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Hunter Pace: slow/medium/fast ????

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  • Hunter Pace: slow/medium/fast ????

    I received a flyer today for a hunter pace in the Phoenix area on April 11... and it says:
    3 levels are offered. Beginner (slow), Intermediate (medium), and Advanced (fast)
    I've e-mailed the organizers to try to get more details, but is this a common approach? Don't they say, 300 mpm or 350 mpm or 400 mpm?

    I understand that you're not allowed to wear a watch,and I expect you're also not allowed to meter the course, but... if you're supposed to be trying to match a speed, shouldn't they tell you what the speed is???
    Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
    "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

  • #2
    I never attended a hunter pace where they didn't give you a time to aspire to. Please folks correct me if I am wrong, but this is my understanding of hunter paces.

    These are not eventing cross country phases. There is a terrain which you have (likely) not seen but can be told about, and you can usually view a map of the course. There is an ideal time, for the three levels. that means that an experienced or advanced rider will pace themselves well over the 10 or 20 miles so that they come in within the time frame of the advanced time. The idea is that you know your horse, and you know how to ride your horse on a course such as this to his best advantage, to "pace" him so that he neither tires nor falls behind what might be the pack - this is a practice sort of event for hunting. It is a test of the fitness of your horse, and the skill you and he have together over the terrain, without being reckless (too fast) or lagging (to slow) or looking at your watch. You are supposed to use your wits and your current skill set to pace yourselves correctly for the condition of you and your horse. If you ride well, and ride your animal at a good "hunter pace" you will be competatvie. Ifyou don't, you and your horse had a good training experience. Many people ride with another or two other riders of their caliber so that it more nearly approximates hunting for this reason. Its for training for hunting. Bring a flask. Enjoy.

    At least, that's been my experience.
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, considering the probability is that none of the organizers have ever hunted...slow/medium/fast doesn't much surprise me.

      I'm just thrilled to have the opportunity to do something different around here. And at last, a hunter pace put on by anybody. The last one I did was up in Flagstaff 8 years ago.
      ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~

      Comment


      • #4
        Here in Virginia during the spring hunter pace season, there are typically three divisions: fast time over fences, optimum time over fences and optimum time on the flat. In the optimum time divisions you are not given a pace or a time. You walk the course and figure out how it might have been ridden.

        Typically, you can add three minutes to the fast time winner and get the optimum time. However, you don't know the fast time until the event is over. Usually the fastest teams in the optimum are the one in the points.

        The optimum time is determined by the hosting hunt. They have a pair of riders ride the course and their average time becomes the optimum.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          I heard back from the organizers of this one:

          "slow" is "mostly walk"
          "medium" is "mostly trot"
          "fast" is "a nice canter"

          About a mile & a half long course, all fences optional, max height 2'7"

          As rivenoak said, an opportunity to get out and do something different, at least ;-)
          Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
          "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

          Comment


          • #6
            Our paces publish the ideal pace as 100 mpm, 200mpm and 300 mpm. What you are not told is how long the course is or what is the ideal time to finish in. Regardless, they are fun!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Ponyclubrocks View Post
              Our paces publish the ideal pace as 100 mpm, 200mpm and 300 mpm. What you are not told is how long the course is or what is the ideal time to finish in. Regardless, they are fun!
              I gotta say, that makes a lot more sense to me than "mostly walking", "mostly trotting", and "a nice canter"!!!
              Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
              "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

              Comment


              • #8
                Disclaimer: I always got in trouble when setting the paces because my optimum times were too fast.

                Back in the day, 'optimum' was characterized as an honest hunting pace, as though hounds are running. Which is to say, you'd be probably averaging a slow to medium canter, pulling up in trappy areas, etc. just like you would out hunting. The optimum time was usually set by having someone (like me) ride the course- if you were doing the series in VA, you could sort of gauge what it might be by knowing who might have ridden the course to set the time. One year at Piedmont, we were all slower than the set time.

                The other way of setting optimum time, when you have time-setters like me who were deemed to be too fast (honestly, two times I can think of, I pulled the horse up and sat still for a full 45 seconds!), is to simply average all the times and make the placings based on closest to that average time.

                Fast time divisions were (presumably still are) just that- as fast as you can go for the entire course (3 to 5 miles, typically). Yee-haw.

                I can tell you that my 15.2 hand quarter horse beat tb steeplechase and/or timber winners- obviously they would blow him away speed-wise across a wide open field, but he didn't have to slow down on twisty trails in the woods, for example, just pole-bended his way through while I focused on keeping a leg on either side.

