I watched round after round of capable horses & skilled riders comfortably navigating jumping courses of 8 fences at heights of 18 inches to 3', as this was not an "A" rated show.
At "A" shows, fence heights for similar classes average closer to 3' & 3'6" for horses, 2'3" to 3' for ponies. (Horses that are under 14.3 hands are considered to be ponies.)
There were also jumper classes with fence heights of 3'3" to 4' where some of the horses might be considered as "high strung"; but with the influx of breeds considered to be "warmbloods", (these days) you just don't see as many hot blooded Thoroughbreds scrambling around the courses like we did in the 70's. Horses considered to be warmbloods are big bodied (mostly 16 hands & over), solid boned, long strided horses, that appear to be loping to & jumping fences at 5' (on the grand prix level) with great ease.
Average ages of riders range from 8 to beyond 50. The goal in hunter classes is to make it look easy. The horses should be comfortable with their jobs, cantering to the jumps at an even pace, and jumping in a consistent style that demonstrates the horses athletic ability and skill of jumping safely and sanely. Many of the horses at these events have competed for years and are very well suited to the sport. When you have one that competes and wins consistently, year after year, safely teaching riders the sport, you do your very best to care for and maintain that horse. It's not unusual for these horses to compete into their 20's, age wise. Especially when they are cared for properly.
Sometimes, watching round after round of hunter rides can almost be a bit boring (for an audience) if it's done well, because the round should be executed smoothly & as flawless as possible. The judges are looking for conservatively attired riders and horses who behave accordingly.
Horses in the hunter division are expected to be suitable for their riders (if you are too large of a person on too small of a horse, this will count against you, as will too small of a child on a horse who's behavior is deemed unsuitable for that rider's skill level). Of course, all of this scoring and judging is usually left to one person's opinion (the judge), who is responsible for deciding who wins the coveted blue ribbon.
The jumper division is not judged the same way as the hunters & has become increasingly popular. It is also more of a spectator sport. A judge officiates to make sure rules are followed, but the rounds are scored according to the time allowed to navigate the course & jump cleanly (leaving all the fences up), not according to the horses behavior, style or conservative speed. The rails and other equipment used in jumper classes are designed to roll out of the jump cups even if the horse has a light rub. The test is to jump cleanly & quickly. Sometimes, luck happens and a rail is rubbed and stays in the cup. That isn't considered a fault.
I rode for years when I was younger. After moving to Okla. my experience landed me a full time job teaching lessons & riding. I've aged (dang it!) and most of what I do now is behind the scenes, managerial stuff. I still love the sport and have been active in it (in one form or another) for about 35 years. Attached is an old picture (circa 1979) of me showing my beloved horse "The Lifeguard", aka "Artoo". He was an amazing animal. I sold him when I moved to Okla. A trainer and friend who became a judge told me he saw Artoo competing at a show 6 years after I'd sold him. The horse was in his 20's by then.
He was born in 1971, so I'm sure he's no longer with us. R.I.P. Artoo, you were much loved by all who rode you!
I know what you mean about getting old(er) and the missing of such physical actives....sigh.
You may have said, but do you still ride?
Thanks for sharing your passion, I enjoyed the read.
I meant no knock to hunter or jumpers. I admire and respect them. My jumping days are long past, a log now and then for fun is about it for me.
I have dabbled in many ways to use horses and you dated me. My most immersed time with hunters and jumpers was in the 70's.
I am on the fringe enough to think I know that these days hunters are expected to have better manners and that seems the be the judging dif between the two.
Would you say the jumpers of today are like the hunters of yesterday?
I too am older and like a fun yet smoother ride, more a jog around the park than a hurdle race or can chase.
We have 30 year old horses in the program in AL and riders of 80+ ... I hope to be one of them.
Believe it or not, I didn't join permies to talk horses...it just takes over my life.
Didn't think you were knocking it at all, Jennifer.
