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How hunting helps competing

5 July 2002

Three competitors talk about how hunting helps their riding and improves their horse’s way of going

International event rider and Olympic medallist Karen Dixon (pictured) huntswith the Zetland and the Bedale.

You never know what’s coming out hunting. There could be a massive ditch behind a hedge, so the rider just has to develop a secure seat and lower leg.”

“It’s a good form of education. You must be aware of looking after your horse as the terrain changes and be alert to steer yourself out of potential trouble.

“Hunting also toughens up the ‘precious’ rider and horse because you can’t just retire and give up on the hunting field! I hunted hard and fast as a youngster and had great fun.”

Theresa Hemmings is an eventer, dressage and showing rider, who hunts regularly with the Mid-Surrey Draghounds, the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kenthunt and the Coakham Bloodhounds. Theresa hunts all her horses, including those competing in advanced level dressage.

“Hunting really teaches you to stay in the plate. You frequently see people who haven’t hunted tipping on to their horses’ necks at the first sign of trouble. Out hunting, you may not always look stylish but you learn to be effective and sit back. Crossing muddy and trappy ground encourages you sit slightly behind the horse.”

“Obviously, hunting doesn’t benefit dressage riders and show jumpers in the same way as eventers, but event riders and their horses should have hunted at some point.”

“I understand people not risking their valuable top horses, but it is so good for youngsters. They learn manners, how to behave in company and to look after themselves rather than relying on their riders in sticky situations. Hunting teaches them to find a ‘fifth leg’.”

Show jumper and BSJA trainer Matthew Lanni has not hunted for the last couple of seasons due to other commitments, but he is a keen advocate of the sport’s benefits.

“I don’t think I’ve ever thought of hunting as improving my riding, as the hunting seat is so different from the show jumpingversion.”

“I do think that hunting definitely improves the horse in respect of getting it to go forward nicely through different types of going and natural obstacles. It’s also useful for creating a nice rhythm going into fences.”

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