Polls are back!

What’s your opinion on “Park Hunters”?  If none of my options quite express how you feel, sound off here.

39 Responses to Polls are back!

  1. RaeOfLight says:

    Hehe. I’m glad it looks like at least one person got my bad @** joke :)

  2. markmhf says:

    This is a very hot button topic for me as I think this issue has been blown way out of proportion. Full disclosure before I begin this . . . my barn is one that has been accused of having “park hunters” which is something I strongly disagree with.
    I am a licensed judge as many on this list I am sure are, and to be so we have to go through judges schools. One thing I heard in the judges school that has stuck with me is that hunter should go twice as long as high. If you actually stick to that as a guideline a vast majority of hunters do so. It also falls under the old saying “its not how high one goes, its how they go high” (another term heard at judges school, see I pay attention in class). By how they go high I mean for them to have the rounded trot which a hunter needs that then lengthens during the extensions. This comes from the shoulder but doesnt start there. It starts at the back ends. Instead of focusing so much on the front ends of hunters people need to look behind the withers at the hind end (something that isnt done in most divisions) as the Morgan at least in my opinion is a rear wheel drive breed.

    I honestly dont feel the “park hunters” that everyone gets up in arms about is actually that big of an issue. The ones that bother me most are the ones that either come to their elbows or ones that toss their front feet away and dont finish the roll of the shoulder. That comes from a lack of engagement from the hind end.

    The other thing that doesnt seem to be pointed out enough because of everyone pulling out their tape measures and measuring the height of the front motion is the overall frame. It should be a smooth frame that flows nicely from the head to the tail, a silhouette so to speak. Most of the horses winning today have that nice smooth silhouette and to keep that the motion up front has to a smooth rolling from the shoulder (falling under the twice as long as high rule) engaging from the hind end. If they are just waving their front legs like a park saddle horse then that picture is impossible to get. If you look most of the ones winning today have all of these things so I believe the park hunter being rewarded argument is shot down for the most part. Does it happen occassionally, yes but I feel in the past couple of years the correct horses have won a majority of the classes.

    The Morgan is an athletic breed and we should be proud of that as long as it falls within the specifications of each division. The breed, as with everything else in the world, is continually evolving, most of it good, and this should be embraced. Some of the deepest quality of horse flesh at most shows is now found in the hunter division, they are the toughest classes to win in my opinion. This division is now being so embraced by trainers and clients that many of the most marketable horses are in the hunter division which we should be all thankful for. Not everyone needs to have the “fire breathing” park horse.

    My fear and I did see it some this year in some classes, is that judges are going to be so nervous to pin horses that trot high, even correctly for the division, that they will pin a lesser horse over the more deserving horse for that reason, this will set the division back rather than progress it forward.

    I am sure this will bring on a slew of responses, and heated discusion but as they say “thats my story and I’m sticking to it”

    Mark Bodnar

  3. Oakstar says:

    Bravo, Mark! I think your hunters are gorgeous and you are certainly won your share of great ribbons to show for your hard work.

    I completely agree with you that we should be looking at the overall frame of the hunter and how they move not just how high. A lot of the hunters that are winning are doing so with a beautiful frame, a powerful hind end, AND a big front end. And it’s beautiful!

  4. Flmorgan says:

    We have Hunters that show on the flat and over fences. We pin very well and win a few because I believe if a horse is talented and athletic they will do well regardless of the shoes or length of hoof. [ ours wear aluminum plates up front for the jumping. ]

  5. colwilrin says:

    Mark is so spot on about the total picture and back end. They need to be in soft frame, dig from the back end, and have big rolling front end shoulder motion. Some horses are able to do all that and go level too…we like to refer to them as “world champions!” LOL :)

    What I see as “park hunters” are those with sewing machine action and necks up angularly (stiff pole) , rather than nicely curved into frame. Those were consistently pinned down at every show I attended this year. The judges want rounded forward motion…and the horses out there are stepping up in ability and quality.

  6. leslie says:

    If people generally believe that saddle seat horses are not what’s being rewarded in the hunter ring, than why are they bitted (is that a word?) and shod like they are? Even Arabian and Saddlebred hunters don’t usually wear long-shanked curbs and weighted like hunters on the Morgan circuit do. They aren’t generally traveling level, either, and high motion is a characteristic for both of those breeds, too.

