Monday, November 15, 2010

The Making of a Hunter Horse.......Wendy Potts

It seemed the hunter horses were coming out of the woodwork at the Daffodil Arabian Horse Association Clinic this weekend. Over the years I've been going to their clinics I don't think I've seen this many hunter horses at all of them combined. Not only was this clinic filled to capacity there were more horses waiting in the wings hoping for cancellations. Wendy Potts was indeed a popular choice for this year's clinician.

The clinic began at 8:00 AM sharp and it was obvious from the very first horse it was going to be a very informative clinic. Wendy Potts is clear and concise in her instruction and keeps at it until she's getting the desired result. Not only that but the woman has a mighty fine seat and believe me it was tested quite vehemently over the course of two days. If I could keep my b*tt in the saddle that well I might actually have a chance at getting Reflection fixed.

When I think of a hunter horse, I think of forward. However, many times I see horses in hunter classes they are anything but forward. The horses may all be travelling at the same rate of speed and covering the appropriate ground but they are not really using themselves correctly so their movement cannot be described as forward.

The rules are clear that a hunter horse must, indeed, be a forward moving horse. Excerpts from the USEF Rule book Arabian Division AR 129 "The stride at every gait should be long, cover ground and exhibit efficiency of movement. Horses that are, for more than a few strides, high headed, ridden on a draped rein, not in an appropriate frame, on the forehand, short strided, or behind the vertical must be severely penalized.

The walk should be a four beat gait: straight, true, flatfooted, regular and unconstrained with good reach.

The trot should be straight and regular, mannerly, cadenced and balanced. To be performed at a medium speed with a free moving, long, ground covering stride that is not short, high, round or choppy.

The canter should be a three beat gait: even, smooth, unhurried, correct and straight on both leads.

The hand gallop is performed with long, free, ground covering strides. The amount of ground covered may vary between horses due to difference in natural length stride. A decided lengthening of stride should be shown while the horse remains controlled, mannerly, correct and straight on both leads."

Right from the first horse on Saturday morning it was clear this clinic was going to be about getting that forward movement in the horse. While each of the horse and rider combinations may have had different issues, they all came down to the same thing, getting to true forward movement in the horse.

It was interesting to watch as the obstacles preventing each team from reaching their potential was exposed. Sometimes it was a horse just not giving 100%. Sometimes it was a rider making it hard for the horse to do so. Sometimes it was a combination of those things. It was informative to watch as barriers melted away and true hunter horses emerged.

To be continued..................

The Young Horse

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  1. It seems that a lot of breed organizations are coming to the realization that hunters need to actually move forward. I just got a notice from AQHA that they are changing the class standards for hunter under saddle to selecting for horses that look like they could actually jump- you can't jump a horse who's head is dragging around their knees.

  2. I think Reflection is just beautiful! Sounds like he just may have a tad bit of spunk too! :)

  3. that sounds like a pretty cool clinic! cant wait to hear more about it.

  4. One of my horses was shown in hunters for his entire career. It was such nonsense. He was 17-2 hands and could have easily gone forward but there was such a thing as fitting in a certain amount of strides between jumps. If he was moving forward he would have had to leave at least one (or more) out and lose the classes. So he had to be held back between the jumps to "do the numbers" like the little daisy cutters did. I feel it was a lack of knowledge on the judges part and there shouldn't have been a certain amount of strides to be counted, but to let the horse go forward at his own pace the way he would actually do (and did) in the hunt field. Okay, I'm getting off on a rant here, sorry.

    The clinic looks like it was very informative and I'm sure everybody took a lot away from there to work on.

  5. smazourek, the latest change with the Arabians was the specs for the walk. That was just added last year. It will be interesting to see if we actually see horses really walking out like they should be in this class.

    Karen, all of my horses have spunk. It's part of what I breed for and Reflection definitely has a huge dose of it. LOL

    Crystal, it really was a cool clinic. I'm hoping they bring her back next year. I'd really like to take a horse with just the normal issues that go with starting a young horse not having to fix someone else's stuff.

    Arlene, that doesn't even make sense to me. I know that hunters over fences in this breed aren't required to take a specific number of strides between jumps. Very weird and frustrating too. I can see why you want to rant about it. I'd be ranting too.