Hunters or jumpers?

As my wonderful gelding ages towards retirement, my trainer recently asked me what I wanted to do next. To be honest, I’m not sure.

I’ve done jumpers for the past 20+ years. I love it, but NOT because I love to go fast/jump high. I love the technicality of it. I love that I can make a mistake and still be successful. I love not having to prep my horse. I love not being penalized for a horse that is “up” and enjoying its job. I love the fun clothes! I really love not braiding. Unfortunately, I’m not getting any younger. The jumps are looking bigger. The courses are getting hard to remember.

The hunters are fun in their own way. I did them for years as a junior and young adult. They’re beautiful, accurate, artistic even. I can see why people enjoy the hunters. There are competitive divisions at 3’ and even 2’6", so if I need to step down, that’s totally viable. Also, if need be, hunters are much, much easier to sell in my area. Plus my trainer has faaarrrrr more hunter experience. But…I’m having trouble getting psyched about riding a hunter. (Also, at this point in time, in my area, I believe good hunters are significantly more expensive than good jumpers).

I would love the input of others on this. Are there some other considerations I should take into account?

Well, unless you are planning on paying the big bucks for a made horse, if you are buying a young horse who has not chosen and indicated it’s strengths in competition, you don’t know which division that horse is going to be truly suited for until you are ready to start to compete. And if this is the case, you are likely going to be starting in some hunter classes anyway, entry level stuff anyway. And you will find out in time what options are available to you and your new horse. I’m in the same state actually… always been a jumper rider, the horses I chose and raised just turned out that way, and I have always been happy that that was the case. BUT, the horse I have coming up now is a hunter, no doubt. And my plan is definately to pursue that plan, as well as I can in my old age, and with my rebel nature, and unfashionable tack, my crappy braiding job, and with my solid and secure lower leg that doesn’t fly back to the horse’s hip bone to show “drama”!!! Good luck, see you at the shows.


Can there be some sort of middle ground between what you’ve been doing and switching entirely? A lower height jumper division? A new jumper that you click with and restores your confidence at the current height? Making your peace with sometimes going off course, or doing some work to master new course memorization techniques? Or what about getting into adult eq/medals? I always think of eq as halfway between the two, interestingness-wise. The horse can’t be nutty, but I find it more about consistency than dead quietness at most shows.

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You rebel! LOL


Hunters have always been my number one in my heart. I switched to jumpers years ago honestly because I hated showing in a coat (now I greatly prefer a coat :joy:), and I’ve been doing dressage for the last three or so years. I’m contemplating getting my mare going over fences again and getting back to hunters, and especially Derbies.

Nothing beats a textbook Hunter jump for me - back cracking, knees to eyeballs, all the beautifulness. In the Derbies a more forward pace is typically required and appreciated. I’ve seen a little bit of a change in the regular Hunter classes in the last couple years too, getting away from the super slow hum drum.

It gets on my nerves how people continually harp on Hunter riders like they’re the only ones with less than perfect equitation.
Eventers standing up and being behind over every fence is as much of an issue as laying on the neck, and certainly drops more rails.
Plenty of Jumper riders also fling their legs back and use exaggerated releases.
And there’s also plenty of riders in all of the disciplines with great equitation. Having a solid lower leg doesn’t make you an oddity, not even in hunters.


Sounds like you need a 3 ring horse type. They are my favorite. I am the queen of time faults and a hunter rider at heart. But I do like tackling handy questions. While there are some super fancy pre adult horses out there, IMO, if you can ride accurately you will do fine on this type when you need to step down in height.


I vote eq! As someone torn between jumpers and dressage, I find eq to be interesting & challenging even over lower fence height. And when you don’t place well you can pretty much blame yourself :). My heart mare was a jumper her whole life, but she and I really got along as she reached her teen years. I could get her to put 5 (not advisable, but holy hell she could), 6, 7, or 8 in a 6 stride line, halt square in the middle of a 6 and put in a clean 3 to jump out on a quiet day. Eq tests, even on the flat, are so immensely fun and challenging.

nicely counter cantering a fence ON PURPOSE or asking for changes on the straight quarter line is hard apparently :sweat_smile:


If you are okay with subjectivity then hunters can be fun. I love jumpers for all the reasons you say plus if I lose I know why and and OOTB can do pretty darn well in a lot of rings. If you can afford a very nice hunter, I think it could be fun to ride that perfect, flawless round.

:rofl::rofl::rofl:. My child shows in hunters. I am not a hunter. And one of my specialties as a yoga instructor is coaching riders in improving their biomechanics off the horse. At a local show, I got dirty looks from a couple people around me as I accidently voiced my inner monologue “What was that?” as one of the “in” trainers pretty much threw his hands up to the horse’s ears over an 18" fence in the warm up. It was dramatic, all right! :rofl:

I know what 3 ring horse means. But I still chuckle at the phrase in sale ads & think “Sure, a 3 ring circus!”

How much money do you have to spend? You can get a 3ft jumper for relatively cheap. A hunter that will win in the 3ft divisions at fairly competitive shows? Costs much much more.