Pin Oak II – Hunters and Equitation

I am, undeniably, a hunter princess at heart. I love my little race car, and we have a lot of fun. But I dream of when my baby horse is finally all grown up and we are doing derbies and the like. So I had a lot of fun watching the hunter ring and reminiscing on my junior days. Back when I was a junior, I had a horse that probably could have done hunters and big eq., but I was gunning to be on an NCAA team, and for recruiting purposes in Texas success in the jumper ring is much more impressive than in the hunter ring, simply because hunters and equitation aren’t nearly as big here as they are on the East and West coasts. There’s always been a little part of me that wished I done the hunters anyway, but I learned so much more in the jumpers, and I gained the tools I needed to teach Val to do his job. So it’s OK.


Somehow The Plaid Horse magazine found this photo on my Facebook and shared it on their page which was pretty cool!

We watched the Younger and Older Large Juniors Hunters, and later we caught most of the Maclay, and there were a lot of drool-worthy horses. I’d like to have seen the Smalls too, but didn’t feel like waiting for a drag when there were other classes going on. One thing that surprised me was that they actually jogged for ribbons for every single over fences class (excluding the Maclay). I know this often happens at bigger horse shows, but it’s been a while since I was at a show where this was done, and I’ve never done a class that required a jog.


My understanding is that the point of the jog is to check for soundness without a rider in the irons to help package the horse, which can sometimes mask that the horse is off. That being the case, it seemed unnecessary to jog the same horses three different times, but I suppose that it was also a matter of formality. This wouldn’t be the only detail in the hunters that may or may not have a purpose, but is instead done just to do it. Any of you other readers, feel free to correct me on this!


Regardless of the purpose, it was entertaining to watch some of the fat and shiny hunters being dragged across the ring by their juniors, some of whom were trying to jog fast enough for the both of them. It seemed like it took all of their determination just to jog as far as the judge’s box before their horses decided they were done. Hopefully with all of her work on the line, this will be one thing Stellar will be great at. Fingers crossed she doesn’t jog faster than I do!


The Maclay was even more fun to watch than the hunters, because you could tell them kids who really had a plan from the get-go and those who were riding it like another hunter trip. The course was not overly difficult, but it did have one roll back, a trot fence, and a few places where you had options for your turn and approach. My favorite trip by far was one in which the trip was very tidy and efficient. The rider chose to slice one of the jumps, used the innermost track on every turn, and still stayed balanced and hit all of the jumps nicely.


Almost all of the other riders did one of the handier options, but didn’t usually do more than one. The trips were pretty, but no other trips really stood out to me. That being said, the riders were obviously good, though there were more bobbles than I might have expected. I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that there just aren’t as many hunter and equitation riders at the higher level in Texas. I’m sure if there were the dozens of entries many other shows have in these classes, it would be much harder to pick a favorite trip.


As far as turnout goes, I did see some tails that looked like they were thick enough to be fake, but I also saw a surprising number of tails that appeared to be natural tails, including a few that were on the thinner side. Since Pin Oak is a AA show, everyone had braided manes and tails, and though spring is a hard time to have a super shiny horse, all of the horse were very clean, and while they maybe weren’t all polished to a shine, all boots and tack were tidy and clean.


Many of the horses had boots, or polos as well in the equitation, though there were of course no boots in the hunters. I think primarily people used leather boots with normal buckles rather than velcro or studs. Pretty much every horse in every class wore a standing martingale, even though it appeared that many of them did not need the standing. Though some people are very against using a standing unless the horse actually needs it, this is one trend in the hunters that doesn’t bother me so much. Many people use a standing as standard equipment simply for aesthetic purposes, because it can help break up the horse so it’s front half doesn’t appear to be too long, and can generally make a nicer picture (this is not me saying I would opt to use a standing on every hunter, but simply that I understand the reasoning). As a judge, I could see viewing the standing as an indication that the horse is not going to go as nicely as the other horses, but that still shouldn’t cause the horse to be penalized unless he actually misbehaves and hits it. And unless the horse does misbehave, a properly adjusted standing certainly won’t get in the way of the horse unless you are jumping fences much larger then you would find in these classes.


Finally, I was surprised by the bitting in the equitation. When I was doing eq, everyone used pelhams, because it was much easier to package your horse into a frame appropriate for the more technical courses in big eq classes. Most of the horses that we saw go around however, were going in either a D-ring or full-cheek snaffle. Many of those horses had also done a junior trip earlier in the day, and I suppose if your horse is doing double duty, you may not want to do your horse in the hunters with a pelham.


