Choosing A Show Hunter Prospect
Choosing A Show Hunter Prospect
At Harris Hill Farm, we look for horses that have the quality to win in the Professional hunter divisions and Hunter Derbies, yet also have the attitude to eventually make up to be great Junior or Amateur horses. Our goal is to find special young hunters and develop them thoughtfully, to the point where they are ready to go on and have successful careers with junior or amateur riders. Realistically, our development process takes at least a year, and sometimes even longer, before we even begin marketing our sale horses. We treat each horse like a part of the family, giving them a solid foundation and education. Because of the level of care, training, and show experience that we invest into each prospect, Harris Hill typically only offers 2-3 horses for sale at any given time.
FaceTime starting his career with Jennifer Bliss in the Pre Green Hunters at Tryon in May 2015. Photo Credit: Sportfot
United States Sourced
We purchase the majority of our horses from reliable sources within the United States. We find it challenging to find a trusted scout in Europe, because of the boutique-style scale that we operate on, favoring just a few special horses at a time that we focus on intensely, rather than a larger group that is turned around quickly. Sometimes buying in the U.S. means paying slightly more, but it often feels like a worthwhile tradeoff. Doing business with solid connections in this country gives us peace of mind that we have a very accurate idea of the horse we are getting, and makes it easy to maintain ongoing professional relationships. Additionally, the sellers we have worked with consistently over time are familiar with our style and program and have a very good understanding of the characteristics we are looking for in young hunter prospects.
Our Ideal Prospect
We typically look for horses between the ages of 4 and 6, and prefer to be the ones starting a horse's show career, when possible. The two most important factors to us are a willing attitude and a great natural technique over the jumps. If a horse wants to work with you and learn and also possesses natural style and scope, it is really just a matter of teaching them their job. We do so by being very mindful of care and fitness, working on rideability, and providing consistent and confidence-building mileage on the road.
Movement is a nice bonus, but not the first thing we look for. The hack is one class out of five, and thus the jump is just so much more important to us. Additionally, we look for prospects that have a big, slow stride, slightly uphill balance, an easy lead change, bravery towards the jumps, and an overall attractive presence.
Choosing hunter prospects is both a science and an art. You have to rely on your experience and knowledge as a horseman and evaluate all of the objective factors, but it is also important to ultimately go with your intuition and gut on the final decision. Part of the equation is knowing yourself- what type of horse best suits your riding style and program and what your strengths are in terms of training.
Jennifer Bliss piloted Sugarman to a top 10 finish at the prestigious $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at 2015 WEF (photo credit: Erin Gilmore 2015)
About Jennifer Bliss & Harris Hill Farm
Jennifer grew up as an active competitor on the Northeast "A" horse show circuit and enjoyed great success as a junior rider, winning such major accolades as Pony Finals championships, Horse of the Year titles, and top 10 placings at the major indoor equitation finals.
Jennifer owns and operates Harris Hill Farm together with fiance and barn manager Deywi Rodriguez, and has established herself as a successful professional rider and trainer. Some recent accomplishments include the 2014 WCHR Developing Pro National Championship, as well as top 10 finishes in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals and the $50,000 International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Harris Hill Farm is based out of Wellington, Florida, and specializes in developing, showing, and selling high quality young hunters, as well as training a small group of junior and amateur students.
For more information about Jennifer Bliss/Harris Hill Farm, please visit www.harrishillfarmllc.com.