Here is a detailed description of the type of riding we offer.
Horses used in hunter over fences and hunter under saddle (or "flat", non-jumping) classes are called Show hunter, and are judged on their movement, way of going, manners, and jumping form. Conformation is judged to some extent as well. Thus, smooth, quiet-moving, well-built horses with good temperament are desired. A related flat class seen in many breed-specific competitions that is very similar to Hunter Under Saddle is English Pleasure-Hunter Type, called simply "English Pleasure" within some regions and breeds. Although a somewhat different style of horse than the classic hunter may be shown, the goals of good manners, performance, quality and conformation are still emphasized.
Horses shown hunt seat may be of any breed, although those of Thoroughbred and Warmblood type are most common, except in Pony classes. Regardless of breed, the horse should have a long stride with very little knee action, good jumping form with correct bascule, and should be well-mannered. For top level competition, movement and jumping form become increasingly more important.
The show jumper is generally a horse that has more power and energy than a show hunter. Because only jumping ability is scored, conformation, manners, and way of going are critical only as far as they affect soundness and ability to jump. Jumpers are often taller and more powerfully built than hunters, often with a bit more speed. Some are far more temperamental, though excellent jumpers must be manageable as well as athletic. Horses may be of any breed, though again, Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods dominate the field. It is rare for a horse to perform both as a hunter and as a jumper as temperament and style of movement are markedly different.
Hunt seat equitation classes judge the rider only, including his or her position on the flat and over fences and overall effectiveness while riding. Therefore, it is not imperative that the horse has perfect movement or jumping form, but it needs good manners and an attractive way of going that does not detract from the rider's performance. Although temperament is not judged, horses with a more tractable temperament are generally easier to ride, and can therefore help riders demonstrate their skills.
The ideal equitation mount has less bascule than the show hunter, because it is easier for a rider to maintain the correct jumping position on a "flatter" horse that does not throw the rider out of the saddle when it jumps. However, a show jumper is not ideal either, as the horse may be less smooth in its way of going and too excitable in temper for the rider to maintain steady and correct form over a course. The horse must jump safely and not carelessly rub rails. The movement of the equitation horse is generally more collected than the show hunter, which allows the rider to better adjust the stride for tricky combinations.