Showing & Working Hunters

Showing: a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Horses and ponies are judged on conformation, movement and presentation.

There are the classes that are what they say on the tin – coloured, veteran, retrained racehorses etc but then there are also the ridden horse, ridden hunter and working hunter classes. You might hunt your cob but this doesn’t mean in correct showing terms that it is a hunter or you may have a foreign breed which at local level is fine to show as a riding horse but at a higher level you will most likely be the only one in the class. Understanding the category in which your horse or pony should compete is crucial if you want to step up the levels as each class also has different turnout expectations – it isn’t quite as simple as being the right height for the class as it is in show jumping your horse must also be of a certain conformation and type. Showing horses and ponies is an equestrian discipline that any horse owner or rider can participate in.

Working Hunter:  a competitive event judged according to the pace, manners, way of going, and jumping style without regard to conformation.

These classes add an element of excitement through an additional jumping phase and often appeal more to action heros than pretty posers. The jumps will be in an arena but are usually more rustic in nature than normal showjumps. At bigger shows the course might include banks or water obstacles.

A working hunter should be a good, strong type of horse, with true hunter conformation. He must display good manners at all times and is required to demonstrate good, bold jumping ability, whilst jumping smoothly and quietly. He should possess sound paces, appear to be a comfortable ride over long distances and, in addition, be a good looking, handsome horse. There are three phases contained within the working hunter class. Jumping phase, flatwork phase and conformation phase. These phases may be judged in three separate stages, or combined, depending on the preference of the Judge on the day. Whilst conformation is not as important as in other showing classes it is still a deciding factor when all else is equal.

AIRC affiliated showing classes are not common in our neck of the woods but there are non-affiliated shows run locally which can give keen members some competitive experience before they head to the annual Riding Clubs Festival. There is no official tack sheet for showing as the correct turnout varies according to the class type.