Hunter Questions

I’m not experienced in the Morgan hunter divisions. I was wondering if those of you who show hunter (flat classes) could say your opinions on the newer-style hunters with more motion. Is this considered more desirable to have motion up front in hunter classes these days? I have seen some who appear to me to belong in the classic division, but I realize the shoeing requirements/rules differ. I also realize hunters do have a certain “look,” but sometimes the ones I’ve seen seem to look classic, so my ideas of a hunter may not be up to speed as to what the judges think. I’m mostly saddleseat and western, so I’d like to learn from those of you who do hunters! Thanks!

9 Responses to Hunter Questions

  1. RaeOfLight says:

    “Park Hunters” are a personal pet peeve of mine, and I know they bother others too. I’ve had discussions with folks about this in the past and one reason I’ve heard for putting a high moving horse in a hunter class is that their headset is the determining factor. They’re better in the bridle for as a hunter than a saddle seat horse.

    I can’t decide if that’s a good enough reason or not. I can see the argument, but at the same time it just seems like it doesn’t fly. But I don’t know how you would determine what division to place a horse in that would fall into this category.

    I do know that there is a letter that goes out to all Morgan judges at the beginning of every season that notes particular areas of judging that addresses certain guidelines that may not have been well followed in the past. This year (and I think in previous years) Hunter Pleasure was one of the things that was mentioned. “What we must be careful to avoid is tying the Hunter Pleasure horse with too much action and/or a head carriage that is too high… they should not look like a Saddle Seat type horse. Do not let this trend continue.”

  2. underdog88 says:

    That is interesting, I wasn’t aware that a letter goes out to judges at the beginning of the season. Is that an actual quote from one of them??

    I agree that I’m not a big fan of the park hunters. I do, however, like a hunter that has animated action, as long as it is not too park-y and punchy. I don’t think it’s a terribly bad thing that our hunters are so animated. I think it makes them look fancier and more powerful. I think there are only a handful that are truly “park hunters”, and I’ve noticed that they don’t normally pin that well. The ones that stand out as being too punchy are not normally rewarded, from my experience. Horses that aren’t animated enough, or are way too animated, I’ve found, are penalized. A horse that has higher action but is not over the top, and is still very well suited for the hunter division pins high.

    I think in all divisions consistency is something that wins blue ribbons. If a horse has way too much action for hunter pleasure and is trying to wear a hunter head set while trotting above level, chances are they are not going to be very consistent. They may have moments with a more classic pleasure headset, then a moment when they’re on the vertical, then behind it and so on. The real park hunters seem to lose some consistency and fluidness with their high action which takes away from the picture, so then they’re penalized.

  3. RaeOfLight says:

    Yes. That’s a quote from this year’s letter. I found it when I was poking around the AMHA site looking for information on Judge’s Schools. You can probably still find the whole thing there.

  4. Vintage_Rider says:

    The hunters that look like sewing machines are not pinning that I have seen. But if they are rounded, forward AND have action, they are. Headsets are higher.
    And underdog has a good eye, you see those that are struggling doing a bunch of weaving and diving.
    But I do long for the day when it was perfectly acceptable to NOT to have a full bridle.

  5. rodmanstables says:

    With regards to the judges letter, come to think of it I found that for this year somewhere on AMHA as well! I don’t remember the hunter line, but I’m sure I just missed it. Plus I have the memory of a goldfish.

    I see the point about horses that are better in a hunter bridle than saddle seat, I’ve known some like that. I’m not sure what my opinion is either, but it is nice to hear that the reminder went out to the judges anyway.

    Thanks for the feedback so far!

  6. rodmanstables says:

    ***”found it for last year not this year, sorry wrong words

  7. rodmanstables says:

    ****no, this year. this year i did find it. sorry again! remember, goldfish…lol

  8. leslie says:

    I remember reading that letter, too. I got it in an email sent out to the membership, I guess, after it was sent to the judges. I thought I saved it, but apparently not.

