Horse Showing

Fix My Horse

July 20, 2011

A pro offers some advice on presenting a more polished look in hunter under saddle classes.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

horse and rider

AQHA Professional Horseman Leslie Lange suggests narrowing the hands for hunter under saddle. Journal photo.

This month in The American Quarter Horse Journal, learn the ins and outs of hoof cracks, how to become a horse trainer and more. One of our favorite stories features AQHA Professional Horsewoman Leslie Lange helping a hunter under saddle rider obtain a more polished look. Here is a preview of that story.

Pamela Britton-Baer is an amateur exhibitor and a professional writer who used to ride competitively on the A hunter-jumper circuit.

These days, she’s riding Bippidy Boppin Along, aka “Bippy,” at American Quarter Horse shows and is having a hard time adjusting to hunter under saddle in the Quarter Horse world.

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Like most working amateurs, she has little time to ride, so she works with the 2003 gelding when she can. She wants to improve, though, and bravely sent in a video for AQHA Professional Horsewoman Leslie Lange to critique.

You can turn to the digital edition of the July Journal Plus to watch Pam’s video.

Reviewing the Ride
When I first look at this video, I see her stirrups are too long. The second thing I see is that she’s going too fast. She’s pulling on him, and her hands are a little too wide, her reins are a little too long, and together with the long stirrups, it presents a picture of an unpolished rider.

I tell my students they need to get everything centered. We need to get our legs underneath us, our hands balanced and everything back to the core, where our strength is.

As she continues into the first trot, things get a little more organized. Our view from this video is different from what the judges are going to see, because our point of view is from sitting in the stands. When we look from the stands, we’re looking down on her. A judge is going to have a more lateral view, so he isn’t going to see as much of the widening of the hands, but when we look across the arena, we see more of what the judges will see, and it appears that she’s helping him constantly.

In hunter under saddle, we like a more self-maintained horse, a little more consistency and a little more finish in the presentation. I think she needs to sit back a little bit, and if she shortened her stirrups, that would help.

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As she moves into the canter, she’s pumping a little bit and her body is a little forward. He actually breaks from a canter to a trot at one point, and I think her lower leg is weak because her stirrups are long.

She’s riding him in a four-rein bridle, which I wouldn’t make too much note of, because the equipment is not to be judged in hunter under saddle. The only reason I mention it here is because the four-rein bridle is a lot of bridle and he appears to be dragging her around.

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