Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation 101: A Guide to Three Incredible Equestrian Sports

The world of English riding includes three captivating disciplines: Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation. Read on to discover the fundamentals of each unique sport.

What is the Difference Between Hunters, Jumpers, and Equitation? 

Hunter/Jumper shows have three divisions: hunters, jumpers, and equitation. All three disciplines are judged but the scoring is subjective in hunter and equitation classes, where riders and horses receive points based on rider ability, horse ability, and style. The scoring in the jumpers is objective, with riders competing for time, jumping faults (competitors are penalized for refusing jumps or knocking down jumps) or a combination of the two. We'll dive into the nuances of each below. 

Hunters: Where Tradition Meets Elegance

The hunter classes are designed to showcase a horse's elegance, ride-ability, and skill. Scoring is based on their conformation, or overall look, and their style and movement over and between the jumps. An ideal hunter maintains a rhythmic, relaxed pace and carriage throughout each class. Hunter classes take place both on the flat, without jumps, and around courses that replicate the natural beauty of jumps found in hunt fields. These jumps are adorned with tasteful elements such as flowers and brush, and are constructed from traditional materials like wood. Judges award scores based on the horse's performance, and the highest-scoring horse wins. 

In hunter classes, the horse is expected to jump in an even, flowing, and relaxed manner and be obedient to the rider's aids. It should show a faultless bascule (rounded arc over the jump) and tuck its legs up neatly. The focus is on making every round look effortless and graceful. 

Equitation: Evaluating the Rider's Skill 

Equitation classes focus solely on the rider's ability to demonstrate proper position, effective communication with the horse, and mastery of traditional riding techniques. Equitation classes also take place on either the flat or over fences, with many riders participating in both. Riders are judged on their form, balance, and overall skill and harmony with the horse. Maintaining a correct and balanced position is the main criterion on which scores are awarded. This discipline plays a crucial role in developing a rider's skills and serves as a foundation for success in both hunter and jumper classes. 

Jumpers: For the Bold and the Quick 

While hunter classes are judged based on the performance of the horse, jumpers are scored on their ability to complete the course in the alloted, “optimum time,” and the number of faults, or number of refused jumps or jumps knocked down, during each round. Jumpers only compete over fences and their courses are designed to be a technical challenge. Increasing with difficulty as the height of the jumper increases, jumper courses consist of combinations, or a series of jumps in a row, and complex combinations of heights and tight corners. Many jumper classes also award placings based on the results of a “jump off,” in which all riders without faults in the first round compete against each other. The winners are those who complete the course the fastest, with the fewest number of faults. 

What Do You Wear to a Hunter/Jumper Show?

Hunter and equitation attire is traditionally on the formal side, while the rules for the jumper ring are more relaxed, with riders able to express individuality in their chosen outfit. When it comes to outfitting yourself for these disciplines, Ariat has everything from elegant show coats to impeccably tailored breeches. Our collection includes a range of styles from tailored and traditional to modern and eye-catching. 

English Show Attire:

Show Coat

  • A show coat is a must-have for riders in all three disciplines. Our Infinite Show Coat and Speranza Show Coat are favorites among hunter and equitation riders because of their impeccable tailoring, attention to detail and just-right stretch, Jumper riders reach for our Meridian Show Coat, a standout thanks to its head turning details and incredible fit, and our Galatea Bellatrix Show Coat, which pairs elegant styling with subtle, silver trims. Riders competing in every discipline also reach for our Artico Show Coat, which is incredibly light and breathable and perfect for hot show days.

Show Shirt

  • Designed to complement your show coat, a show shirt should combine style and functionality. Each Ariat style is crafted with high-quality fabrics and our revolutionary performance technologies for breathability and freedom of movement in and out of the show ring. Hunter and equitation riders love our best-selling Luxe Show Shirt because of its clean look and feature-packed materials. If you compete in the jumpers, our chic Showstopper 3.0 Show Shirt and innovative Ascent Show Shirt are two of our top picks. 


  • Ariat has a variety of riding breeches tailored to the specific needs of riders at every level of the sport. Designed with both style and performance in mind, they are packed with features, like our moisture-wicking and dynamic-cooling technologies, as well as our slimming Core Control Technology and textured Ariat Hex Silicone Grip for optimal grip in the saddle. One of our best-selling breeches for hunter, jumper and equitation rides is our Tri Factor Breech. Riders in hunter/jumper disciplines generally prefer knee patch breeches for better flexibility and grip while navigating corners and jumps.

Riding Boots

  • A good pair of tall riding boots is essential. Ariat's riding boots are crafted with premium materials, which balance durability, support, with a polished appearance. Whether you prefer tall field boots or dress boots, we have a variety of riding boots to suit your personal style and discipline. Our Ravello Tall Boot is a must-have for show season and it's available in both a field and dress boot silhouette. 


  • Safety is paramount in equestrian sports, so you'll be wearing a helmet for both training and performance. Many helmets on the market combine advanced technology with comfort and sleek designed to protect you while maintaining style. 


  • In addition to apparel, you'll also need equestrian accessories such as gloves, belts and socks. Ariat offers a variety of English accessories that are both functional and stylish.

For more specifics on what to wear for show jumping, click here. Shop all our English Clothing and boots here

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