I pulled the information below from another thread because this question: “aren’t hunting and endurance alike?” keeps popping up in various threads.
So, here is how both sport are NOT alike…
I’ve been thinking about the comparison between endurance and hunting.
I have ridden trails but not competed. Went to one hunt, but rode in the wagon. For sure hunt horses are tough critters. So I am pondering the “pulls” seen in endurance that is - I guess - not seen in hunting.
What are the differences? [/quote]
There is a huge difference between hunting and riding endurance competition.
A hunt is a “go-for” group sport where you follow in a tight group of others a specific leader who follows the Huntsman and hounds at the speed required to keep up with those hounds. Our average distance in a 3 hour day is about 10-12 miles (per my GPS), our average speed being about 4 mph so there is a lot of walking and standing around, punctuated by trotting or fast gallops (up to 26 mph) for undetermined amounts of time on undetermined terrain. When the hounds are running, you generally are, too. You can drop out at any time (after asking permission from the field master), but the pace isn’t one you set – it is set by the fox, hounds and the master you follow. Any hunter worth their salt will immediately pull their own horse if they come up lame, or start acting NQR. They don’t need a vet to tell them they have to do so. Good hunt horses are expensive, well trained, and since they are expected to hunt sometimes up to 3x a week, any hint of problem is seen as “time to leave the field” so that the problem isn’t compounded by continuing. After all, your hunting subscription is for the full season - August to March, 2x-3x a week. Always another hunt just a few days away.
Endurance is a individual solitary sport that encompasses one horse and rider team following a pre-determined 50, 75, or 100 mile trail that is marked and measured. Going “off trail” is grounds for elimination. Endurance horses are conditioned at a trot, a gait averaging about 7 mph that is maintained for long periods of time, up to 20-25 miles before a mandated rest period where they are checked by a vet to ensure said horse is fit to continue. A rider can pull their horse at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. A vet can also pull the horse, but is limited to only lameness or metabolic issues. A vet may not pull a rider, ever. As long as the horse passes the mandatory vet check which is limited to several parameters (which can be found on the AERC website under the Vet Handbook), and the RM has not stopped the ride for any reason (impending hurricane, life-threatening storms, dangerous trail conditions due to unexpected weather occurring during the ride, etc) it is the rider’s own choice to continue. The horse and rider can travel the trail alone, or with others, get off and walk, stop and rest, etc etc - the choice is up to the rider. They pick the speed, when and where they might want to graze their horse, etc. As long as they make the cut-off times, stay on trail, and do not interfere with other riders at any point along the trail or in the checks, they are free to do their own thing.
Miles covered at speed per day?
Explained above, but to reiterate - hunts travel about 10-15 miles day during formal season (coyote hunts may cover more ground); endurance covers 50, 75 or 100 miles in one day.
Hunts are held 2x-3x a week from August to March. I’ll let you do the math to figure out how many hunts that would be given perfect weather for every hunt. Endurance rides can be scheduled 1 every weekend (pioneer rides are 3 to 5 successive days of 50 miles/day), but riders attending that type of schedule are few and far between, and holding to that type of schedule means a lot of traveling, usually to several different states. The majority of riders will attend rides within 3-4 states and I would hazard a guess that 6-8 rides a year is about top end. Most do about 4 rides a year at most.
Seasonal - ie hunts held in more winterish conditions?
Foxhunting is regulated by the state. Hunting season coincides with the breeding period of the fox which occurs during the fall/winter months, and also is the best season to harvest pelts. You need a hunting license, too. Very important because you can get fined by the state game warden for hunting without one. You need to be invited by the hunt to ride with a hunt. You just can’t show up and expect to hunt. Paying for that hunt invitation is called a “cap”. You are only allowed to cap a few times with a hunt (each hunt has its own limits to cap) before you are either invited to become a member ( if they like you), or … not. <ahem>
Endurance rides are generally held in the warmer months of spring/summer/fall, and winter in the southern part of the county. You don’t need a membership in any distance organization in order to enter a ride, nor do you need any qualifications as long as your horse is the required age per AERC rules. You can enter as many endurance rides as you want, wherever you want, whenever you want. There is no limit. However, you do need to be a member of the AERC if you want your points collected and established in an ongoing lifetime record for yourself and the horse, and if you want to compete for regional and national awards.
Hunts don’t have vet checks and other specific requirements to finish the day/to be considered a completion?
No, because hunting is NOT a competition. It is a hunting sport. You ride a horse in order to keep up with the hounds so you can watch them hunt. You can also ride in a car to watch the hounds. The only specific requirement to finish the day is… if you fall off at any point (assuming you are on a horse), you owe a bottle of champagne (or 6 pack of beer, or whatever beverage of choice is your hunt’s favorite) for the next tailgate. Best. Requirement. Ever.
I don’t think there is any requirement if you fall out of your car. People will just think you’re a klutz.
Wonder how the majority of hunt horses would fare competing 50 and 75 mile endurance competitions - being subjected to checks etc.? ie the same criteria as the endurance horses must meet for a completion?
Actually, pretty darn good. The Hot Springs ride that is held in Virginia in the spring was started by foxhunters who wanted to continue to enjoy their horses after hunting had ceased. They had a 3 day 100, and the early days were almost exclusively foxhunters that did the ride. I’ve known several other foxhunters who took their hunting mounts into endurance rides (50 and 100 miles) and did fantastic! A good hunt horse learns fast not to waste energy fretting on the trail, and they tend to be very workmanlike - get the job done types. However, most foxhunters find endurance a bit…boring. Tons more excitement in following at a flying gallop a pack in full, screaming cry. Lots more fun! :lol: