A working hunter pony class derived from a day of hunting, aiming to replicate the tasks associated.

This involves correct turnout on a suitable pony. Ponies competing in these classes should be mannerly in company and very smart, with good, strong conformation to show the animal is capable of a long and useful life as a hunter and be less likely to sustain injuries that cause days off the hunting field. Most importantly, the ideal working hunter pony will be able to jump a range of rustic and natural fences, calmly, cleanly and efficiently.

With regards to the ponies’ way of going, they should have a relaxed but powerful walk, a strong trot, bending from the knee and powering through their shoulder. The ideal canter is forward going and free moving, not collected or slow. When it comes to the gallop, the judges are looking for control. This pace is to show how free the movement of the pony is but must be a true example of extension — not as if you’re trying to win the Grand National!

Judges will be looking for harmony between pony and rider. They are looking to find a pony who loves his job, ears pricked and looking for the next fence – a pony that would give his rider a great day’s hunting.

Classes are always divided into two parts, a jumping round and then a ridden judging. The jumping round consists of a course of natural jumps including some “hazards”. These can vary from a water splash or rubber ducks in the water jump to a bright filler. Heights vary depending on the type of show, but can be ran as both unaffiliated and affiliated classes with slight rule changes dependent on the governing organisation/society. The second phase is the ridden judging. This can be carried out immediately after the jumping or you can all be called in together to perform an example of the ponies paces in a go around, and a show and strip for conformation.

The classes are open to mares and geldings aged four and over, a snaffle, double bridle or Pelham is normal. Tack is normally dark havana, although black leather is also allowed but all tack must be plain with no colour or piping, including the girth. Both a martingale and dark coloured brushing boots may be used for the jumping phase however boots must be removed for the ridden judging, although there is no change of tack allowed between sections. The colour of your numnah must also be the same colour of your tack and be fitted correctly so as to not interfere with the shoulder. Manes should be plaited and tails pulled at the dock, shortened to hock level when carried. Whiskers, ears, jawline and fetlocks should be smartly trimmed. Mountain & Moorland workers however should be shown in their natural form, hair and all, whilst cobs must be hogged.

Rider attire is an important factor in working hunter pony classes and differs between classes and rider age. All riders must wear a correctly fitted skull cap or fixed peak riding hat that meets current safety standards and velvet hats and covers are preferred. Juniors should wear brown jodhpur boots while intermediates and seniors should wear long, black leather boots. When it comes to jackets a classic tweed jacket is correct for daytime classes and a navy jacket must be worn for evening championships. Jodhpurs and breeches can only be beige or canary, no other colours are permitted and a stock or tie should be worn in a toning colour with tan or brown gloves. No sparkles or bright pinks allowed! All riders must have their hair fashioned into a secure hairnet.

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