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Monmouth County Hunt Hunter Paces - NOT what they used to be

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  • Monmouth County Hunt Hunter Paces - NOT what they used to be

    I have emailed the people involved in this and after almost a week have not received a response. So I wanted to put this out there for others who may consider attending this pace in the future.

    So I've been going to hunter paces with Monmouth County Hunt
    in NJ for probably 15 years now. I always had a great time riding there. The open division would regularly have 10 or more teams of riders, often with numbers going over 19 / 20 teams. The officers all knew me by name as I was there all the time.

    From what I understand, there was dissention in the ranks and all of the old officers moved on. Now there is a new set of people running things. They increased the entry fees so that this is probably the most expensive paces; they also have increased the number of hunter paces they do. (I guess to generate revenue) There has been a drop in attendance over the last year or so, which is unfortunate. Another large group that I pace with sometimes will no longer go to MCH as there have been repeated issues with their timekeeping.

    They made a lot of changes, and some of them are good. The gift bags and complimentary lunch are a nice touch.

    But unfortunately, other things have changed that are not so good.

    For example, the courses used to be different for each ride. Yes, there was some overlap in the trails but that is not unexpected. But this last pace had virtually the same course (and ideal time) as the one before. I realize that they can't clear all of the trails, but still there were plenty that were clear enough that they could have taken alternate routes (my team partner has boarded up at Assunpink for close to 20 years so knows the trails very well).

    The flyers clearly state that they allow entries from 9 to 12. At this last pace, they allowed a few teams to go out at 12:45, I guess because there was not a big turnout. I understand they were trying to make people happy, but that was inconsiderate for everyone else who attended the pace. We usually wait for the ribbons but my friend had to be somewhere and we didn't want to wait the additional time as teams were going out so late. So, we took the horses home.

    Results were not posted on the website as promised but they did email them to me when I asked. Another email to everyone on their distribution list said that ribbons could be picked up at the next pace (which in this case would be September - pace dates for the fall have not been announced). But in the past, they always mailed ribbons if the riders where not present when the ribbons were distributed. Not only that, but the team was closest to ideal time was NOT awarded the $100 prize as they weren't present for the ribbons.

    Seriously ? I emailed asking why they are no longer mailing ribbons, and saying that I didn't think it was fair that the overall winners wouldn't get the cash prize since they weren't there (and that was not my team BTW). I saw that this was on the flyer when I checked after the fact, but they had always done this in the past. Anyway, they never bothered to respond. Just seems that since they are charging more $$ for entry fees that they should see fit to spend a few $ on envelops and postage to get the ribbons and free caps to the people who've won them. Plus it's not like they redistributed the cash prize to the next closest team if the winning team was not in attendance.

    There are a lot of organizations that host hunter paces in the Central / Northern NJ area, and ofter there are overlaps with several paces on the same day. After my experiences this past spring, it is unlikely that I will be back - I'll take my entry fees and go to a pace elsewhere.

  • #2
    Just curious - how much are the entry fees and about how long (miles or time) are the MCH HPs?
    It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.

    Comment


    • #3
      it's pretty common to only give prizes/ribbons to people who are present to receive them.

      Comment


      • #4
        There are always problems when an event gets new management and they make significant changes, especially (if I have this right), that this is a long standing event.

        No it isn't great that the course and the optimum time has remained precisely the same since the last event, I'd expect they would lose some attendees, but possibly gain others such as green pairs that would like a known quantity for schooling purposes. OP'd be better off to write the organizers a letter so they understand why they have lost her business and what they might change to win it back.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
          OP'd be better off to write the organizers a letter so they understand why they have lost her business and what they might change to win it back.
          Actually I wrote emails to the officers and they never responded. That is why I posted here. Figured I'd let people know what happened and let them make a decision about attending or not.

          The entry fees are $50, which is one of the highest ones (if not THE highest) in the area (most are $30 - $40). I wouldn't mind paying the higher fee if the 'quality' of the pace stayed the same as it usually is. But, it hasn't stayed the same. And those little things like not awarding prize money or ribbons and not mailing out what you've won pretty much 'cheapens' the event further.

