Horse Shows Will Resume With New “Lead Changeless” Hunter Division

Photo © Ally Bradley

April 1st, 2020 – Equestrians eagerly awaiting the return of horse show season will have something extra to look forward to—a new hunter division to debut when shows resume. During the extra downtime with the recent pause in the show schedule, governing bodies have had time to discuss improvements. The new division, Partially-Working Hunter, promises to entice a wide variety of riders.

“We recognize there are lots of great equestrians out there who aren’t able to excel in the hunters due to minor details like leads,” horse show association president, Olivia Fabrication, commented. “Whether it’s a young rider struggling to feel for lead changes or an adult amateur confusing their left from right after a long day at work, this new division will open up opportunities for many.” 

Partially-Working Hunter will run like a traditional hunter division with two over fence classes and a hack. Unlike traditional hunters, late changes, skip changes, and blatantly wrong leads will not be penalized—including the hack class. Instead, horses are awarded style points for blatantly disregarding the inside bend or cantering through a flat class on the wrong lead like nothing happened. There is no restriction for years of eligibility, but horses with clean changes are strongly discouraged from competing. 

Photo © Ally Bradley

Early feedback about the division is wholly positive. “I’ve got a whole barn ready for this division,” Sally Crossfire explained. “Normal hunter classes are too restrictive. You know what I call a horse that can find 8 jumps with his front end and hind end going two different directions? Talented! It’s time we recognize and award these special creatures.” 

The announcement of this new division comes at an especially important time with many barns closing due to the global pandemic. “We believe this will be a welcome addition to prizelists when show season picks back up,” Fabrication told us. “There are a lot of horses that are going to have sticky changes after enjoying some vacation at home during the quarantines, and this will give them the perfect route back to the show ring.” 

While we can’t give a formal date for Partially-Working Hunter’s show ring debut, we’re sure it will be a popular division at any horse show.