There are so many hunter trial competitions for you to enter and enjoy with your horse either individually or even in pairs listed on Equo at the moment. But how do you go about being competitive and putting yourself into a strong enough position to win a hunter trial? Here we reveal all…
Make sure you and your horse are fit
It seems obvious, but as with any horse sport, both horse and rider need to be fit enough to complete a hunter trial course comfortably. Depending on course location and level the length of a hunter trial course will vary, so do your research and do enough canter work at home so that you are both fit enough to tackle different types of terrain and courses ranging between anything from two minutes to seven or eight minutes in some cases.
Go cross-country schooling
Cross-country schooling will be key to you and your horse completing a successful round. Also bear in mind that some hunter trial courses require combinations to open and close a hand gate, so this is also worth practicing.
Walk the course thoroughly
Apart from paying attention to which fences you are required to jump, also think about which lines you will take in order to ride a smooth, efficient round. In order to ensure you ride the quickest, safest lines, while you are walking the course keep looking back to see where your previous fence was to make sure you are walking the most efficient route.
Watch other riders tackle the course
Although this isn’t always possible, if you can, do try to watch other riders tackling the course so that you can see if any particular fence is causing problems, or if other riders are taking better lines to the ones you had planned.
Ride away from your fences
This will help you stay in a consistent rhythm, saving time without going too fast.
Paired up? Practice dressing!
If you are doing a pairs class with a friend, be aware that on most hunter trial courses there will be a ‘dressing’ fence. This is a jump that should be tackled side by side with your partner in perfect synchronisation. Most hunter trial rules state that pairs who jump the fence just out of time from one another will incur five penalties, and pairs who jump the dressing fence one behind the other will incur 10 penalties.
Tackling a timed section
On most hunter trial courses there will be a timed section in order to help determine a winner. More often than not, this will be a ‘bogey’ time, as opposed to the fastest time. This is the same as an optimum time in eventing, but the bogey time tends not to be disclosed until after the final competitor has completed. Instead, riders are usually asked to ride at a ‘good hunting pace’, so practice riding in a steady gallop rhythm at home, without going too fast or slow.
Looking for a hunter trial near you?
If you’re feeling inspired to give hunter trials a go and bring home the red ribbon? Equo has a wide variety of other events listed online. Search events now.