Questions Regarding Hunter & Park Classes Judging Answered by “Judge 2”:

Questions regarding Hunter class judging answered by “Judge 2”:
(2 of the questions are answered together since they were related. Also to shorten the post I have edited the questions. To see the question in its entirety go to “What Would You Ask A Judge?”)


1)Some judges judge (Hunter and Park classes) right to the book, and others seem to go more for a stylized Morgan. I would be very interested to know why this happens, and what we can do to gain more consistency between shows? Several of the World Champion hunters over the past two years have been successful English Pleasure horses the season before. Meanwhile, horses such as Zimbabwe who were tough to beat a couple of years ago don’t seem to be as successful against the higher headed bigger moving hunters. Why is that?

2) A Morgan in any division needs to be built like and move like a Morgan, but when is a hunter not a hunter? If you have a horse who is a great example of a Morgan but is really too saddle seat for a hunter class, and a beautiful hunter who could be competitive in an open hunter under saddle class, but doesn’t have the animation of most Morgans, which is the better Morgan hunter?
The hunter classes are always overflowing with entries, but so many of them look like they could easily go classic or English. Most of the hunters seem to go in double bridles. So many of those hunters just look like saddle seat horses with braids.
So I guess my question would be what is or what should be the standard for judging a Morgan hunter compared with the standard for judging an open, all-breed hunter under saddle class?

Answer “Judge 2”:

First, judging is subjective and if you talk to 10 different people, you could easily get 10 different answers. A horse that one person thinks has a “beautiful” head may have a “so-so” head according to someone else. Same is true –with “way of going” for our horses. The judging rules state that park horses are to be judged on various criteria based on the type of Park class ie junior exhibitor, ladies, open, etc. Consistent in all classes is to be judged for “proper cadence and balance”. For example in a park class, we have some pretty extreme movers in our breed, but they deliver that movement in a host of different ways. Some park horses have spider like legs, some have more up and down movement, some are really strong behind and some not so strong behind. Some judges focus on the upheadedness of the horse, the extreme bridle… Bottom line though, is that everyone has an opinion about what they like-and opinions vary from individual to individual.

Same is true with hunters. The USEF rules state “The Morgan hunter pleasure horse should demonstrate proper Morgan type and conformation. The Morgan may travel with his nose out slightly ahead of the vertical. The horse should give a ground covering impression. He should have ground covering gaits that would be comfortable for horse and rider over extended periods of time”….all which is left to the interpretation of the judge. The rules don’t state how high the head should be carried…only where the nose should be.

I’m not so sure that striving for consistency should be priority. If we become so focused on one particular style of movement, what do we do with all of our horses that vary from that style? I will stand by “different strokes for different folks”- variety is not a bad thing!

 (Editor’s Note:  I am going to try to post the Judges answers together as much as possible but given their busy schedules that judge’s might not be able to get them to me at the same time.)

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