Show Ring Hunter – Why Getting the Correct Striding Is Important

Hunter jump, show ring hunter, hunter jumper, hunter judge usa, hunter judge canada, what the judge is looking for, Laura kelland-May senior judge

Having the correct striding shows the judge that your horse has a comfortable flowing stride.


If you are riding a show ring hunter or showing in the hunter jumpers then getting the correct strides between fences is important. Most horse shows have the strides between the fences set at 12 feet. This means that when you are cantering the number of canter strides between the fences will be a multiple of 12, PLUS the distance for a correct take off and landing.  

For example:  

If the course designer has a distance of 60 feet between fences then the number of strides the judge is looking for will be four -12 foot canter strides. This allows 4 canter strides and then 1 canter stride will be taken for the take off and landing of the jump.  

Why getting the Correct Number of Strides is Important  

If your horse adds a stride in the line of fences; for example, putting 5 strides in a 60 ft line when 4 strides is required, this signals the judge that:  

  1. Your horse could be short strided and could possibly be an average mover and unable to make the distance because it is not too athletic
  2. Your horse has a short stride and is not moving forward enough to make a good jump. If your horse is underpaced it may leave the ground for the jump at a bad spot, off one leg or a spot that is too close to the fence and make the form over the fence not very good.
    Show Ring hunter, what the judge is looking for, hunter judge, hunter judge canada, hunter judge usa, hunter jumper, correct strides between fences

    Course designers build courses to help make the best horses stand out.


  3. Your horse is unwilling to open up the stride making the line look choppy and stilted.

If you make the distance and get the correct number of strides between the fences then it signals to the judge:  

  1. The horse has a comfortable flowing 12 foot stride and is suitably athletic to get the distances between the fences
  2. The horse has a natural flow without too much speed or pace to get the correct striding
  3. The horse can make the distances look inviting and smooth

If your horse leaves out strides (i.e. does 3 strides where a 4 stride is called for) it signals to the judge that:  

  1. The horse is long strided and possibly going too fast, forward or out of control
  2. The horse is rushing and will probably jump flat and in poor form
  3. The horse is tense and not showing a relaxed even stride.

Having a good round and getting the correct striding is important. It reflect on your horse as an athlete and on you as a rider. If you get the correct striding, look the part and your horse has good form over its fences then you could win a ribbon.

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2 Responses to Show Ring Hunter – Why Getting the Correct Striding Is Important

  1. Melanie Bell says:

    Putting on a Welsh and Open show and need correct striding for hunter courses. I will have horses and ponies in some of the open classes. Last Year I went with a standard 12 strides and a competitor said they were wrong for ponies and reset the jumps. I don’t know what she did, but my large ponies and horses had trouble making the correct stride. In a case where you have horses and ponies in the same class and no time to reset for the smaller ponies- What is the correct way to handle this situation?
    Thank you!

    • Laura says:

      If you are having a breed show featuring the Welsh Breeds and
      open classes you can put in the striding at 72feet. this will be 5strides
      for a horse and 6 strides for smaller horses and ponies.
      Having72feet will allow enough time for ponies to add strides
      to fit in their strides without cramping the strides in or chipping
      in between fences and will be perfect for five 12′ strides for horses
      and large ponies.
      Ideally you would like to have horses do 5 strides and then change the
      distance to 66 feet so ponies can do 5 strides (that’s five 11 foot strides)
      and 60 feet so mediums can do 5 strides as well (that’sfive 10 foot strides).

      On the other end of the spectrum you can have 84 feet between jumps
      which will give 7strides for horses and then the ponies can fit in what ever they
      like to put in.
      Either way make sure your judge undeerstands what the course designer has
      set up so they may judge accordingly.

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