First, let me just say I haven’t been jumping very long and only recently moved up to the 2ft division in shows. Second, I have always liked the idea of the hunters in that rewarding consistency, obedience, and calmness seems like a solid, foundational goal for a rider new to jumping. And finally, third, I still have a lot to work on with respect to getting the striding between lines, using corners correctly without losing pace, and staying straight to the jumps.
But on the other hand, competing in hunters has also been somewhat discouraging. Ofc you tell yourself it doesn’t matter where you place in a show, but at the same time, I’m starting to feel a little fatalistic about showing in hunter classes. It’s made me wonder, “what’s next?” and I’m hoping for some other goal to aspire to.
My horse isn’t a hunter type and is very uphill and forward. I think what really brought me down was watching a video of our most recent flat class. He looked fantastic, cruising around on the bit with this big extended trot. His transitions were balanced and crisp. To me, we looked perfect. But we didn’t even place and, in fact, pinned behind several riders who inverted speed-trotted into a canter. Cynically, especially at my level where the winning rides are the ones with the fewest screw ups, I just feel like it’s easy to do pretty well in the hunters if you put your hands in your lap and squeeze the crap out of a downhill horse that’s permanently behind the leg. It makes me feel like I’m forcing a square peg into a round hole, when I don’t particularly want to be in the round hole anyway.
So I guess what I’m wondering is when it’s time to move on? Is there a height cut-off at which point it becomes appropriate to consider the jumpers? Is it equally wise to replace the precision and foundational skills of the hunters with dressage, and do the 2ft jumpers or something like that (if that’s even a thing?) in combined training competitions? I think long-term, I’d like to do combined training. But I’m just wondering how long I should continue to hang out in hunter land.