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Riding horse, hunter and hack classes require correct conformation, impeccable manners and a certain ‘look at me’ factor, but determining which your horse is best suited to can be a challenge.

Both the ballerina and the bodybuilder have good bone and muscle definition, but there’s only one you’re likely to see dancing Swan Lake. It’s a similar story with an elegant small hack and a powerhouse heavyweight hunter.

There’s no mistaking these two — and we all know which would look better in a diamante browband.

Distinguishing a hack from a hunter may be easy enough, as each is built for a specific task. But throw a riding horse class into the mix and the two extremes start to merge in the middle. Now add further height and weight divisions within each of these three classes and things can get really confusing.

“There’s such a fine line between them,” admits show producer Danielle Heath, who has enjoyed high-level success with hunters, hacks and riding horses. “But to succeed at top level, a horse must fit clearly into one class. He must be true to type.”

Even the professionals acknowledge the subtleties of the system — and some of their champions have indeed moved classes to find greater success. It’s hardly surprising then that many amateurs find it difficult to slot their showring hopeful into its rightful place.

So how can you tell which class best suits your horse?

The following height/weight/bone requirements apply to affiliated classes

Your horse is a hunter if he:
➤ is workmanlike and well-built without looking common.
➤ has bold, ground-covering paces and can gallop and jump.
➤ Has around 8.5in of bone, can carry up to 79.5kgs (12st 7lb) and stands around 16.1hh-16.3hh (lightweight); has 9in of bone, up to 89kgs (14st), 17hh and up (middleweight); has 9.5in of bone, over 89kgs (14st), 17.2hh and up (heavyweight). (NB: there are no heights in the rules for weight classes).
➤ measures a maximum of 158cm (15.2hh), making him a small hunter — a miniature middleweight.

Your horse is a riding horse if he:
➤ combines substance with quality and elegance.
➤ has forward-going yet mannerly paces, with a good gallop.
➤ measures between 148-158cm (small), or more than 158cm (large).

Your horse is a hack if he:
➤ is a finer build and oozes elegance and style.
➤ is lighter on his feet with a longer, sweeping action.
➤ measures between 148-154cm (small), or 154-160cm (large).

Read the full article about which showing class suits your horse in H&H’s Ask The Trainer (summer 2014), available now from larger supermarkets and WHSmith, priced £4.99

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