          The rides are anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours of mostly trotting and cantering, condition permitting. So maybe 6 - 8 miles ?

          And every other organization that I have hunter-paced with has mailed the ribbons - usually all of them go to one team member and it's up to that team member to distribute to the others. This is the only time that this has ever happened.

          And most of the time we do hang around for the ribbons. This time we did not since they let those people go out 45 minutes after the entries were supposed to close.

          I've been pacing for 15 years, and generally one every Sunday in the spring and fall. That's a lot of paces over the years. I've paced with Spring Valley Hounds, Amwell Valley Hounds, Amwell Valley Trail Club, Tewksbury Trail, Colts Neck Trail Riders, Bucks County Horse Park, Readington Trail ... you get the idea. Pretty much every place within a 2 or so hour drive.

          Comment


          • #6
            Letters are more formal, that's all. For every one person that cares enough to send a letter via the mails supposedly there are a thousand like minded individuals, at least that's what I read as far as political issues go.

            They probably figure that the complimentary lunch offsets not getting a ribbon in the mail, and you say they did have it written in the bill about needing to be present to get your ribbon (although not distributing a cash prize is a little off putting).

            I've only been to one hunter pace in my life, though so this is just my two cents.
            Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
            Incredible Invisible

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Actually the ad says you have to be present to get the cash prize. Nothing about needing to be present to get the ribbons (or the free cap either for winning a division).

              Point taken about the letter.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, where the paces are held, sustained major damage during Sandy. MCHC probably didn't have the manpower to clear trails for separate paces. The AWMA is so understaffed, there's no way NJ state personnel are going to do much clearing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Response from MCH

                  The post below contains a number of inaccurate comments. While we respect everyone's opinion and welcome the feedback to help us make our Hunter Paces an enjoyable day for all participants, we also have a responsibility to correct inaccurate comments.

                  The courses for our last two paces were similar due to rain and low turnout at the first pace. Changes were made in the second course and the times were not the same as they are set on the day of the pace. We have had problems in the past with our ribbons being moved the day prior so that participants will go off course on the day of the hunter pace. Therefore ribbons are checked on the day of the pace and the course is ridden for time on the day of the hunter pace. This is also done to ensure that the ideal time is set with footing conditions close to those the participants will experience. The hunter pace time is set to simulate the pace one would ride if one was following hounds, therefore ground conditions and temperature will effect the ideal time.

                  The number of MCH hunter paces has not increased, in fact in years past we had more paces.

                  There has been a drop in attendance most likely due to the number of groups now running paces. Entries are also down at horse shows. There is more competition. There are sometimes 2 to 4 hunter paces scheduled on the same day in NJ.

                  The post below does accurately note that we have added lunch, additional prize money ( yes you need to be present to collect the money) and we have also been able to provide gift bags.

                  The fee for the Monmouth County Hunt hunter paces is similar to other Hunter Paces.

                  There have been no changes to how the courses are set. There has been consistent management for the hunter pace courses for over 10 years. This year has been a challenge as we are still clearing trails and rebuilding jumps that were damaged during Sandy. We have plans to have new jumps for the fall hunter paces and will continue to open up paths that remain closed. Hunt members worked tirelessely through the winter months to ensure that many paths would be open.

                  We have in the past sometimes mailed ribbons but have now asked that you stay to get your ribbons, have your friends pick them up or pick them up at the next pace. While we wish we could continue to mail everyone ribbons it is simply not practical.

                  Teams are to register between 9 and 12. We do not have a fixed stop time for teams so go out but that may be something we will consider for the future.

                  We appreciate the feedback from participants and work very hard to make it an enjoyable day for all. We hope that addtional comments posted will provide us with constructive and postive feedback and we very much appreciate the support of all the partcipants in the Monmouth County Hunter Paces. And we thank the many participants who enjoyed their day and shared that feedback with us also.

                  We hope that everyone has a great summer and hope to see you all in the fall for our paces. Dates will be posted on our website.















                  Originally posted by Roxyllsk View Post
                  I have emailed the people involved in this and after almost a week have not received a response. So I wanted to put this out there for others who may consider attending this pace in the future.

