The showjumping hunter is a type of horse that is judged on its manners, movement and way of going.
Movement and frame
A hunter has long, low movement - its strides are long covering lots of ground without much flexion of the horse's joints in its movement. The field hunter's movement is efficient: the horse should not be bending its legs any more than in nescessary. This is because in the hunt field a horse war required to work for several hours at a time, often at a gallope - excessive movement will tire a horse too quickly.
A show hunter moves smooth and freely, with pointed toes, floating over the ground. It shouldn't have too much knee action yet its strides shouldn't be short or choppy. They should be forward, ready to jump as needed - but not racing or charging.
The horse need to remain in balanced frame. This relates to the hunt field, where a horse had to cope with the ever changing terrain and sudden changes in direction and ,of course, fences. The frame a show hunter is different from dressage horses, show jumpers and eventers - travels in a long, low frame with its head extended moderately. Its frame is more stretched than horses competing in the other disciplines. The show hunters riders often ride on a looser rein to facilitate this movement.
Dispite this frame the horse should still be able to collect its stride and be proficient at lengthening also - while still maintaining rhythm and tempo.
A good hunter possesses excellent jumping form - forearm parallel with the ground or higher and both knees and legs even. The horse will tuck them under its forearm while clearing the fence. A good hunter will remain perfectly straight over fence and will show a nice bascule (roundness) with their back up and its head and neck reaching down and forward.
A show hunter is also judged on manners and temperament as well as form - thus they should remain calm and relaxed, attentive to their rider and be responsive to aids, looking like they are easy to ride.
Competative hunters will be very well 'turned-out' with a gleaming coat and polished hooves. The horse will be well bathed prior the competition, with attention paid to the 'chrome' or white markings.
The face is well trimmed, (the whiskers around the mouth, the ears, the bridle-path, and the lower jaw). Legs are trimmed the hair areound the fetlock being neat and tidy. The mane should braided with yarn matching it's color (30-40 braids per horse). The tail may also be braided from the to down to the end of the tailbone, with the rest of the tail being left loose.
The course that is jumped in hunters is made up of 8-12 obstacles of a natural coloured material (not brightly-colored). They are usually green, brown, white, beige, or sometimes black. They are rarely more than 3'6"-4' in height. The course will include verticals, gates and have "natural" fillers, like flowers and brush. Usually the courses also include oxers. Water jumps and liverpools are not used in a hunter course. Combination fences may be seen but they usually only consist of two elements set 'on stride'. Banks and ditches and other changes of terrain are not found on a show hunter course.
A hunter round will look easy, with the horse jumping at the correct distance with the strides fitting easily between the jumps with clean flying changes as required. Knocked down rails, refusals and even rubs incure faults (a drop in the rider's score).