Hunters over fences are judged on performance and soundness. Judges are looking for great jumping style, quality of both looks and movement, as well as willingness, manners, and suitability of horse and rider.
The round over fences itself should be judged on evenness of pace, as well as consistency of distances. In over fences classes hunters are judged over fences that simulate fences found in the hunt field such as coops, walls, gates, etc. Some hunter classes over fences are called Handy Hunter classes, which emphasize tight turns, creative approaches, brilliance and pace.
Hunters are also shown on the flat. These classes are called under saddle classes and are judged both directions at the walk, trot, canter, and sometimes the hand gallop. Movement, manners, and quality are judged at all gaits.
In the past hunters have been mostly Thoroughbreds, but with the increase in quality of the warmbloods imported from Europe there are many of these that now compete with great success in the hunter divisions. Actually, hunter classes exist for virtually every breed of horse or pony and for any level of rider.
Information provided by the UNITED STATES EQUESTRIAN FEDERATION