For those of you interested in how hunter and hunter-seat equitation classes are judged, I want you to know that my newest book, The Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing and Judging, includes the most recently updated version of Judging Hunters and Hunter Seat Equitation, which has been endorsed by the USEF as a companion to the Rule Book since 1984. The stand-alone version of the book on judging will no longer be published because it is available within the larger work, which also includes in-depth information on training and showing.
The compilation of a book on training, showing, and judging procedures seemed to be an easy way to help people understand the judging standards in the United States, as well as develop themselves and their horses to meet those standards. Too often, people have gaps in their equestrian education that lead to frustration in competitive situations and even to horse abuse and accidents. I’m trying to help fill that gap with The Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing, and Judging, just as the USHJA and USEF are trying to address this issue with educational programs for riders, coaches, and judges.
In today’s society, tidbits of information are disseminated through the fast channels of the Internet, while books have tended to fall by the wayside. A quick transfer of information is fine for the “quick fix,” but if you’re really going to be good at this sport, you need a comprehensive view of it.
When I was young, my first horse was pastured in Atlanta, GA, far away from the top equitation coaches at that time, most of whom lived in the northeast. For a short while, I had no instructor other than my mother, who would sit by the riding arena, holding a book by Gordon Wright and telling me, “Your leg is farther forward than the person in this picture,” or “Your hands look too high.” She was comparing me to a line drawing of a man on a horse, demonstrating a rider’s correct position. (I believe the drawing was of the famous Olympian, William Steinkraus.)
My mother had never ridden a horse, but she had read Gordon Wright’s book, studied the pictures, and tried to get me to do the things suggested in the text. It was sheer brilliance. When Gordon Wright came to teach a clinic in Atlanta, he said, “Who is this child’s teacher?’ When he found out it was my non-horsey mother who had helped me develop such a sound leg position, he could hardly believe it.
Gordon Wright’s book made all the difference in the world to me, and I’m hoping The Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing and Judging can do the same for you. It was written for riders working on their own, trying to improve in barns all over the country. It was written for parents who pay large sums of money for their children to compete and want to be assured that there is an honest judging standard; and it was written for coaches and potential judges, who must continually strive to comprehend the larger picture of this multi-faceted sport. In the end, it is understanding the big picture that leads to greatness. So don’t settle for a few “sound bites” on training, showing, and judging, but really make an effort to thoroughly learn your craft. Talk to you later!–AJ