                As for 300 mpm...my warmblood could trot that!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have to agree it is nice to beat some of the chasers when they come out. I realize they're just putting mileage in.

                  I usually do a speed estimate on our pace. Last week the footing was deep in places and in the optimum time over fences we came in around 330 MPM. Last year we figured we had some around 425-450 MPM. So a good training level pace. Of course since there are some places we shut down to a trot, it means there are some places we're hauling ass.

                  If my TB ever gets sight of the team on course in front us, then its really hauling ass.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ride for "the point" of a hunter pace

                    As other posters have said, the original point of this kind of competition was to

                    1) teach riders both to ride at an adequate speed for the field they would join (main field or hill-toppers) and

                    2) to teach them to make good decisions about how fast to ride over the hunt's normal country.

                    So being told an average speed in meters per minute, or which gait you are in deprives you of at least half the fun. The optimum time and the horse and rider who set it should remain a mystery until the awards ceremony. The time-setters should be the good, experienced horsemen or horsewomen of the hunt who know the country and membership of the club well.

                    Anyhoo, if you try to keep the mystery and learn this, you will rock.

                    I grew up hunting TBs on the west coast. I then moved to the north east where I took my slacker of a warmblood show hunter gelding to a local hunter pace. He won, though the pace was set by a hot chestnut TB mare. He won because I let the footing (and my horse's pretty average fitness) tell me how fast to go over different parts of the course. I'm so glad I got to learn as a kid.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      hunter pace timers

                      For our Pace, I pick 2 teams of 2 riders & try to send them out in secret to time the
                      course close to the day of the Pace. Neither time-setting team knows who the other is,
                      then I average both times. That way, the time-setters can even compete if they'd like,
                      as they don't know who the other team was & they certainly don't know their time!
                      I try to pick average hunt riders for the time-setters, not the front runners & not the hill
                      toppers, at least not teamed up together!
                      Our Paces go over the fair hunt country, using the coops, etc. in the fencelines, then the
                      Hilltopping Division has to go thru gates. The courses are different each year, but the jumps
                      have to have gates nearby, so I don't flag 2 courses!
                      We discovered a great way to flag---learned from endurance course setters: tie your survey
                      tapes to cheap plastic clothes pins---they go up & come down so easily! And are re-usable!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mvp View Post
                        As other posters have said, the original point of this kind of competition was to

                        1) teach riders both to ride at an adequate speed for the field they would join (main field or hill-toppers) and

                        2) to teach them to make good decisions about how fast to ride over the hunt's normal country.
                        Actually, the original point, waaay back, was simply fun competition for foxhunters. Hunter paces were generally only open to members of hunts, I went to some in New England typically held in the fall, and of course the VA and MD ones were/are generally concurrent with the spring point-to-point season.

                        These days, it's true, and a good thing I think, that more of them are open to anybody, and they do have value both in enhancing skills needed to ride cross country and in giving hunting newcomers a feel for one aspect of the sport. As to your number two, 'how fast' to ride when hunting is, for me, fast enough to stay with hounds! Newcomers planning to go first flight need to know that you just can't slow down arbitrarily if you have a concern- especially if there are folks behind you- each field master really needs for its group to stay together for both safety and to avoid interfering with the hounds and staff. If, however, you have a good hilltopper field master, rest assured that you can see as much of the hound work (if not more than) as the first flight, at a less intimidating pace. In fact, I'll hunt with the hilltoppers if I surmise that my opportunities for seeing the hounds are greater with that group compared with first flight.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We were always given an approximate speed (i.e. 350 mpm). However, the results were not computed by mathamaticians, so there were frequently errors (sometimes significant) in the results. I've found it best just to ride to have a good time and not be concerned with results. If you are focused on winning you are likely to be disappointed. I know that one year I rode a horse in a fast-ish pace (I wanna say 450mpm) and had a blazing round. The owner was absolutly furious when I wasn't placed when the results were announced. When she demeanded to know what my actual time was it turned out that they had forgotten to start the timer for my round and had never gotten a time. She was livid, and spent a year fuming about it, but I had fun and thats what really matters. Try not to take things to seriously and I'm sure you will have a good time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Dang - I've been doing hunter paces for almost 1/2 a century (riding in and organizing) and I have NEVER seen a time posted!! The "secret" time was supposed to be ridden by an experienced hunt member (huntsman if you could get him) to duplicate the pace of an honestly ridden fox hunt mixing in runs, checks and jogs. The fast time was just that and the hilltopper/slow time was either ridden and established or estimated as XXX minutes slower than the ideal time. Since no one knew the course or the time, it was truly a personal opinion of what an ideal fox hunting pace would be. Maybe the involvement of more eventers has made mpm part of the equation!!
                            www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That is a very short course.
                              All the hunter paces I have been to never gave us an optimum time - that was the point. You are pacing yourself based on your knowledge of what a typical fast, medium or slow hunt speed. Mostly a fun day and an introduction for new hunters.