The final thing that I noticed was that most of the horses in the Maclay jumped quite nicely. It is pretty common for equitation horses to jump square, but flat, so that having nice equitation is not difficult over the bigger fences, and that did not seem to be the case. Again, this is probably because many of the horses were doing double duty in the hunters and equitation, but it was still nice to see. I appreciated that the juniors were genuinely riding well for the most part, rather than posing on their horses.


What do you think readers? Is the standing martingale trend stupid? Should everyone use pelhams in the eq all the time? Are ready to steal any of these fancy horses?

16 thoughts on “Pin Oak II – Hunters and Equitation

  1. Jogging is a rule for USEF rated divisions:

    3. In all classes over obstacles, all horses being considered for an award must be
    jogged for soundness in the judge’s order of preference prior to being judged for
    conformation. Two more entries than the number of ribbons must also be jogged if
    there are sufficient entries.

    HU132 Soundness
    All horses must be serviceably sound. All horses being considered for an award
    must be jogged for soundness with rider dismounted. In classes restricted to junior
    riders, a junior must jog the animal for soundness. (Exception: Under Saddle classes,
    unrated classes and classes at Local Competitions.) Horses that are not serviceably
    sound are ineligible for an award, including under saddle classes.

    They used to jog the THJA rated classes at the Summer Circuit shows, too. I almost died trying to jog a particular horse in the Children’s. And with that statement I probably just aged myself tremendously…

    1. Huh. Good to know! I’ve never done hunters at a rated show, so it’s not something I’ve ever encountered. As an aside “serviceably sound” seems like a really vague term.

  2. I second Amanda’s comment–the jogging is a rule, not at the discretion of the judges. I do remember the jogs at summer circuit shows, as well, although I think they have done that less and less to get through all the classes faster.

    As to the standings, I think the current philosophy is simply it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. As you say, if fitted properly, it will not interfere with the performance of the horse wearing it.

    Pin Oak is such a lovely show! I miss going 🙂 Cool you got to go and get some great pictures.

    1. I guess I just lucked out and missed all the jogging! When Summer Circuit still had THJA classes, I was doing the Low Children’s jumpers, and same with all of the rated shows I went to. Lucky me!

  3. They’ve got to jog for every rated division at a USEF show. You won’t see them jog for children’s or pre-adults, because they’re not rated. I also think sometimes it’s a nice way for the judge to reward a close but not good enough round. They pull two reserves in case one of the top 6 is lame, so if you jog a reserve you at least get some kind of validation.

    As for pelhams in the bigeq, I would only see Pelhams at WEF. I think part of what you saw is that even though Pin Oak is a big show, it’s not a HUGE show. A lot of those horses are doing double duties as hunters, so therefore they won’t have entirely new tack setups and also jump really nicely (although the bigeq horses at WEF jump super nicely too). At larger circuits, people tend to have eq horses who’s only job is to go around that ring.

    1. Somehow I didn’t realize that the Children’s hunters weren’t rated. Since it’s usually 3′ I figured it was, but that would be why even when I was helping at a show barn none of our Children’s Hunters had to jog. I never went to a show where we took any junior hunters. Pin Oak is has pretty big classes in the jumper rings, but the hunters definitely are more sparse, so the double duty makes a lot of sense.

  4. I hate the whole standing martingale over jumps thing. I know running martingales aren’t allowed, but they’re much safer over jumps. If we go back to the idea of hunters coming from actual doc hunters, there never would have been a standing martingale on a field hunter. Your pictures are great; it looks like a very cool show.

    1. That’s interesting. A running martingale can pose a danger as well, since occasionally a horse will hook a foot through one of the attachments, whereas a standing is out of the way enough that a horse won’t usually get caught. A trainer I rode with years ago refused to use a running after a horrible accident he had when a horse caught it’s foot in the running over the jump. I use a running now anyway, but I can understand the argument. That being said, I definitely don’t use a standing on my current horse, because he spends so much time fighting it that the problem gets worse.

    1. I think for the hunters a D makes sense–the point is to show that the horse is quiet and soft and needs minimal management. For equitation though, it makes sense that you would ride in something that allows more control and finesse.

  5. Abby

    I agree with Lauren, at WEF most of the eq horses are big eq specialists that never leave the equitation ring and almost all of them show in a Pelham. I’m thinking these ones are probably doing double duty between the eq and the hunter rings.

  6. I never did rated hunters, but even in our little schooling circuits everything just went in a standing. It just was what it was, and every new horse that came to our program got fitted with one unless there was a specific reason why it should *not* wear the martingale. I honestly never thought very deeply about it until I started evening and learned the standing was illegal on xc….

    1. Sticking a standing on everything does seem to be pretty normal these days, but it seems maybe slightly odd from a training perspective even if it makes sense from an aesthetic standpoint.

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