Hunter Attitude

There has been some discussion of “ask a Judge”. I have a question for a hunter judge:  the description of a Morgan hunter indicates that the picture presented is supposed to evoke a controlled horse who appears capable of travelling cross-country.  The horse should be forward-looking.

That being said, who started showing Morgan hunters with  a headset tucked so that they can only see about 30 feet in front of their hooves?    It is a pretty picture, if you are into Baroque, but I was attracted to Hunter because they looked like they could Do Something.   I see an influence from the Dressage Arena, but Dressage horses have their heads tucked for a very specific purpose.  It seems like the Hunters are Dressage horses from the neck up and (some, at least) EP horses from the trunk down.

I have a lovely 4 year old who has a nice hunter frame, but she will probably never bring her face perpendicular comfortably.  She is not built to do so.   Do I jam her into a double-bridle just so she looks like the rest of the class, or do I keep her happy and forward-looking with her nose out a bit?

10 Responses to Hunter Attitude

  1. Vintage_Rider says:

    All I have is an opinion, and we all know the definition of that. There is a difference between “tucked in” and “behind the bit”……. I too believe a hunter should be as you described, but not ahead of the vertical (nose in front of the bit) but rather in the bridle. Even WP should be on the vertical, but that doesn’t mean the hunter, again, IMO needs to have it’s head in a high headed position. In frame, but no nose leading the way on the flat pleasure riding. I would think it would be difficult to not be a bit “strung out” with the nose leading the way.

    That being said, it doesn’t appear I am in the majority, especially when looking at how this has changed in just the last few years. and what is being awarded.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Keep her comfortable with her nose slightly in front of the vertical. A comfortable horse will leave a better impression. You won’t set the world on fire, but some judges may appreciate and some may not as with any show. If you are planning to sell her than make sure you target the appropriate market. If you plan to keep her then put her in the appropriate level of competition. It is kind of like a race horse: you wouldn’t take the average claiming horse and put it in a Grade I race.

    It is actually preferable for a Dressage horse to have its nose slightly in front of the vertical.

  3. leslie says:

    Per the rule book (not that the judges necessarily ever go by that ol’ thing):

    “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. A Morgan Hunter Pleasure Horse should not carry his head behind the vertical.”

    I wish the judges would severely penalize horses that spend most of the class behind the vertical. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though.

  4. Chris Nerland says:

    Thanks for the comments. Nice to know I am not the only one who has a problem with this. I am planning to take her to the October show in Lexington so we will see how she looks then.

  5. Montehorse says:


    The PMHA show in Lexington is an excellent show to take horses to in October. The prize list and entry forms have already been posted. We will be there too:)

    After watching several hunter classes, I believe that the judges are looking for a horse that is animated, but also moving forward covering ground. A thinner neck, and a clean throat-latch are desirable in this division. Morgans that have size and presents stand out. A horse’s head should not be behind the vertical at any point in the ride. Hunter horses should have manners and should always be able to flat walk. (This is from my observations of course)

  6. Chris Nerland says:

    I am definitely planning to come to the show in October. We are only about 3 hours away (East Tenn) and I really liked the facilities at the Blue Grass Classic. I will just have to see how this mare is moving by then. Thank you for the comments, I will keep them in mind.

  7. Peppermintpatti says:

    Hey Chris, I live in Maryville, how about you? There are few of us morgan folks in east Tennessee! I went to the Blue Grass Classic also, it was a great show.

  8. Chris Nerland says:

    Hello, Patti! We have a few Morgan fanciers in the Blue Ridge Morgan Horse Club. We live up at Jefferson City
    I agree it was a great show. I was impressed by the very high quality of Morgans there. I got a chance to see horses I would not normally see outside of a Regional or OKC. However the show in October sounds like a great show for AOTRs.
    Did you show a horse at Bluegrass?

  9. Peppermintpatti says:

    Yes, I have a western horse with Mary Carlton named Graycliff Rimfire. My best friend’s daughter is showing him this year in amateur. Our farm here in Maryville is located on Peppermint Creek that is why the name Peppermint Patti. My actual name is Janie Denning. I am happy to have another east Tennessee morgan lover so close by. We are surrounded by hunter jumpers and saddlebreds aren’t we? Hope I get to meet you in person someday!

  10. Chris Nerland says:

    Yes, our Liberty Classic mixed breed show has few morgans now and it is being taken over by racking horses. Still, we hang in there and try to support it as well as we can. You are probably going to OKC this fall, if not, come up to the October show in Lexington and I will see you there! Of course, you can come visit our farm as well!

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