Tack N Turnout: Working Hunter

I've written a few posts now about what is the correct dress for riders for dressage, hunting etc so I thought I better get cracking on the correct turnout for horses. For some horse events you do want to add a bit of your own character to your clothes (showjumping and eventing are great for this) but for other's, such as working hunter, it's pretty much about about being traditional and blending in. 

I loved doing working hunter with Jack, we never quite managed to come first (he was a bit funny with doubles ... he was fine at home, but at competitions you had to nearly lift him over it yourself!) but we were always turned out properly and we were awarded ''best turned out'' more then once! 

Working hunter consists of 2 parts - the jumping section followed by the showing section. The working section is judged on how forward and how well the horse can jump a course of fences, these are all marked individually. Afterwards there is a showing section in which the horse and rider show off the horses gaits and confirmation for a judge. Working hunter is somewhat like an all rounder competition .. you have to prove your horse can jump as well as look pretty :)

Be sure to check out some of my showing tips too - they always come in handy for getting a horse looking their absolute best :)

A chunky leather bridle with a plain browband and flat noseband are the most correct option. A Flash, grackle or drop noseband are also permitted :) Plain, rubber lined (not full rubber!) or laced/plaited reins should be used. 

Any bridle using a bit is permitted (hackamores or bitless bridles are not!). Generally the most popular and preferred bits are snaffles, doubles (curb and bradoon) and pelhams. The judge may take the type and strength of bit into consideration ... although this is not always the case.

This should be fairly straight cut with knee rolls. A working hunter or a GP (general purpose) saddle is best :)

A running martingale or breastplate may be used.

Numnah and Girth
Numnahs may be used but should be discreet and shaped to the saddle. A numnah matching the colour of the saddle or horse are the best, however, many people now a days are using half pads. These provide padding right under the saddle but do not extend as far as the saddle flaps. 
The girth, too, should match the colour of the horse or tack. 

Boots and Bandages
Subtle coloured boots or bandages may be used in the jumping section but MUST be removed for the showing section.

The mane should be plaited into 7 - 13 plaits using thread. Rubber bands can be used, but in my experience tend to move or fall out easily ... but maybe I just havn't quite got the knack for them?? I like my plaits to be indestructible! 
The tail should be cut about 2 inches below the hocks. The top should be pulled but it's also ok to have it plaited ... just never leave it completely "au natural"!
The horse should be well groomed with heels, ears and muzzle trimmed.
Hoof oil should be used on the feet and for an added professional look use quarter marks (sharks teeth in the flanks and rectangles on the top of the quarters ... not diamonds!)

Don't ever be afraid to enter a competition with some of the wrong tack on, I've been there and done that! Coming from a non-horsey family I pretty much had to learn these things as I went along :) If you're not quite confident yet to try working hunter then head along to some working hunter classes and see if you can pick up any tips from the judges or riders ... and its always handy to bring a camera to take photos for referencing later on :)

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