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What exactly is a hunter pace?

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  • What exactly is a hunter pace?

    So, I'm probably going to sound like an idiot, but oh well. I'm going to start this by saying that I'm an eventer, but I'm only going Beginner Novice right now. My horse has had a year off due to injury, and so we haven't competed in more than a year and haven't schooled cross country recently either. There's a hunter pace coming up in my area, and I think I'm interested in participating in it, but I don't really know what it is. I admit I don't know a whole lot about Hunting, but I do know that hunter paces aren't quite the same.

    If I did go, what should I know? I've never done anything like it, going cross country is probably the closest thing I've done to a hunter pace. What are they like? What should I wear? How experienced do I have to be? Are they super long? How conditioned should my horse be?

    I'm just afraid that because I don't know what I'm doing, I'm going to be laughed at because I make a fool out of myself. But I really want to go because I feel like this would be really good for my horse and me to get back into the swing of things so we can start eventing again. Plus I hear that they're super fun. (He is fully recovered and we're working on dressage and jumping. We've been back since about March/April, so we're not fresh out of rehab.)

    Thanks! And sorry if I sound like a fool.
    God forbid that I go to a heaven in which there are no horses

  • #2
    Ok, here is a short rundown:

    A hunter pace is exactly what it says. It is an event over hunting territory or just cross country that has a time that is set (and not known by the riders) called an optimum time that is usually based on a "hunting pace." It is very similar to going XC at an event. You are (usually) required to go out as a group of 2 or more, and you ride a set course (just like XC). Each group goes out at timed intervals (again, just like XC). You pretty much set your own pace while on course, you can trot, walk, canter, gallop. Usually the winning riders, depending on who sets the optimum time, will canter the course, with some trotting and maybe appropriate walking.

    As far as length goes, it varies. I've been to paces where the course is only about 2 miles long, to others where it is closer to 5 miles long.

    Your horse should be conditioned enough to handle the distance, but again, you set your own pace so you can always take walking breaks.

    Attire: Again, it varies. Look at the prize list or call the organizers. Most I have been to require either formal or cubbing attire. Others I have heard about only require boots, breeches, and a polo shirt. Much more casual.

    I say you find a prize list or call the organizers and they can give you more details to the specific event you are looking to go to. Most have different divisions (flat, low fences, high fences).

    Have fun if you decide to go! I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

    Comment


    • #3
      I highly recommend it! DH and I did our first one last fall. He's a green rider (on the older steady horse), and I had my green horse... We were supposed to walk-trot it, with the older horse following gently along behind mine. We practiced trail riding that way for two months to prepare. But I forgot my older horse had done hunter paces long ago, before I got her. She woke up at the starting line, took off at a brisk trot and then picked up a canter, and we did a trot-canter the whole 8 miles and were only ten minutes off the pace!!! DH was a great passenger after getting over his initial "oh geez, what hot horse is this I'm suddenly riding!" moment. And we had a wonderful time. We didn't do any jumps - at most hunter paces there are go-arounds at all the jumps, so you can skip them if you like. Most of the jumps are small and easy compared to eventing.

      We are doing three this fall, 6-11 miles, depending. We are already riding 6 miles several days a week, though we were stuck mostly walking for the last month due to my husband being injured. Now that he's got some strength back in his sprained ankle, we are adding trot and canter work.

      The other thing that was fun was how wonderfully welcoming the other people were. Once we had our horses cooled off and put away, we stopped at the barn for chili and cookies, and everyone was very sociable and friendly. Many of them were hunt members, and invited us to come ride with them some time. We didn't feel ready to consider it at the time, but it was nice to hang out with such a great bunch of people.

      ETA: I believe my quote after that first hunter pace was "Wow, now that's a good time on the back of a horse!"
      Last edited by twofatponies; Aug. 7, 2008, 03:37 PM. Reason: forgot something

      Comment


      • #4
        Here is a link to one of the best paces I've ever ridden:


        http://www.stonegatefarm.org/hunterpaces/index.htm


        Jackie will answer any and all of your questions that haven't been answered in this link. Her farm is part of a series of fall paces.

        Guaranteed fun!!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          This is a timely thread! I think I am going to get to take my mare to a hunter pace next week! My only question is about the conditioning. I haven't specifically conditioned my mare for this type and length of ride, and I only ride her 2-3 days a week, primarily at the walk and trot. I would be riding in the "trail" division, which is described as mostly walk/trot, with some cantering. Is there any reason that a horse that is worked lightly but regularly, and turned out 24/7, would have any problem with a 4-5 mile hunter pace primarily at the walk/trot?

          I can't see her having too much of a problem, and obviously I wouldn't push her if she was struggling, but I don't want to hold my group up if it turns out we are under prepared.

          Comment


          • #6
            If you do some good work those 2-3 days, your horse should be good for the trail division.

            And I must agree, the Stonegate Hunter pace is WONDERFUL!!

            The Paces I went to in Ohio, we all mostly wore polos/nice sweaters depending on the weather that day.

            I do wish I could find Paces out here in SoCal. They are so great for schooling.

            And as for anyone laughing at you or you looking silly; no worrys there. Some of the nicest, most helpful riders I've met were at Hunter Paces. Just be aware if anyone asks if you would like a nip from their flask; a few of the people I rode with used to take the carrying sherry seriously
            “Four things greater than all things are, - Women and Horses and Power and War”

            Comment


            • #7
              pony89-

              A couple other things to consider:

              - Within the various groups in a hunter pace, there often times are subgroups (e.g. a walk, trot subgroup within the trail group). If there is slower subgroup within the trail group, you can join them.

              - Is the weather going to be the "dog days of August" or a little cooler? Obviously if there is a question of conditioning, a little cooler weather is preferable.

              - Is your baseline walk-trot work in a ring or over varied terrain? The latter typically results in more conditioning, as uphill and downhill work is more strenuous than the same type of work on level ground.

              - What is the breed of your horse? My impression (and the draft folk may - will correct me if I am wrong), is that TB's can handle this kind of conditioning question a little better than drafts.

              And I agree with wingedmare, if your baseline work is good work, then you and your horse will be fine.

              Most of all, have fun! WJ

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tuckertoo View Post
                I'm just afraid that because I don't know what I'm doing, I'm going to be laughed at because I make a fool out of myself. But I really want to go because I feel like this would be really good for my horse and me to get back into the swing of things so we can start eventing again. Plus I hear that they're super fun. (He is fully recovered and we're working on dressage and jumping. We've been back since about March/April, so we're not fresh out of rehab.)

                Thanks! And sorry if I sound like a fool.
                SteeleRdr summed it up well.

                Here's my 2 cents....
                If you can safely and confidently ride a BN XC course you should not have a problem with the terrain at a hunter pace. Granted, it is possible some of the jumps might be higher than BN height but every hunter pace I've been to offered a go around option.

                If you can control your horse out in the open with people passing and coming from in front and behind as well as being courteous and respectful of others out on the course it is highly unlikely you will make a fool of yourself

                Most of the paces around here are more on the casual side. I can't speak for your area but in new england unless the entry specifically states formal hunting or ratcatcher attire you should be perfectly fine with a polo/breeches/boots or neat 1/2 chaps.

                Hunter paces around here range from 4 to 10 miles and on average offer jumps from the 2'3-3ft range. There are a few offered by the New England hunts where the jumps are higher though.
                Last edited by LookinSouth; Aug. 13, 2008, 04:23 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Whistlejacket View Post
                  pony89-

                  A couple other things to consider:

                  - Within the various groups in a hunter pace, there often times are subgroups (e.g. a walk, trot subgroup within the trail group). If there is slower subgroup within the trail group, you can join them.
                  So can you change groups mid-stream if you need to?

                  - Is your baseline walk-trot work in a ring or over varied terrain? The latter typically results in more conditioning, as uphill and downhill work is more strenuous than the same type of work on level ground.
                  It is primarily ring work, but when we are trotting, I am usually making her work - serpentines, small circles, etc. She's usually not real sweaty unless she is nervous about something.

                  - What is the breed of your horse? My impression (and the draft folk may - will correct me if I am wrong), is that TB's can handle this kind of conditioning question a little better than drafts.

                  And I agree with wingedmare, if your baseline work is good work, then you and your horse will be fine.

                  Most of all, have fun! WJ
                  She's a Quarter Pony - gratuitous picture

                  I think we will have a good time. I had a hard time with her when I got her, put her in training for 6 months, and have spent the last 8 months learning to ride her and really clicking with her. Now it is time to start getting out there and having some fun! She is level headed, and fairly brave on the trails, so I guess there's no way to see how she will be except to jump in and do it!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Timely thread...our local hunt club advertises these regularly (the "easy" ones), and I've always wondered what they're about...it sounds like a blast!
                    "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pony89 View Post
                      So can you change groups mid-stream if you need to?