    Here’s something I’ve always wondered. The photos in the Morgan magazines all show our hunters going level, which adds to the perception that they’re saddle seat horses. If you went to a show where the photog took photos both at the height of the motion and at the extension (the way they would be taken at an open h/j show for a flat class), which would you purchase? If height of motion isn’t really part of the judging for hunters, why is that how we showcase them?

    I’m wondering because when I scroll through photos from hunter classes at big shows, they’re pretty much all captured at the height of motion, so even if you wanted an extension shot for your ad, you couldn’t get it. But maybe the photogs don’t take those shots because no one buys them.

  7. snerland says:

    Thank you Leslie for bring up the double bridle and weighted shoes. Simply put, why? A hunter horse is supposed to be trained to a frame which does not need a double bridle. A double bridle is the final collection not the requirement. Perhaps we should have classes that are for snaffles only. THEN, put the winners of the snaffle class against the winners with a double bridle. You will then see the true hunter, going as it should with the proper extension. No wonder prospective buyers think we have hunters who are “cut down” saddle seat horses. As many of you know, I have been out of the ring since 2001; when did the double bridle become the standard? Remember, it is difficult to properly ride in a double bridle; it is not for riders with less than perfect hands. Hands? look in the magazines…the curb and snaffle should have equal tension. I bet you won’t see very many hunters who are actually ready for a double bridle and definitely you will not see riders who can handle a double bridle correctly, my husband is one of them.

  8. markmhf says:

    Interesting comments on my post. A morgan hunter shouldn’t look or go like a hunter at an open hunter show. It should go and look like a morgan, which most of our current hunters do. Please refer to my post regarding rolling of the shoulder as the open hunter competition I have been to (singular bc I have only been to one) there was very litte roll of shoulder and they kinda just sluffed along (if sluff is a word but you get the jist). I feel our show hunters look more the part of the high level dressage horses rather than the open hunters. They are collected in the bridle (not past the verticle of course, fyi horses with large white blazes tend to give optical illusion they are behind it when they arent) and engaged from behind. And they wear double bridles. I’ve watched arabian hunter classes, personally not my thing they just throw their front ends away from what I have seen and right now the now the saddlebred hunter division is starting to develop where there is more quality in it instead of it being the “throw away division” but they arent totally there yet, they will get there though.

    As far as the shoeing, our hunters carry very little weight. Often times an aluminium shoe even, and occasionally they will carry a small piece of lead, not for more weight overall, just placed to help the horse control its stride. I think the last few years morgan hunters have backed off the weight and have embraced collection and propolsion from the rear, rather than dragging themselves along by the front end and laying on the forehand. Care to guess how I know this? Because the hunter classes dont sound like a band tuning up as much anymore with all the forging like they did before.


  9. leslie says:

    I’m glad to hear the weighted shoes are going out of fashion. I’d seen less of them, too, but I assumed that was just because I moved from New England to the south, and the Morgans I see down here aren’t usually A-circuit horses.

    The dressage comparison comes up every time this discussion comes up, but it doesn’t hold water since dressage horses don’t wear a curb until they’re in the upper levels, and they rarely reach the upper levels until they’re aged. We slap doubles on our junior horses and let our junior riders and novice ammies use them. It may appear similar at first glance, but the philosophies are totally divergent. Your average classical dressage enthusiast would probably be horrified by the comparison.

    We can look at biomechanics and we can also look at statistics. Our breed circuit is a very small drop in the bucket of equestrian sport. Our breed circuit is the only one where hunters are the way they are. You can say that the double bridles are beneficial for whatever reason, and you can say weighted shoes have a purpose other than elevation, but if that’s the case, why is it just this one tiny segment of our one tiny breed that does it that way?

