How To Judge: Hunters

In this series, we take a look at the Royal Windsor Horse Show judges’ notes to see exactly what we’re expecting from our Champions!

The Hunter must be powerfully built, properly proportioned in body and limb, with plenty of stamina to gallop and last through a hard day’s hunting. Possessing a bold heart to tackle various obstacles, the horse must have the sense and manners to carry out the task with merit.

Virtual Windsor is hosting three Hunter classes this year: Show Hunter, Working Hunter and Working Hunter Pony. For the first class, entries will be submitting photos of Hunters on the flat. For the second two classes, entries are being accepted that show the horse or pony tackling a fence. The horse’s style and technique over the obstacle will be taken into account during the judging.

Chief Virtual Windsor Judge, Nigel Hollings, says, “Hunter classes at Royal Windsor Horse Show are divided into three weights: the Lightweight to carry up to 12st 7lb, Middleweight up to 14st and Heavyweight over 14st. Capacity is not assessed by height but by the amount of bone below the knee and its quality. A little less Thoroughbred limb will have a greater density than more common bone and will therefore be up to more work. Although the Show Hunter is not required to prove himself in the hunting field he should still be ideal in make and shape and above all be sound.

The Show Hunter should have substance and quality with a calm and bold temperament. It should have the conformation to produce a sustained performance and when ridden have four athletic, natural paces.

The Working Hunter Class is very popular with the one horse owner who prefers to ride in many disciplines and wishes his horse to be judged on performance rather than just personal opinion. He may have a horse that just misses being top class as a straight forward “Weight” horse, possibly due to the odd blemish or showing wear on the joints

Some horses are produced solely for this class as a stepping stone with other equestrian spheres in mind. Eventers such as Castlewellan, Andeguy, Persian Holiday and HM Queen’s Goodwill all competed successfully in Working Hunter classes as did Upton (1970 Royal Windsor Working Hunter Champion) who as Sanyo Video won the King George v Gold Cup with Robert Smith.

I would like to see the Working Hunter jumping their fences in a good, forward going and purposeful manner, balanced and rhythmic, with as little adjustment from the rider as possible.

The Show Hunter Pony is everything the Show Hunter is but in miniature whilst still retaining its pony characteristics. The Leading Rein of Show Hunter Type must always be judged as a Childs First Pony and convey a picture of safety and enjoyment as a priority.

My ideal WHP is a stronger type of pony as I have always believed that they should be able to “work”; they must have plenty of bone and be active and well balanced. Furthermore I have found that correct conformation in a pony generally means that it would be able to do just about anything.”


‘Star Smokey’
Owned by Laura Wheelwright
Exhibited by Leyla Wheelwright
2019 Winner of the
Working Hunter Pony


‘Rossa Dancer’
Owned by Mrs J A Lockwood
Exhibited by Lucy Lockwood
2019 Winner of the
Amateur Hunter Championship
sponsored by Rosettes Direct


‘View Point’
Owned by Jill Day
Exhibited by Robert Walker
2019 Winner of the
NAF Five Star Hunter