Plaidcast 359: Holly Orlando & Lyman T. Whitehead by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

Plaidcast Episode 359 Holly Orlando Lyman T. Whitehead


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Piper speaks with top hunter riders and judges, Holly Orlando and Lyman T. Whitehead about style in the hunter ring and what they look for when judging the hunters. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!


  • Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Guest: Holly Orlando is one of the country’s most coveted hunter riders. Holly has earned prestigious leading rider and championship titles at every major qualifying show, most recently at the 2023 National Horse Show. Holly is also a licensed large “R” judge and proud mother to her daughter Logan. Holly works out of Evermore, Inc. based in New York and Florida.
  • Guest: Lyman T. Whitehead has been an active competitor and trainer in the hunter ring for almost 40 years and also holds a large “R” judge’s license. Lyman has judged top shows such as the WCHR Hunter Spectacular at WEF and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show. As a rider, Lyman was the leading hunter rider at The Hampton Classic five times, the leading hunter rider at The National Horse Show, two time leading hunter rider at the Old Salem Farm Horse Show, and has been champion at every top horse show on the East coast including the Devon Horse Show, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Washington International Horse Show, and The National Horse Show. 
  • Title Sponsor: Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (THIS) was founded in 1987 to provide specialized insurance for all types of equine risk. THIS places their policies with the highest rated and most secure carriers, meticulously selected for reliability and prompt claims settlement. THIS is proud of their worldwide reputation for responsive and courteous service, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your equine insurance needs and provide you with a quote.
  • Subscribe To: The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Sponsors: American Stalls, Purina Animal NutritionAmerica CryoAlexis Kletjian Jewelry, LAURACEA, BoneKare, Show Strides Book Series, With Purpose: The Balmoral Standard and Good Boy, Eddie

This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.

Piper Klemm [00:00:53] This is the plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of The Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up on today’s episode 359, I talk with two top hunter riders and judges, Holly Orlando and Lyman T Whitehead, about style and the Hunter ring and what they look for Judging the Hunters. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. 

Piper Klemm [00:03:03] Holly Orlando is one of the country’s most coveted hunter riders. Holly has earned prestigious leading hunter rider and championship titles at every major qualifying show, most recently at the 2023 National Horse Show. Holly is also a licensed large R judge and a proud mother to her daughter, Logan. Holly works out of Evermore, Inc. Based in New York and Florida. Lyman T Whitehead has been an active competitor and trainer in the Hunter ring for almost 40 years and also holds a large R judges license. Lyman has judged top shows such as the WCHR Hunter Spectacular, the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. As a rider, T Whitehead was a leading hunter rider at the Hampton Classic five times leading hunter rider at the National Horse Show, two time leading hunter rider at the Old Salem Farm Horse Show and has been champion at every top horse show on the East Coast, including the Devon Horse Show, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, The Washington International Horse Show and the National Horse Show. Welcome to the plaidcast. Holly Orlando and Lynam T Whitehead. 

Holly Orlando [00:04:04] Thank you. Happy to be here. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:04:05] Glad to be here. Thanks for having us. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:07] Holly, let’s start with you a little bit. We’ve seen a lot of discussion about where the hunters are and where they’re going. You’ve obviously won a lot of big classes and a lot of big classes this year. So what’s kind of your perspective, looking back on on where the hunters are in 2023 and what we’re watching as spectators? 

Holly Orlando [00:04:26] You know, I think I obviously wish the hunters, the professional hunters mainly were stronger this past year. I would say the Green confirmation division was a little weak this year compared to years in the past. But in general, I would say Devon is still a very strong horse show. I thought the National Horse Show was very well attended and for the most part the professional hunters were strong. I went to Washington for my first time in a long time, and I thought that they did a really nice job with the horse show. But there were so few. And the divisions capital challenge, as always, is, it’s very strong. But throughout the year it just I don’t know if there are a lot of different horse shows to choose from and everybody gets a little spread out. I don’t know if the performance hunters play a role in that. I’m not really sure how to go about making the regular working hunter. The high performance and the confirmation division strong like they used to be. I wish I had the answer for that. I know the derbies are well attended and and a lot of people are into those which are really great special classes. But I’m just I’m not 100% sure what the answer is with the Hunter divisions in general. T Do you have any thoughts on that? 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:05:53] Yeah, you know, I would agree with what you’re saying. I think that, you know, certainly the the the bigger horses, the more prestigious horses like Devon and the Pennsylvania National and the National, I think are still very strong horse shows. And it seems as though, like in the beginning of the year, like down in Wellington, all the divisions are really pretty strong. I think it’s because everybody gets down there and they’re fresh and new horses and new, new everything. And then it’s the year goes on. You know, as you said, people start to spread out, know they go to different parts of the country and that obviously dilutes the the divisions in certain horse shows. I think that’s a little bit of a cycle That is unfortunate because, you know, you have certain horses that, you know, like the Hampton Classic I think is an example of, you know, really great horse show that maybe a little bit has lost its draw for, you know, really top, you know, top hunter riders and horses, which is a shame. Yeah, it’s absolutely you know, it’s it’s just a great horse show. You know we’re showing on the grass and the schedule. I mean, it’s you know, that’s a horse show that should people should be clamoring to go to but they’re just not. And I think it’s as I said, I think it’s a little bit of a cycle. And it’s and it’s been like that for a few years, several years now. I think it’s even more than several. I think it just sort of starts out strong in Wellington and then things peter out and then, you know, I think, you know, you look at what, you know, the first few weeks in Wellington, you know, the first year green divisions and they’re all very, very strong and then come indoors, you know, maybe a handful of the ones that were showing in the in the Florida circuit or out in California, in the early part of the year. And there’s there’s none left.