    I mean, the obvious explanation is that we’re just better and smarter than everyone else… :)

    I feel like the Morgan Hunter Pleasure division is what it is, and I’m not really a fan of it, but I can shrug it off because if I want to show a truly sport-type Morgan, I have plenty of other outlets to do so, at both open shows and some Morgan shows (provided I’m willing to jump.) You go your way and I’ll go mine. I just think the justifications are unnecessary. This discussion is so frequent that I feel pretty confident in saying that there isn’t anything left that could possibly convince me that the current Morgan HP show ring trend is biomechanically correct. But if someone just comes out and says that the look is their personal preference (as 12 people currently have in the poll here), then great! Just don’t try to make it more than that.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I’ve spent the last year working with my hunter to teach him to reach over his back and into the bit. This is a work in progress. He was ridden as a junior horse in a double bridle and has an upright neck. Starting at that young age the horse doesn’t understand the education of the bridle nor have the development in its body to carry itself. The Double bridle asks the horse to pull the neck back into the withers, biomechanically speaking. this breaks the flow and power coming from the hind legs. Only a couple of Morgan HP winners accomplish true extensions, the rest are just trotting faster or leaving the hind legs out behind.
    Dressage horses develop their muscles to be able to carry a greater percentage of their total body weight on the hind legs. Hence, when a dressage horse is in a double bridle they are still coming over the back with a fullness in the withers.

    It is too bad that many trainers don’t include more dressage education in their professional development.

  11. Flmorgan says:

    I agree with Jennifer that the full bridle doesn’t allow the horse to drop into the bit allowing the horse to extend in the various gaits. I prefer not to use a full bridle and use snaffles and pelhams on our Hunters. We use basic Dressage in training the Hunt and Western horses.
    As far as the shoeing I saw many Hunter Pleasure horses with packages on their front hooves at Nationals this year. I feel the judges should judge accordingly. I don’t think you can get the desired extention and forward motion with that much weight.

  12. snerland says:

    Here’s to the Amanda Duponts of this show world. Amanda uses mostly snaffles and still wins. Her horses are well framed and have beautiful extension. Here’s to the older lady amateur who beat my husband at the Blue Grass Classic; she rode in a snaffle. Should I go on? The ones who understand how a hunt horse works and how the hind end works start in a snaffle and stay there as long as it takes. Some horses take longer than others. Dressage is the art of training a horse and I agree, should be used more; however, I do know the time factor and the experience factor. Given today’s financial and “I want it now”, trainers and riders hurry to fabricate a gran prix type horse when in reality those horses are few and far between. I still say we need two divisions in order to promote the Morgan horse to the masses.

  13. RaeOfLight says:

    snerland, I’m not seeing your point as to why you think there should be another division. In fact, I think adding a “snaffle only” division for the reasons you suggest has the same potential for the “us v them” mentality of the Hazelwood lawsuit (albeit on a smaller scale). The folks you mention in your post are doing well in the division as it currently exists, so why should we add a division?

    There was a discussion on this site awhile ago about the Classic division, what it was intended to accomplish and the effect it’s actually had. As well intentioned as an additional hunt division would be, I think we’d see the same effect (in general not the result we’d hoped for by creating it). And there’s been much discussion about small class sizes. With that in mind sub-dividing a division, even if it is currently a large one, will only add MORE classes where we don’t need any.

  14. GraceMorgn says:

    This is slightly off topic but in the same vein. Can you help me understand who we are promoting to when we show a hunter pleasure horse at a Morgan show?

    Much of the discussion around “park hunters” seems to stem from the fact that people feel that our show Morgans are not shown, trained, exhibited, etc the same as an open hunter. They don’t look like a hunter on the open circut. Why do we feel they should be? Are we hoping to promote our show horses to open hunter riders/trainers? Or are we promoring them to other show homes?

    Snerland said, “I still say we need two divisions in order to promote the Morgan horse to the masses.” What masses?

    Are we trying to get current non horse owners to buy a Morgan instead of another breed? If so, do we really think that they understand the differences in a Morgan show horse and an open show horse and care?
    In my experience, a person usually gets into a certain breed or discipline based on where they learn to ride or a personal recommendation. Sally brings her friend to lessons and that friend start taking lessons. If they take lessons at a Morgan show barn, they tend to buy a show horse and compete that way. If they take lessons at a hunter/ jumper barn, they get into that. Same with Quarter Horses, Arabs, etc. Do we think that double bridles and weighted shoes are really affecting these people’s choices or are they participating in what they know and have been taught? If we didn’t have double bridles and weighted shoes in hunter pleasure would we get the rider from hunter/ jumper barn to buy our Morgan show horse? I don’t think so.

    Are we trying to get a current horse owner to buy a Morgan to compete in non Morgan shows? Are they even interested in Morgans? From my experience most are looking for whatever Warmblood is currently trendy. They want what is in and cool. Do we think that those people even see the Morgan shows and are judging our breed on those few individuals? Would a snaffle class encourage them to buy a Morgan?

