“Hunter under Saddle” and “Hunter Pleasure” are different terms used by different organizations to describe very similar classes that have these requirements:

  • Riders must exhibit a horse with a bright, alert expression.
  • Horse must have gaits that show its working hunter potential.
  • Gaits must be free flowing, ground covering, and athletic.
  • Contestants compete simultaneously.
  • Must travel around the perimeter of the arena and perform a walk, trot, and canter using both directions of the arena


The event is judged on performance, condition, and conformation, including these criteria, while performing a walk, trot, and canter:
Hunter Under Saddle, Horse Judging




  • Functional correctness
  • Quality of movement
  • Good attitude and manners
  • Correct head set and head carriage

The Walk

  • Natural, flat-footed, four-beat gait.
  • Movement should be straight and true, long, and low.

The Trot

  • Two-beat gait.
  • Smoothness is more essential than speed.
  • Gait should be balanced, well cadenced, long, and low.
  • Knees should remain relatively flat with minimal flexion.

The Canter

  • A three-beat gait that is smooth, relaxed, straight, long, low, and ground covering.

The Hand Gallop

  • A three-beat definite lengthening of the stride canter.
  • Ridden in a two-point position.
  • A noticeable difference in speed.

A Good Hunter

Hunter Under Saddle line up




  • Has long, low strides
  • Reaches forward smoothly
  • Lengthens stride at all gaits when asked
  • Has a relaxed, free-flowing movement
  • Is correct in all gaits
  • Is well cadenced
  • Is obedient, well mannered
  • Has a bright expression
  • Has alert ears
  • Responds to light hand/leg contact

View this slide show on How to Judge Hunter under Saddle.



  • Credit is given to the flowing, balanced, willing horse.
  • Contestants compete simultaneously.
  • Contestants must travel around the perimeter of the arena and perform a walk, trot, and canter using both directions of the arena.


Faults are given for:

  • Quick, short, or vertical strides
  • Being on the wrong lead
  • Breaking gait
  • Excessive speed/slowness at any gait
  • Failure to take the appropriate gait when called for
  • Carrying the head too high or too low
  • Over-flexing or straining the neck in head carriage so the nose is carried behind the vertical
  • Stumbling
  • Excessive nosing out
  • Failure to maintain light contact
  • Dull, lethargic, or overly tired
  • Consistently showing too far off the rail


Disqualifications are given for:

  • Head excessively too low consistently
  • Nose behind the vertical consistently