Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the USHJA National Hunter Derby Program

 Tiffany Morrissey won the USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Sebastian at the 2017 Country Heir I&II. Photo by Anne Gittins Photography

Tiffany Morrissey won the USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Sebastian at the 2017 Country Heir I&II. Photo by Anne Gittins Photography

  • The USHJA National Hunter Derby Program was launched in 2010, prompted by the popularity of the International Hunter Derby Program.
  • Premier (AA), National (A) and Special Competitions must offer a minimum of $2,500 in prize money.
  • Regionals shows (B) must offer $1,000 and Regional II shows (C) must offer a minimum of $500 in prize money.
  • A minimum of two judges must score the competitors using an open numerical system.
  • It is a two-round format.
  • The first round, or classic hunter round, is judged on performance, hunter pace, jumping style, quality and substance and movement.
  • The top 12 competitors are asked back for the second round.
  • The second, or handy round, simulates riding across hunt country and incorporates options such as tight turns, clever options for jump approaches, hand galloping and trotting a fence. The handy round should showcase the brilliance of pace and handiness of the horse.
  • In each round, after the judges' base score is given, one point will be added for each high-option fence.
  • Jumps are set at 3’ with four high options set at 3’5”.
  • Obstacles are reminiscent of those found in the hunt field and must offer a variety of appearances, such as natural post and rail, stone wall, white board fence or gate, coop, aiken, hedge, oxer, brush, logs and natural foliage. Natural obstacles such as banks and ditches are allowed.
  • The horse and rider combination with the highest two-round score is declared the class winner.
  • There are currently about 300 USHJA National Hunter Derbies offered at various shows of every rating across the country.
  • Luck, owned by Johnnie Martin-Carey currently leads the standing in lifetime money won in the USHJA National Hunter Derbies.
  • Peter Pletcher, from Magnolia, Texas, is currently in the top spot for lifetime money earned for the USHJA National Hunter Derbies.

·