    I guess I don’t believe that we are turning away potential buyers because we have weighted shoes or double bridles in our hunt division. The horses are being judged within the specifications of the class and within the rules of the classes ie shoes and bridles. As was pointed out with Amanda DuPont’s horses, the shoes and bridles are not requirements, but options. If someone gets a horse to the desired look and performance barefoot and in a snaffle, they have just a good of chance of winning as any other horse.

    People looking to buy a Morgan will look for an individual that fits their needs. Lucky for us there are so many different Morgans out there that excel at different things, that there is something for everyone, be it a Morgan show horse or an open show horse or a 4-H companion.


  15. lauralin28 says:

    I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else, but we have Hunter Pleasure. The stuff you see at actual hunter shows is Hunter Under Saddle. Hunter Pleasure, to me, is a show division. It is not supposed to be the same as Hunter Under Saddle, which is a flat class for the jumping horses.

    I can’t speak to the double bridle issue, as I’ve never had any issues with my horses after their being shown in them. It isn’t as though they are ridden in them every day. Normal work is done in a snaffle. They learn to work properly in a snaffle, then they learn to work properly in a curb.

    If you want horses in snaffles, I’ve been seeing more and more of them. I don’t think we need two divisions. If the horses are of equal caliber, there should be no issue.

  16. alpmorgans says:

    personally, i think the only reason we still show our hunters in double bridles is because no one wants to take the time to properly teach them how to carry their head in a snaffle. it is all about getting the headset, not matter how it is done. throwing a horse in a full bridle achieves that headset fast, that is all we care about. Morgans are also the only breed that show their hunt horses in a full bridle. Honestly, we are looked down upon by the open hunter world, because we are WAYYYYY behind the times. I personally prefer to see hunters go in a pelham. a snaffle, even better.

    Also, hunters should be build like hunters from the start. it doesnt matter how high they trot. A horse that is build to go up and down, and is shown saddleseat for a few years, should NOT be able to drop down the hunt and still do well. We are totally ignoring the fact that hunters are suppose to be long and low, not boxed up and held together tight. A hunter horse needs to be build to do that. A horse cannot go up and down, then go long and low. we are totally throwing the body type idea out the window

  17. snerland says:

    Ok, I guess perhaps I said the idea of two divisions was wrong. I definitely do not think of myself in the Hazelwood mindset. I look to the western divisions for an idea; many junior horses are ridden in a snaffle.

    The masses are those people out there who may have seen Justin Morgan Had A Horse, went to the KHP and “rode” one of the neat figure horses, or saw a Morgan at a trail ride. As a breeder, most of my customers are just those type of people, first time buyers who liked what they saw from outside sources. The AMHA is doing everything they can to attract new people; those are the ones who I am thinking about. Perhaps they will not show at Class A, but they will be out there promoting their horse. For me the bottom line is that a double bridle is the end result of training, not a requirement. My huband calls me a classisist (sp) and I guess I am, but I am definiely NOT in the Hazelwood camp!

  18. I don’t think the market potential is there in the Hunter/jumper world, but I certainly think our Baroque Morgans could do very well in Dressage if they were marketed as an alternative to those hulking heavy cavalry horses (traks, gelderlanders, etc.) There are a lot of beginning/intermediate dressage riders who don’t much care for 17hhs. We are hurting ourselves with these people by overusing/misusing double bridles. I rode for several years before I was awarded spurs (had to get leg control) and I imagine I will ride for several more years before she lets me have a double bridle (Sigh….but by g-d, I can ride! Never gonna be a pretty rider, but I can ride). lolol

  19. GraceMorgn says:

    “The masses are those people out there who may have seen Justin Morgan Had A Horse, went to the KHP and “rode” one of the neat figure horses, or saw a Morgan at a trail ride. As a breeder, most of my customers are just those type of people, first time buyers who liked what they saw from outside sources. ”

    Do you think that you lose buyers because of the hunter pleasure division in its current form? Other than not being prefered by some people, do we think that hunt division is hurting our breed and its appeal to the general non horse owning public?

    “Morgans are also the only breed that show their hunt horses in a full bridle. Honestly, we are looked down upon by the open hunter world, because we are WAYYYYY behind the times.”

