uh oh....here we go...

            My fox-hunting and equitation/hunter training mother always said "If you want to ride with a lot of exceptionally poor riders, foxhunt." of course she didnt mean all of them.

            My opinion is if you have the means to ride whenever you want, do it right...especially if you ride with different hunts. Hunting can still be a prestigious sport, you can spend mega bucks at horsecountry and be beautifully turned out but hunting should be so much more than dressing nicely. People speaking of those who show A and AA and probably couldnt hold their own in the field, well, I find that interesting. I like to think that beautiful/strong riders who dress the part and meet the appointments are the ones who serve as fine ambassadors to not only other hunts but to the entire world of fox-hunting all together. I dont see the point of riding to just hold on when you have the opportunity to ride and become a great rider...if that makes sense.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              The above explanations, especially skyy's make sense about how it's possible to look good but still not be able to hang on under less-than-ideal conditions.

              But I still don't understand how the reverse is true - how can one be a poor rider and not get tossed off in the hunt field? (ETA: Really not trying to start a train wreck. I've had hunters tell me that when I finally do go hunting, I will see examples of both great and wretched riders. I'm just curious as to how the bad riders manage to come home in one piece. )
              I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

              Comment


              • #8
                Generally speaking those hunt riders who can't ride well but "make it home in one piece" have really good horses that can get them out of trouble.

                Though I don't ride in the hunt it is hosted by our farm and we have many other boarders who hunt. A few are really good riders but others are middle-aged men or husbands. Again they all have really good horses and tend to be heavy in the seat which keeps them from falling off.

                I may be completely off on this but this is what I have seen in my barn, if you have a good (broke) hunt horse that knows the drill the horse will follow the group and keep the rider from getting into a sticky situation. All the rider has to is sit up there with a reasonable amount of balence, post at the trot, and two-point at the gallop and over fences.
                “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

                !! is the new .

                Comment


                • #9
                  Riding to "look pretty" versus riding to "stay on" has little to do with foxhunters versus show hunter riders.

                  IME riding to look pretty is usually learned from a certain trainer, barn etc.. that one chooses to ride with. I know plenty of riders who are not secure in the tack, are not comfortable riding and jumping XC and prefer to pose on a packer rather than ride a horse that demands an actual rider. Generally these riders are not specific to any one discipline. There are great and mediocre trainers in all disciplines. I could say the same for dressage and eventing.
                  I know riders that grew up in h/j/eq barns and they are excellent riders who can ride a variety of horses XC and hunt with EASE. Sometimes with more ease and more safely than those who have been hunting for awhile They usually have great equitation as well. The good show oriented barns teach their riders to be soft, supple and tactful riders that are strong in the tack and they take their riders out of the ring as well. I used to ride with a H/J trainer whose kids/juniors regularly had hour long lessons with no stirrups jumping 3 ft courses. Needless to say they also could go out and gallop XC at a hunter pace or derby effortlessly. Most of those show barn kids could ride ten times better than I could on any given day. That trainer foxhunted on a weekly basis as well

                  Just because one foxhunts doesn't mean you have a free pass to go around riding horribly. I try to lesson regularly with a h/eq trainer to keep my equitation in check. I also use videos to assess my riding when I can.
                  The fact that I care about equitation doesn't seem to affect my ability to stay on while riding Xc or hunting. Truly correct HSE equitation is balanced and effective. In fact, I credit one of my trainers for developing my solid lower leg that absolutely HAS kept me on while out hunting. I also credit her for the fact I can jump XC and get a decent distance cause lord knows I didn't learn that from foxhunting.

                  The problem is alot of trainers these days don't teach proper HSE and you sometimes see the results of this in the show ring.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post
                    Generally speaking those hunt riders who can't ride well but "make it home in one piece" have really good horses that can get them out of trouble.

                    .
                    I agree. Just like there are riders in the show ring who have really broke horses that just pack them along.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think what it boils down to (and what I was trying to say) is that if you learned to ride on a nice made horse or pony and that's all you've ever ridden, and you've only ridden in a ring where the jumps are exactly on stride and the situation is controlled, then you may never get the opportunity to test yourself and learn how to do things. Unfortunately, many people never get the opportunity to get out of the ring. From the 2 times (a few years ago) that I went cubbing, control was something that was not in abundance (not control of the horses or hounds, but control of the environment). You never knew what was going to happen so you couldn't prepare for it. That is the part of it that got me interested and wanting to do it again.

                      Of course, you need to be able to ride as well as you can but thinking "chin up, eyes up, arch in my lower back, hands perfectly together, shoulders back, etc" is rather pointless. You just instinctively ride and it is very liberating. I jumped some things cubbing that would have scared the crap out of me in the ring because I get so intent on making it perfect. In the field, I just wanted to get to the other side so we could go on. As long as I was in balance with my horse and didn't interfere, it didn't matter where we left or how we landed (as long as it was safe of course).