Holly Orlando [00:08:03] For sure. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:08:03] What happens to them you know, who knows you know, they’re either overshown or moved to an easier division or with a new owner. So there is a lot of reasons for, you know, our concern for that. Yes. 

Holly Orlando [00:08:18] Yeah, I think too as far as Wellington goes, that circuit back in the day was six weeks in Wellington and then three weeks in Tampa. And you really just you show those weeks of, of the circuit and now the circuit being so long, you really do have to pick and choose. You can’t possibly show 12, 13 weeks in a row and pre circuit and post circuit. So I do think that’s why WEF starts to get watered down a little bit, you know, because, you know, you’ve got to take a break and that is the time we do the majority of our showing throughout the year. We don’t honestly show all that much in the summer. And I do think the Northeast could really use some nice hunter shows. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:09:07] Yeah,. 

Holly Orlando [00:09:07] They’re a little few and far between. We’ve been finding up there. I wish they knew the answer to increasing the Hunter. Junior Hunter. Amateur hunters and professional hunters. Although I have to say the pre green divisions seem to be strong. Everywhere we go. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:09:27] Right and that’s certainly a good sign. And it would help if those horses showing the pre green keep evolving in the system, you know, graduating to the green hunter, three foot, three six and then continuing on to the bigger division. It doesn’t happen very often, but that’s certainly the desired goal, I think. 

Holly Orlando [00:09:51] Right. For sure. 

Piper Klemm [00:09:52] It’s kind of my understanding that like, you know, back in the day, people, you know, kind of showed their local circuits and then all came together to to peak bigger weeks like Devon or indoors, you know, and kind of to all your points like people are so centralized around, you know, Wellington or California. And it almost seems like the hunters every single time they like leave their stalls have to peak and you know, and have these huge scores and they don’t. There’s almost no horse show that they’re attending that that’s not important. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:10:29] Right. 

Piper Klemm [00:10:30] Do you think that has an impact on. I would say like kind of both sides, both the horses and preserving their longevity and keeping them going, but also the riders and the pressure. Like I talked to a lot of young riders who don’t want to do the junior hunters because they find the jumpers to be less pressure is what I get told. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:10:48] Right, Right. Yeah. No, I think. I think your point is is very accurate. As I remember, it used to be, this is like in the Stone Ages, you know, after the National Horse Show, there were literally no horse shows until the middle of January, and a lot of people would turn their horses out for two months. They pull their shoes, they would just turn them out and they would leave them and then they would head to Florida and pick them up in the paddock where ever they were and then head down to Florida. And you had these fresh horses that were just starting out for the new year and now literally the circuit. While the name might change. The circuit really never ends. I mean, it’s something like the Winter Equestrian Festival is over the Spring Festival starts and then, you know, the people that don’t leave Florida right away will do those. And then, you know, everybody kind of, you know, head to different parts of the country, you know, to Michigan, up northeast, it never really stop, you know, And horses, horses only have so many jumps in their career. And I think people lose sight of the fact that, you know, the more you use the horse and don’t get me wrong, and that’s why we do this, to enjoy the horses and horse show and and all of it. But, you know, the horse showing, in my opinion, just gets a little -well a lot out of hand, I think people just get on this hamster wheel where they just feel that they have to just keep showing and showing and showing and, you know, it it just shortens you know, it shortens horses’ lives and their careers. It’s very different than it used to be. To Holly’s point about, you know, it was originally six horse shows in Wellington and then three horse shows in Tampa. And I remember when there were six horse shows in Wellington, and by the fifth or sixth one, everybody was like, Oh my God, this is too much we’re exhausted. You know, Now. 

Holly Orlando [00:12:57] Yeah. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:12:58] It’s the same. It’s just, you know, way, way more. It never stops. 

