What Makes a Good Hunter?
By Alan Korotkin
What makes a successful show hunter? Judges and horse professionals are in constant search of the perfect hunter that can win, or be sold for large amounts of money. Certain qualities exist that separate the good hunter from the bad. The first and most important quality a good hunter must have is solid form over his jumps. The second is his movement across the ground – how he walks, trots, and canters. The third criteria is the horse’s mind – how he thinks and his personality.
Good form over fences is the most important quality a hunter can have. In its most basic definition, good form for a show hunter is characterized by tightly folded knees over his fences. If a horse jumps without tight form and dangles or hangs his forelegs, it is considered poor form. Jumpers can get away with less than perfect form over fences far more easily than the show hunter.
The second most important quality a good show hunter needs is his movement. The way a horse moves across the ground is extremely important for the hunter, not only in "hack" classes, but in jumping as well. Judges like to see a horse with good movement, and a long, lopey canter that covers the lines easily is very desirable. The trot is important for both the entrance into the ring for an over fence class as well as the under saddle classes all rated hunter divisions must have. Judges look for long, sweeping trot steps with little bend in the hunter's knees, often referred to as "daisy cutting." The hunter’s movement should be easy going and not choppy.
The third quality a good show hunter must possess is a great mind. The great hunter is calm, not excitable. He is quiet and brave. He likes his job and pricks his ears forward while at work. He does not spook or look at the jumps. He goes around his courses with grace and ease and without a care in the world. The great hunter must have a super mind and pleasant personality.
These traits characterize the good hunters of our show world today. It is very difficult to find a horse that is perfect in all of these categories. Any specimen that comes close to having these qualities is worth a fortune. Horse professionals try to find animals that fit the mold from the outset for the good hunter, but also make a great living training the less than perfect specimens into better horses.
About the Author
Alan Korotkin has over twenty years of experience in the horse business. His clients have won over 150 year-end south Florida riding titles, and he himself has placed in over 150 grand prix competitions. He can be reached at: www.castlewoodfarmsales.com.
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