    Saddlebreds and Arabs show their hunt seat horses in full bridles. Saddlebreds also wear weighted shoes, but no pads. Arabians can wear pads and do, but not weighted shoes unless they fall in the dimension requirements. These are probably better comparisons to Morgans than open hunters.

    Who cares if the open hunter world laughs? I laugh at Neon green zebra striped outfits in Quarter horses, hitch and pitch classes in Arabs and daisy cutters in open hunters That doesn’t mean they are doing anything wrong, it it just a preference and/or trend in the breed/ discipline. All fall within the rules (as do weighted shoes and full bridles in Morgan hunter pleasure.) As someone said earlier, Morgans show hunter pleasure, not hunter under saddle, which are two different things with different rules, desired looks, etc.

    “times. I personally prefer to see hunters go in a pelham. a snaffle, even better.

    Also, hunters should be build like hunters from the start. it doesnt matter how high they trot. A horse that is build to go up and down, and is shown saddleseat for a few years, should NOT be able to drop down the hunt and still do well. We are totally ignoring the fact that hunters are suppose to be long and low, not boxed up and held together tight. A hunter horse needs to be build to do that. A horse cannot go up and down, then go long and low. we are totally throwing the body type idea out the window.”

    But isn’t one of the main points of Morgans is that confirmation and type should remain the same across all divisions?

    Morgan hunter pleasure horses are not supposed to be long and low. . According to USEF rules “1. The Morgan Hunter Pleasure Horse should be a mild mannered individual capable of working on a light rein with only light contact with the bit. He should have ground covering gaits that would be comfortable for horse and rider over extended periods of time…. 2. The Morgan Hunter Pleasure Horse should demonstrate proper Morgan type and conformation.”

    Ground covering is different than long and low. You can cover ground and still go high. Like Mark said, it isn’t how high they go, it’s how they go high. Height of motion does not determine the division a horse should show in.


  20. lauralin28 says:

    Okay. This is the thing, guys. Morgans are not built to move like open hunters. A Morgan will always have knee action. The ‘long and low’ thing is not natural for the vast majority of Morgans.
    While I agree that a horse should not be shown in a double bridle if it is not fully trained, it is not like you are required to show in one. If everyone feels this strongly about it, take your hunters out in snaffles! If enough people start doing it, it will catch on. I think a lot of people use double bridles because they feel like they will look out of place in a snaffle, even if their horse can go very nicely in one.
    As for pelhams, I have seen those rather frequently, though they are often long-shank pelhams, like this: http://www.cheshirehorse.com/cw3/assets/product_full/korsteelpolopelham.jpg and from a distance do not look all that different from a double bridle.

  21. StacyGRS says:

    I tried not to answer this, I really did:) Particularly because my good friend Mark feels so strongly and I do happen to feel that the division has gotten a bit carried away, on the whole. I come from the hunter world, so, lauralin makes perfect sense to me, this is not hunter under saddle…this is hunter pleasure and I’m OK with a difference. However, the basis of the division should still be the same. The horse should make the rider post forward, not throw them up high out of the saddle. They shouldn’t walk on eggshells. They should extend at their gaits when asked to, not take faster steps. Otherwise lets call it a road trot and hand gallop. The full bridle should have a short shank and not be a short cut because the horse can’t get thru a class with just a snaffle and a straight rein, but be a sign of an advanced horse that understands it. That said, I do like alot of today’s hunters, but I do feel there are plenty that are not suitable to the division, hunter pleasure or not.
    In answer to your questions, Ashley, I think that we have to be careful that we don’t completely wall ourselves off from the world. I had a Morgan Hunter Pleasure horse when I was a kid. He was very much a Morgan first. I showed him at the Morgan shows and the 4-H shows…he won at both. He trotted higher that the QH’s that we showed against, but he did it in his aluminum plates, short foot, and snaffle. Occasionally we’d come across a judge at an open show that he was too bright for or trotted to high for, but on the whole, he was a superstar. As for the Morgan shows, he won from New Jersey to Oklahoma pleasure and equitation…in the same plates and snaffle. He managed to appeal to the people that liked a true hunter because he had stellar extensions, walked on a loose rein, etc. Yet he appealed to the Morgan people because he was curvy, pretty, balanced at the trot and charismatic with some sparkle. Because he could appeal to both I got to have my successes at the breed shows, but he also was the reason more than one of my 4-h friends ended up getting a Morgan. Had he been just over the top, he would not have been able to appeal to those people, but instead he was somewhat of a celebrity due to his successes in various divisions and then on the World Level at the Morgan shows. I think we need to really try to make our hunters something that we could and would take to an open show and, although it may look different, it should be a good different that would be appreciated, not cause for controversy. If we make our hunters so they only appeal to Morgan, we rule out the people, like myself, who enjoy showing successfully on multiple circuits. We really need to not eliminate yet another spot for the person that wants to have fun with their horse at home and show it at both breed and open shows. We’ve lost these people as they think they can’t compete because they don’t have a farrier to shoe their horse up, they want to trail ride at home between shows, they do some jumping (just because it does hunter pleasure doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be able to do hunter), want to be able to turn their horse out, etc, etc, etc…we can’t afford to keep saying that we don’t care if we loose more of them. I know I care…I think we need each and every person we can get.

