Before the start of a miniature horse hunter class, the exhibitors are invited to walk the course with the course designer, judges and ring stewards.
Once the course walk is completed, it's time for the class to begin. One by one, the horse and handler teams line up at the starting cones...
and head for the first jump. Contestants may compete at a brisk trot...
or a canter.Whichever gait they choose, it's important to stay with it for the entirety of the class. Preference is given to those horses who cover the course at an even pace and horses who break gait will be penalized.
I'm assuming jumping style is also judged, but that was not specifically mentioned in the trulebook.
The class ends as it began, with the horse and handler passing through the cones.
Causes for elimination in the Hunter class include going off course, circling between jumps, three refusals,
jumping obstacle by handler, carrying a whip, an unsound horse and fall of either horse or handler.
Major faults include knockdowns, touches, refusals, bucking or kicking, spooking or shying, wringing of tail, not maintaining an even pace and charging the fences.
As noted earlier, handlers are not allowed to jump the fences with their horses. Instead, they swing out around the left side of the fence...and lift the lead over the standard as the horse jumps.
The handler's hand follows the horse's head in the air and most handlers maintain light but consistent contact with their horse throughout the course.
Of course this all easier said than done, especially when the jump standards are nearly as tall as you are!
I can not tell a lie--I have fallen head over heels in love with miniature horse hunters.
This probably won't be the last time you see them on this blog!