Monday, March 15, 2010

Hunter Under Saddle: Class Procedure

Hunter under saddle classes are some of the most predictable classes of the horse show. If you watch the higher levels, you will notice that all of the horses seem to enter the ring, head in the same direction and space themselves out automatically. If you know what to expect in an under saddle class, you can be that smooth, too!

Here is the official EC rule regarding the hunter under saddle class:

ARTICLE G316 OTHER HUNTER CLASSES
1. Hunter under saddle: to be shown at a walk, trot and canter both ways of the ring; at least eight horses, at the judge's discretion, if available, may be required to gallop one way in the ring but never more than eight at one time (pre-green and green hunters not to gallop). Light contact with the horse's mouth is permissible. In order to maintain awards, horses must compete and complete the course in at least one over fences class in their respective division. Hunter under saddle classes must never be the first class of a division.


These classes are judged on the horses' manners and way of going. The horses should have smooth, flowing movement with little knee action and should carry themselves in a relaxed way.


First, let's pretend that we are entering such a class and we'll go through what will happen throughout the entire thing:


Enter the ring at the walk: Walk through the ingate one by one.


Track left: Under saddle classes always start on the left rein. If you track left from the start, everyone will be able to get settled much more quickly and with less confusion.


Work until the class is called to order: Do whatever your horse needs since you are not being judged at this point. If your horse needs to relax, just walk. If you want to energize your horse a bit, do a lap at the canter. It's up to you.


The judge will call the class to order and you will be asked to walk: You are now being judged. You will walk for a couple of minutes while the judge looks over the class.


Trot: You are free to either post or sit, but the posting trot is much more likely to show your horse's trot off better. You will probably stay at the trot for quite some time while the judge takes a look at each horse and makes his or her initial order.


Walk: In most cases, you will be asked to walk before the canter.


Canter: Make sure that you pick up the left lead and you may either sit or two-point, depending on what works best for your horse.


Walk


Reverse at the walk: Change direction by doing a small half-circle in reverse at the walk (come off the wall first and then circle back so that you are circling on the new rein).  


Walk: The judge will watch everyone briefly at the walk.


Trot: The same as before - do whatever suits your horse best.


Walk: Very brief.


Canter: Again, make sure that you're on the right lead.


Walk and line up in the center of the ring with your back to the judge: Try not to park yourself too far from the rest of the group. Make sure that your horse halts correctly and stands there for as long as he can. If he gets fidgety, walk him in a small circle but it would be best for him to just stand nicely while the judge finalizes his or her decision.


Leave the line to collect your ribbon, or exit the ring at the walk after the last ribbon winner 




Here are some tips for a successful under saddle class:
  • Make sure that your transitions are smooth. You don't need to transition within the second after it is announced and a smooth, slightly delayed transition is better than a messy, quick one.
  • Use the crowds to your advantage. If your horse is looking great, try to separate yourself from the other horses so that you can be seen. If your horse is misbehaving, hide within a group of other horses.
  • Use the corners. Judges tend to watch the long sides more than the corners, so if you're careful you can use them to make adjustments. Keep track of where the judge seems to be looking so that you know when to really show off.
  • Make sure that your horse is not wearing a martingale or you will get eliminated after entering the ring!
  • Try to travel at a similar speed as the other horses in the ring. A horse that passes everyone else quickly or gets passed by everyone else will stand out in a negative way.
  • Keep track of what the other horses are doing. Sometimes it's difficult to hear the announcements and that is not how you want to lose a class. If you notice that most of the horses in the class are at a new gait, chances are that you should transition to it, too.




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