Eight Smart Tips for Hunter Under Saddle

Learn how to cruise the ring correctly with this horse-showing advice.

At the 2012 AQHA Select World Championship Show, AQHA Professional Horsewoman Deanna Searles of Scottsdale, Arizona offered tricks and tips for horse showing in the hunter under saddle class. Heed these eight tricks so you can succeed in the show pen:

    • If you want the inside track, go to your rail and then come back out toward the inside.

These eight helpful horse-showing tips came from AQHA’s “Hunter Under Saddle Clinic by Deanna Searles” DVD. But they are only a portion of the advice AQHA Professional Horsewoman Deanna Searles has to offer. Purchase this DVD so you can succeed in the show pen!

    • If you want to change your position on the rail, just look. Don’t be afraid to keep looking to the rail, she says. More often than not, there will be room on the rail because so many people look to the inside.
    • Wait for the person in front of you to lope off. When the judges ask for the lope, give the people in front of you a chance to take off first.
    • Get yourself collected for the lope. You’ll be more successful in your transition if you set yourself up for the departure. You can even sit a few strides before asking for the transition, Deanna says.
    • Ride 10 feet off the rail. Deanna says she likes to ride a hunter under saddle horse 10 feet off the rail because if you’re encroaching into the center, the judge won’t get as good of a view of your horse and you risk crowding the judge.
    • You don’t have to be right on top of the rail, though. Because a hunter under saddle horse is moving with more speed, you have to have a little room between your horse and the rail as you head into the corners.
    • Find the perfect balance in your walk. The speed at which you walk depends on your horse, but Deanna says she likes a nice relaxed, forward walk. With that said, you don’t want to be so relaxed that you have a western pleasure rein.

What’s better than eight tips? Eight more tips! Purchase AQHA’s “Hunter Under Saddle Clinic by Deanna Searles” DVD to uncover more tricks for success in the hunter under saddle class.

What the Rules Say

According to SHW 601 in AQHA’s 2014 Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, the purpose of the hunter under saddle horse is to present or exhibit a horse with a bright, alert expression, whose gaits show potential of being a working hunter.

Therefore, his gait must be free-flowing, ground covering and athletic. Hunters under saddle should also be suitable to purpose. They should move with long, low strides reaching forward with ease and smoothness, be able to lengthen stride and cover ground with relaxed, free-flowing movement, while exhibiting correct gaits that are of proper cadence.