Hunters, Not a Sport



If there is one part of English riding that I loath, it’s the Hunters. Not because there isn’t some style, grace, and purpose; I think everyone should start in the hunter ring. But, the politics involved in the pre-green through regular working hunters is a joke. I have been to many horse shows where you didn’t have to watch the rounds; as long as there wasn’t anything major that happened (refusal), you knew who would be in the top three to five by the names of riders, and sometimes, the owners.

Anymore, hunters are a political, status driven competition with barely any merit. If winning proof is subjective, can judged sports cannot truly be sports? That isn’t to say hunter riders aren’t athletes, just that hunter shows, because of the judging, today function more as exhibitions, rather than sporting competitions.

If winning proof is subjective, can judged sports truly be sports?

I’m squarely laying blame on the politics.

The hunter world is a dirty world, lots of pressure to have the right “look”, the right amount of flash in the horse, the right size, color, brand. I mean, what happened to all the thoroughbreds that zipped around a hunter course and made it look more like a HUNT course than an outside, diagonal, outside, single fence, diagonal, boreathon?

There is a definite importance to start in the hunter ring whether you are a kid or an adult. The hunter ring is where you earn your wings. But, there comes a time when you have to question the actual pertinence of such competition.

The hunter argument is that accuracy and perfection are derived from a great hunter course. But, if you really watch 30-40 hunter rounds in a row – good, great, and mediocre – they all start to look the same (I don’t care what commentary you are listening to).

Hunters should be used as a stepping stone for horse and rider. I will never consider hunters a sport, and except for green horses and green riders using the hunter ring for experience, miles, and steps, hunters are a joke.

If you want to jump….ride in the jumper ring; fear shouldn’t keep you from trying….the great thing about it….you aren’t being judged.