                      I do agree that it is the trainer you associate yourself with who determines if you learn to ride or you learn to be a passenger. I think that in an effort to get people to the show ring as quickly as possible, that some trainers may find it easier to teach a student to be a passenger than to teach them to be a rider.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think saying show hunters ride to look pretty while field hunters ride to stay on is like saying that people walking on a street are walking to look pretty while people walking in the field are walking to stay upright. In either case, the goal is to stay upright. In one landscape, it's a bit easier to look pretty while staying upright. In the other, you need to get down to business a little more. Either way, you need to stay on. And, either way, you look pretty whenever you can manage it.

                        Either way, show hunters better be riding to stay on. If they come off, they get disqualified. Way to blow $500+ dollars right there if you can't stay on.
                        CLIPclop Bodyclipping by Morgan
                        Serving North GA with high quality clips.
                        --> Just Press Start // '99 Oldenburg
                        --> Always The Optimist (reg. Simply Stylin) // '02 Thoroughbred

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by skyy View Post
                          Of course, you need to be able to ride as well as you can but thinking "chin up, eyes up, arch in my lower back, hands perfectly together, shoulders back, etc" is rather pointless. You just instinctively ride and it is very liberating. I jumped some things cubbing that would have scared the crap out of me in the ring because I get so intent on making it perfect. In the field, I just wanted to get to the other side so we could go on. As long as I was in balance with my horse and didn't interfere, it didn't matter where we left or how we landed (as long as it was safe of course).

                          .
                          But if you work on these basics often enough both in and out of the ring they become instinctive regardless of where you are riding. You no longer have to think about it just because one is riding XC or galloping in an open field. When it comes to jumping XC if you have you a good balanced canter as well as consistent pace and rhythm the distances just come naturally.

                          I ride more out of the ring than I do in the ring. Therefore I have to make an effort to think about my riding while out of the ring too. Actually, I think I have to think about it more. It's alot harder to keep my horse consistent and balanced working nicely on flatwork in a field than it is in the ring. Every move my body makes counts and affects his way of going. If my shoulders are slumped, eyes down and hands stiff/rigid he isn't going to be going balanced and on the bit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There should not be any difference.

                            That a difference now exists IS the problem - and not just in foxhunting.

                            Good riding is good riding - regardless of activity or discipline. What you might see out hunting (in addition to bad riding which you can see everywhere) is unique though.

                            You'll see a beautifully turned out rider with wonderful equitation that is comfortable galloping across a hayfield with one hand on the reins and looking behind her shouting tally ho. Or a rider that knows how to ride defensively and can recover when the horse stumbles at speed, pecks or chips in at a fence, spooks, or gets giddy on a run.

                            Basically a rider that has such good equitation that they can completely drop form when necessary and still be balanced, light and lovely to watch.

                            We should be able to see that in all disciplines. But I think it is out hunting where those skills can really be developed to the benefit of both horse and rider. If that isn't possible or desired - getting the heck out of the ring.
                            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                            -Rudyard Kipling

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well said J Swan, there should be little difference between the two.

                              Adding to that, fox hunting horses come in all skill sets & types- smooth over fences, big jumpers, laid back, patient, unforgiving, keen and so on. Finding the horse with the personality and skill set that works well with the rider and the style/pace of their hunt becomes the image.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Some clever wag once said that if you ever go watch foxhunting you'll be so frightened you'll never want to try it- one does see things and wonder how the heck that rider and/or horse survives out there.

                                As noted- good riding is good riding wherever it may be. If you don't have a solid foundation, you are going to buy real estate wherever you happen to be riding. Speaking for myself, I've long since lost count but have probably hit the dirt as much inside arenas as outside. However- I would say the weaknesses would be magnified if you are not prepared when you have to negotiate a drop fence or a trappy stream crossing. When I peruse the Chronicle each week and see pictures of winners in equitation classes- more often than not I find myself thinking 'gee, if that horse pecks on landing, that rider is gone- perched on the neck, no leg.'

                                A point to consider is that 'ugly' form is not necessarily poor form- the basics apply everywhere, don't bang the horse's mouth or back.

                                Conversely- it is a joy, out hunting, to watch people who are truly elegant- show ring winners- as they demonstrate really truly good equitation in a cross country speed setting. The late Jackie Onassis comes to mind- and of course Betty Oare- and Ellie Wood- who did win the Maclay at the Garden, back in the 1930s.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Beverley View Post

                                  As noted- good riding is good riding wherever it may be. If you don't have a solid foundation, you are going to buy real estate wherever you happen to be riding.
                                  That is a great phrase!

                                  As a former hunter/equitation rider, I sometimes cringe at the equitation seen in the eventing world. I am talking about a simple jump in an open field, not a drop or bank, etc. That does not mean these riders are bad riders, just that they have not spent over a decade being told to keep their back flat, rear over the saddle, eyes up, etc. My equitation has changed a bit over the years also, and I may not get the ribbons I used to get in the ring. Maybe I will test that theory this Spring.