Holly Orlando [00:13:04] It never stops. And and that what, what you’re speaking of the six weeks and then Tampa you probably would not show nine weeks but you would pick and choose and then you’d go to the invitational to get your circuit champion. And that felt very important at the time. And I’m not taking away from anyone who is circuit champion in Wellington, but it’s really I mean, you just show and you can be circuit champion because there’s a lot of horse shows to go to and it just feels a lot different than it used to and not to divert from that point, but it’s also insanely expensive. I think that there used to be a lot of trainers used to have the opportunity professionals to have young horses to bring along, to show in those green divisions and more owners that wanted to do it. And now the costs of the whole thing have. Skyrocketed to the point that we’ve lost a lot of people, that that would have bought a young horse or I know I have always loved having a young horse to bring along. He and I did a we did a couple together, and it’s almost impossible to afford to do that anymore. With the horse show fees and everything is just so expensive that I do think that it really hurt a lot of people that are able to try and do this or bring along young horses. It’s just it’s it’s hardly feasible for most people. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:14:37] And that also to that point, I think, you know, even the the aside from the professionals, you know, you know, obviously the horse show world is filled with very wealthy people. But, you know, there’s a you know, there’s a point to where people you know, there’s only so many times you can go to the well, as far as, you know, what people can spend and, you know, the cost of the horse showing, you know, it’s less likely that, you know, if you have a nice adult lady client that might be interested in buying Holly or whoever, myself, a young horse to bring along, you know, that’s you know, to have owners like that are you know, they kind of are a rare breed now. You know, I think a lot of that comes down to the cost of carrying a horse and campaigning a horse and owning a horse that it just becomes cost prohibitive, which in turn, you know, negatively affects the professional division. 

Holly Orlando [00:15:35] Very much so. Yeah, very much. 

Piper Klemm [00:15:39] A lot of times when I talk to amateurs and parents, it’s it’s really kind of interesting. Both sides of the the trainer and the customer almost feel like pressure to show more. When I talk to the amateurs, they say, Oh, my trainer wants me to show all the time. And when I talk to the trainers, they say, My clients want me to show all the time, you know? And I always find this to be such a, you know, obviously the truth is in the middle there somewhere. But how how do we like we’ve all seen it go in this direction. You know, we all we all know our lives are run by horse show managers. How do we go in the right direction? I mean, I’ve always you know, one of the articles, I’ve just been sitting on my desk for like many years that I never publish because I was afraid of getting in trouble, I’m sure. But like, why do we have horse shows in December at all? Like, you know, kind of back to the original point of like. Can we take a pause as as an industry and I’m sure you know, I would you know, I’m going to be told all the reasons why we can’t do that. But like, why do we have four shows in December? 

Holly Orlando [00:16:48] Well,  on major holidays as well. Right. Sorry to interrupt you. I was thinking last week my daughter rides with a very nice local type barn down here in Wellington. And I told the trainer she was talking about the horse show and how she has three showing on Thanksgiving Day. And I said, Don’t ever put us on any sort of a holiday. We will not be on the show list. And if you can’t. So many people say to me, well, it’s just another day we’re going to show. And to me, it isn’t. And it’s really something to look forward to. And I think that that gets lost for some people. I think a lot of people appreciate it very much. But the fact that there is a horse show on Thanksgiving Day and the people you can make your choice to show there or not, but the people who work there can’t, you know, they have to come and do their jobs and catch up with their family or friends later. And I just think those days are so few and far between and so special that it’s sad to me that there is even a horse show anywhere on those days. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:17:59] Yeah, I agree 

Holly Orlando [00:18:01] Yeah I Love to take a pause. We do not show in the month of December at all, but it is tempting because the horse shows right there and you do feel like, oh, maybe this young horse we should get a head start with, or this one hasn’t shown in a while or you know, it is tempting, but you really just have to say we’re these are the weeks we’re taking off. This is you know, we really try to stick with our horse show schedule and get qualified for whatever we need to qualify for during Wellington as best you can, and then just take it a little easier. But I guess it’s not that simple for everyone to. To do it that way. I guess they feel like if they’re staying home, they’re not making the same money that they would, or if they’d stay home, their clients might go to the horse show with somebody else. I have heard that before, too. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:18:54] Yeah. No, it’s it’s a very valid concern. I’m in total agreement. I don’t think there should be any horse shows on Thanksgiving. But it just. And I think as far as, you know, trainers and owners, I, I think people just have to be firm and say, okay, you know, we’re not going to show on Thanksgiving or we’re not going to show this particular holiday. And I remember when I was going down to Florida every year, I always brought -I never brought a big group came from Connecticut. So it was a long way to go. And I think the most horses I ever had in Florida with 12 with probably six or seven clients among those 12 horses. And and I was very fortunate that I could sort of with that small number, I could dictate how with the horse show, the three of them would work. And I had all the clients they would show two weeks and then they would have two weeks off and then they would show two weeks and then they would have two weeks off and every whatever. But here did that schedule, and I’m not saying that would work for everybody. You know, you have a huge barn with 50 horses. That’s an impossible scenario to set up. Yeah, because, you know, everybody has their own schedule, you know, But that’s how I did. And people would say, Well, why would you take two weeks off? And I would because, well, because one, we go off. It’s really not a week off because, you know, nine times out of ten, you know, by the time the weekend rolls around, you’re going to be jumping in line to school and get ready for the next week. So that was my two weeks off. One week was off you know, there was no riding it for anything. And then the next week you ramped up again and then you started showing. Yeah. But you know, that’s a hard with a number of horses going and exhibitors at the horse shows. It’s really hard for those big barns that, you know, you know, I get it. Why they end up showing every single horse show, not always the same clients or horses, but just by the. 

