Can we get a standing ovation for Peter Pletcher?

As one of the top hunter/jumper trainers in the U.S. and winner of the World Champion Hunter Rider Professional finals in 2002, 2004 and 2007, Peter called attention to five fads in the hunter ring that have got to go. This video was originally posted in November on Bernie Traurig’s channel,, but has been making the rounds again as the winter show season has gotten underway.

In his typical, easygoing fashion, Peter explains why the following riding fads take away from the horse, and aren’t what the judges are – or should be – looking for.

  1. The dramatic release, and laying on the horse’s neck after the jump. “The drama of laying up on the neck and staying over as the horse canters away seems to take away a little bit of what the judges are actually judging. We need to remember they’re judging the style of the horse’s jump,” Peter says. “To me, very distracting and very unnecessary. I believe, and a lot of judges believe, it takes away from the picture of a classic hunter. You didn’t see that type of riding or position or release years ago in the hunters.”
  2. “Helping” the horse off the ground at the base of their jump. “To me, it’s not about the horse again. It’s about the rider getting in the way, and it’s offensive,” he says. “To me, it’s ugly.”
  3. Posting at the canter. This third fad is one that Peter admits he is guilty of doing himself. Props for honesty. “You did not see this posting at the canter (in years past) as much as we see it today.”
  4. Leaning with the body to get the horse to land on the correct lead. “It really throws the horse’s balance off.” It’s a move that, he concludes later, “…it totally looks ridiculous.”
  5. Standing up and posting the canter in an under saddle class. “A lot of people have gotten to the point where they stand up the entire time in the under saddle,” which he says is a product of laziness. “Sure it’s a little more comfortable for the rider, but does it show the horse off? Not so much.”

In conclusion, Peter hopes that in bringing up these riding fads – which we are probably all guilt of at some point or another – that he simply prompts awareness and thoughtfulness.

“As you’re watching this video, and I’m talking to you about certain issues, maybe think about rather than react to it. Think about the greats who used to ride. Think about how those beautiful horses and smooth trips evolved into the hunter world. Don’t you think we should probably try and get back to that?”