Hunter Over Fences
The desired horse in this competition is to resemble a quiet, well-mannered working hunter.
Hunters are scored on their manners, gait, and conformation. Points are taken off for excessive speed or slowness, breaking gait or failing to take a gait when called for, carrying the head too high or low, taking the wrong lead at the canter, the rider being on the wrong diagonal at the trot, the horse nosing out or flexing behind the vertical, and stumbling.
Hunters are well groomed for show, clean with a shiny coat. They carry a bit more weight than an eventing horse or racehorse. The hooves are normally polished before the horse enters the show ring. The horse's head is trimmed, focusing on the whiskers around the muzzle, the hair of the ears, the bridle path, and lower jaw. The legs are also trimmed, removing all fetlock hair and feathering, and trimming the pasterns and coronet. The mane and forelock may be braided, usually using yarn matching the color of the mane. The tail may be braided from the top down to the end of the tail bone, with the rest of the tail left loose.
A good show hunter is also judged on good conformation and must possess an excellent jumping form. The forearm should be parallel or higher with the ground, and the knees and lower legs should be even. The horse should not be lazy with its lower legs, but should tuck them under its forearm as it clears the fence, clearly bending its fetlocks and knees. The horse should not throw its body or legs to one side, but should stay perfectly straight over the fence. A good show hunter should show a great bascule, or roundness over a jump. This is often described as the horse taking the shape of a dolphin jumping out of the water, with the horse's back up, and its head reaching forward and down over the fence.
The hunter is an efficent mount. The stride is and covers much ground with little effort. It's profile in movement is low and there is little flexion of the horse's joints as it moves. RThe best hunters moves most from the shoulder and hip. The hunter moves smoothly and freely, pointing its toes as it floats over the ground. It should a kind of floating knee action with long fluid strides. The horse should be forward cadence, so it could jump if needed, but no faster than necessary. The hunter must always be in a balanced frame. The frame of the show hunter differs from that of dressage horses, eventers, and show jumpers, as it travels in a long and low frame, with its head moderately extended. Its frame is more "stretched out" than horses competing in dressage, eventing, or show jumping, but the horse should not be on its forehand. The riders of hunters often ride on a slightly looser rein than seen elsewhere to facilitate this type of movement, and the horse carries its head just in front of the vertical. Even though hunter travels in a long and low frame, it should still be able to collect its stride when necessary yet still maintain tempo and rhythm.
The walk of the hunter is free and ground-covering; the trot should be balanced and flowing. The canter should be moderately collected. The horse should have a long galloping stride but it should still be balanced and rhythmic.
Circling once upon entering the arena before first jump is permissible and again once before leaving the arena is allowed.
No cross entering from Hunter Hack, Hunter Pace or Handy Hunter Classes.
You Score Hunter Over Fences on the following basis:
(b) (1) Minimum of four obstacles. Horses to jump a minimum of eight fences. One change of direction is mandatory.
(2) Obstacles which may be used:
(B) The top element of all fences must be securely placed in a jump cup so that a slight rub will not cause a knockdown;
(C) Distance between fences is recommended to be in 12-foot (3.5 meters) increments with the exception of some combinations: one stride in and out, 24-26 feet (7 meters); two strides in and out, 36 feet (11 meters); three strides, 48 feet (14.5 meters);
(D) Minimum height for junior horses, youth and amateur classes must be three feet (90 cm), with a maximum of three feet three inches (1 meter); heights for senior horses must be a minimum of three feet three inches (1 meter), with a maximum of three feet six inches (1.07 meters), and all-ages must be a minimum of three feet (90 cm) with a maximum of three feet six inches (110 cm). Minimum height for novice and select will be two feet six inches (79 cm) with a maximum of two feet nine inches.
(E) A variation of three inches (75 mm) in fence height, lower than official heights listed, may be instituted if show management and the judge feel circumstances warrant, i.e., footing, weather, etc.;
(F) The use of wings on obstacles in hunter classes is recommended; standards made of PVC material must be anchored or properly secured.
(G) Jump standards with hole heights at three inch (75 mm) intervals with jump cups are recommended.
(2) Scoring shall be on a basis of 0-100, with an approximate
breakdown as follows:
(B) 80-89: a good performer that jumps all fences reasonably well; an excellent performer that commits one or two minor faults. (C) 70-79: the average, fair mover that makes no serious
faults, but lacks the style, cadence and good balance of the scopier horses; the good performer that makes a few minor faults.
(D) 60-69: poor movers that make minor mistakes; fair or average movers that have one or two poor fences but no major faults or disobediences.
(E) 50-59: a horse that commits one major fault, such as a hind knockdown, refusal, trot, cross canter or drops a leg.
(F) 30-49: a horse that commits two or more major faults, including front knockdowns and refusals, or jumps in a manner that otherwise endangers the horse and/or rider.
(G) 10-29: a horse that avoids elimination but jumps in such an unsafe and dangerous manner as to preclude a higher score.
(2) Jumping an obstacle before it is reset.
(3) Bolting from the arena.
(4) Off course.
(5) Deliberately addressing an obstacle.
(6) Failure to trot the horse in a small circle on a loose rein for soundness, after jumping the last fence, while still mounted and prior to leaving the arena.
If You Use A Doll Rider:
The rider should sit in a comfortable, balanced, and relaxed manner while maintaining an erect upper body with eyes up and looking forward.
The riderís legs should have a slight bend and hang beneath the rider such that when viewed from a profile, a straight line (approximately) can be drawn through the riderís ear, shoulder, hip and heel.
The irons should be placed under the balls of the feet and not under the toe or against the heel.
Toes should be turned only slightly out with ankles flexed in toward the horse.
The lower leg should be held such that light contact would be maintained with the horse.
Arms and hands should be held in a comfortable, relaxed manner with upper arms held in a straight line with the body. The elbow is bent such that the lower arm and hands are in a straight line to the bit.
Hands should be slightly over and in front of the withers with knuckles 30 degrees inside the vertical.
Position in Motion;
At a posting trot, the body should be inclined forward with slight elevation in the saddle.
At the canter, the body should be halfway between the posting trot and the walk.
At the gallop, and while jumping, the body should be at a similar inclination as when at a posting trot.
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Updated: January 13, 2013