Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hunter seat equitation

If you plan to show your model hunter (or jumper) with a rider doll, it's important to understand the basics of hunter seat equitation.
Here's how the USEF rulebook defines basic hunter seat equitation position (Subchapter EQ‐2/EQ 108):

• General. Rider should have a workmanlike appearance, seat and hands light and supple, conveying the impression of complete control should any emergency arise.
• Hands. Hands should be over and in front of horse’s withers, knuckles thirty degrees inside the vertical, hands slightly apart and making a straight line from the horse’s mouth to rider’s elbow. Bight of reins may fall on either side.
• Basic Position. The eyes should be up and shoulders back. Toes should be at an angle best suited to rider’s conformation: ankles flexed in, heels down, calf of leg in contact with horse and slightly behind girth. Iron should be on ball of the foot.
• Position in motion. At the walk, sitting trot and canter, body should be a couple of degrees in front of the vertical;
posting trot, body should be inclined forward; 
galloping and jumping, same inclination as the posting trot.
And that's it! There are no specific rules regarding shoulder/hip/heel alignment, proper rein hold or form over fences.However, since that last one is important to performance showers I will provide a few general guidelines.

Not surprisingly, the basic jumping position is a continuation of the basic flatwork position. The head and eyes should be up and the shoulders should be back.
The rider should close her hip angle over the top of the fence, and her hands should move forward to follow the horse's mouth. Most American riders use a crest release, which can be short...
or long.
The automatic release--where the rider preserves the straight line from her elbow to the horse's mouth in the air--is a more advanced technique, which is less commonly seen today.
The rider's leg should maintain its position--ankles flexed in, heels down, calf of leg in contact with horse and slightly behind girth--throughout all the phases of the jump. That is, take-off,
and landing.
There's a lot more to it, of course, but these basics should be enough to get you through a model horse show. If you'd like to know more, there are many excellent books on the subject, including George Morris' classic, Hunter Seat Equitation.
In the next post, we'll discuss hunter seat equitation for dolls!


  1. A very nice article! Thank you - I think, some dolls need this! ;)

  2. This post was so informative.... now I know what the judges are looking for next time I enter the ring!
    Now all I have to do is keep my horse from spooking, keep the butterflies in my stomach to a minimum....

  3. Where did you get those amazing photos? The horses are so beautiful.... I need to go to that show!

    1. The vast majority of the photos used in this post were taken during a Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Class held at the Colorado Horse Park in the summer of 2012. A couple pictures comes from a Junior Hunter class at the same show and one photo is from a pony medal class.

  4. I see some of your hunter horses have leg protection. I was under the impression that leg protection was not allowed for hunter horses regardless of jumping but was allowed for jumping as in not hunter.

    1. Hunters do not wear boots in the ring, but these aren't hunters. They're equitation horses, and boots are common in that division.