BY ALIX MORRISON
While just a C-rated division, the child and adult amateur hunters can be one of the most populated divisions at the horse show. Yet, with the lower height and smaller rating, they can often be pushed into the smaller ring at the end of the day, making exhibitors like myself, feel like a lower priority than the junior hunters or amateur owners. We only get to jog in a few zones, no standing for conformation, no handy round, and no national points.
In recent years, programs like the National Hunter Derby and the Child/Adult Hunter Championships have started to give riders in these divisions new opportunities. These classes have given people who compete at 3’ a chance to do something other than the usual hunter course at a normal horse show.
While some riders might be on their way to the 3’6”, others may be staying at 3’. Creating programs to make every rider feel important as well as educate riders who plan to move up on handies and derbies before tackling bigger jumps is beneficial for the sport as a whole. The derbies and championship classes can create a safer environment to move up to higher levels, gives riders the experience of doing something different, and happier exhibitors.
This year at the USHJA convention, there were not enough task force members present for a formal meeting in both the National Hunter Derby Task Force and the Child/Adult Hunter Task Force, so audience members got to talk and provide feedback to the task force members about both programs. Audience members in the National Hunter Derby Task Force talked about raising the prize money, at least at premier and national shows, the complications of doing four high options when showing in a small ring, and doing a derby finals. The Child/Adult Hunter Task Force discussed the bidding process, the role of the Chef De Equip and changing the name to coordinator, and how to get more people to the championships.
As an adult amateur rider, I definitely put the horse shows with National Derbies on my calendar and I will plan on attending the Child/Adult Championship show if I qualify for this year. I feel excited to participate in both programs this year and expand my skills as a derby rider and be part of a true championship event. I think it brings a new level of competition to the three foot ring that is exciting for riders. I’m looking forward to this summer and how both programs continue to evolve.