Holly Orlando [00:20:58] Sheer number of people who want to show. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:21:00] Yup someone’s going to want to show, so. Yeah. I don’t know what the answer to that is, except people just have to be really diligent and, you know, think about the horse. You know, it’s always at the end of the day, should be about your horse’s well-being. And too many horse shows are bad for horses. 

Holly Orlando [00:21:18] Yeah, we we’re very fortunate to have a small similar situation to what you always had. And it’s not hard to. It’s hard. They need to get plane tickets and hotel rooms or whatever. They do need to plan ahead. But our group is very easy to make a plan with and very much for the horse and not for themselves and showing and it’s it’s easier that way. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:21:46] But that’s. 

Holly Orlando [00:21:47] Great. Yeah. Yeah. 

Piper Klemm [00:21:50] But yeah, it’s almost just like nothing is ever enough mentality and we all feed. Off of it off each other. I mean, I’m you know, I’ve been sucked into it at times where it’s like nothing is ever enough. And, you know, and I fight this on social media and I like to it’s like, when is there enough clicks or when is there enough, you know, this or that? You know, it’s it’s always more, more, more. And on the horse side of things, it’s it’s, it’s like just in case mentality. And I’ve started noticing a couple of years ago just more and more how much people do to prepare like even. Right. Warming up for these big horse shows. But then you get around this sense and then everyone else feels like they have to prepare even more. And that that’s been a really interesting conversation with a bunch of professionals on the podcast this fall about having the the discipline and the trust and the confidence in yourself to stick to your schedule and be confident that your clients are going to stay with you and that your horse is going to be good enough and that you don’t need to overdo it. And so many aspects of life. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:23:01] Right. Very true. Very true. I mean, I think we’ve all been victims of that. I know I have. You know, the know I ride in the ring in the morning. I’ve ridden in the ring six weeks straight. You know, the first day in the seventh week. I think I need to get in the ring. You know, it’s but, you know, you watch people and you learn from people. And, you know, it’s easy to get sucked into that mentality of just, you know, lemmings to the sea kind of. And to your point, Piper, you do have to have enough confidence in your program, in yourself to say, no, maybe that’s not the right thing for me or my horse and follow your gut.

Piper Klemm [00:25:51] I think another big issue of the Hunter Division’s faces is not a lot of people understand the judging. Not a lot of people want to put the time in to understand the judging. A lot of people believe that that many biases exists. We have a small group of people who have the expertise to judge these big horse shows. It doesn’t always pass the headline test like I can see as a new parent coming in, being like, Oh my gosh, all these people are friends with each other. That’s crazy. How how do we both have the hunters be judged better, but also help that public perception of judging and the hunters and help the public understand what’s going on? You know, I think I think they’re kind of two levels on this. There is like that first level where you start to see the obvious stuff, you know, the rail, the stop, the swap, the, you know, mislead change. And it’s not that hard to get people to that stage who want to be educated about the sport. But then beyond that, I mean, I don’t know, explaining quality, explaining style, explaining biomechanics and jumping form. It’s a bit of a tall order. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:27:03] Yeah, no, it is. And I think what people have to remember, at the end of the day, it is a subjective sport, judged subjectively, it’s opinion based. Obviously mistakes are mistakes and there is a definite pattern the judges have to follow for faults and how they’re judged. I would say one really good reference for something for people to learn about how the judging works is Julie Winkle. But I know she just came out with a new one, but a few years ago she had one come out. Judging Hunters and Equitation WTF, WTF being want the facts, not what you think it is. And it’s a great reference book. I mean, it is so it is it really is a it’s a tool. And I can’t say enough good about it. I mean, anybody that has an interest in how judging works and just the whole whole thing of it, I would go out and buy her book and read it because it really it’s just all that. Although it’s nitty gritty details, you know, when a horse kicks out. Why is a horse kicks out you know ten so low? You know, I mean, that’s a very bad score. And she explains why and all the little details about, you know, what it comes down to, you know, why you want a good mover as opposed to a bad mover. And it’s it’s really a great reference. And I would suggest everybody read it. 