                  So I've been going to hunter paces with Monmouth County Hunt
                  in NJ for probably 15 years now. I always had a great time riding there. The open division would regularly have 10 or more teams of riders, often with numbers going over 19 / 20 teams. The officers all knew me by name as I was there all the time.

                  From what I understand, there was dissention in the ranks and all of the old officers moved on. Now there is a new set of people running things. They increased the entry fees so that this is probably the most expensive paces; they also have increased the number of hunter paces they do. (I guess to generate revenue) There has been a drop in attendance over the last year or so, which is unfortunate. Another large group that I pace with sometimes will no longer go to MCH as there have been repeated issues with their timekeeping.

                  They made a lot of changes, and some of them are good. The gift bags and complimentary lunch are a nice touch.

                  But unfortunately, other things have changed that are not so good.

                  For example, the courses used to be different for each ride. Yes, there was some overlap in the trails but that is not unexpected. But this last pace had virtually the same course (and ideal time) as the one before. I realize that they can't clear all of the trails, but still there were plenty that were clear enough that they could have taken alternate routes (my team partner has boarded up at Assunpink for close to 20 years so knows the trails very well).

                  The flyers clearly state that they allow entries from 9 to 12. At this last pace, they allowed a few teams to go out at 12:45, I guess because there was not a big turnout. I understand they were trying to make people happy, but that was inconsiderate for everyone else who attended the pace. We usually wait for the ribbons but my friend had to be somewhere and we didn't want to wait the additional time as teams were going out so late. So, we took the horses home.

                  Results were not posted on the website as promised but they did email them to me when I asked. Another email to everyone on their distribution list said that ribbons could be picked up at the next pace (which in this case would be September - pace dates for the fall have not been announced). But in the past, they always mailed ribbons if the riders where not present when the ribbons were distributed. Not only that, but the team was closest to ideal time was NOT awarded the $100 prize as they weren't present for the ribbons.

                  Seriously ? I emailed asking why they are no longer mailing ribbons, and saying that I didn't think it was fair that the overall winners wouldn't get the cash prize since they weren't there (and that was not my team BTW). I saw that this was on the flyer when I checked after the fact, but they had always done this in the past. Anyway, they never bothered to respond. Just seems that since they are charging more $$ for entry fees that they should see fit to spend a few $ on envelops and postage to get the ribbons and free caps to the people who've won them. Plus it's not like they redistributed the cash prize to the next closest team if the winning team was not in attendance.

                  There are a lot of organizations that host hunter paces in the Central / Northern NJ area, and ofter there are overlaps with several paces on the same day. After my experiences this past spring, it is unlikely that I will be back - I'll take my entry fees and go to a pace elsewhere.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    While I do realize that there was significant damage to the area from Hurricane Sandy and that some areas are still not safe to ride through, there are still enough trails clear that you should have been able to vary the pace more. There are other groups that have done multiple paces at Assunpink since Sandy and the courses have been different each time.

                    And I never said the 3rd pace wasn't ridden and timed - but with such a similar course, even with slightly different conditions, the times are not that far off.

                    In the past, we have seen teams turned away if they have arrived a significant amount of time after the entry close date. Fifteen minutes late ? Not that big of a deal. But allowing a team to ride out 45 minutes after the close date, and yet expecting everyone else to wait around for prizes, is not exactly fair.

                    If my emails had been answered, I would never have posted this on the internet.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think not mailing out ribbons would have been fine if you had given them out on time. As it stands you let groups ride well after the final time, and it is not fair to expect people who did ride on time to wait that long. 15 minutes would have been okay, but 45 minutes is closing in on an hour and is too long IMO. In this case you should have mailed out the ribbons and prize money. It is not that impractical to mail out 6 ribbons to one address per team.

                      Answering emails is always good protocol especially if you are new and taking over running of a long standing event.

                      Though I have no dog in this fight I read this with interest as hunter pacing is something I'd love to do once I live in an area where they are actually held again. I used to love hunter pacing when I lived in VA and they were always very well run with friendly officials/volunteers.
                      "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                      "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mvalnoski View Post
                        We have in the past sometimes mailed ribbons but have now asked that you stay to get your ribbons, have your friends pick them up or pick them up at the next pace. While we wish we could continue to mail everyone ribbons it is simply not practical.

