The shape of the horse’s entire body is a result of where it is allowed to carry its poll

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First Aid - For the Horse The shape of the horse’s entire body is a result of where it is allowed to carry its poll

Hunter Pleasure effective 12/1/12 3 Brocades, raised patterns, or glossy/metallic/shiny fabrics or materials are not suitable for hunting.

Ornamentation other than a stock or lapel pin, tie clip or tack, or monogram are not allowed on any item of attire.

Gloves are optional, but, if worn, must be of conservative color.

Boots and a conservatively colored hunting cap, derby or protective headgear are mandatory.

Protective headgear may be worn without penalty (see GR801).

Non conforming exhibitors must be severely penalized.

Spurs and crop or bat, no longer than 30” including lash (Exception: Side saddle), are optional, at the exhibitor’s discretion.

Note: Bright colors, frills and flare are not proper.

Formal attire is not permitted.

HUNTER PLEASURE SPECIFICATIONS SUITABILITY The Hunter Pleasure horse must be a horse that is suitable to be used as a hunter.

The Hunter Pleasure horse must have the physical ability to be a hunter.

Therefore, it must have a naturally long stride, free moving and reaching, the frame or carriage must be natural and relaxed, with engagement and light contact.

Suitability as a Hunter as found in AR130 means that the horse is in a frame suitable to take a jump safely and efficiently.

Hunter Pleasure horses should have a well laid back providing the freedom of movement through the shoulder, not the knee, and good length of stride, a reasonably short back for strength and a powerful hip.

The neck should be well set and of adequate length to be carried easily and used for balance.

The stride from the rear end should be powerful and reach well under the belly with each step.

The steps should never look quick or hurried; they should look long and powerful with suspension as the horse covers the ground easily.

The hunter should be a bold, powerful horse, balanced front end to rear end, yet always calm and obedient.

MOVEMENT The ideal movement of the hunter is long, free-flowing strides with minimal upward and maximum forward motion.

The hunter moves with long, low steps, reaching forward with such ease, smoothness and suspension they seem to be gliding across the ground.

The hunter should push from the hindquarters and reach for the ground covered with each step, rather than just lift its feet up and down.

The legs should move forward gracefully and freely so the strides appear to be effortless and long with minimal bending and lifting of the knees.

The knees must not show exaggerated flexion or lift, the strides must not to short or quick, the motion of the steps should not resemble a sewing machine, up and down.

High stepping horses, (not just English type action, but an up and down motion or rolling motion), are not desirable Hunter Pleasure mounts.

The hocks should bend and drive as the hind legs move forward in long, powerful strides.

The hind feet should step well under the belly, showing good reach, ideally reaching well over the foot print of the front foot.

The movement of the hind legs actually comes from a soft, supple back, allowing the horse to reach with long steps rather than quick steps. Hunter Pleasure effective 12/1/12 4 The hunter must never give the impression of being stiff; it must be relaxed through the neck, back and hocks allowing for long, free-flowing, fluid gaits.

If the horse is over flexed, the horse’s movement will be compromised, it cannot be correct.

FRAME The neck should be carried lower, and the head should be carried in a more relaxed manner with less bend at the poll, and the horse should be in a generally longer frame than that of the English Pleasure, Country English Pleasure or Show Hack horse.

High headed horses and horses behind the vertical must be penalized.

A hunter’s “frame” or general carriage should not suggest extremes.

The ideal frame for each horse depends on its own particular conformation; however, the frame should be natural and relaxed.

The hunter’s top line should be level; however, this reference to level is to the relationship between the height of the croup and the withers, not the poll and the croup.

A horse with its croup higher than its withers cannot get its own weight off of its forehand and balance itself.

It is a matter of individual conformation as to where each horse should actually carry its neck and poll in relation to its withers.

The shape of the horse’s entire body is a result of where it is allowed to carry its poll.

If the horse’s poll is lower than its withers, is a good indication that the hindquarters are not underneath for balance and impulsion.

Depending on the horse’s conformation, the poll will usually be about 4 to 8 inches above the withers when moving with proper impulsion from behind.

The neck must be relaxed and carried easily.

Ideally, the hunter will present a balanced curve from poll to croup and must give the impression of equality of movement between front end and rear end, balanced and cadenced with long, free flowing strides.

Horses presented as such should be credited.

Granted, it is very easy for Arabians to over bend at the poll and, therefore, carry themselves behind the vertical, not reaching through the back to the bridle.

Just because it is easy, this is not correct, even though it is widely accepted.

Horses that are behind the vertical and too low are not in balance.

The gaits are compromised, usually quick; even if they are able to travel as fast, the horses are not able to actually reach for ground with long strides.

The strides will be quick and short with the overall frame giving a downhill impression.

It is up to you as the judge to credit the correct frame of the hunter and to penalize the horses that are being shown behind the vertical, often also behind the bridle.