Holly Orlando [00:28:40] Yeah, it is a fantastic book Pictures. And they put a lot into that book. And even still, I’ll pick it up and flip through it every now and then. Exactly. Because. Yeah. And Mike, you’re awesome. Yes. Mike Rosser just wrote it’s not a long article, but in In Stride magazine, I can see the magazine here on my desk. It says Mike Rosser promotes sportsmanship. And judging, and I think that’s a huge part of it. I certainly ran into that this summer with other professionals who might also be judges that they have to. Be able to control their emotions when they don’t follow the judging. I mean, like you said, there’s so much that goes into it. And unless you have sat there and been in that position and tried it, it’s really hard to have a strong opinion about it. And I think the people who do that, I know I’ve learned so much when I don’t. I don’t agree sometimes with the score that I get, but I know that it’s their day to judge me and my round and put it in the order. And they obviously saw something that maybe I didn’t feel. And you just have to learn to be a good sport about the whole process and try to encourage that with other people. I have so many friends that, oh, I don’t want to do it. So you have to do it. You have to try. It’ll make you a better exhibitor. It will teach you so many things on so many levels about what we’re doing and the whole process of it. It’s a very hard job and you have to have thick skin to do it. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:30:23] It’s a very, very difficult job and it’s it’s very rewarding. And the one thing that I that most people, I guess they probably understand, but all of the judges, everybody is is on the exhibitor side. You know, when a horse comes in the ring, you know, we’re rooting for it. You know, we want good rounds because those are the rounds that are fun to judge. You know, nobody is like, you know, walking in the ring and throwing your pen down. I think it’s I don’t like the way that horse, you know, he’s got dirty boots or something, you know, I mean, it’s you know, we’re all trying to we’re all rooting for the exhibitors. And that it’s something that I learned when I started doing it, you know, And I think it’s you know, people should understand that, that it’s a hard job to do and we’re all trying to get it right. That’s all we’re after is to get it right. And there are mistakes made. You know, we’re human. You know, mistakes are made. So when it happens to you, it’s no fun. When that happens to anybody, it’s no fun. But it does happen. You know, you just got to suck it up and on to the next class. 

Holly Orlando [00:31:32] Yeah, exactly. 

Piper Klemm [00:31:35] So can we talk a little bit about position and style amongst Hunter riders? You know, it’s some would consider 2023, to be the Dark Ages based on their commentary. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:31:49] Ready to Kick the Hornet’s Nest? 

Piper Klemm [00:31:51] Yup. I mean, I always am. 

Piper Klemm [00:32:00] I mean, should the Hunter riders have better position over the jumps? 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:32:06] I’ll go first. I think yes. I think you’re judging- as a judge, you’re judging the entire picture of the round. And I think if some of the. Older pictures of well, not terribly old pictures, but current pictures of certain riders, grand prix riders, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward. You know, they’re jumping high five and a half feet. And, you know, the snapshot of them at the top of the jump, looks like they could be in an equitation class. And I think correct riding is correct riding. And there’s a such a depth of great, great hunter Riders right now. I mean, there’s are a lot of really, really, really great riders right now. And as a judge personally, I am I look at the whole the whole picture, you know, if something is, you know, distracting, you know, it’ll it’ll be in my mind if I see, you know, a full body release at an oxer something. And I don’t think people will say, well, you know, you know, I’m balanced in my on not getting in my horse’s way. And that’s all. I completely agree with it. You know, you’re you wouldn’t be getting the jump out of your horse that you’re getting if you weren’t doing something right. But my point is, is. You can’t say that you couldn’t get that same jump or better if your condition and your fundamentals were in the correct place. You think pictures are in the past of [00:33:50]Bernie Traurig on Goldie? [1.1s] You know, jumping, you know, huge jumps in the Hunters and perfect position. You know, Katie Monahan – a lot of the current hunter riders. I mean, there’s so many good Hunter riders right now. It’s a very deep field. But I do think that style matters to the overall picture. And, you know, we might get a lot of hate mail about that. But, you know, I was brought up in the day in the era that, you know, position counts. And I think that a lot of the younger generation, you know, the kids coming up in the Medal Maclay and they watched the top Hunter riders and, you know, they think, oh, that’s how it’s done. And a lot of times they’re right. But, you know, I think proper form is something that should be, you know, part of it. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:34:44] I agree. I don’t see how it can’t matter when you’re judged by hunters or judged on their style of going and they’re there the way they look through the bridle. And I don’t see how if you’re so completely distracted by the rider laying on the neck at the jumps and trying to get the leads over every jump and turning their head in the air, I find it extremely distracting. And I have said before I’m having a hard time keeping my eye on this horse. I just I’m so distracted by the rider. Right. And I think it matters a great deal. I think, like you said, you named all of those people who are such incredible riders, hunters, jumpers, and to watch them go around. I mean, McLain could go around and jump off and he might not look like he’s going faster than the other horses. But he is he’s so efficient and so smooth about it. And I think movements and. And not being distracted by the movements of the rider, I think honestly is hugely important. I think for me it always factors into my score. When someone is distracting to me or doesn’t sit still on a horse and is trying to manufacture the jump or get the lead. And I write that down on my judges card and sometimes I circle it. If it if it really bothers me a lot, and maybe it’s a nice horse with a really good round, but they might not win a tiebreaker if it comes down to it. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:36:28] You know Geoff Teall made a good point. Once he said watching a Hunter round, he said the rider should disappear. Right. And I always thought that was a very astute observation. Right. And, you know, it’s true, you know, the rider should disappear. But if you’re constantly seeing explosions of body and tack and stirrup and take off it distracts and it wasn’t it not to take away from anybody’s riding talent because, you know, you could name a list of ten riders today nowadays that are just they’re just great outstanding riders. You know, there’s no shortage of good riding in the Hunter ring. That is for sure. One other thing I wanted to say is know, we spend a lot of time with these kids in the equitation, you know, learning form and function and fundamentals and basics. And they’re taught that through the equitation division. And then they get out of it. And if they turn pro, it often seems like, you know, oh, well would would let this slide a little bit. And so it seems like it defeats the purpose, a little bit of what the junior riders are taught and meant to learn to do. 

