How to Show an Arabian in an English Hunter Class

You need to be brave and confident to show an Arab in a Hunter Class. There are a lot of misconceptions about the Arabian breed, so your horse has to be especially well-mannered and calm in order to be looked at favorably. Hunter classes are some of the most challenging for Arabian owners because of deeply ingrained beliefs by judges and other contestants can cause them to overlook your beautiful, well trained horse.


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    Be thoughtful about your selection of horse if you want to compete in Hunter classes. There are different strains of Arabians, and the ones that typically do well in Hunter classes are Polish.
    • One challenge is they are often small in stature, rarely getting over 15.2 hands. One option is to consider large pony hunter classes, which can be a good choice for a horse under 14.2 hands.
    • The Egyptian lines have a more extreme appearance and sometimes the temperament to match, so consider bloodlines and what they were bred for. These horses are the purest creatures on earth, and can trace their lineages back thousands of years. They were bred for a specific reason and type. Study the characteristics of the different strains and what they were going for.
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    Invest in a lot of training, and make sure your riding skills are flawless. Nothing will make your horse look or behave poorly more than floppy legs and jerky hands. Go with a barn that specializes in Hunter shows, and let the trainer know what your goals are. If your trainer is not enthusiastic or is dismissive about your chances, find another barn.
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    Go to as many small shows as you can afford to. What your horse needs is a lot of exposure to the sights, sounds, and routine of a horse show. Get your experience in low-stakes local shows, and keep at it until you start placing in the ribbons.
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    Move up to the regional breed shows. Enter in as many classes as you possibly can. If there are equitation classes, have one of the equitation riders use your horse in those classes too. Show your horse in hand. Enter Hunter Pleasure classes. The goal is to get the experience, and teach yourself and your horse how to relax in a show environment. The key to winning Hunter classes is the horse has to be calm, relaxed, and ridden on a slightly loose rein. Remember, what they are going to scrutinize you for is your horse's demeanor just as much as adding a stride between fences or knocking down a rail.
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    Keep at it and ride and show as often as you can. Arabians are incredibly adaptable. It is a huge investment in time and money, but you will be very glad you did it.


  • If you prefer to keep your horse's mane long, in Arabian traditional fashion, learn how to french braid it so it looks tight and neat. Use hair mouse and/or braid it with matching thread so it stays in place.
  • If you don't know how to braid a tail, there are often hairstylists at the bigger shows you can contract with to do it for you - at a price. Just make sure you find those people and make an appointment as soon as you get to the show grounds because they are often in big demand.
  • Show season starts in the spring before they lose all their winter coat. Even if they have been blanketed all winter, their necks and belly will have longer hair, and you may even have some rub marks on their coats from the blanket itself. If you choose to clip your horse, you may also want to invest in having it done by a professional. Nothing looks worse than a bad clip job. Small Wahl clippers can be used around their muzzle, in their ears, and around their fetlocks, but you may want to leave the body to a pro.
  • No excuse for tack that is not impeccably clean and in perfect condition for show day. Period.
  • Try to use the same bit, saddle, pad and girth the horse is familiar with. That way you don't find out halfway through your round that the new bit you bought is pinching his mouth.
  • Stay calm, confident, and relaxed. Your horse is sensitive and will pick up your emotions. If you are nervous and afraid of going into the ring, they will be too.

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Categories: Horse Showing and Competition