Show Recap: Hunter/Jumper Land Overall Impressions

So now you’ve read the run down of our first and second days at our first real hunter/jumper show, and you’re probably sitting on the edge of your seat with anticipation wondering, “what now? Will they make the jump (pun intended) to hunter/jumper land permanently? *gasp*”.

Let me end your pretend anxiety and say, probably not. However, I was thoroughly surprised to find that I did not see evidence of many stereotypes I had in my head of the hunter/jumper crowd, and that I would certainly be willing to enter a hunter/jumper show again, if only for a day rather than the weekend-long shebang.

Here are the overall Pro’s and Con’s I experienced over the weekend. In hopes that I won’t offend any hunters out there, keep in mind that this is a first real H/J experience for someone who has only done Dressage and Eventing for the last 10 years.

photo 3 (2)

The Pro’s:

Warm up
These trainers have obviously taken the time to school their students in proper warm-up ring etiquette, and it showed. Calling fences or inside/outside, as well as staying out of the way when standing, were all observed. Considering that I was warming up with people mostly half my age (yay 2’6″ classes!), this was all the more impressive. I feel like at any typical event I am the lone voice in the warm up arena and have been known to yell at more than one person for not calling out their warm-up fences. So, eventers, let’s get our act together.

No snobbery
I’ll be honest, I fully expected to see a bit of hunter/jumper princessness while I was here. Instead, I saw a lot of down-to-earth people and comraderie amongst the competitors.

Adding/scratching classes is awesome
Especially for people who can’t make up their minds (*cough* like myself, Sunday morning), this was a great feature to the show. The downside of course being that nothing can be scheduled down to the minute like at an event, but it still comes in handy.


part of our badly abuse class-sheet

Legit Jumper Courses
This was pretty cool to see. The level of difficulty was exactly what was expected, and I thought it was still fair throughout the different heights. It might have been neat to ride through a triple combination, but that’s about all that was missing from the courses. Thumbs up from me!

Also known as water/drag all the things! These people mean business about footing, and the water trucks and tractors came and went so much they had it down to a science.

All the pretty ponies, and all the pretty people! And even though I am fond of wearing my Ugly Boots and Ugly Pants to horse shows, it was kind of nice to pretend to be part of the fancy crowd all weekend.

The Ugly Boots (shown here) came along for the trip, luckily the Ugly Pants (also shown here) stayed at home

The Ugly Boots (shown here) came along for the trip, luckily the Ugly Pants (also shown here) stayed at home

No timers
Obviously for the hunter classes, there’s no obnoxious buzzer sending you on your merry way. Not gonna lie, at the end of day 2, this was something Foster and I were seriously appreciating. Thank you, hunter gods, for not asking us to be relaxed and fast. Thank you.

photo 1 (3)

The Con’s:

The Wait
I know you were expecting this. Waiting around with no schedule sucks. To be fair, I understand why (note my earlier comment about scratching classes), but there is definitely something to be said for knowing exactly when you are going, and being able to plan your day accordingly.

Inconsistent Judging
Maybe it’s my uneducated eye, but I could not find rhyme or reason between the  different judges. And really, I’m talking about flat classes. Where I thought I saw a relaxed ‘hunter-type’ with big strides, swinging movement, and relaxed demeanor, the horse that was clenching it’s jaw and avoiding contact by head-tilting pinned. Or in another arena, when I though a horse and rider produced a nice outline/frame, the horse that had it’s nose to the sky placed. I just couldn’t understand how the scoring was done, and this was a bit frustrating- adding to the mysteries of hunteryness.

The Clothes
And specifically, the rules about what’s OK and what’s not. Your boots need non-functioning laces, the saddle pad must be fitted (or non-existent, the route we went), your breeches must be knee patch, etc, etc. In the (mostly) form-follows-function world of eventing wardrobe, some of these things just made my eyes roll.

Feeling sneaky riding in Full-seats that don't look like Full-Seats!

Feeling sneaky riding in Full-seats that don’t look like Full-Seats!