    I love a true hunter. Arched but low neck and a long, sweeping, ground-covering stride. Truly a sublime sight to see. That said, I understand that Morgans showing in Morgan classes are judged partially on their conformation. A well-built Morgan is going to have a bit more knee action and will probably be slightly more upheaded than a TB-type hunter. I’m okay with that. What really burns me is that on the A-circuit, Morgan hunters wear padded, weighted shoes and go in double bridles with long-shanked curbs. It’s one thing if your hunter has a bit more motion because he’s a Morgan. It’s quite another if you’re shoeing and bitting your Morgan hunter to enhance the up and down motion and set his head like a chesspiece.

    Those stock breed hunters may never catch up to the fox, but our hunters are going to wear themselves out after five minutes of pounding the ground after him.

    FWIW, I show my horse in hunter with plain shoes or barefoot and in a D-ring french link snaffle. We tend to not do well in breed classes, but frankly, we don’t usually deserve to do well for unrelated reasons, so I can’t honestly say if there’s a bias for or against double bridles. I can say that I don’t like the park type and I wish it would go away. Why don’t we start by giving hunter the same shoeing regulations as classic? There must be some reason they’re more lenient with the hunters, but I’ve never heard it.

  9. underdog88 says:

    I show in the amateur hunter pleasure division at the breed shows and have been showing hunters for a very long time now. My gelding now is not a “park hunter”, but he definitely is a big mover and sometimes gets pretty high up front. He wears pads for show season, but it’s not much weight, and he goes barefoot behind. He is not trained for high action; no chains, no baiting, no nothing. It’s just the way he is, and I’ve ridden quite a lot that are like that. The horses showing and excelling in the breed shows are coming from park bloodlines. So, so many of our breeding horses have been, and are park horses. Saddleseat type studs far outnumber the western and hunter stallions, ESPECIALLY for the breed-show-level horses. I think we are simply producing a certain type of horse, and I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with the way it’s going, especially because there definitely still is diversity- there’s something for everyone in the Morgan breed, I believe. Not to say that there aren’t those horses out there that are trained and shoed to perform this way. And I’m not saying there are none, but I have not seen too much of the really saddleseat-y type stuff going on with the hunters like Leslie is talking about.
    I honestly think that more people with hunter pleasure horses are trying to dull down the action of a horse that is doing what it was bred to do, so that it is able to be suitable, appropriate, and competitive for hunter pleasure. I know that’s the case with my boy, and some others I’ve shown. We are always trying to encourage him to move forward and be more..well, hunter-like. And he has never been anything but a hunter! He just likes to move more like a saddleseat horse, especially when he’s excited, but his conformation makes him more suitable for hunter pleasure. So many of these horses were not only bred to be saddleseat, but they indeed were saddleseat horses previously. I would say about half, probably more, of the hunter pleasure mounts out there on the circuit were once trained, ridden, or shown in at least one saddleseat discipline. I can think of tons off the top of my head, and they’ve made gorgeous hunters, which I think is one of the great things about the breed.

    Another thing I want to mention from your comment, Leslie. The part that you brought up about double bridles. In my opinion, I do not believe there is any bias for double bridles. From my experience, I’ve found that horses wearing snaffles are rewarded over those with double bridles if the quality of the horse is still up to par. I think judges recognize and reward when there is a horse going around the ring wearing a snaffle that looks just as good, if not better, than the ones in double bridles; I definitely think they see it as a plus. Some of the great hunter pleasure world champions went in snaffles- WH Zimbabwe, Dragonfire Kirin, UVM Columbine just to name a few. Usually it is a sign of lightness and softness in the bridle- the horse is easy enough in the bridle that you don’t need a curb. So if there’s any bias, I say it’s actually for snaffles, although I don’t think I’d call it bias- just rewarding what’s good! I think sometimes it may appear that the double bridled horses beat out all the snaffled ones because from what I’ve seen, a lot of the mounts going in snaffles are those that are also shown in dressage or over fences, and the pleasure class is an extra class that the rider may want to try their hand at. And usually those horses, although very talented at their normal disciplines, are not usually the same type or caliber horse as the others in the ring, usually those in double bridles.

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