A coincidence for me, that the subject of hunters came up on here, after I was at a horse show all afternoon. I don't attend them much anymore, even to watch. Just have other weekend things to do these days.
I give much credit to anyone my age (pushing 50) who still rides at all. I am keenly aware of the dangers involved with horses and just don't want to get hurt at this age. I fully realize that driving my car is way more riskier than getting on a horse, but the car is a necessity. Consequently, I don't ride much at all. Being so out of shape, it wouldn't take much of a fall to mess me up for the rest of my life.
There probably will always be someone showing a hot blooded, high-strung horse, especially in the jumper ring, at the lower $$ of hunter-jumpers. At the big "A" rated shows, it's much more rare. The warmblooded breeds have become really popular, and are almost the norm at shows these days. I saw at least 50 different horses compete on Sunday. Thankfully, not a crazy horse in sight.
I am ....thankfully....out of showing and teaching and training horses of clients who want to show.........never ever ever going back. I can see myself teaching up down lessons again someday. there were occasionally a few nutty horses at the shows. they tended to come form the same barn trainer and it didn't take long before they left the scene.
i suppose talking horses is to talk animals and animal human relationships and even to be real about ourselves. Where m grandmother had her frm talking horses was considered bad form or somethign of the sort the result is i didnot learn as much about horses as i mihgt have . What is really boring is when no one talks shop it is then that you don't learn anything.
in Jane Austins Pride and Prejudice her father wont let jane take the carriage to visit the darcies because he intends to use the ohorse on the farm and he wants them well rested in the weekend, Interesting does two days rest instead of only just rest at night make a difference to your capacities during the week? Suppose so, someone who depends on work animals would know.
I liked the bits of laura ingalls wilders book farmers boy that talk about how his father trained him to train animals gentling them and never frightening them. H etrained carriage horses for new york an dhe didnot want them to learn any wild tricks.
My dog does what i want because it knows i ry to do a lot for it so it does not get bored etc.. I don't sak him to do silly things because i want to dominate him. Recently life is more boring for him i write too much which is a sort of boring occupation for a dog to accompany me at. an dbecuse when i first walked out with him i had all my attention always on him caling him frequently i had to teach him not to cros the roads on his own. I once had a dog who had puppies i kept on of hte puppies i didnot have to teach him to walk lose in madrid his mother taught him, well I) was a bit attentive but it was much easier.
The best game withm dog is throwing a fork, forks jump in the air when you step on the end of them so they are fun if i throw them, and fun if he is playing wiht them a bit on his own.
Black Beauty is the toughest read i ever had as a child , The author approved of no bits on horses, i think my grandmother went a bit that way thats why i could not stop the ponies, i was not really given the wherewithall to really stop them except as jennifer hall says determination or having a good relationship with them and as i was only on the farm for visits of usualy two weeks in the holidays that was hard to acheive.
You have a whole range of ways of controling horses from no bits to really efficient ones, from nudging them on to wearig spurs.
There is a sort of bullfighting in Portugal in which the bullfighter is on horse back, it is sort of dressage in front of a bull. The horses do some fancy prancing as they near the bull. They are scared you can see how tense they are, the bullfighter wears spurs and you can see the little red line in the horses flank, when its a grey, were the spurs cut into them. agri rose macaskie.
rose macaskie wrote:
Aren't spirited thoroughbreeds the flat race horses and the jumpers tend to be other types of horses?
In the U.S. a variety of horse breeds are shown in hunter/jumper classes. Thoroughbred horses do flat race, and (for decades) were also the "it" breed at the hunter/jumper shows. My horse (pictured) was an ex-racehorse who just didn't have the speed for the track. Fortunately he had a great temperament and found life after the track. Sadly, that is not the fate of all ex-racehorses.
With the more recent influx of various "warmblood" breeds, we see more imported breeds (i.e. Hanoverians, Oldenburgs, Trakehner, Holsteiner, Dutch & French bred horses) in the show ring, particularly at the top levels of showing. Imported horses and their kin are not cheap! Comparatively, ex-race horses aren't hard to obtain or expensive, especially if they are geldings who just don't have the speed to compete.