  22. StacyGRS says:

    btw…understand, I have no issue with a Morgan Hunter Pleasure horse having some motion, as long as it is a round, smooth, ground covering step. I do like a fancy Morgan Hunter Pleasure horse, I just think it should have some differentiation from our SS divisions.

  23. leslie says:

    “Can you help me understand who we are promoting to when we show a hunter pleasure horse at a Morgan show?”

    I don’t think it’s so much that we have this division to promote to anyone, but what good does it do to have a division that equates to nothing useful outside of our own breed? Why call it hunter if we don’t care if the horses are or aren’t anything like a hunter? If we like ‘em high stepping and flashy, why not call it Super Prix?

    http://www.pixofthelitter.net/pix_3_home_026.htm (You’re welcome.)

    “Saddlebreds and Arabs show their hunt seat horses in full bridles.”

    Not really. Never for Arabs and rarely for Saddlebreds. Pelhams, maybe. Look at the proofs from the ASB Hunter National Championships and you will find few doubles.


    Honestly, I think the Morgan hunter pleasure division is silly right now, but this is hardly the biggest issue in the horse world–or even the Morgan world. As long as those park hunters are loved and wanted and not mistreated, does it really matter? Those of us who like to ride our Morgans in snaffles and plain shoes can still do so, and I have to believe that this current version of the Morgan HP is just a phase. Give it a few more years.

    Two more things. No one answered my question about photos, so I’ll ask again. If you had the choice of purchasing a photo of your HP Morgan at the height of the trot or at the extension, all other things being equal, which would it be? And secondly, if you like high-stepping, upheaded, flashy horses, why would you not ride saddle seat? If you’re not jumping, it’s more fun than hunt seat, and you get to shop for awesome ties.

  24. Jennifer says:

    The photo question is tricky because most people looking at the extension picture can’t appreciate it. Buying for myself I would purchase either. In fact I have some lovely pictures taken by a friend that are at the canter.

  25. lauralin28 says:

    Out of curiosity, would you call this horse a park hunter?
    Yes? No?
    He’s been called a park hunter several times over the years. What I say is that while he may trot high, level, even, he can get under himself when asked to do so.
    I’m aware that the photo isn’t the greatest, sorry.

  26. StacyGRS says:

    He doesn’t look at all “park-y” to me in this pic.
    As for the pic, I’d pick the one where the horse is at the best spot of it’s stride and I have passed over pics that show too much motion, but not too little, if that answers your question.

  27. lauralin28 says:

    Same horse:

    When buying pictures, it’s less (to me) about what the horse is precisely doing, and more about the overall picture it creates.

  28. Jennifer says:

    In the first picture I like the placement of his inside hind leg and the fact that it will land prior to the front foot. This shows that he is correctly working off his hind end. In the second picture his legs are matching, in that hind leg is still reaching forward. I don’t like pictures of any style where the hind leg is almost vertical to the ground with the hock pointing up and the front leg is level or above, not a balanced way of going.

    In the second picture he could look parky, except for the fact of his conformation. His shoulder angle is not laid back enough and his neck comes out too forward for a parky hunter. I couldn’t imagine him as a saddleseat horse. So this begs another question then should confirmation and type win out over performance and style?

  29. Carole says:

    At the risk of sounding really old and not well informed at all…here is just a thought.