Holly Orlando [00:37:47] Right, exactly. Yeah. Leo Conroy used to say the hardest thing to do is nothing, and it doesn’t actually mean you’re doing nothing. You’re just not. Advertising it. You know, your movements and everything. That’s what leads to a smooth. High scoring hunter round, its subtle movements and and doing this and that without showing the world. And I do show the style. I think all of that comes into play. We think it’s very important. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:38:22] Yeah, for sure. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:38:25] I think some people hear style and to them it’s like almost an excuse for for biases and prejudices And, you know, and I think that that’s a PR problem that the hunters have right now. I think that’s part of part of like larger issues of like branding the Hunter ring, basically. And I think it comes from a lack of understanding. But, you know, how to how do we incorporate style in in 2023 where we are seeing so many more body types and different people and great representation, You know, how how do we kind of encompass all of these values at the same time? 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:39:11] Well, you know, I think in your reference to body type, I think any body type can ride correctly. I mean, you probably a lot of people won’t remember Mary Anne Steiert, Mary Anne Charles, but she was just a top top beautiful hunter rider. And she was. Tiny. Tiny. And she is an incredible hunter rider. You know, I think any there are a lot of body types out there. And, you know, anybody that has any kind of different body, whatever, if they have good, strong fundamentals in basics, they can have a good position, Right? I think one thing I do think, though, which probably might add to this a little bit, is that today there’s so many horse shows and people are showing so much. And these professionals have to show like. Ten. 15 horses a day in seven different rings, which is a lot different than it used to. You know, and so I kind of can understand why, you know, riders get tired. You know, they’re they’re going to ring the ring and there’s no time to take a break. And they’re very busy, you know, So, you know, not to play devil’s advocate, but I do think that, you know, oftentimes people are just so caught up in, you know, showing so many horses and getting the rain to ring that they tend to get sloppy. And I understand that, You know, I guess I understand that somewhat. 

Piper Klemm [00:40:50] Holly what do you think about that? Do you think that’s part of. Yeah, that’s kind of like when is enough or when is your horse prepared enough for, you know, I don’t know. It seems like this shown so many classes now. And, you know, I’m listening to all these discussions of whether we should allow adults to show ponies again or, you know, like. It. Just seems adding more and more and more mileage for everyone, which is a lot. 

Holly Orlando [00:41:15] Yeah, I think that would have to be part of the deal. I definitely don’t show as many horses as I used to, and I remember when I was younger, I showed a lot of horses down here. It was hot and you definitely you get worn out and you’re not so worried about how shiny your boots are at the end of the day and you know this, you’re just kind of trying to get through it all. But I don’t know, I think. I don’t know. The style to me is very important. Whether I’m showing in the 2’6″ USHJA Hunter on Pony Island, I still want it to look good. Right. You know, no matter where I am or what I’m doing and I want my saddle pad to be clean and I want the horse to be shiny, You know, I just think that’s all part of the game, part of what we’re doing and the turnout. And when you trot in the ring, you’re being judged. And it’s the first impression and. And I would certainly try, whether I was tired or not having a good day or anything else. It’s really important to me. I just for me personally, I want my boots to be a shiny as they can be, and I want my coat to look nice and I want my shirts to be white. And and I just I’m sure a lot of people feel that exactly the way. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:42:43] Yeah. And all judges noticed that, you know, they notice when a rider comes in immaculately turned out, you know, everybody knows that. But it makes it makes a difference. 