                              Originally posted by Risk-Averse Rider View Post
                              I heard back from the organizers of this one:

                              "slow" is "mostly walk"
                              "medium" is "mostly trot"
                              "fast" is "a nice canter"

                              About a mile & a half long course, all fences optional, max height 2'7"

                              As rivenoak said, an opportunity to get out and do something different, at least ;-)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by xeroxchick View Post
                                That is a very short course.
                                All the hunter paces I have been to never gave us an optimum time - that was the point. You are pacing yourself based on your knowledge of what a typical fast, medium or slow hunt speed. Mostly a fun day and an introduction for new hunters.

                                Ahh, but there's the difference. Those hunter paces are put on by hunts! I suspect that since there are more eventers here than actual field hunters, that's who these organizers are aiming for with this. That, and some brave show hunt people, if their trainers will let them.

                                I'm hoping to make it & if I can come up with the scratch, do more than one time around whatever the course might be. I'm happy for any schooling opportunities. And to spread a little hunting cheer around. Whatever the heat, I'm riding in full hunting kit & so will the horse.
                                ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  R-A-R has got my interest piqued a little bit, too! Team Slow Yellow Horse? Team Yellows & a Gray?
                                  Visit the County Island, home of Whiskey the ranch horse: http://countyisland.wordpress.com
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                                  • #18
                                    Not any expert, but we entered two hunter paces "just for fun" over the last year- they were 7 to 8 miles, and the "ideal time" ended up being a little over an hour in each case (I don't recall exactly now). In both cases we finished about 10-15 minutes slower than ideal, by riding 80% brisk trot, cantering open areas with good footing, like tractor roads, and walking downhills or rough footing. Plus there was a brief vet check at the midpoint (a couple of minutes). We came in about in the middle- half the riders finishing faster than us, half slower (the slowest - a little girl on a pony, with adult escort - finished in just over 2 hours!)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      We never have had a time to meet, knowing the speed needed, at the Hunt Pace here. As mentioned below, two members take out their hunt horses and cover the course at "a hunting pace" and time it. We are expected to know about how fast our horse needs to go, to be doing the hunt speeds. Part of being prepared! If you don't know, you learn as you compete.

                                      We have the jumping, non-jumping catagories, Singles and Teams, with a required hold someplace in the route. It is a fun outing, which Daughter and I will be trying this year. A bit early, April 18th at Waterloo, so our horses won't be very fit. Probably won't make speed, just have a nice day riding the countryside.

                                      Son had to hustle right along, all the times he went, pulled seconds in his jumping Single catagory. He used a large horse with a big stride, and they were covering ground all the time. Beat by hundredths of second each time! Still enjoyed himself immensely, very different than jump courses or ring riding.

                                      Waterloo Hunt has lovely grounds to ride, good trail and jumps on the course.


                                      Originally posted by Elghund2 View Post
                                      Here in Virginia during the spring hunter pace season, there are typically three divisions: fast time over fences, optimum time over fences and optimum time on the flat. In the optimum time divisions you are not given a pace or a time. You walk the course and figure out how it might have been ridden.

                                      Typically, you can add three minutes to the fast time winner and get the optimum time. However, you don't know the fast time until the event is over. Usually the fastest teams in the optimum are the one in the points.

                                      The optimum time is determined by the hosting hunt. They have a pair of riders ride the course and their average time becomes the optimum.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by xeroxchick View Post
                                        That is a very short course. All the hunter paces I have been to never gave us an optimum time - that was the point. You are pacing yourself based on your knowledge of what a typical fast, medium or slow hunt speed. Mostly a fun day and an introduction for new hunters.
                                        I agree. The paces I attend in New England put on by both hunts and other groups have never revealed the optimum time in advance. That is part of the fun of riding the pace!There is usually a hunter or jumper division (fast, jumps all jumps) and a hilltopping division (slower and jumps optional). Since around here paces are very well attended by both English and western riders many paces have a trailblazer division as well which is the slowest and most riders do not intend to jump in this division. The shortest pace I have seen in our area is 5 miles and that's considered quite short... The OP's scenario almost sounds more like some sort of Field hunter trial or XC schooling competition?
                                        Last edited by LookinSouth; Mar. 9, 2009, 07:35 PM.

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