You see it in ads all the time. “Horse is a 10+ jumper” “This one is your hack winner!” “His trot is totally a 10”. Those kinds of descriptions usually describe pretty nice horses.
One of my favorite things about going to WEF and watching the hunter ring, is that you don’t really hear those phrases.. you see them. You see them everywhere, because I’ve never been to a place with more nice horses in one ring.
Say you’re chillin’ at the adult ring, watching fancy hunters step over tiny 3′. Sure, 3′ is absolutely giant to me but when you’re a largeish warmblood kept in peak physical condition, you step over 3′. But you step over 3′ absolutely beautifully.
Then you cruise to the warm-up ring by the 3’6″ AO’s. Oh, that horse just jumped a small warm-up jump like a freakin’ boss. Must have been a fluke!
Oh, that horse just jumped exactly the same over the same jump. Must be a freakin’ amazing jumper.
It’s not like I don’t see nice jumpers and movers in Texas… I do – just not all in the same division. Or every division for that matter!
Seeing pictures of bascule like these horses show might help you to realize why a lot of top level hunter riders ride the way they do. No, their equitation is not always perfect. You’ll see a lot of legs slipping back and “enthusiastic” releases… but if your horse jumps like this – there’s a reason for it!
Keep in mind, none of these were pro horses in the pro divisions. I watched a sprinkling of AA 3′ horses and AO 3’6″ horses. So basically, they’re just like you and me… only they may or may not have a lot more resources than we do, haha.
I really could take pictures like this all day. It’s very exciting as a photographer to see a horse approaching a huge oxer, and you just know that it’s going to snap its knees up to its face. No knocking my local shows at home, but you don’t see the fences, the height, or the quality of horse around here like you do at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Eventually I did pry myself away from the AO ring to stroll around the show some. I accidentally found the children’s under saddle class going and snapped a few pictures of the gorgeous movers. About halfway through the class, I went “oh I should video this!” so I have a short clip to show y’all.
Pay close attention to the bay at around :15 because he’s a freakishly amazing mover and I’m almost positive won the class.
Not every horse is a stunner (remember these are kids horses who also have to be safe and honest) but there are totally stunners in there. More than one I wanted to steal with me to go back home!
I don’t know if pictures and a short video really do much to share the class that you find at the hunter ring at WEF. Even if the hunters aren’t your thing, you can’t deny that a fantastic jumping and moving horse can take your breath away!