Holly Orlando [00:42:55] It does. It makes a huge difference. It really does. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:42:59] Yeah. One thought I did have about the, you know, the style versus the, you know, lack of style. And I don’t know if this is something that would ignite a third world war. But, you know, I did I was talking to Julie Winkle a while back about the possibility of incorporating some sort of a point value system in the hunter professional hunter classes where, you know, if a horse goes in the ring and hits, nails it gets a 90 with whoever and you know, the next horse comes in the ring and nails it equal or close to equal, you know, almost whatever, very close round. But maybe if the rider with correct style in the correct position, it doesn’t detract from the picture, maybe receive a half point or an extra point for correct style. I don’t know. You know, I’m just strictly just talking out loud about it, thinking out loud about it, about ways that we could maybe try to inch toward riders caring and caring about their style, such as somebody like Holly does and how it all, the turn out and the style comes together, right? Somebody goes in the ring and it’s just, you know, full body relief and it’s it’s the rider. It’s a distraction from the round, no matter how well they ride or distract from the overall picture, you know, they not they don’t lose any point. But the rider that really demonstrates. Correct or maybe get a point. Or a half a point and that, you know, that would make first and second and second to first a lot of time. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s a good idea or a bad idea, but it’s it’s an idea. 

Holly Orlando [00:44:55] It is an idea. And why not encourage good riding? And why not? Maybe- I watch my videos, I know what my weaknesses are, and I certainly try to work on that when I see myself doing certain things or a picture that I am not in the middle of my horse and you can still work on. And even as professionals, we still have a lot to learn. And if we were encouraging, like you said, T there are so many great riders, but even the younger generations coming up, you know, we, we want to look like McLain and be easy going over three, six and three, nine and four feet the same way they look going over Olympic sized jumps. That’s what I strive for no matter what. 

Holly Orlando [00:45:49] And. 

Holly Orlando [00:45:50] You know, sometimes horses jump a little hard or, you know, don’t break over as much. And that’s not as easy to do, but. I do think it’s possible. And if somebody knew they were going to get an extra point to think about it a little bit more. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:46:06] Yeah Maybe it’s simple as okay i’m counting the end of a line instead of, you know, throwing my body off to the right to try to get a lead change. I’ll put my eyes up and focus on something, and, you know, I don’t know it. You know, it might motivate some people to correct certain things and make it better. That’s all we’re after, is making it better. 

Holly Orlando [00:46:28] Yes. Right, Right. 

Piper Klemm [00:46:31] I see the hunters as already holding people almost to a standard. They almost don’t want to seem to be held to. Like so many other amateurs, tell me that they do the jumpers because they don’t like the fact that if they screw up the first jump, then they’re kind of out of contention. You know, I was really struck at the national horse show watching the the Junior Amateur Hall of Fame classic. How many of those top riders, the top horses, kind of flubbed one jump over the course of 16 efforts. You know, and and it really made me think about the hunters and all these. Why would I not want to do the hunters? Because, you know, you would get knocked out for mistakes like that. Um, you know, it’s almost having holding people to even higher standards. I don’t know, like, either either it’s the right way or it’s, it’s further going down this path. And and I could see I could see either way, because obviously the jumper divisions in Wellington are absolutely enormous right now. Everything is built as high and as wide and as challenging to spec as it possibly can be. Whereas, you know, on the flip side, the hunters seem to be like softer than ever, but also, less attended. 

Piper Klemm [00:47:49] Yeah. And so softer doesn’t mean more attended as we’re seeing with the hunters. And harder doesn’t mean less attended as we’re seeing with the jumpers and is putting every emphasis on the challenge, maybe a way to bring the hunters back or, you know, it’s also, I don’t know, I find the hunters are it’s the only thing I want to do because it’s so unbelievably challenging to me and so against my nature because I’m really messy. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:48:21] I think your point is it’s about yourself. It’s very good. It’s I think it’s true about a lot of people. You know, I think people are drawn to the hunters because while it is meant to look effortless and seamless and, you know, the ideal is perfect, it’s so hard to get it right. You know, it may look and everybody knows this, obviously, but to make it look right and go right is really, really hard. You know, the hunters are hard to do them well, you know, And it is in certain instances easier to do jumpers since you don’t have to worry about distances. You know, let’s just call it like it is. You know, you can chip the first jump and you can still win the class, which is not the case in the hunters. You know, the hunters. Is it style and smoothness and consistency. And that’s harder for most riders then certainly adult children’s riders than to, you know, gallop around a children’s jumper course at Mack nine. 