                      Of the hunter paces I've been to the "groups" are just divisions for time. In other words....a jumper may go out at 10:15, A hilltopper at 10:00 and a Trail blazer at 9:45. It is likely the trailblazer and hilltopper will be passed by the riders hoping to make the jumper group time since they are always the fastest. I have been to paces where they try to send everyone registered for Trailblazer out LAST but it doesn't always work that way.

                      Therefore, your not usually riding out in a specified group per se like in Foxhunting (other than the 2 or 3 people you signed up to ride with) you pick a division when you register that matches the speed you might EXPECT to ride for at the pace.
                      However, if you signed up for Trailblazer and decide you want to canter a bit and do some jumps it's no big deal you might just come in faster than the optimum time for that division. Just don't expect to make the Trailblazer optimum time and ribbon. Some people go to hunter paces to be competitive and try to jump all the jumps and ride for the optimum time. Others go just to ride and jump XC and for social reasons.

                      The last hunter pace I went to we rode in the jumper division but we also had the option to go back and ride the course again since the pace was quite short (5 miles). We ended up spending 2 hours out on course schooling fences and riding at our leisure. There is no way 2 hours was going to get us a ribbon in the jumper division for a 5 mile pace but we really didn't care to ride for "time" that particular pace.

                      Most people I know LOVE hunter paces. I think you'll have a blast!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So, did you end up going? There was a pace today--we might have met without realizing. Lovely day and a short, inviting course.
                        ---------------------------

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My horse is a veteran at Hunter Paces, but I am not. I can't wait to do them this season! I am burned out on the show ring right now.
                          OTTB - Hurricane Denton - Kane - the big dog!
                          Tuggy - RIP 9/12/2016 - Wait for me at the bridge
                          Foster LolaMaria AKA LolaBean (Boxer)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I wish I could find one near me The Big Man and I miss doing them. And everytime fall starts rolling around I get the urge to do them, to sit around with Hot Cider with everyone and discuss all the different riding we do, to laugh with each other afterwards discussing parts of the course, and riding with new people cause either you or they need a teammate.

                            sigh; ok, don't pouting.
                            “Four things greater than all things are, - Women and Horses and Power and War”

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by WildBlue View Post
                              So, did you end up going? There was a pace today--we might have met without realizing. Lovely day and a short, inviting course.
                              Yep I went!! And I had a blast! Did you go to the pace at Longhill Farm? That's the one I went to. I was on the gray TB with the blue cross county safety vest and I went with a girl who was on a bay TB and she had a green safety vest. We jumped many of the jumps but not all of them. The woods were a little muddy (surprisingly with the lack of rain we've been having, although I guess with the steep climbs and descents we had to take, it makes sense it would be wetter at the bottom) so I didn't want to do anything other than walk through the mud since my guy had a previous suspensory issue. It went really well, though!! He was pretty fresh in the beginning but settled nicely. We galloped through the open fields at one point and it was so fun. I haven't galloped my guy for a while, and I don't know who enjoyed it more, me or him. But I was so proud of him. He took everything in stride and never looked at anything we jumped. It's been over a year since we've jumped anything solid or natural, so it was really confidence boosting. He even saved my butt at one point when at the last minute I decided that I wanted to jump something instead of canter around it. Somehow I got myself a little off balance, he slowed and waited till I got balanced, then jumped it perfectly. I'm glad I have a horse that watches out for me in those situations.

                              At the end we jumped the last jump downhill and cantered down the hill through the finish, which upset one person because they thought it was dangerous to do that (it was close to the start and the people waiting to go.) I understand where she's coming from, so, oops, I guess we'll try not to do that again. I don't know whether you're not supposed to do that, or not, I'm just used to 'galloping' through the finish on XC so I didn't even think about it. Live and learn. But overall it was really fun and it was a beautiful day. My horse didn't get too hot or sweaty, either, though we did the 'scenic cruiser' division which was mostly walk. It was really fun and I can't wait to do it again!

                              And I understand about the burnout. I've been working on mostly dressage for months with a little jumping in between since I was bringing him back slowly from his injury. The last week our dressage has just been horrible. I think we're kind of both sick of it, and since we've started jumping more and remembering how fun it is, we don't want to do it anymore. So, this was a nice break from it, but we still need to work on it for our eventing.
                              God forbid that I go to a heaven in which there are no horses

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Yay! Glad you went and enjoyed yourself. We were there too, but wow was it crowded trying to get parked (we came a little late). I found white polo jeans before I found breeches, so that's what we wore. Group of 3, bay, black, and grey. We went moderate but took it easy, as two of the horses aren't fit (but thought they were) and the third was on his first pace. The green bean led and did great!

