Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Memorizing Hunter Courses

Hunter jumps may not have numbers on them, but the courses are not as difficult to memorize as you would think. A well-designed hunter course has an easy flow to it, and once you know what the typical course design is like, you should be able to find your way around almost any hunter course just from knowing the first jump alone!

Most hunter courses start with a single vertical on the inside track. Occasionally, the single vertical will be placed on a diagonal, but the flow following the jump will be the same.

After the first jump, the course will go to either an outside line (or single oxer) or a diagonal line (or single oxer). Generally, a diagonal will follow an outside and an outside will follow a diagonal. The best part? Usually, there will only be one line of jumps to take from the proper direction after coming around the end of the ring!

One course might be inside, diagonal, outside, diagonal, outside. Another might be inside, outside, diagonal, outside, diagonal.

How should you memorize the course in the quickest, easiest way? Remember the first jump and the last jump. That's it! You should always run through the rest of the course with a ground person before you enter the ring, just to make sure that it follows the usual formula, but it's really no more complicated than that for most hunter classes. Even if the course includes a broken line or an in-and-out, it will still follow roughly the same track!

As you go around the course, make sure that you don't jump anything backwards. Check that there's a nice ground line in front of everything and you should be good to go (since hunter jumps have such large ground lines, the back of most jumps will have an almost false ground line since it is pulled out so far in front). It's very rare to have a line going from an oxer to a vertical in a regular hunter class, so if you see an oxer (likely facing the wrong way) as the first part of the line, it's most likely not the jump that you're meant to take. Keep going around the course until you've gone over that last jump that you memorized!


  1. Hey =) just curious... but is the picture of the hunter course beside the artical (to the right) a official hunter course? Like is there a specific hunter course or is it like Show Jumping which is always a new course everytime? Can you get back to me ASAP please? jessnhorse1@hotmail.ca

  2. Hi Jessica,

    There is no one standard hunter course, but they usually follow a pattern along the lines of that course. You'll find the course diagrams posted by the in-gate at each horse show with the pattern and striding specific to that particular day of that particular horse show. Horse shows employ course designers for the hunter rings to make a variety of appropriate courses.

  3. I am always very nervous about forgetting a course. What do I do if I forget in the middle of the class? Please get back to me ASAP

    1. For most basic hunter courses, it's difficult to go wrong if you know the first and last jumps. If you forget where you should be going mid-course, look at the available options (which would usually be either a diagonal line/single oxer or an outside line/single oxer) and take whichever isn't backwards. The way that most hunter courses are designed means that the outside line and diagonal line coming out of any given corner will be facing opposite directions. A backwards oxer will look very wrong, with the rail facing you being higher than the top rail on the other side, and no ground line, so as long as you avoid jumping such an ugly jump, you should be fine :)
      Classics and equitation courses can have more options to turn to at any given moment, but once you've had lots of experience riding the more basic courses you'll have the hang of it.

  4. Hi there. Great article, super helpful. How do you tell the strides of a course if it isn't written on the course sheet?
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Brooke!

      The striding should always be listed on the course diagram for regular hunter classes. The only time the distances wouldn't be written would be for a class in which you can walk the course, such as a hunter classic or hunter derby.