Holly Orlando [00:49:34] Yeah, I agree with you. I do think there’s obviously and I know you weren’t saying there isn’t a lot of talent in the jumpers and to do it like those top people and to be able to make those turns and splice those jumps and, and do that all going at a certain rate of speed. I, I am so I did some Grand Prix when I worked at Old Salem. I loved doing the jumpers because I did feel less pressure because I knew that if I did have a hard rub or maybe cross-countered a few steps or had to chop in an extra stride somewhere when I got into trouble and I was still under the time allowed, that was a nice feeling after doing the Hunters. But I also realized just how technical at the higher levels, doing those huge jumps are, I was fortunate enough to ride with Anne Kursinski and Barney and McLain both helped me and I learned a tremendous amount from them, which actually helped me even with the hunters. But I remember thinking the jumpers, I just have to go fast and turn and jump. And it’s not like that at all. It’s still like if you want to do it the right way, it’s still like riding a hunter round just over striped rail and Liverpool’s and you know, they do it so well and so right. But when it comes to the client, some of the kids, adults, amateurs, they’re not as accurate as those people. And I think that is why so many. People like you were saying, do turn to the jumpers. I think in a lot of people’s minds it’s a little cooler. You know, It is jumpers like if I bring a family member to the horse show to watch, they’ll watch a few hunter rounds, but they really want to go watch the jumper thing because that’s just more exciting. And I think it’s much more black and white with who wins and who loses and why. But I do think that a lot of we have some kids that have ridden with us in the past that they just get very frustrated with the hunters. And even though they may get more chances as far as the division, having three or four jumping classes and the undersaddle, classics and that kind of thing, they might get more chances. But they just like you were saying before, they make a little mistake or a big mistake here or there. And with the jumpers, even though you do want to do it properly and correctly, you still can mess up and still get a nice ribbon. And I completely understand that. I think that’s also definitely hurt the hunters. When I grew up, there weren’t I didn’t I did hardly any jumpers. It was hunters and equitation. I grew up in the south east and it just wasn’t as focused on it didn’t seem to me and I don’t know, T you’re northeast, or maybe it was different back then, but junior jumpers were a big deal. But at the horse shows I went through. It was all hunters, all equitation. So I was a little late getting to do the jumper stuff that. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:52:43] No yeah, the focus was always hunters and equitation. And I mean, I remember they didn’t even have the USET classes I was when I was doing the equitation, it was like they’d have one, maybe two a year. You know, it was always the the medal maclay And that was the industry that we did. And that was it. So funny story of like, pressure, you know, the hunters causing pressure. I remember Laura Kraut showing up in Florida one year with a like a first year horse and you know, obviously she’s Laura Kraut, right. So she shows up at the hunter ring and it’s like ‘oh my gosh its Laura Kraut’ you know, and she had some young horse that she was, you know, showing and she said, “I have never been more nervous in my life than walking into this hunter schooling area and having to show hunters with all you people here.” And I just thought it was funny because, you know, here she is, the greatest rider in the world. And she was like completely intimidated by walking into the like the Gene Misch schooling area. It was funny. 

Holly Orlando [00:53:46] It is funny how it does and that it makes me appreciate that she appreciates the Hunters so much because she did them so much growing up and she was such an incredible hunter rider, you know, And it it’s funny to me how many and there are so many jumper riders. I’ve seen McLain ride a Hunter flawlessly. You know, I remember a couple of years ago, Darraugh Kenney came over and showed a couple of performance horses and he did a beautiful job. He was very soft and obviously very accurate. I think there’s a lot of people who could easily do both. You know, you tend to maybe focus on one or the other. But just another funny story at Lake Placid, when Anne was helping me with the Jumpers, she had a pre green horse she was showing. And my sister Heather and I walked by and we were headed back up to the barn and she bellowed to us from the in game said, “Where are you going? I don’t know this course!” And it was literally single, single six, five, two or something. And we’re like, Anne, you’ve been to all these Olympic Games and and learned those courses. And she’s like, I don’t know where I’m going. Is it this jump or that jump? And she just was as good as it, as she it was or is. I just thought it was so funny that that course just really threw her off and it was so simple but it was, it was nice. And. T Did you ever read the article? I have it somewhere recently that Anne and Leslie, I don’t know who wrote it. It might have been an in stride. I’d have to find it. But they were talking about how the art of the Hunter meets the something of the jumper. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:55:35] I did not, it sounds cool. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:55:37] I’ll have to look for it. It was just such a cool article  about Anne and Leslie two people that I couldn’t love and respect more. And they were just saying how how hard the hunters are and how their background in hunters helped to make them the the jumper riders that they are. And Leslie was talking about how accurate you have to be as a hunter rider. And then that helped her to be able to really gallop down to the jump and feel comfortable about where she was and leaving out the strides. And I just appreciate it so much that those ladies still have so much respect, I guess, for what we do still. 

Piper Klemm [00:56:22] Well, it’s I mean, it comes down to it’s a lot easier to say it’s political and make excuses than to, you know, step up your game. 

Lyman T Whitehead [00:56:29] Yeah. 

Holly Orlando [00:56:30] Yeah, for Sure. 

Piper Klemm [00:58:23] To learn more about anything we’ve discussed on today’s show, visit You can find show notes at Follow The Plaid Horse on all the social medias. You can subscribe to the print edition of The Plaid Horse magazine at Please rate and review the plaidcast anywhere you listen to it. And if you enjoy this episode, please share it with your friends. I will see you at the ring!