Conformation: Hunter/Jumper vs. Eventing

I am just venturing into the world of eventing. I started out riding dressage/doing combined training shows for 8 years, rode hunters for three, and am now dead set on trying my hand at eventing.

I purchased Max (click here for pedigree),an OTTB who is now almost 6, about a year and four months ago, when he retired off the track. We’re working through some stifle and weight gain issues but overall, he’s coming along splendidly.

If you have a moment, please comment on whether he’d be more suitable for sticking with hunters or if we might actually have a shot at placing in the eventing realm, based on conformation and pedigree.

I am fully aware that I could probably have taken better conformation shots and that a lot more plays into it; I’m just looking for basic opinions and comments on those two factors!


As to suitability for eventing vs. hunters, I don’t think it depends as much on his conformation as it does on his movement and disposition. At the lower levels of either discipline, conformation is seldom going to be the factor that differentiates. From the pics, I don’t see anything that would suggest more suitability for one discipline vs the other.

One thing about eventing… many (non-pro) eventers don’t worry as much about placing as they do about finishing. To finish, you must have a horse who can handle all three phases - able to deliver a decent dressage test, go bravely across the country while almost always jumping all the jumps, and managing the stadium without leaving a trail of poles behind.

Beyond finishing, at the lower levels of rated events, if you want to place well in your division, you probably need to go double clear in cross country and have at most a rail in stadium. If you want to win the division, you need to have an excellent dressage score as well. At the lower levels, the dressage does not need to be particularly fancy, but to be at or near the top of the scoreboard, the horse should display correct fundamentals - be supple, relaxed, obedient with correct gaits - and the rider needs to be able to ride a very accurate test.

Bottom line: the ability to put the complete package together and be competitive as an eventer depends largely on the horse’s mind and training. The same is probably true for hunters - with the main difference being that in the more competitive hunter divisions, quality of hunter type movement and quality of jump are both more important and more subjective. If your horse has a daisy cutter trot and the stride to be able to lope down the lines with a quiet, relaxed demeanor, he may be more valuable as a hunter.

He’s cute, and love the name Max. I agree with Groom&Taxi re movement, mind and training being more important than confo for eventing and hunters. However he looks to be on good flesh. By your weight gain issues comment, did you mean you are trying to put more weight on him?

Heart and brains are the key to eventing horses. Scoring in the jumping phases is objective: did you get over the fence, yes or no. The subjective element of style is absent. Dressage causes event riders a lot of stress but it is the foundation of all success and any horse can improve with correct training, so that should not stop you and your boy. Have fun.

able to deliver a decent dressage test, go bravely across the country while almost always jumping all the jumps, and managing the stadium without leaving a trail of poles behind. ??? excuse me, but why on earth would you say ‘almost always jumping all the jumps’ it’s not like you get to go around the ones you don’t like

I used that wording specifically because you CAN finish cross-country if the horse has a refusal or two.

It is my observation that many horses - especially those green to eventing - may have occasional refusals - perhaps early on the course, early in the season, early in their careers. But a tendency to have refusals every time out on course probably means the horse doesn’t have the temperament (or correct training) to be an eventer. That is what I meant by “almost always” jumping all the jumps.