The Hunter Under Saddle Ideal


The Hunter Under Saddle is a popular class at most horse shows. The classes are perhaps more prevalent in the Northeast, but you will see them all across the country and in different countries. No matter what breed you show or what level you perform; there are certain criteria that the judges will look for.

The ideal hunter should show manners, willingness, quality of movement, and functional correctness. Hunters should also be suitable to purpose, meaning that the horse should be able ride the fields and be able to cover a lot of ground with minimal effort. The ideal hunter will also have a long and low stride. He will reach forward easily and smoothly. The rider will also be able to lengthen and shorten strides as necessary. The horse should move in a free-flowing manner and exhibit the correct gates. The quality of movement and the consistency of gaits are the most important features in the movement of the hunter and the judge will begin looking for those first.

The hunter should be obedient and have a bright expression. The ears should be alert and he will respond willingly with light contact from the leg or hand. The horse should also transition to faster slower gaits with ease. When the hunter is asked to extend the trot or hand gallop, he should do so smoothly and in the same flowing motion of his other gaits. The poll should be level, or slightly above the withers. Horses with a poll lower than the withers will be penalized. The head position should be slightly in front of or on the vertical.

The hunter will be penalized for being on the wrong lead at the canter or the wrong diagonal at the trot. He will be penalized for a lot of knee action as well as short and quick strides. Excessive slowness or speed will also be penalized, however, most judges want the horse to move at a pace that is comfortable for them. They do not want excessively canters and they do not want exhibitors to be afraid to pass. If you are on a seventeen-hand horse and the person in front of you is on a fifteen-hand horse, you are going to need to pass them at a canter. Horses will also be penalized for not taking the gait when cued or consistent breaking of gait.


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