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I feel like the professionals should stop "ducking"

Food for thought…

There’s a lot of talk of FB about the pros–at indoors most recently–ducking and ruining the overall picture of the hunters. Then, a great “Defender” jumps in to point out the round is being judged on the horse, not the rider. While this is all true, it is some of these great “Defenders” who also post on FB about kids being more serious at shows, leaving their cell phones back at the barn, and watching and listening to the masters.

But if The Masters are exhibiting poor form, and essentially form that can throw the horse off balance, then I feel The Masters should work on their equitation!! Chris Payne, Geoff Hesslink, Scott Stewart, and John French get incredible jumps out of their horses–there’s no arguing that. But so do Liza Boyd, Vanessa Brown, Kelly Farmer, Peter Pletcher (and the list goes on) all in good form.

If we are coaching our juniors to exemplify “The Masters”, then shouldn’t the very best example be put forth? The comments on FB about these pros “ducking” is not really that far off!!!


I think this is a debate that’s been going on for awhile. The rider holds a position that makes it appear that the horses jump is exaggerated.

Hunters has a much more subjective aspect to judging than jumpers, and in the more subjective disciplines (as someone said recently on another thread) things tend to evolve towards stylization and exaggeration at the expense of functionality (see Western Pleasure or Dressage).

If you compare hunters to jumpers at the same height you can see if there’s a difference between hunter style and jumper functionality.

There’s lots of things many hunter juniors need to unlearn to ride correctly afterwards.

But I’m not sure there’s much us keyboard warriors can do. If you are riding hunters and starting to disagree with the direction the discipline is going, then your best bet is moving into jumpers or eventing where functionality is most important.


Or ride so well in a style that you approve of that you win everything and become the one whom everyone wants to emulate :wink:


I always LOVE watching Brianne Goutal do her hunters for this reason. She is one of the only people who followed the big eq winner to major hunter trainer pipeline that maintains her fantastic position from her junior days. It really allows the horse to shine through!!

ETA: grammar


Are you putting PJP on the side of NON duckers?? :rofl:

Joking aside, this has been done to death. Some riders have great equitation, some don’t, in any discipline. RGB is the classic example, even Daniel Coyle has come under scrutiny lately, in jumpers. They are great riders, they have great results, until we can ride with success at that level I don’t think we should armchair quarterback.


An recent anecdote: watching washington live stream, there was a young girl who did hunters, jumpers (and maybe equ? not sure of that.) Her position in hunters was GORGEOUS, and in jumpers absolutely horrendous. I had to double check it was the same girl, I thought maybe the scoreboard had the wrong name up. So it goes both ways.

ETA it was her equitation (position over jumps) that was horrendous in jumpers, not her riding ability! Very talented girl.

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Right. There’s a huge difference in the feel and mechanics of the jump. The top hunter does not (usually) feel like the top jumper in the air and your body physically cannot ride it the same. Nor would you want to, as you are looking for an entirely different shape from the horse on landing and takeoff, why would your shape be the same?


As an absolute outsider, isn’t the mechanics of a horse jumping over a fence the same over any fence? There is more effort necessary over a higher fence - because it is higher - but jumping is jumping whether low or high. Push from the hocks, legs tucked out of the way, land and move off.


I read it as RBG and wasn’t sure if I missed her earlier career as a hunter rider.


The day I can ride as well as and get the same winning results as the “duckers” is the day I’ll start criticizing how they ride.



When I’m watching a top hunter go around a course of jumps I don’t even notice the rider’s position. Seriously the best hunters are so brilliant I see nothing else but the stunning efforts over the jumps and the breathtaking movement. It’s only in still photos that I “see” what the OP is complaining about.


Some horses jump quite flat and don’t jostle the rider around. Others really crack their back or take off and land in such a way that jostles the rider more and makes it more difficult for the rider to stay in balance.


Jumpers go at speed and have complicated or unexpected distances and sometimes tight turns. Hunters prioritize a regular relaxed rhythm and are selected to be able to make the stride between fences. It’s going to be a different kind of ride

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The arc changes both on the type of jump (vertical, oxer, water, etc) and on the style of jump desired. A hunter actually has to put more effort into the jump than a jumper jumping the same height, due to the fact that the canter cannot be collected for power. You feel that jump a lot more, but also have to hold your own position a lot longer. The arc is meant to be both higher, slower, and longer, meaning the horse should have more air over the apex of the jump, take off from a gap, and should land stretching down and out, versus the less hang time and shorter, quicker, sharper collected take off and more upright landing of a jumper.
The top hunter takes a real effort to keep everything with the horse without impeding the jump by being stiff.
Obviously a big jumper requires strength and effort from the rider as well, but it’s just a very different type of feel comparatively.
Your average animal over a small jump basically gives you no extraneous feel at all in the air and then it’s just your body going through the motions on muscle memory and doing whatever you’ve taught it, good or bad.


Yes people can jump smaller jumps with very little two point if they have following hands and a secure seat.

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That describes so many things people do around horses. And probably life in general.


Should we look at this photo of Michael Jung and say he can’t ride and classical equitation is the same no matter what, or do we only admit that you adjust position to match the goal when it comes to people who aren’t riding hunters?

Riding a nice hunter is the opposite of dropping into the head of the lake. You do not require immediate control on landing, you are not in a physically dangerous situation, and you’re trying to prevent yourself from touching their back or their mouth at any point in the full arc of the jump. To do so, some people “get ugly” just like they do to answer an equally extreme cross country question or sit a huge extended trot or what have you. It’s physically a lot harder to hold your body down and forward for the second half of the jump than pop back.

I will never cease to be amazed that people genuinely think that if riding their hunters the way they ride their jumpers would make their horses jump better, and these pros with huge businesses are just doing it all wrong for want of some low level eventer or the eastern Iowa pony hunter champion of 1964 to tell them what’s up. I certainly don’t ride at that level myself, but I’ve had the good fortune to learn a little here and there from people who are more successful than I am by having my eyes and ears open.


I had to go dig up these other pictures just to demonstrate that people can also use completely different positions at basically the same jump. The first picture always makes me think that this person should have a cup of tea in his left hand. Lol.