While most people know that the Hack division at a hunter
show is a flat division where the horses are not asked to
jump, many people do not understand the difference between
the classes that are offered. In fact, if you watch the division
you will often see horses ridden the same way through the
same gaits through all the classes without any obvious differences
The hack division is usually split into three or four classes
including the Pleasure Hack, the Road Hack, the Show Hack
and the Hunter Hack. In each class the horse is judged according
to a slightly different range of qualities and to be able
to assess these abilities the judge may ask for a range of
Perhaps the best understood of the hack classes, the pleasure
hack judges how quiet and calm a horse is. The theory is that
a pleasure horse should be a pleasure to ride. It should be
safe and comfortable with easy transitions and a pleasant
expression. To judge these qualities the judge will ask for
a basic walk, trot and canter. In each gait the judge is looking
for a long, low stride with a relaxed carriage and the appearance
of a smooth ride. The horse should be forward, but should
not appear rushed or stressed in any way. A rider who is relaxed
and who uses minimal aids can show off the pleasure horse
in the best light.
A road hack is a calm, yet forward horse that is capable
of traveling long distances with minimal effort. He should
have a pleasant attitude, yet look as though he has the energy
to keep a brisk pace for an extended time. The judge will
be looking for a horse who is not spooky or silly and who
looks comfortable to ride. Not only will the basic walk, trot
and canter be judged, but you might be asked for a working
trot or a hand gallop. A working trot is a strong, forward
trot that covers a lot of ground without being rushed. The
hand gallop is executed in a two-point or half-seat where
the horse is asked to gallop forward in a controlled manner
so that it covers the maximum ground with minimal effort.
Unlike the road and pleasure hacks, the show hack asks for
the horse to be collected and working well in hand. A show
hack may be asked to perform a range of gaits including collected,
working and extended trots and hand gallops. At all times
the show hack should be paying close attention to its rider
with prompt transitions and an alert expression. The rider
should be attentive to his horse with good equitation and
control. The horse should be an excellent mover who will stand
out in a crowd. Working well on the bit a show hack should
carry itself from the quarters and show impulsion.
Many hack divisions do not include this class, but it is
really an important style that should remain a part of the
division. A hunter hack is forward and works well on the bit.
They should have three clean gaits with good transitions.
While having good movement is still important the movement
should be such that the horse would be suited to riding through
the fields rather than just in the ring. Comfort is important,
but a forward way of going is essential to a good hunter hack.
Because the class is based on having a good field hunter the
horse may be judged over a small single jump. This jump is
comparable to what the horse might encounter when out on a
hunt. A hand gallop may be requested in this class.
All of the hack classes are based on styles of riding that
horses were used for in the past. Many of these uses are no
longer common, but the hack division offers horses a chance
to relive the past. Whether a horse was used for pleasure,
ridden out on the road, used to show off or taken out on the
hunts the skills required were suited to the task at hand.
A well run hack division will show variation both in the demands
of the classes and in the placings of the horses. A nice pleasure
hack is unlikely to win the show hack class, while a good
hunter hack might not have the easy-going nature of the pleasure
hack. By understanding the nature of the division you can
maximize your chances in each class and show your horse off
to the best of its abilities.
About the Author
Lydia V Kelly is a writer for www.HorseClicks.com,