English tack is vast and varied. The tack you would use on a cross-country course is quite different from the tack you might use in an equitation on the flat class, for example. One of the pickiest disciplines of all, however, is hunter over fences. These classes are intended to show off the horse's form over jumps, and the tack chosen should make it easy for the judge to assess the horse's form and performance. Choose the wrong tack, and you're unlikely to place well. With that in mind, here's a look at the saddle, bridle, and bit choices that are acceptable for a hunter over fences class.
Technically, any all-purpose or close-contact saddle should be acceptable in a hunter over fences class. However, you'll likely struggle to maintain your half-seat and give properly over the fences if you ride in a saddle with too straight a flap or one without enough knee roll to keep you secure. A close-contact saddle with a moderate knee roll, a mid-deep seat, and a semi-forward flap is therefore preferred by most riders. Choose a medium to dark brown color. Black is not conventional in the hunter ring, and neither is very light leather. Pair your saddle with a plain, white fleece saddle pad, and you'll be set to go.
In a hunter over fences class, you are not permitted to use any noseband that interferes with the horse's mouth or holds it closed. This means drop, flash, and figure-8 nosebands are out. You need a bridle with a plain caveson noseband. These days, mono-crown bridles, which have the caveson directly attached to the crownpiece, are popular — but there's nothing wrong with a conventional bridle with separate caveson, either. Your bridle should be the same color as your saddle or as close to it as possible.
Technically, you can ride a hunter over fences class in most any snaffle or pelham bit. Gag bits and 3-ring bits are not permitted, and you cannot use a mechanical hackamore or any other sort of bitless setup. Keep in mind, though, that the goal of the class is to make your horse look easy to ride. Therefore, you want to choose the least-severe bit your horse will go well in. Many judges will prefer a horse who goes in a D-ring snaffle to one that needs a Kimberwicke.
If you follow the advice above, you should be well tacked for the hunter over fences classes. Smile, nod to the judge, and remember — you're here to have fun.
To learn more, contact a supplier that carries English tack.Share
17 June 2020
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