At the unrated shows (commonly called schooling shows), we see more Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Appaloosa's, Pintos, etc.
Hunters are often a mixture in England. The horses who win the most famouse of all steeple chases, the Grand National, are often a mixture, it is not as if they bought in another breed, they are just a mixture between a horse of unknown breed who seems to have the charicteristcs needed to run and jump, with a bit of thorough breed for speed. I dont know what the english mixt horses would be a bit of, some english pony breedes and a bit of cart horse and of thorough breds i suppose. Either that or i did not at all understand my grandmother. Agri rose macaskie.
Here's a few pix of a pony that belonged to a friend of mine who owns a stable and does a little therapy riding for children on the weekend. The pony is Hugs, (R.I.P.) and he brought much joy to many lives.
I want to say that when i pulled the horse over on myself it went up and over slowly, i kept the rein tightened, not understanding that type of bit being used, the bits of my childhood ended in a ring that held the reins and with those bits tightening the reins could not turn over the bit at all, anyway they didnot have lumps in them. It was like going into first gear and finding you had gone into reverse.
Here they say i was afraid but i was not only i new you should not ride when you are pregnant I didnot then look pregnant and didnot want to explain and so i was, as i saw it, being carefull. In England you tighten the reins when you don't want trouble. If you waqnt them to stop you pull on the reins and throw all your wieght back to pull on them better and the ponies wont stop. If I had let go of the reins at any point nearly we would not have gone over i imagine, i had time to start getting of the horse as it went down just I had not got completely off before we got to the ground.
I did think he was crazy when he walked backwards i had never known a horse walk backwards before and as a child i wanted to manage to make horses walk backwards, so i had tried but with no luck. I knew about prancing from side to side and shying and buckiing and stopping dead suddenly when you dont realise they are going to stop and when you are going pretty fast, rolling, you have to clamber off them when they do that too but not horses going into reverse, trying to get you off going under low branches or going close to barbed wirer to rub your leg on it.
Usually i fell off when they stopped at a jump, the horses stopped and i went on. I only once hurt myself a bit. My grandmother said that you could not be a good rider till you had fallen off a hundred times so i had a very positive attitude to falling off. Obviously if this had been an infallible method i might have been able to do show jumping like gwen lyn. I had another pproblem with horses they gave me terrible asthma or i would have spent the whole day in the stable as a child , a doctor even prohibited me from riding one year. rose.
rose macaskie wrote:
not understanding that type of bit being used, the bits of my childhood ended in a ring that held the reins and with those bits tightening the reins could not turn over the bit at all, anyway they didnot have lumps in them. It was like going into first gear and finding you had gone into reverse.
the dif in the bit is not the lump in the mouth but the length of the lever, where the bit is attached.
That and the chin strap/chain work together to crush the horses bottem jaw.
I use these bits and if a rider holds the reins and the saddle horse in the same hand the horse will just follow where the person leans/leg pressure, where the horse in front goes, or just follows a trail. Use the reins to change this with the smallest of movements with just one hand.
I rode the first time in spain enjoying the easy with which you could change direction but then i rode the race horses that did not have that sort of bit and pranced al over the place till i let him go when he ran away with me and dropped me in a stream, which was funny i had thought to teach him not to run always at the same spot to break his co¡ustoms, which really annoyed him and it all ended uup with him dropping me in a stream. I thought he would jump it i did not see it till late and we were going pretty fast but he he stopped dead at brink, htese streams were just as if they had been cut in the turf they aren't in a bottom and have no banks you don't see them in the distance. i began to be a bit confused about what to expect. the next ime i got up was the pregnant one, determined not to be run away with pregnant, to have a quiet ride if i was to be so mad as to ride. In england they tell you not to ride pregnant. rose.
Watching this horse go around this agility course brings back fun memories for me.
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