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If you ever visit an English show, you will immediately notice the main differences between hunters and jumpers. In the hunter ring, you will see gorgeous horses, behaving regally, slowly and evenly jumping over fences in a row. However, if you peek over into the jumper field, you will see shiny beasts of burden running around jumps fast as can be, throwing their heads and knocking their feet.

Hunters is based on the poise and precision of the horse going over the jumps. There is a judge that watches the horse go over a course of jumps (between eight and fourteen) and then evaluates the horse’s overall performance. The judge then subjectively looks at several important things:

1) How close the horse can get their feet to their ears over the fence
2) How consistent the horse is throughout the course, with respect to speed and tempo
3) How simple the horse looks to ride (the goal is that anybody’s grandmother could ride the horse)
4) Confirmation of the horse with respect to its age.

Jumpers is completely objective. First of all, the jumper courses are more intertwined and complicated (between seven and fifteen fences), and the fences are significantly larger. There are timers that are at the beginning and end of the course.

An important part of the scoring in jumpers are the faults: if a horse knocks a rail off of the jump, it gets four faults, or if a horse refuses to go over a jump it receives three faults. The horse with the least faults and fastest time (faults receiving precedence) wins the class.

Hunters is unfortunately very political, the most known riders often win despite the fact that they might have a bad ride that particular day. Jumpers however, is quite dangerous. When horses go very quickly over large obstacles they often flip over. A flipped horse usually damages both horse and rider.

While horseback riding is a wonderful sport, it is important to pick the right discipline.