Quarter horses are often used as field hunters.
A field hunter is a horse ridden for fox hunting. The term does not refer to a specific breed of horse, but rather to the function of the horse. A field hunter rides for hounds, which means the horse carries a rider and follows the hounds on the hunt.
The field hunter is judged on his ability to jump and keep his cool in the hunt. He must also be able to reach a galloping speed that allows him to keep pace with the countryside while hunting. The horse must be one that can be controlled around dogs and other horses and must not kick dogs.
Most horses need to be at least five years old before starting to work as field hunters. Attributes sought after include straight legs, stamina and firmness in the feet. A horse must be properly conditioned and trained before its first hunt.
Morgan horses are popular field hunters.
The most popular field hunter is the Irish Hunter, also known as the Irish Sports Horse and Irish Draft Sports Horse. The Irish Hunter is not a specific breed, but rather a type of horse. Most of the time it is a mix of Irish Draft, Thoroughbred and Connemara.
Thoroughbreds and draft horses are often preferred mounts for fox hunting. Morgan, Arabian and Quarter Horses are also popular as field hunters. Mixed-breed horses, and even ponies with the right skills, are also often used for fox hunting.
Like its riders, who dress in traditional clothing for hunting, the field hunter’s grip is traditional. Tack is the gear that is placed on the horse. Includes saddle, drill and halters.
The equipment used by field hunters is more English than Western. It is made of heavier leather than other studs and is not decorated or embellished. The saddle is a front seat, sometimes called a hunting seat. Sidesaddles are not used.
Some field hunters, also called fox hunters, are also show hunters, but not all of them are used in actual hunting. A show hunter is mounted in an arena and will be able to jump certain fences, but it must also have appearance attributes that are not necessary for a horse whose only function is as a field hunter. A field hunter must be able to negotiate balance on terrain that may not be possible for all show hunters.