My husband has organized our Hunt's pace the last 4 years. I ride with him to mark it. We are asked, just because folks are curious if their horse is fit enough (not to cheat) "how long is the course?" We don't use a GPS or anything, so the honest truth is, we can only guesstimate! 6-8 miles or so. A staff person rides it the day before, but we adjust the time for heat, hard footing, etc.
The only time a rider can shoot for is fastest. Those riders go earliest in the day. Our first group of the day a couple of years ago went out, turned left instead of right and rode it backwards! Off course! I have to admire them a bit, though, because everything is marked to go forward--you come to an intersection, and there is a marker just past it, showing you which path to take--not true going in reverse!
Our paces have eventers, steeplechasers, foxhunters, endurance, backyarders, trail riders, icelandic horses, just about everyone shows up at these things & has a good time.
We ride thru woods, fields, over fences & into creeks, in foxhunting country & try to go at a good hunt pace. We have junior, senior & mixed teams. Non-jumping, mid-rails & high fence options with optimum times for these categories.
"I also find it unbelievable that people would cheat for a competition that has nothing at stake other than a ribbon."
People can get really competitive so I can totally believe it unfortunately. I quit playing in a basketball league a while ago because of all the body checking going on. It was a co-ed league so they would have 6'+ tall guys in with short petite ladies. Not fun to get bumped around like that and it was supposed to be a FUN league, not the NBA!!!
The last pace I attended ( watched) all the times in a division were added up then divided by the number of riders. The closest to the average won. So no, you can't cheat on that, nor know if you were you stand until the last rider is in.
That certainly keeps gaming it down.
I have used a GPS on a hunter pace once and it never occured to me that it was cheating. Since I use it in the hunt field, I thought it was a good way to set my pace according to the speed/distance the event told us to ride. We came in way too early and the organizers had overestimated their course length, so it didn't actualy help me. I have a terrible sense of diretion and just don't want to be lost.
Honestly, never occured to me at all, but thanks for the heads up.
Is it cheating if I use a GPS to take an exhausted guest back to the trailers in big hunt country? I guess so, in a way.
btw, I have become lost at a hunter pace when I thought a boundry marker was a trail marker. Same color tape.
Last edited by xeroxchick; Jul. 17, 2012 at 08:37 AM.
I almost hate to bring this up but I am starting to think that some people are cheating at our hunter paces. Or maybe it's only me who thinks using a GPS to figure out your speed is cheating.
I realize not all paces are run the same. At ours the riders do not walk the course, do not know how long it is and do not know the optimum time before starting. All they know is that they should average a specific speed depending on the division they enter ... 300 meters a minute for example for the fast division.
It used to be that the people who would win or place would be within several minutes (over or under) the optimum time. Depending on the distance you could even be +/-6 minutes off the time and still place. Lately however, the people who place are coming in within seconds of the optimum time, I mean 2 seconds for first place, 3 seconds for second etc. I find in unbelievable that people are that accurate without technological assistance. I don't have proof but I studied the results from the last several years and the statistics would say I am right. I also find it unbelievable that people would cheat for a competition that has nothing at stake other than a ribbon.
Do you think using GPS is cheating? Would you keep entering if you knew people were cheating?
The idea is NOT to tell them the optimum time. They should be riding at a pace to suit the conditions. THAT is the whole point of the competition.. How would GPS help ? My Hunt's pace was around 8 miles and the course changed every year. The divisions were based on hunting conditions ie Bluebird or Cast and Run etc.
A Hunter Pace is a set course over obstacles throughout the hunt country of an established hunt. No hounds or game are involved. There is a designated start and finish and contestants are timed by their total time taken on course. This is not a test of speed but an opportunity for individuals to ride hunt country they might not normally get to see. Riders go out in groups of 2 or 3 in a staggered start system. Within each group, some riders may be jumping their horses while others could be hilltopping or bypassing the jumps. The course is marked by the organizers and there are even opportunities to "view" game by finding hidden pictures of fox in areas where they might be expected to be found. Those finding "game" can exchange the picture for a prize when they return. There are three divisions offered which include both hilltopping and over fences. These divisions will also be divided Junior (18 & under) and Adult.