    Many years ago I belonged to the Los Altos Hunt Club in California. I had a Morgan mare named Chulars Valentine. I showed her in open driving classes, rode her on trails and used her in the hunt field. I also jumped her in the hunt field. Maybe we should think about the origin of the word “hunter.”

    I believe that we are so far removed from the orginal use of horses that we overlook what they can actually do outside the show ring as well as inside the show ring.

    Just one other thought. If we actaully want the Morgan breed to stay viable , then we need to bring these wonderful horses to as many of the open breed shows and trails and ride them everywhere.

    People always ask me if my horses are “Morgans.” Many people say they started with a Morgan. I guess I had better start asking “Why didn’t you stay with the breed?” I never thought to ask that question before. Now I will.

    I am happily retired, but enjoy reading what people are thinking and the words they have to share. You all keep me thinking. Thanks.

  30. dressagemorganrider says:

    For the pictured horse — he seems to have a very “huntery” attitude and I’d really love to see how he looks without the big shoes and long-shanked curb bit. He does move off his hind end very well … no trailing hind legs on him!

    I guess the thing that bothers me about “park hunters” is that they don’t look like they’d happily cover ground out on a hunt. Many breeds of horses can do that; you don’t need a TB or a WB or anything like that. In fact, the dam of one of the horses I looked at when I was shopping was the mount of a Master of Foxhounds. This man and his family bred great typey Morgans and used them for hunting as well as other things. Morgans in general will pick up their feet a bit more, which is great for going over “trappy” ground, but I would like to see efficient movement more rewarded in hunter pleasure.

    When I was shopping I also learned that amongst hunt-style riders of a certain age in my area, when they were young, the next mount after they outgrew ponies was often a Morgan. Note the *was*. These people now tend to say the breed is too hot, too “saddlebred-y” etc. We definitely have a reputation problem — and those of us who take our Morgans to open shows, dressage shows etc. are doing our best to counter this to the general horse-loving public.

  31. empressive says:

    Finally get to reply!! Now for a long winded…. hmm… naw.

    I’m just popping in to say,

    Great job wording the questions Rae. Sure made me laugh.

    I haven’t much to say per the discussion except to each their own. The Morgan is a breed set apart from others. It’s not supposed to be the Thoroughbreds in the fantastical hunting paintings, or great bombering Warmbloods that grace the jumping ring. The Morgan moves in a completely different way and while it has a “hunt” mode it is not meant to be flat and without air. Nor is it be a peacock, I haven’t the money nor time nor power to “prove” my point.

    But the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Too many extremes. It’s so sad too since some people are sincerely trying to make things “better”. We just don’t all agree. Well it sure makes for an exciting world!

  32. alpmorgans says:

    hunter horses are suppose to give the expression that they are capable at jumping over fences at any given time. our morgans are very capable of that, but not the hot pleasure ones we put in the show ring. and stacy is completly right. the other question always seems to be “how do we get other people interested in our morgans?” make them look like they can actually do something that show on the morgan circut. i would say a perfect example of a hunter pleasure morgan would have been Graycliff Miss Liberty when Mary Carlton took her to her world championships. that mare had motion, but it was very rounded and fluid and she cover A LOT of ground. and to top is off, she was beautiful. she pulled off the flashy-ness, but still with form and function.

  33. linklake23 says:

    lauralin28, I just wanted to say that I’ve had the pleasure to closely work with and ride that pictured hunter multiple times throughout the past couple of years, and I’ve found him one of the nicest morgan hunters I’ve ever ridden. He goes so well in a snaffle, uses his hind end and extends like a dream, and is just all-around a really bright and intelligent horse. If I had the funds or desire to show at the current time, I’d have snatched him up for myself in a heartbeat :)

  34. lauralin28 says:

    linklake23, Thank you, I feel the same. What I was attempting to illustrate is that people seem to have very different definitions of ‘park hunter’ and that it is very difficult to debate something without a standard definition!

  35. Trisha says:

    Lauralin28, that’s how I feel as well. Not all “big and bold” hunters are “park hunters”, they are big and bold HUNTERS. In my opinion, a “park hunter” is an english pleasure horse in hunt tack. There are plenty of horses that I consider “big and bold” that are definately NOT park hunters. Alphmorgans giving a great example, Graycliff Miss Liberty. A lot of up and down AND forward motion. She’s big and bold and she LOOKS like a hunter. The first year I went to Oklahoma was one of the years she won the Open Hunter and I was sitting with the trainer I work for (she’s also a judge) and she is very verbal of her distaste of “park hunters” and she said, “now that mare is definately a hunter!” and explained/showed to me why.