                                I had the same thought about the wet and commented on how much harder the course would have been if it'd rained. My BF actually fell off two years ago at that pace when his horse slipped on the wet clay along the last field before the end. He wasn't paying attention and rolled right over her shoulder--he still hasn't lived it down.

                                We're hoping to make the next one, and don't miss the last (in October)--it's a fabulous facility and the costumes are a riot. I'm already trying to get off work for them. Hope to see you there.
                                ---------------------------

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Hey Columbus people! Just heard that there is another hunter pace at the Taft Reserve on Sunday the 31st of August to benefit New Vocations. I think the terrain there is fairly flat. Looks to be same format as the RFHH Paces - 3 sections of riders ,etc. The website with info is www.Horseadoption.com.
                                  Luv2Jump

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Simply the BEST! I love them!

                                    Originally posted by twofatponies View Post
                                    I highly recommend it! DH and I did our first one last fall. He's a green rider (on the older steady horse), and I had my green horse... <SNIP> And we had a wonderful time. We didn't do any jumps - at most hunter paces there are go-arounds at all the jumps, so you can skip them if you like. Most of the jumps are small and easy compared to eventing.

                                    <SNIP>
                                    The other thing that was fun was how wonderfully welcoming the other people were. Once we had our horses cooled off and put away, we stopped at the barn for chili and cookies, and everyone was very sociable and friendly. Many of them were hunt members, and invited us to come ride with them some time. We didn't feel ready to consider it at the time, but it was nice to hang out with such a great bunch of people.

                                    ETA: I believe my quote after that first hunter pace was "Wow, now that's a good time on the back of a horse!"
                                    I couldn't have said it better!

                                    I started Hunter Pacing a couple years ago, and have only gone to a handful, but absolutely LOVE THEM! Around here (Northern CA), they are very casual, and yes, the Hunt Members tend to dress more formal sometimes. The majority of folks are casual (Me: black polo, breeches, show boots)

                                    Our local hunt, Los Altos Hounds, has the most perfect Introduction event: The morning is a Hunter Pace CLINIC, and the afternoon is a Mini Hunter Pace!

                                    As others have said, there are Hilltopper and Introductory classes where you don't even have to jump.

                                    I dabble in BN Eventing, too...but my favorite is HP's

                                    To help you prepare to at least TRY to be in the ribbons, you should do some pacing homework. For example, measure out say, 300 meters...and do a couple of different speeds. If you do it at a slow trot, how long did it take? Fast trot? Canter?

                                    This will give you an idea of "pace" for your particular horse. If it took you 1 minute to trot a 300 meter line....it gives you a baseline. So if a class is 350 meter/minute, do a bit faster trot/slow canter, etc.

                                    Here's a blurb from our next Hunter Pace/Clinic:
                                    MINI HUNTER PACE

                                    Following the lunch break, we will hold a "mini pace" with the course walk starting at 1 p.m. Hunter Pace Events are a tradition in foxhunt clubs all over the world. The idea behind a Hunter Pace is to try to match, in competition, the speeds used in actual foxhunting. Today we measure the distance and use pre-determined speeds, thereby producing an optimum time for completing a set course. Closest to the optimum time wins, whether over or under the optimum set time. Our Pace Events typically have several classes, ranging from 250 meters per minute (mpm) (a trot) to 425 meters per minute (a hand gallop). What do these mean for you and your horse? Is your trusty steed a pony or a half-draft? At the clinic, learn to set your horse's speed to the paces required for bringing home a blue ribbon this year.

                                    We will hold four classes in the afternoon, with the first riding off at 1:15 p.m., allowing riders of all levels to practice their newly polished pace-setting skills. We will hold a Hilltopper Pace, ridden at 250 m/m , an Introductory Hunter Pace Pairs class wherein one rider must jump each jump at a pace of 325 m/m, a true Hunter Pace at 375 m/m and, last but not least, a single rider class at the pace of 400 m/m. All classes will be a mile or less in distance. This mini hunter pace will count toward the season high point championship. Please identify which classes you wish to enter when you RSVP.
                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                    Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                                    www.elainehickman.com
                                    **Morgans Do It All**

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I did my first (and so far, only) hunter pace this past Fall and had just about the most fun ever! I hope that I get a chance to do more of them, it really was a complete blast. Sorry for the age of the thread, but I stumbled upon it and had to comment.
                                      -Debbie / NH

                                      My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/

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