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What exactly happens in a hunter pace?

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  • What exactly happens in a hunter pace?

    Hi folks! I've been curious lately about doing a hunter pace someday soon with my horse. I know the basic idea of what a hunter pace is, but it's hard to get a good sense of what actually happens during one or how beginner-friendly they are from advertisements for upcoming events.

    I'm probably advanced-beginner, I guess; I take weekly lessons and do basic jumping, no more than 2' so far--I'm a weenie adult. (: I have a green horse that I ride in lessons as well and is learning to jump, but I also do a lot of trail riding on him and we're comfortable w/t/c and galloping on trails; he's very good by himself and with others as well.

    Some of the questions I wonder about... I know that jumps are generally optional, but are there sometimes any teensy jumps (18" or so) for us to try out, or would we just end up going around everything? Approximately how many miles is it usually, and approximately how much of that do you apportion to trotting/cantering/walking? Is the dress code generally clinic-ish (polo/sweater, breeches, boots) or more like a show?

    Thanks for any thoughts or input! It seems like a fun day out and I'd love to participate at some point...
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

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  • Original Poster

    P.S. Is there socializing/drinking after? I'm a big fan of drinking. (:
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits


    • #3
      There may be some better suited to answer voices in here, as I am typically a h/j trainer, but I frequently hunter pace with my students, so I will answer what I can! Hunter pacing really is a blast and lets horse an rider really "get out of the box." We typically hit most of the local ones if there isn't show conflicts.
      In my area, there are usually classes, of 5 mile (about an hour of riding), 10 mile (hour and a half - 2 hours), and 15 miles (2+ hours.) Usually consists of fields and trails. Most of the ones I go to have jumps ranging from 12" - 3' all with go-around.
      As far as the pace to take, it is usually set that morning by a member of the hosting hunt club (or whatever barn/organization is running the event) to determine the "ideal time" that you will be trying to match. I have found as long as your horse is fit and you pay attention to working but not over working him, and you pay attention to the footing (walk on rocky or steep slopes, trot on average footing, canter/hand gallop on good footing) you will be likely to be pretty close to the ideal time.
      As far as dress-code, much to my "ruffled-ness" there usually is none. I require for my riders to be in at least clinic attire (polo, breeches, belt, helmet/hairnet, cleaned boots, gloves) to leave the farm, but that is definitely not the case for everyone. But it does make for some real good people watching after your run!
      My farm packs a "snack" to share and we usually end up with a nice spread of fruit, veggies, cheese/crackers, various not so good for you snacks, to munch on while waiting for the placings. It makes for a really great laid-back kind of day. My adult riders love it because it allows them to push themselves without an audience.
      But if in doubt, contact those running the hunter pace and they can help you with any details. But if it is something general, let me know if you have any other ?'s, I'll try to answer them the best I can, but like I said before I'm sure that there are much more experienced here on the hunting board that can answer them for you!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks Trinityhill! It sounds like such a blast--hoping I can talk one of the other adults I ride with into doing it sometime. (And hoping we can find a trailer!)
        "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

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        • #5
          The general idea is the same, but does vary some from hunt to hunt. A few will have a fastest time over the course, most with have a first flight/full cry course, a second flight, and a hill topping flight.

          You will have to check with the one you are going to as to whether jumps are optional. One I went to had jumps optional for 2nd flight and hill toppers, but the course was longer for 1st flight which had a jump that had no go around. So all but one jump was optional, and it was a 2 foot coop. I would be sure that your horse is used to natural looking fences and is ok with coops, panel, post and rail, and depending on the area, stone walls. Each hunt will be able to tell you the average height of jumps on course.

          The dress code varies from hunt to hunt. It is usually a fund raiser for the hunt, so they are trying to have it open to as many people as possible. Some will even come in western attire. Some paces will have competitions for best turned out, etc.

          Many hunts will provide a lunch as part of the cost of the pace. As far as adult beverage consumption, it depends on the hunt, but most are an imbibing group of people. BYOB would be ok.

          The course is ridden prior to competition with the ideal time recorded, but not posted. You are to ride the course at a day's typical hunting pace. When you fox hunt you w,t,c and have various points when you check (stop) to listen for hounds or to allow the hounds. The idea is to have a GREAT time, not so much to compete.

          You will be required to ride out with someone, you are not allowed to go out alone. Groups are usually kept to 2-4 riders and are sent out with 5 minutes or so in between groups. If you are riding faster than the group in front, you slow down, politely ask if you may pass, pass slowly and then you may move off at your desired pace. If you don't have anyone to ride out with, call the hunt and they will be happy to send someone from the hunt out with you or others that will be riding at a similar pace that also don't have partners.

          They are a blast!! I hope you will have to have the opportunity to go out soon.


          • #6
            Hi Sara, there are a couple Paces coming up, this Sunday, the 19th, has
            One is with the Bristol Hills Pony Club & their Pace is in the Honeoye area.
            Their Pace is over the gorgeous hills north of Honeoye Lake. The course is
            set on a huge hay farm with wooded areas & all the jumps are optional, there
            will be smaller jumps that you can try! The other Pace is in Cohocton, off
            390. This is a new Pace & they've had several this year. I haven't been to this
            one & would have to find the info for it but if you pm me, Ill send you what I can.
            Our Hunt, the Genesee Valley, has a Pace Oct. 17th, & is over our Hunt country,
            so you have to open & close gates if you don't want to jump the coops in the
            fencelines. It will have some lower jumps that are optional, also.
            Our Irish Draught group will be running one Oct. 31st. on a farm just outside
            Avon, NY. It will be an easy one with lots
            Hunter Paces are great fun & are wonderful for fitting up a horse.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks all! And thanks awm, if I can sweet-talk any of my friends into wanting to go, I might contact you for info! I definitely saw the info about the Genesee Valley one--even if I can't do the hunter pace I definitely want to come watch the hunt races this year. (:
              "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

              Graphite/Pastel Portraits


              • #8
                I've only been on one HP so far (last September), but I'm looking forward to doing my second one in a couple of weeks. It was just possibly the most fun "competition" I've ever done on horseback. I explain it to my non-horse-y friends as a faster-paced team trail ride with optional jumps, and a tailgate party to follow.

                The hunt club that hosts the one I've been to has multiple divisions-- fastest time flat and O/F, optimum time flat and O/F, optimum time novice (fences <2'), juniors divisions, and a hilltoppers division (where the winning time is closest to the average of all teams in the division). Lots of Western riders doing the flat and hilltoppers classes... and at this HP, the sponsoring hunt club has a "Mock Hunt" following the HP, where you can sign up for a 30-minute mini-hunt ride, with the hounds and horns and the whole bit. For someone who's never hunted but desperately wants to, the Mock Hunt was AWESOME-- it was so very neat to watch and hear the hounds, and that my horse wasn't freaking out at all of it was a major bonus. (Of course, he was tired from the HP, which helped!)
                *friend of bar.ka

                "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"


                • #9
                  I did my first one this spring and they had different"classes" as cnvh mentioned. Most of the hunter paces in my area are put on as fund raisers for a hunt club. Hunt-like attire is preferred. It was great fun and the club put on a complimentary lunch afterwards. I went and didn't have a partner(they had teams consisting of two riders), so they assigned one of the hunt members to ride out with me. I say go for it. A good way to meet new people and see how you and your horse do.


                  • #10
                    do a search!

                    Do a search on this forum on hunter paces and learn about them. And around here there are no drinking parties afterwards....I don't think many even do a tailgate picnic even. Some participants might have snacks at thier trailers.