Why Every Equestrian Must Know the Difference Between Hunter Style and Hunter Equitation!

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Why Every Equestrian Must Know the Difference Between Hunter Style and Hunter Equitation!

When you hear the term “Hunter” in the equestrian community, you might find yourself wondering what it really entails. Is it about the horse, the rider, or both? Hunter competitions often leave many scratching their heads due to the distinct categories they are divided into: Hunter Style and Hunter Equitation. Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of these equestrian sub-genres, dissecting the expectations, scoring systems, and how each uniquely contributes to the sport as a whole.

Hunter Style: All About the Horse

In Hunter Style competitions, the spotlight is entirely on the horse. The courses are generally simple, featuring robust, jump-friendly obstacles. The aim is to bring out the best in the horse. According to Anne Duhem and Jérémy Moreau, French champions in Hunter, the judges focus on various factors including cadence, approach, and trajectory.

The horse is evaluated out of a total score of 20, divided into two categories. The first assesses the horse’s style like in a show of model and gaits (model /5, gait /5, obstacle style /10). The second focuses on the technique, including cadence, curves, and approaches. Any penalties like bar knocks (-4 points) or refusals (-10 points) are then subtracted from this average score.

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Hunter Equitation: Spotlight on the Rider

In contrast to Hunter Style, Hunter Equitation competitions are tailored to evaluate the rider’s skills. These events might feature various elements, from dressage moments to speed jumping. Anne Duhem explains that the judges pay attention to several aspects of the rider, including their position over jumps and on the flat, as well as their ability to manage the technical difficulties of the course.

A total score of 100 is given, 40 points of which assess the technical contracts, 30 points focus on the quality of curves and cadence, and the remaining 30 points evaluate the rider’s finesse in riding (use of aids, eye contact, balance, etc.). Penalties like bar knocks or refusals can subtract up to 10 points from this total score.

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Mixed and Combined Events

The rules also allow for mixed and combined events. Mixed events combine the difficulties of dressage with those of maneuverability. Combined events involve the same course being evaluated first in Hunter, typically for maneuverability, and then again in jumping, with slightly higher obstacles. The final score is the Hunter score minus any jumping penalties.

Where to Start?

Anne Duhem stresses that knowing your horse is key to choosing the right competition. For Hunter Style, she recommends horses that are beautiful, calm, have excellent cadence, and a great style at the obstacle. However, she cautions that even the ideal horse can’t compensate for significant rider errors, so training is crucial in both categories.

Whether you are drawn to the Hunter Style or Hunter Equitation, both sub-genres offer their unique learning curves and opportunities for both horses and riders. Understanding the differences can significantly enhance your equestrian journey, no matter which path you choose to trot down.

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