Confusing class descriptions
Again, totally based on my ignorance as an eventer, but seriously- who comes up with these names? Even checking the state’s Hunter-Jumper Association doesn’t immediately describe what a Special Hunter was, and asking multiple people about the difference between Special Hunter and Pre-Green Hunter didn’t seem to clear up the difference. So. much. confusion.

It was pretty amazing to see how much more expensive the photography was at this C rated show than it is at any event. And sure, maybe it’s because the clientele are willing to pay that prices, in which case, good for the photographer. But hot damn, that’s a lot of money! Maybe I’m just bitter because they got 4 photos of me, and they were some of the worst photos I have seen in my life. I watched the videos, I know our level of awkwardness wasn’t quite that bad. Maybe next time, Mr. Photographer.

Foster and one of our 2 4th place ribbons!

Foster and one of our 2 4th place ribbons!

Overall Take-away
When it really comes down to it, this weekend was a wonderful opportunity to get in the jump arena in a low-pressure kind of way. I was able to somewhat successfully implement and learn a new technique, expose Foster to new types of fences, and take in a lot of knowledge about a new discipline. I learned a lot about what my horse can handle, and where his fitness limits are, which, though frustrating at the time, is really useful in preparing for future competitions.  So all-in-all, this was a good experience and I’ll be keeping an eye on the hunter/jumper calendar next year in case another opportunity comes up to visit hunter/jumper land again!

Tonight, we return to the world of dressage with another lesson with Eliza. Until next time, hunter/jumper land!

14 thoughts on “Show Recap: Hunter/Jumper Land Overall Impressions

  1. I feel like that’s a very accurate depiction/review of HJ land from an outsider! I’ve also been an eventer (previously) and all along have been a dressage queen at heart, but whenever I dabbled in hunterland for one reason or another I’ve felt very similarly to you.

    • HJ Land is definitely so different from eventing, but I can see a few similarities with dressage, at least in the way that tradition has a lot to do with the way things are today. It was a very interesting experience, for sure!

  2. It’s a pretty accurate depiction. The flat classes really depend on movement more than “frame” and even lack of relaxation will be forgiven a bit with a really good mover. But at unrated shows there will always be more inconsistency in the judging, especially if the people they’re using are not carded judges. Plus at the end of the day it IS just that one person’s opinion that determines it all. Good reasons to stick to the jumper ring. 😉

    • It’s definitely nice to take a break from subjectivity in the jumping arena (and cross country 🙂 ), where it’s just you, your horse, and a bunch of poles!

  3. I find the judging a bit confusing at the schooling/unrated shows (and I’m a hunter)… I’m not perfect but sometimes the judges seems like yahoos lol.

    Yes photographers are way toooooo expensive!!!

    Also at the unrated stuff they have a variety of divisions that are show specific- to accommodate all the levels of riders 🙂

    Glad you had an overall good time 🙂

  4. Most definitely they price to the clientele and what the clientele is willing to pay. At unrated/schooling shows you will find a lot of discrepency of judging and no standard for class descriptions (unless you are at an awesome schooling show that lays it all out and run by people familiar with the rated scene *this is a blatant self promotion of my trainer’s schooling shows that we sadly no longer run*). If you are really curious about more of the HJ world I know you are friends with Lauren and she’s a great resource, there are also some really great books out there (Anna Jane White Mullin writes them).

    I’m glad that you guys survived and overall found stuff enjoyable! Foster and you are a great team and it shows, he’s a very cute horse!

  5. I would agree with most of your pros/cons, minus the confusion and wardrobe comments. Anything is confusing when you’re new to it! The waiting sucks though, plain and simple. I don’t think it can be avoided with the way the shows are structured, but it sure does suck.

    • Haha, yes- Thank you for all of your answers leading up to the show! I literally took notes on my class sheet based on what you told me- valuable advice for sure! Next time I think it would be a little less confusing, and I’ll know who to go to if I have questions 😉

  6. As a hunter myself, I still agree with all of your cons. I wish it wasn’t so hurry up and wait all the time! That’s the worst.

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