    There are plenty of horses out there that if you look at them from the bottom up, you could easily assume you are looking at a pleasure horse instead of a hunter. There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of motion if there is extension to go with it. And the same applies to headset, these are Morgans, they are allowed to be more upheaded, but when their ears are tickling your nose and their nose in their chest… that is not how a Morgan hunter is supposed to look. They are not supposed to be as upheaded as an english pleasure horse.

  36. rodmanstables says:

    In my humble opinion, I honestly think this subject doesn’t need to be this complicated. A hunter should move like a hunter, and anyone who knows the difference between a saddle-type mover and a hunter will be able to easily pick out the horse that is suited for the hunter division. Adding weight, toe length, and a long-shank curb bit, to me, defeats the purpose of having a hunter division, and eliminates the true hunters from competition because, these days, it seems like all anyone can think about is how high our Morgans go, in almost every division. It makes the idea of the hunter “look” start to fade away. Why do that? And you can’t say there aren’t enough true, lower going, natural hunters out there to fill hunter classes. I’ve seen way more Morgans in general that are suitable for hunter than for saddle-type divisions. If you want a higher-going horse, ride a classic, english, or park horse. I’m sorry, but I’m just so disappointed when I see hunter classes with saddle-type horses in them. It is virtually impossible to ignore that the lines between the classic pl. “look” and the hunter “look” are becoming blurred in today’s showring.

  37. StacyGRS says:

    The problem with the blurring isn’t, IMO,always that the result is a hunter I dont agree with…because as I said, I can appreciate a pretty fancy hunter. The problem is that those were the ‘middle ribbon’horses in classic so they are trying to make them winners hunter pleasure. So, now the Middle ribbon’ ep horses decide to go classic to try to be standout winners there…title happy;) The ‘good’ park horses get put in the ep to try to become great in that division. And, as always, the trickle down effect ends somewhere and the park division is left very light in numbers. The classic division has made it easier to blur the lines, IMO… Before classic, there was a pretty clear difference between a hunter pleasure horse and an ep horse.

  38. skippacheval says:

    I love a pretty fancy big moving hunter. What I feel the problem is the hunters in big packages (including toe clips that are painted silver). Yes I did see that this year on a whole barn of hunters. Some of those hunters with previous owners/trainers where in aluminum and were world or reserve world champions. Figure that one out. You almost think there are kickbacks from the farrier to the trainer to justify some the the big shoes the hunters are wearing. Is it a status symbol to show you can afford the big shoes? I can’t figure it out otherwise when those particular horses were already winning without the big shoes IMO they hit the ground harder and appeared to be laboring, is this good for the horse? I don’t have as much problem with full bridles as long as the lenght on the curb bit it suitable. You still see the full bridle in the hunt field. Even if you think we are not selling to the general public we need to be. If we don’t keep new blood coming in we will sink into oblivion. The general public is much more educated and aware of what is out there they read these web sites and others and do form their own opionion. At least one of my new clients asked me if all that hardware was necessary and were turned off by it. They have of course decided to go the sport horse route instead. If we just sell to each other the pool gets smaller each year. We do take our Morgans to hunter paces and have always gotten wonderful comments about how nice they are and how they can out trot the other horses . Yes they are going level or above in the field and covering ground. One of them is a world champion, we try to show how nice Morgans are and they are not “just show horses”.

  39. drstacy1 says:

    I also love a big fancy moving hunter. I would like to respond to the above comments by skippacheval, as I am pretty sure she is discussing my daughter’s horse! Yes, we are in a big barn full of hunters, who have beautiful movement. None of them are park hunters. My daughter’s horse continues to show in aluminum shoes. This “park hunter” shows both hunt seat and western! Our other hunter has silver painted toe clips. To me, this is simply the professional, finished product of a finely turned out horse! It has nothing to do with how he is shod. He is in a lightweight shoe with a simple pad. And ironically, my farrier bills are less now than at my previous barn! Go figure…There is no status symbol involved in my farrier bills, and to suggest kickbacks to a trainer from a farrier detracts from your credibility, and has nothing to do with this line of posting. Please remember that this is a public forum.

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