The divisions are: Bluebird - the slowest division. Time is determined by a hunting day where there may be no game found. Country is still covered by hounds and field when they cast from one cover to the next. While slow, this group is still based on a combination of walk, trot and canter. Cast and Run - the middle of the road. Time is based on a day when the hounds are cast, run game, check, re-cast, and possibly run again. This group trots and canters with some breaks. Gone Away - the quickest division. Time is based on the very best day when hounds are cast, game has broken cover or been "viewed", and most importantly, all hounds are on the line. While a fast division, excessive speed will be penalized."
Last edited by Equibrit; Jul. 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM.
I've been within seconds of ideal time on some of the paces I've won - no need for a GPS or anything. I just ride according to conditions on a pretty fit horse that I'm not trying to kill LOL. But seriously I hardly ever canter, just mostly a good working trot if the conditions are good enough.
Once you've been to different events, you do get a good 'feel' for how each club times their paces. Some are slower than others.
I really HATE when clubs 'average' the times for all riders. To me that is not really fair - the pace should be ridden and TIMED by someone from the club to get a reasonable ideal time. I am very competitive, and have a good idea about the pace speed at which different clubs ride. Using the average time takes away any thought to condition of the trails (muddy, rocky ground, etc), the condition of the day (hot & humid, or cool and dry), and anything else that needs to be factored into time. Honestly if I find out that the ideal time is actually the 'average', then I won't ride with that club again.
GAD!!! There must be some REALLY big purse money/rewards offered at the hunter paces away from here!! We use a HP as a day to enjoy the lovely hunt country at our own pace - similar to a fox (coyote in our country) hunt. We have a blast - sometimes get a ribbon, sometimes not, but it is all for fun!!! Our rides are REALLY long out here, so walking the course is out of the question...you don't get to "pre-walk" on hunt days!! I think it would take a very seriously competitive, "goal driven" person to use a GPS!!! I guess some people just "Have to Win"!!!
We only tell folks approximately what the distance is...and try as best we can to change it up from year to year...I'm usually in the ribbons...my strategy is to go the speed that's appropriate to the country I'm in...gallop when I can, trot, walk where I have to...and actually mostly in it to have a nice ride...ribbons a plus++
At Queeny we'd ride fast, lark over the jumps for quite awhile, and then make it back in. No thought to timing. I actually did get a blue ribbon there once. I ride with a GPS just for the curiosity of seeing the trace when I'm all done... or in case I get lost. I can't imagine anyone actually trying to cheat. How would you know what the time or pace should be to begin with? We'd have a general idea if we knew who set the pace but that's it.
I rode in my first hunter pace last weekend (we had a BLAST!!!) and it was a team of 3 of us, all on young horses and my OTTB (4-5) who went out for their first time- all fit and we mostly trotted with some cantering where permitted.
We were told it was between a 6-8 mile course ahead of time and that's all.
With it being our fist time out, on youngins and never seeing the property before, we approached alot of the jumps to view footing before circling back to jump them. We also stopped to fix my guys flash that had come off with all his sweat
Even with our stopping, and reviewing, we still came in in just 4 mins over the ideal time, so I can see how someone who knew the territory could get it in close or not spot on.
There is another next month we are looking forward to going to. Cant wait
I've never heard of anyone walking a pace ahead of time. When our club ran hunter paces, we tried to get someone to ride the route the day before and that would the optimum time. If we couldn't get anyone to ride it, we'd average the competing teams times, throwing out the fastest and the slowest. It's really pretty much a crapshoot. Personally, I think ever giving an award for fastest time on a hunter pace is a very bad idea. It's no longer a pace but a race.
I don't believe using a GPS is a cheat, since A) no rule agianst it and B) by giving people an optimum pace, you are basically asking them to use a method of gauging their pace.
My recommendation, give a pace range if you feel you must, or eliminate it all together. Then make your optimum time based on some obscure number - like 314mpm or something and change it each year. My favourite are paces ridden by a huntsman or any other volunteer, because so many variables are possible. I won a pace on year that was hosted on a rolling XC competition venue, where my friend and I schooled a few complexes before moving on. We were slow as anything but we wanted some schooling in along the way. Turns out the fellow who rode the course broke a leather partway and walked the rest, so our slow schooling time was bang on! I've heard of huntsmen taking puppies with them and it taking half the day, or I've heard of huntsmen taking out their friend's timber horse and having it done quick.
My own hunt's pace gives sign that you are supposed to interpret. "Hounds caste in the swamp" or "treed a coon" or "full cry" and you are supposed to move along as you think you would in a hunt if those things on the signs were really happening. Its a nice way of educating non-hunting folks too which is nice.