                        Teams are to register between 9 and 12. We do not have a fixed stop time for teams so go out but that may be something we will consider for the future.
                        I think for this type of event having to be present for ribbons and money isn't particularly fair or practical. If registration is 9-12 and say the first group goes off at 9:30 rides for 1.5 hours that gets them back at 11 am. The last group is allowed to go out at 12:45 and goes an hour and a half so gets back at 2:15 pm. That means those first groups are hanging out for a minimum of 3 hours with their horses.
                        Any paces in this area sends out the ribbon to one member of the team.
                        There is one paperchase that has the Speed Demons division and the Slow Poke division. They run it so that the Speed Demons start time are 9-10:30 and Slow Poke is 10:30-12. I could see where you run a division, pin the division, run the next pin the next then it might be more reasonable to make the participants stay to collect ribbon/prize.
                        From a good horsemanship perspective once the weather is warming expecting the horses to stand around either on the trailer or even hand grazed for a few hours isn't smart or fair.

                        Maybe one thing you could do to make it easier to send the ribbons/prizes out is to have the "Captain" of each team write out an address label with their entry. If they win, peel and stick it on an envelope, add postage, drop in mail. This way volunteers don't need to address each label. Some of our paces also provide a spot on the entry to waive ribbons, which I tend to do. The only times I want ribbons was when I had a junior riding with me so she could get her ribbons.
                        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just for comparison, our HP series events in WNC run $35-40 each, you never know if or where you placed until at least a day after the event, occasionally longer. Most (but not all) include lunch - we've never had cash prizes or goody bags! The money from our events are all given to a local charity chosen by event organizer. All ribbons are mailed and some events (I'm talking about you, Clemson) just never bother to mail any.

                          Our philosophy here, pretty much, is that we're just thankful to have the chance to ride on different trails, usually not open to the public, and we appreciate the hard work that the organizers put into each event. Little glitches? Not a big deal, a fun time was still had.
                          It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I do appreciate all the effort that goes into putting a hunter pace on. I have helped organize a few of them, and my partner for this ride actually plans and marks the courses for both the Turkey Trot and the Spring Fling at NJ HP.

                            I am not super hung up on the ribbons. The point that I am trying to make is that the entry fees have been upped but the quality of the pace is not the same, IMO.

                            Maybe it was tough to keep track of who picked up the ribbons and who collected them ? Perhaps adding a check box to the entry form if a teams wants their ribbons mailed would make things simpler.

                            And I do agree that there is more competition in the area for horsey things to do. If there are several paces going on at the same time, we will pick the one that has a nicer location, or that has a cheaper entry fee, or that is run better. My group of pacing friends is not the only group that does this. That is why it's really important to maintain the quality of the competition.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hurricane Sandy closed a lot of trails in Assunpink and they are slowly being opened back up. Even so, some routes are better when it is wet than others. I have seen hunt club members out clearing trail, mowing, etc. and just wanted to post a public thank you.
                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                              I'm not an outlier; I just haven't found my distribution yet!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                agree with lolalola

                                Originally posted by lolalola View Post
                                The Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, where the paces are held, sustained major damage during Sandy. MCHC probably didn't have the manpower to clear trails for separate paces. The AWMA is so understaffed, there's no way NJ state personnel are going to do much clearing.
                                i agree with this. i used to ride there frequently and i still run there. a lot of trails bear signs of storm damage. i can get around on foot but no way could they send the pace through some of them.

                                i agree that it sucks when rules change and you have to change your expectations but to me your complaints sound petty. of course, if more people feel the way you do and write the MCH, you may actually get your way.

                                good luck! but in the meantime, enjoy the ride whatever trail you're on
                                http://www.eponashoe.com/
                                TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I've never done a pace where you had to wait around for ribbons! That seems odd to me. Around here we don't even get the results until a few days later. Most people don't care about the ribbons anyway.

                                  Comment

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