                                  The basic difference in a show hunter and a field hunter is similar to the difference between a show hunter and a show jumper. Form over function for the show hunter. The judge is looking for a horse that looks effortless to ride and does his job without being asked. Field hunters and show jumpers do not care about form - as long as the horse gets over the jump and the rider stays on.

                                  You can go on Youtube and find some horrible fox hunters. Most will be good, a few will have one or two bad fences and a few will have every fence being bad. Many people get away with this because, as another poster said, they have a foxhunting schoolmaster that takes care of them, doesn't care about being bumped on the mouth or hit on the back a bit. Another horse may bolt, buck, throw his head, rear, spin, etc. with the above actions.

                                  Some people are just really good at staying on and just not pretty to look at. The hunter/jumper forum was talking about this once - I forget which show jumper was the topic - but his equitation was being questioned and someone said his success was a combination of getting great rides and an ability to stay on, even though he looked like a sack of potatoes doing it.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TheRedFox View Post
                                    uh oh....here we go...

                                    My fox-hunting and equitation/hunter training mother always said "If you want to ride with a lot of exceptionally poor riders, foxhunt." of course she didnt mean all of them.
                                    ha- this is often very true- at least where I hunt!

                                    Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post
                                    Generally speaking those hunt riders who can't ride well but "make it home in one piece" have really good horses that can get them out of trouble.
                                    And this is very true as well


                                    My take on this is if you're good, you're good. I board at a show barn and the trainer there is very low level- I don't particularly care for the way she rides, I don't see her ride that much, but I see her students riding all the time.
                                    And quite frankly- those kids pop off like no bodies business when something comes up.
                                    I think if you foxhunt you can really acquire a unique seat. And that just comes from a little bit of hanging on and letting the horse do it's thing. You can't micromanage a horse out foxhunting- you have to give them a little bit more freedom because of the chaotic nature of everything. Because of this- riders learn to stay WITH the horse- through everything. But I think this can also be developed by riding a lot of horses in a lot of different circumstances

                                    The girls at my barn keep going around the outside of the ring and they have this awkward fake pose, that ideally represents balance over the top of the horse. But that;s just bad position. The heels DONT have to be jammed down and your back doesn't have to be all arched with your butt in the air. Watch Louise Serio- she DEFINITELY doesn't do that! I saw her out hunting one time and she looked the same as she does in the ring- natural.


                                    I think one habit most foxhunters get into is leaning forward a bit with the shoulders. I know I do and it's the hardest thing for me in the ring sitting up!

                                    But to answer this long winded reply concisely- A good rider in the ring should look just as good in the show ring and and good rider out hunting should be able to do well in the show ring.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by skyy View Post
                                      Of course, you need to be able to ride as well as you can but thinking "chin up, eyes up, arch in my lower back, hands perfectly together, shoulders back, etc" is rather pointless. You just instinctively ride and it is very liberating. I jumped some things cubbing that would have scared the crap out of me in the ring because I get so intent on making it perfect. In the field, I just wanted to get to the other side so we could go on. As long as I was in balance with my horse and didn't interfere, it didn't matter where we left or how we landed (as long as it was safe of course).
                                      This, to me, answers the question in a nutshell. If you're riding to stay on, you're riding to be "in balance with your horse and not interfere." True HSE comes from doing this - stable leg to get yourself off the horse's back, following hands, body leaned forward but not in front of the motion, chin up for balance, etc. If you're riding to LOOK PRETTY, you're riding for "chin up, eyes up, arch in lower back, hands perfectly together, shoulders back, etc."

                                      "Pretty" is a subjective thing. Put a pic of yourself in front of George Morris doing all those things to stay in balance and not interfere, and you'll get high marks for looking good. Go into the hunter ring and some (not all!) will respond to someone standing up in too long stirrups (lengthens the leg line) way off the horse's back (makes it look like he really jumped you out of the tack), with hands floating above the crest halfway up the neck (look, ma, he needs no hands!), ducking to look at just how high the horse has jumped. That's THEIR "pretty."

                                      Saying that if you ride to stay on you can't ride to be pretty is like saying that Heidi Klum looks like crap at the grocery store because she's wearing jeans, flip flops, and no makeup. It might be minimal, but she's got all the right equipment to look great, and she does.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        i'd like to add that the terrain has a huge amount to do with things, how your form and your balance affects the horse. our hunt country can be very steep and at times rocky. i've literally waterskiied down a super steep trail, practically laying on the horse's butt and keeping it's front end up and haunches underneath for balance, then at the bottom , had to get immediatly into 2 point to gallop on to keep up with the hounds...very physical, and much more of a range that one does with one's body, if the terrain is radical.....and of course different horses require a different set of tools, depending on how they are built and how they move. JMO

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