It is important that the hunter pleasure horse looks like a hunter, carries itself as a hunter and Hunter Pleasure effective 12/1/12 5 moves like a hunter.

This is not a class for Western Pleasure horses moving faster in different attire or English type horses held lower.

Correct hunter frame and correct hunter movement must be credited.

As in all other performance classes, correct movement and frame or carriage is the basic criteria of the class.

ENGAGEMENT The connection from the horse’s hindquarters through the back and neck to the bit and the rider’s hand with light contact on the bit is engagement.

This engagement gives the horse’s forward movement a sense of energy.

The hindquarters should be nicely engaged, the hind legs working under the horse’s body with moderate power, not strung out or trailing behind.

This engagement is the appropriate amount of energy created by the hip, stifle and hock.

How deeply a horse reaches its hind legs under the body depends on its conformation, training, confidence and relaxation.

Suitable conformation gives the horse the ability and strength to properly and easily engage the hindquarters and back to carry itself.

Through proper training and development, the horse learns engagement which enables it to connect through the back and use itself properly.

The horse that understands the training and has the proper muscular development, is confident.

Relaxation of the horse’s body and mind comes from confidence and understanding the training which h allows it to engage and perform properly.

A horse that is tense is unable to relax its back, become supple and engage the hindquarters, resulting in shorter, faster steps, a lack of fluidity, suspension, ease of movement and overall stiff appearance.

CONTACT Direct but light contact with the horse’s mouth must be maintained at all gaits.

Draped reins are incorrect.

Direct contact means that there should be a straight line from the rider’s hands to the horse’s mouth.

The horse must allow the rider to take a light contact on the reins without dropping behind the vertical or behind the bit.

The horse must show energy from the hindquarters and must allow the rider to shape the energy with the leg, seat and hands through signals to the bit and light contact.

Light contact is the line of communication from the rider’s hand to the horse’s mouth.

The horse should move in a balanced frame between light contact in the rider’s hand and the rider’s seat and leg.

A hunter must allow the rider to guide it through a course of fences where light contact is required.

Some horses drop behind the vertical to escape the rider’s hands, some horses are shown with too much contact to make them round, while others are shown on loose reins, free moving, but not connected or engaged because of lack of contact.

Light contact is the goal, not strong, heavy contact and not loose reins.

The ideal is a slightly rounded frame with a light contact that looks natural and easy. Hunter Pleasure effective 12/1/12 6 QUALITY The strength and athleticism required to perform the tasks of a Hunter Pleasure horse with ease and finesse.

Quality is the degree of excellence exuded by muscle tone, depth of muscle, clean, fine bone, balance front to rear, good carriage and a dignified presence.

MANNERS AND ATTITUDE It is imperative that the horse give the distinct appearance of being a pleasure to ride and display a pleasurable and relaxed attitude.

Manners are reflected in the way the horse performs.

Hunters must be obedient and responsive to the rider, must be willingly guided and controlled with light contact, show good behavior and disposition.

Good manners should reflect the horse’s obedience to the rider with safety being all-important.

The good Hunter Pleasure horse must display good manners by responding to the rider with willingness and ease while showing acceptance and a good disposition toward the surroundings and other horses in the arena.

A relaxed attitude shows willingness.

While the hunter is performing to the criteria of the class, it should do so in a pleasant and willing manner.

It should be prompt without anticipating, relaxed without being dull and must be attentive to the rider.

Attitude is the horse’s mental approach to the job at hand and expression shown through behavior and conduct.

Good attitude is reflected in a soft eye, alert ears, relaxed back, a willingness to perform, a quiet mouth and generally pleasant look.

MANNERS The conduct or behavior with which the horse performs.

Good manners reflect obedience and responsiveness to the rider, the willingness to be guided and controlled.

Acceptance of surroundings and other horses in the arena.

PERFORMANCE The physical act of doing all of the gaits, transitions from one gait to another, the execution or accomplishment of carrying out all the requirements of the class.

SUITABLE AS A HUNTER The ability to perform appropriately to the criteria of the class.

Having correct hunter movement, proper hunter frame and carriage with engagement and light contact.

The physical ability to be a hunter.

QUALITY The strength and athleticism required to perform the tasks of the Hunter Pleasure horse effortlessly and with finesse.

The degree of excellence, condition, presence, carriage, balance and strength.

A horse that is pleasing to the eye.

CONFORMATION The horse’s correct structural form as it relates to the functions and performance of a Hunter Pleasure horse.

Hunter pleasure classes will be judged by the above specifications in the order listed in each class specification: Hunter Pleasure effective 12/1/12

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Other Sources:

  • Breeds of Livestock – Horse Breeds
  • ARHPA | American Road Horse & Pony Association
  • Horse & Pony Club – Only Hearts Club
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