Prepared from information supplied by the Australian Hunter Horse Association
There are references to hunting foxes on horseback using hounds (known as venery) in England as far back as AD43. Following the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, hunting grew as a sport. The landed aristocracy continued the sport on settling in Australia. While hunting is still enjoyed in Australia today, much of the focus of the hunter is within the show ring, both in flat classes and over jumps.
A hunter is a type of horse that may be of no specific breeding. Successful hunters have included and are not limited to blends of Thoroughbred, Irish Draught, ponies native to the United Kingdom, ponies bred in Australia and New Zealand, Welsh cob, Warmblood and Arabian blood.
A good show hunter is a substantial, well-conformed, quality animal being sound in both leg and wind (respiratory system). The horse should be short-coupled, broad and well-muscled across the back and loins, with short, wide cannon bones and clean, well-developed tendons.
The hunter is a weight-carrying animal, well-mannered and capable of carrying its rider comfortably over varying terrain with ease and safety for long periods of time. The hunter horse has a controlled, forward energy and strong, easy paces, as well as an excellent gallop, without appearing dull. The picture should be one of strength, quality and presence with eye appeal to both judge and spectator.
The hunter is still enjoyed as an animal used to follow hounds and also as a show animal, being pony, Galloway or horse sized. They are also used for pony club, stock work and leisure.